Comprising the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford, Ireland’s South East is a treasure trove of interesting places. Here’s a flavour …
Main Image; Hookhead Lighthouse, Wexford, Discover Ireland
Celebrate an Irish Summer with our Fly The Flag Destination Guides featuring travel tips, restaurant recommendations, luxurious hotel stays and a focus on Irish shops and produce. If you are planning an Irish getaway – scroll and save for your next trip …
WHERE TO STAY
Dunbrody House, Co Wexford
Located in 300 acres of parkland on the idyllic Hook Peninsula on Ireland’s south coast, Dunbrody House which dates from the 1830s is the perfect year-round getaway. Its forte? Relaxed elegance and country house chic with individually styled rooms, very much in keeping with the hotel’s Georgian origins, coupled with late breakfast served until noon. Induglence is very much a byword with gourmet dining and a chic champagne seafood bar. For the culinarily-inquisitive, there’s the cookery school temptation with a choice of one, two and five-day courses and those seeking some me-time can indulge in the luxury, boutique spa. The Local, Dunbrody’s traditional pub, entices too with great gastro-pub menus and live music. Currently on offer is the “Live Like a Lord or Lady” two-day package which includes dinner on one evening, and a champagne afternoon tea too. Accommodation is in a deluxe room or suite, from €395 per person sharing. Otherwise, an overnight stay with breakfast is €145 per person sharing; www.dunbrodyhouse.com
Marfield House, Co Wexford
Marlfield House is a beautifully restored Regency period house set on 36 acres of fine gardens, close to miles of golden beaches. Opened by the Bowe family in 1978 it’s a chic country house. Rooms are filled with beautiful antiques, paintings, and flowers. The extensive gardens include a croquet lawn, tennis court, woodland walks, a lake, a rose and kitchen garden which provides much of the produce for the two restaurants. The House Conservatory Restaurant with its frescoed walls is highly acclaimed as one of Ireland’s most charming fine dining rooms serving classical food. For a more casual dining experience The Duck Restaurant in the courtyard is a terrace restaurant, cafe and bar overlooking the kitchen gardens and provides a stylish casual alternative for lunches or dinners. Guests can opt to stay in the main house or in the gorgeous Pond Suites, surrounded by lush greenery and wildlife. Currently on offer is “The Whole Works Weekend” – a two-night gourmet stay with dinner in both restaurants – The Duck and The Conservatory. From €333 stay; www.marlfieldhouse.com
Mount Juliet Estate, Co Kilkenny
Recognised as one of Ireland’s finest country estates for nearly 300 years, this is the perfect base for those looking to switch off in a gorgeous spa, and in the Health and Wellness Centre with its newly refurbished gym and pool or on its renowned Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf course. The resort, overlooking the River Nore in Kilkenny, is home to two luxury properties: the 32-bedroom Manor House and the 93-bedroom Hunter’s Yard Hotel. For gourmets, dinner in the Lady Helen dining room is always a highlight, where Michelin-starred food is served by chef John Kelly who uses local and seasonal produce. There’s plenty of scope to work up an appetite on the grounds – from from fishing to horse-riding in the equestrian centre; www.mountjuliet.ie
Kelly’s Resort Hotel and Spa, Co Wexford
Uniquely situated along five miles of safe sandy beach this famous family resort is a favourite with every generation. From the moment guests arrive, it’s an immersive experience in the hands of capable, hospitable hosts. Of note, is the hotel’s art collection massed over 40 years, and its buzzy SeaSpa where thalassotherapy is a focus and where a range of ESPA treatments are offered. Food is also a high point – guests can choose to dine in the main Beaches restaurant, or the more informal La Marine Bistro, or its new 60-seater The Sea Rooms Restaurant which is housed in a modern, sculpture-like building which makes the most of the seaside, sunny location; www.kellys.ie
Clayton Whites Hotel, Co Wexford
Clayton Whites Hotel is only two minutes’ walk from the National Opera House, so is an ideal base for those visiting the Wexford Opera Festival. The hotel’s Library Bar, Terrace Restaurant and Red Bean Roastery Coffee Dock are always bustling throughout the Festival, during which they also offer lunchtime recital packages which are a fun way to take in a pocket opera and enjoy lunch. On site there is also a Tranquillity Spa, for some pampering; www.claytonwhiteshotel.com
WHERE TO SHOP
Paula Flynn of TheShopkeepers.com and THE GLOSS collated a fabulously diverse and exciting list of independent retailers around Ireland for The Best Shops Ireland and we couldn’t resist featuring some of them in our Irish Destination Guides for the summer. Look no further, here is where to shop in The Sunny South East.
