Revisiting Ireland – Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare

Kenmare Bay from Sheen Falls

Revisiting Ireland

Majestic views, dramatic rocky coastlines, rolling hillsides and farmland with more shades of green than I could ever have imagined – these are the images of Ireland that have stayed with me since our visit last fall. It’s a place that warms the soul and stirs the heart with its breathtaking landscapes and scenery, rich history, culture, and warm and welcoming Irish people who invite you to stay awhile and share a pint or two.

Driving on the Ring of Kerry

Driving on the Ring of Kerry

Coastline on the Ring of Kerry

One of the many small coastal towns

If you read our earlier articles on the Emerald Isle, you will know that we were quite smitten with Ireland. Not only was the country an extraordinary place to visit, there were also several properties where we stayed that really wowed us. These resorts were so beautiful and inviting and offered so many onsite activities, it was hard to decide between staying at the property versus going off to tour the local towns and surrounding area. One of these properties was Mount Juliet in Kilkenny, with its romantic history, acres of lush farmland and gardens, and its Michelin star restaurant, The Lady Helen. Another was Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare.

Beaches outside of Kenmare

Beaches outside of Kenmare

There are always sheep on the roads

There are always sheep on the roads

Sheen Falls Lodge – Kenmare

Sheen Falls Lodge

Sheen Falls Lodge

Sheen Falls Lodge is an award-winning and luxury 5-star Relais & Chateaux property. Located just minutes outside the town of Kenmare in Co. Kerry, it’s ideal for driving along parts of the Wild Atlantic Way and sits between the Ring of Kerry and the lesser-known Ring of Beara in south west Ireland. The setting for this resort is stunning. Situated on a 300-acre estate, one of the prettiest views of the property overlooks a stone bridge and a stretch of the 15-mile long River Sheen. Guests can go fly fishing for salmon or trout in these waters, just one of the many activities available at the resort.

Front entrance of the property

Front entrance of the property

The lobby

The lobby

Sheen Falls River

Sheen Falls River

Roger flyfishing

Roger fly fishing

Outdoor enthusiasts can try their hand at Falconry, the Ancient Sport of Kings, clay pigeon shooting, or horseback riding. There is also tennis, golf (nearby), hiking, kayaking on Kenmare Bay, or walks on the property to see the gardens and the hidden Queen’s Walk, a plantation built for Queen Victoria’s visit to the estate in 1861. For relaxing indoors, Easanna Spa has been named one of the best hotel spas in Ireland.

The landscaping is beautiful

The landscaping is beautiful

Kenmare Bay at low tide

Kenmare Bay at low tide

The culinary scene

Beyond the endless beauty and charm of Ireland, one of the biggest surprises during our travels through the country was the food. Yes, pub food was pretty much what you might expect, but at the resorts, in particular, there was an impressive level of sophistication, artful presentation, and a focus on healthier dishes at their upscale restaurants. Philip Brazil, the head chef at Sheen Falls Lodge, told us that many changes, similar to those in the U.S., have occurred over the last eight to ten years in Ireland, especially as travelers want to eat healthier, fresher, and local foods. They also are less interested in formal dining.

Chef Philip Brazil

Chef Philip Brazil

The Falls Restaurant

The Falls Restaurant

With the request for lighter fare (with less butter and fat) and a more casual dining experience, this chef has responded by combing two dinner menus at The Falls, offering choices depending on the guest’s preference. One option is for a lighter casual menu and the other is for a fine dining menu, which features either two or three courses or a seven course culinary experience. As one of the best restaurants in Kenmare (as well as in Ireland), this is a unique concept for a 2 AA Rosette restaurant, but one that has worked well.

One of our favorites - Traditional Brown Bread and Irish butter

One of our favorites – Traditional Brown Bread and Irish butter

Kenmare Pan Fried Filet of Hake & Roast Cockles

Kenmare Pan Fried Filet of Hake & Roast Cockles

Pan Seared Wild Sea Bass

Pan Seared Wild Sea Bass

The Smokehouse Experience

One of the signature dishes on Brazil’s menu, the smoked and cured Kerry Salmon, is made on the property at their smokehouse. Once a hunting lodge, this building is now used to smoke all of their salmon and other smoked meats. Chef Brazil told us that about ten years ago, the Sheen Falls River was teeming with wild salmon, but things have changed over the years due to poachers and the dwindling salmon population. Now, he sources naturally fed, organic farm-raised salmon from the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic and it’s brought in fresh from Clare Island and Castletownbere. For the curing and cold smoke process, Chef Brazil said this salmon is better suited than those caught in the wild because the flesh is much firmer.

Sheen Falls' smoked salmon

Sheen Falls’ smoked and cured Kerry Salmon

His special cure for the salmon includes a mixture of 75% sea salt and 25% castor sugar and the unique spice blend is made up of star anise, fennel, and juniper berries, which are crushed in a blender. He uses oak chips and dust shavings to create the desired smokiness and the salmon is then cold smoked for approximately nine hours. The final product is slightly salty and a bit sweet with a subtle smokiness. A special treat, this salmon was noticeably different in that it was quite delicate in taste and texture.

The secret to perfect smoked salmon - the salt, sugar and spice blend

The secret to perfect smoked salmon – the salt, sugar and spice blend

During wild salmon season, if guests catch a fish with Brandon Gilley, the resort’s fishing guide, they can tag the fish and arrange to have it cured and smoked and take it home with them upon their departure from the resort. The entire process takes about three days, so they have to allow for enough time for the cure and cold smoke. Once home, it will hold in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks or 3 months in the freezer.

Chef Brazil in the smokehouse

Chef Brazil in the smokehouse

A tasty way to remember your time at Sheen Falls Lodge

A tasty way to remember your time at Sheen Falls Lodge

Guests at Sheen Falls can book the Smokehouse Experience to learn the process of curing and cold smoking salmon from start to finish. They can also book a tour of their impressive wine cellar. What could be better than pairing a wonderful smoked salmon with a lovely Burgundy or Pinot Noir or a richer red wine such as a Syrah? That sounds like the perfect combination of culinary activities for a food and wine lover.

Their smoked salmon is outstanding

Their smoked salmon is outstanding

If your travel plans include a visit to Ireland and a stay in Kenmare, Sheen Falls Lodge should be high on your list of places to stay. With its beautiful grounds, luxury accommodations, excellent service, extensive list of onsite activities, and impressive dining, this is another luxury destination property where you will want to linger longer.

There's a pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow

There’s a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow

Learn & Go for files Medium

For more articles on our travels through Ireland, please refer to these links:

An Ireland Roadtrip

16 Things We Learned While Traveling in Ireland

48 Hours in Dublin

Chef Gareth Mullins – The Marker Hotel Dublin & His Recipe for Rack of Lamb

What to Do and Where to Dine and Stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Guinness Experience at The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

The Best Game of Thrones Tour – Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Stunning Beauty of Kilkenny, Ireland and Mount Juliet Estate

This content is protected under International Copyright Laws. Pratesi Living provides this content to its readers for their personal use. No part (text or images) may be copied or reproduced, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of PratesiLiving.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save