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Private Ireland Member

Lucinda O'Sullivan

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Table Talk
Sunday 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,
Rosscahill,
Oughterard,
Co. Galway.

 
   
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