Brother Coffee, 1a, Market Square, Ballinapark, Bunclody, Co Wexford
Husband and wife, Roscoh and Jess Anthony, learnt the coffee trade in South Africa and Australia. In Ireland their first foray into the coffee business was opening a window hatch coffee shop from inside their friend’s pub, Cherrytree, in Walkinstown. Building on the success of that endeavour and the demand for good coffee they opened their second coffee shop in Bunclody when the perfect corner store location became available.
The Wilds, 23 Weafer Street, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
Husband and wife, Paula Asple and Simon Nelson opened The Wilds in 2015, a homeware and gift shop with a café serving local, seasonal fare. The shop boasts a neutral and natural colour palette, materials and texture adding interest to the assortment of vintage, reclaimed, and new homeware. Included in the offering is a selection of jewellery, stationery, and locally grown flowers. www.thewilds.ie
Sweeney & Son Antiques, Laurel Cottage, Graigue Beg, Bunclody, Wexford
Based just outside of Bunclody, Co Wexford, Mark Sweeney has being selling antiques since 2009. Sweeney & Son Antiques source an interesting mix of Vintage interiors, antique, decorative, salvage, and garden décor. www.sweeney-sonantiques.com
Finders Keepers, 1 Little Patrick Street, Waterford
Downright quirky. A concept store, a cabinet of curiosities … Lisa Connolly, owner of Finders Keepers in Bray, Co Wicklow, proudly stocks over 40 small independent brands from Ireland, the UK, Europe and Australia. “A big driver for our AW22 buying has been entertaining at home. I guarantee our new homewares collections will be the talk of your next dinner party!”www.finderskeepersthestore.ie
Gallery Valerie, 26 Main Street, Lismore, Co Waterford
Valerie Lee spent the best part of six years renovating a mixed-use building in Lismore, Waterford herself. After stripping of plaster the newly exposed stone walls are a backdrop for her design and craft shop, Gallery Valerie. The space is mainly filled with her own whimsical work with cards, prints, stationery, jewellery, and homeware with a selection of carefully chosen crafts by fellow designers.
Nest, 127 The Quay, Waterford
“At Nest, our aim is to offer timeless forever pieces for the home, things that will bring both colour and joy,” says Sinead Palmer of her cool and colourful Waterford store. At Nest you will find Lisa Corte tableware and Margo in Margate prints and a range of rechargeable lamps of which Sinead is a huge fan: “They are fabulous for outdoor dining, dark hallways without sockets and moody dinner table lighting.” In the coming months Nest will also introduce a bedlinen collection. www.lovenest.ie.
Joy Thorpe, 84 Kilkenny Street, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny
Joy Thorpe Decorative Antiques and Interiors in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, is an important destination for antique-lovers drawn by interesting one-of-a-kind pieces (think old haberdashery units, Art Deco club chairs, chaises longues and more), curated by owner Joy Thorpe. “I source all my pieces from antique auctions and flea markets. My favourite places for finding special things, especially kilims and ceramics, are the medinas of Morocco.” www.joythorpeantiques.com.
The Book & Coffee Shop William Street, Kilkenny
Librarian and writer Stephen Buck and Marian O’Neill realised their dream when they opened their own bookshop in 2019. So much more than just a store, The Book & Coffee Shop has launched books and hosted plays and recitals, creative writing classes and exhibitions. It is a space for meetings, and, of course, a destination for a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and a secondhand book. www.bookcoffeeshop.com
WHERE TO EAT
The Sunny South East encompasses the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, South-Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford which means you are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options. Here are some top tips and hidden gems as recommended by our Food Editor Ciara McQuillan …
And Chips, Dungarvan
Nothing beats seaside fish and chips and Eunice Power’s gourmet takeaway, And Chips does it very well. I would suggest sharing one portion, but that would probably be foolish, and redundant. What makes more sense is suggesting you share a few different dishes to experience the true quality of all of the dishes available. Fish tacos, chicken spice bag, steak sandwich and obviously the scampi and the fresh fish are all contenders. Plus, there is wine. And Chips. Obviously. www.andchips.ie
Beach House, Tramore
As if the introductory line of a “lunchtime seafood restaurant located in a Victorian townhouse in the seaside town of Tramore” isn’t enough to inspire a visit, a brief glance at Beach House Tramore’s Instagram page or website will likely do so. From the same family as The Critic’s Darling, Fish Shop, and newest sibling, Bar Pez, dining at Beach House is the upscale fish supper of dreams. And when I say fish supper, I mean dishes like sole with brown butter, fresh langoustines or John Dory with chard and Riesling served with simple sides such as potatoes with copious amount of butter. Pure perfection. www.beachhousetramore.ie
The Tannery, Dungarven
Paul and Maire Flynn’s restaurant is a rare phenomenon. A successful, destination restaurant with consistently good food, a beautifully decorated space, a separate, busy, wine bar with more casual bites, and staff that are professional to a fault. To top it all off, you can stay over in The Tannery Townhouse just around the corner making the perfect destination dinner. www.tannery.ie.
