Let’s start here with total honesty, for the sake of transparency.
I love Cork. I will be in town, the homeland of my maternal ancestors, in the blink of an eye if the invitation presents itself.
But there was an added excitement this time around, because my stay took me beyond the city limits for the first time in too long. So I happily took a left off the freeway at Bishopstown and let out a cry of joy as I passed under the giant overpass. West Cork, here I am!
I still maintain that West Cork is a glorious state of mind, which allows you to think and calm down in the blue skies (just ask Graham Norton, who is clearly benefiting from this). And that’s exactly what I was looking for at the Dunmore House Hotel, along with Romy, my 11 year old Yorkshire terrier.
Arrival & location
There are a growing number of dog-friendly hotels and B & Bs in Ireland, but with mixed levels of welcome and access. Dunmore House has a fine restaurant, casual dining options, and a bar, but it nails its colors to the mast with its penchant for dogs – the first thing I noticed when we stopped by were the large bowls of water outside.
Located about 4 miles (eight minutes by car) from Clonakilty, the hotel is a fourth generation business now run by Peter Barrett, whose great-grandparents moved there in 1934 to farm the land. At the time, her great-grandmother, Mary O’Donovan, said: “There is nothing here but water. She served tea and scones to visitors at her quaint home, but after attending a town wedding she felt she could have done better. The rest is history.
A popular wedding destination since the 1950s, the hotel has flourished under the management of subsequent generations. Derry and Mary O’Donovan and, in turn, Peter’s parents Carol and her husband, retired lawyer Richard Barrett, took the hotel to the next level, and it’s now an award-winning stay on the Wild Atlantic Way. 8/10
Service & style
The family atmosphere is palpable in a ‘nothing is too much trouble’ way, and you just know they have guest comfort in mind when you hear that breakfast is served until 11am all. days. Why aren’t more hotels doing this, I wonder?
The hotel’s decor serves as a neutral backdrop to show off their incredibly diverse art collection – which includes works by artists like the late William Crozier and Seán McSweeney, Neil Shawcross and the burgeoning local printer and visual artist. Shane O ‘Driscoll. I was happy to wander into the living room, with its comfy sofas, and look at the artwork, which is expertly arranged to add to the ambiance and the ‘chill’ factor. 8/10
Overlooking Clonakilty Bay, Dunmore House has five dog-friendly bedrooms, all of which face the front with small patio balconies so dogs can safely enjoy the sea views. No kennels shared in the back for my pooch in this property.
I slept in a large family room with a double bed and two single beds, which was well appointed, not crowded. The bathroom products were from Voya – made with seaweed which is very appropriate with the coastal theme. But what really caught my eye were the cute cotton tote bags with an illustration by artist Conor Merriman.
I love the cool rooms so it was nice to open the balcony door and listen to the waves while I relaxed. A sculpture of Moss Gaynor proudly sits on the new Sea Terrace, which was also a short walk from the room. 8/10
You’ll find Carol Barrett in the kitchen at breakfast time, and her light touch is to be appreciated, especially her fresh fried plaice fillet, which is cooked ‘Derry style’ – her father’s special technique. The unusual methodology is a closely guarded family secret.
There is a € 50 menu for dinner at the Adrift restaurant, but I chose the menu and was extremely satisfied with my bisque, accompanied by a succulent lobster tail, followed by a turbot on a risotto with peas, leeks and citrus cream.
The dining experience is an important part of the attraction. You’ll also find casual dining in the bar and lounge, and the menu features plenty of local West Cork influences and a welcome category of ‘whole foods’, something sadly overlooked in many Irish hotels. I loved the way my breakfast omelet was made with eggs the gardener had just brought from the garden, for example. The ‘Hello’ breakfast menu is the kind of healthy start that sets you up for the day, whether you go golfing, surfing, deep sea fishing, horseback riding or planning to stay put. to stroll through the hotel’s Cliff Garden. 8.5 / 10
The bottom line
Dunmore House reminded me a bit of Kelly’s Resort in Rosslare, not only because of the art, but also the family ethic. There was also a similar vibe to Renvyle, with the friendly staff and the coastal setting. There were a lot of couples, of all ages, who stayed at the hotel while Romy and I were there but, as a single person, I didn’t feel embarrassed or outnumbered.
Another thing to note: dogs are not only welcome in the rooms. You will see them in the bar and lounge but, of course, not in the restaurant.
Dog room rates (superior double / twin) from € 240 midweek and € 280 weekends.
There are 10 beaches to explore within 10 minutes of the hotel, including Duneen, Inchydoney, Long Strand and Sandscove. The car came back full of sand, but Romy had a great time and swam in the sea.
Bed and breakfast from € 195 in October (double room) and € 169 in November. Bairbre was the host of the hotel. dunmorehousehotel.fr