I meet so many people who tell me with a bare blush that they have never been to Ireland. And that they really want to go. I mean it is just over there, right? An hour and a half by plane and an hour later you can be in West Cork overlooking a pristine beautiful beach that feels a world away from anywhere.
I love Inchydoney and nearby Clonakilty. Many moons ago I gathered my friends there for my 28th birthday. We rented three houses and promptly removed every cup, plate, fork, spoon and chair into one house where we would all hang out, cook and eat. It was a terrific weekend, and one we still talk about whenever we get together. This time was a little different, I was to stay at a luxury hotel right on the beach, the four star Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa.
A favourite of surfers (there is a surf school on the beach), the blue flag beach is also a great place to get lost in your own head as you walk the beach, and so is a favourite of walkers. Locals flock here for Sunday lunch and dinners as the restaurant has a great reputation for seafood.
There was a storm the day we arrived, I do think that is sometimes the best way to see the will and the energy of the wild Atlantic. I watched recalling times before, when I had witnessed the same tug and draw in my childhood. I grew up only half a mile from the Atlantic, I could hear it from my house on a windy day, and I spent many hours scrambling along the rocks and playing there.
Set just outside the picturesque and colourful town of Clonakilty, worth a visit alone to catch some music in one of Cork’s most famous and best music venues, de Barras, a small bar which showcases some of the best traditional and folk music in Ireland, along with some contemporary stuff too. It is also a great spot to swing by for a drink, should you fancy it. And make that Murphy’s or Beamish not Guinness, for you are in Cork now, and should enjoy a Cork tipple.
When you arrive at the hotel, after check in you are offered a complementary glass of Irish Mist. Scattered throughout the hotel are some wonderful Joseph Walsh pieces, his furniture is extremely rare and expensive. Design pieces much in demand, crafted in his studio near Kinsale. Inchydoney Lodge bought early, his work features in several museums including MOMA in New York and the Devonshire Collection in Chatsworth House. Inchydoney Lodge have one of the largest collections of his works in Ireland, outside of his own studio.
The rooms are very comfortable, spacious and nicely designed. I had an ocean view and could watch the ocean from the comfort of my bed. There are two places to eat, the residents bar and the restaurant, the Gulfstream. The bar has a more casual menu, dishes like mussels and fish and chips. The restaurant is a little more detailed, although still lovely and relaxed. We had a 6 course tasting menu focussed on local ingredients.
I never miss an opportunity to indulge in local seafood. I had mussels, crab, monkfish and oysters. We had smoked salmon from local smokehouse, Ummera, and their terrific smoked duck too.
Don’t neglect the spa should you visit. The pool is pumped with seawater from the Atlantic Ocean and while families do stay, the pool is only open to children at specific times. There are many seawater treatments available as well as Elemis treatments. I had a wonderful full body massage. I spend much of my life hunched over a stove or a laptop and it shows in the knots in my back. I suspect we are all cursed like this now. Afterwards, the fuchsia room with large windows overlooking the wild sea offered a further opportunity to relax.
I could have stayed much longer, and I will visit again. A world away, but not so far at all. Go visit Cork, and when you do, spend a night or two in the city also. I can help you there too! -> Where to Eat, Drink and Stay in Cork City (Boy!)