Independent, 27th March 2005
|The Wild West.
Lucinda O' Sullivan discovers a cosy hotel whose speciality
is peace and quiet. Among a plethora of French travel guides,
ranging from Relais & Chateaux at the top end to Les Routiers
(meaning long-distance truck drivers), is the Relais du Silence
Guide. Relais du Silence Guide, as the name suggests, means
establishments offering silence, peace and serenity, and I
have stayed in a few of them in France. Now, the Relais du
Silence Guide includes three establishments in Ireland, Ross
Lake House Hotel at Oughterard, just outside Galway, Finnstown
House Hotel near Lucan, and Aberdeen Lodge, tucked away in
Park Avenue in the heart of Dublin 4's Embassy belt.
Ross Lake House Hotel is a 19th-Century country house in its
own estate set in the magnificent wilderness that is Connemara,
surrounded by rambling woods and rolling lawns dotted with flowers
and shrubs. From the moment you swing off the road between Galway
and Oughterard towards Ross Lake, past a rippling river with stones
and big Gunnera leaves, you are in another world - maybe even
that of your childhood.
There is nothing gaudy about Ross Lake. The decor is traditional,
furnished with antiques, and warm and cosy, from the welcoming
little chubby bar to the drawing room where you can snuggle down
in front of the fire after dinner and indulge in a nightcap before
retiring to one of their very comfortable bedrooms - all spacious,
and some with four poster beds. During our stay there, it was
obvious that Ross Lake was very popular with visitors to this
country: apart from us, everyone seemed to be French, German or
American - but then the Good Hotel Guide, Best Loved Hotels and
Johansens also recommend it.
Dinner was €40, with a choice of four items for each course.
Starters included crown of Galia Melon with summer fruits; warm
goats cheese salad with a pesto dressing; a very delicious duck
pate with Cumberland sauce; and a spankingly fresh and luxuriant
Galway crab salad. The food was not over-tweaked or over-elaborate
but based on the best of local Connemara produce, and everything
we had was deliciously fresh and very nicely cooked. The soup
course included Aran seafood chowder and a cream of tomato and
courgette soup, both excellent. Rack of Connemara lamb was superb,
cooked pink, tender as could be and served with deliciously crisp
vegetable and gratin potatoes. Rena opted for poached Galway salmon
which was served with a white-wine sauce, and it too was delicious,
fresh and succulent.
Puddings included pear and almond tart with a creme anglaise;
chilled Bailey's Irish Cream souffle; fresh strawberry meringue;
and a selection of Irish farmhouse cheese. We washed all that
down with a bottle of Moreau-Fontaine Chateauneuf du Papa 2001
(€35) and then retired to the drawing-room fire for numerous
Baileys with our newfound American and French friends.
Henry and Elaine Reid own Ross Lake House Hotel, but that is in
name only, for the real boss of the house is Millie, their adorable
collie, who inspects all guests thoroughly. Our total bill, including
B&B at €75 pps, aperitifs, and optional 10% service,
came to €305.60
Ross Lake House Hotel,