The Harvest Room at Dunbrody House
The restaurant at Kevin and Catherine Dundon’s Dunbrody House is always a treat; a stunning room that is equally as enjoyable whether you visit for breakfast of dinner. Executive Head Chef Janice Casey Bracken might be a genius – at the very least her potato risotto dish is genius. A luxurious dish of seasoned, hand diced potatoes with mead and parmesan topped with smoked potato espuma and black truffle still lingers on my mind and will no doubt inspire a return visit very soon. www.dunbrodyhouse.com
Located just outside pretty Duncannon village Aldridge Lodge is set on an impressive six acres and has just three simply furnished bedrooms available for overnight guests. Expect Hook Head crab cocktail, crispy monkfish medallions and rare breed pork all feature on the impressive selection of starters while main courses includes Hook Head lobster, Thornhill duck and dry aged meats. There is also a separate vegetarian menu available. www.aldridgelodge.com
The Italians know a thing or two about food and this much is apparent at Ristorante Rinuccini. A starter of capesante di Sant’ Giacomo (seared Kilmore Quay scallops with crispy prosciutto and green pea risotto) is worth visiting for in itself, but if you have made the journey, it would be rude to skip the ravioli alla crema di gorgonzola. Finish with a glass of Vin Santo and a classical rhum babà Napolitano before floating on air, all the way home. www.rinuccini.com
Other worthwhile spots include Campagne in Kilkenny, Noinin, also in Kilkenny, and perfect lobster and crayfish rolls at Little Catch Seafood Bar in Tramore. In Wexford, fine dining with a view at The Sea Rooms at Kelly’s in Rosslare (www.kellys.ie/the-sea-rooms-restaurant), The Little Saltee in Kilmore Quay for fish and chips, and in Rosslare, Wind and Native Seafood for, well, wild and native seafood. In Carlow, the Michelin recommended Sha –Roe Bistro in the picturesque village of Clonegal looks worth a detour.
WHERE TO VISIT
For opera lovers: As one of Europe’s most prestigious opera festivals, Wexford Opera Festival, now in its 72nd year, provides an opportunity for visitors of all ages to enjoy a musical day out. Held in venues across Wexford town, this year the Festival programme features 70 events over 13 days from October 24 to November 5; www.wexfordopera.com
For beach fans: Visitors are spoilt for choice, given the high number of Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards. This year the county’s beaches, marinas and designated bathing waters received a total of eight Blue Flags and ten Green Coast awards. The Blue Flags were awarded to; Ballinesker Beach, Carne, Curracloe, Morriscastle, Rosslare Strand, Ballymoney North Beach, Kilmore Quay Marina and New Ross Marina. The Green Coast Wexford Awards went to Old Bawn, Cahore,Culleton’s Gap, Ballyhealy Cullenstown Strand, Booley Bay, Grange, St Helens Bay, Rosslare Harbour& Baginbun. Image; Curracloe Beach www.discoverireland.ie
For book fans: Book ahead for the boutique literary festival, Write By The Sea which will take place at Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford from September 22-24. The diverse programme of workshops, readings and discussions features authors Claire Keegan, John Banville, Stephen James Smith, Maureen Gaffney, Yeva Skalietska, Charlotte Mendelson, Marina Carr and many more. For information and tickets visit www.writebythesea.ie
For birdwatchers: Head to the Saltee Islands, which are a short 20-minute spin by boat from the mainland (via Kilmore Quay). The islands are home to a puffin colony and seals as well as a shipwreck.
For garden lovers: Wells House and Garden is a 20-minute drive from Gorey, or 25 minutes from Enniscorthy and Wexford Town. It’s an interesting location – where visitors can also stay in quaint cottages on the estate – comprising an animal farm, woodland walks, an Arboretum, and gardens. Look out for the peacocks and do book a house tour if visiting at the weekend; www.wellshouse.ie
For a day trip: A must-do is the drive around the Hook Peninsula with the oldest operating lighthouse in the world at its tip.
If you visit any of these spots on your next trip to The Sunny South East, be sure to let us know! Tag us on Instagram using #FlyTheFlag and @theglossmag. Or email us on email@example.com, we would love to hear from you …