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The Kerry Way: Ramblings on Kenmare

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.
  • Kerry Lamb

A couple of weekend days in Kenmare confirms the town's status as the most food-orientated town in the country. The following are stray thoughts about what makes it special...

Taking tea; put together The Truffle Pig in its smart new Henry Street address, An Cupan Tae, Jam, and Manuela Goeb's Breadcrumb Bakery with its neat new tables and chairs, and Kenmare offers a brilliant selection of cutting edge places in which to take tea or coffee. Best of all, and typical of the town, they are All Different: The Breadcrumb rustic, An Cupan traditional and chintzy, Truffle Pig slick and smart, Jam bustling and laid back. Quite wonderful.

On Saturday morning, we headed off from just past the abandoned church west of Moll's Gap and walked the seven miles back over the hill into Kenmare. The sun shone, the clouds were magnificent, the trees alternated between Pan's Labyrinth ruined stumps to Lord of the Rings magical embellishments, and the walk took forever because our kids said “Take a picture of me here!” and “Take a picture of me here!”, and “Take a picture of me here”. Seven miles of the Sublime.

As we neared Kenmare, we hove into the Kilmurry Business Park where Remy Benoit runs his Kenmare Salmon Company. In the past, we haven't written about M. Benoit in our guides, because we believed his fish was all exported. Not true: you can buy it, for instance, in the Supervalu just down the road from the factory. And buy it you should, for this is a superb smoked fish – our kids, in particular, went wild about it – with the subtlest gracing of smoke, and the cured, herbed version is just as fine. Truly beautiful work. www.kenmaresalmon.ie.

Our kids also went wild about Wharton's traditional fish and chips, which they confidently declared to be the best fish and chips they had ever eaten. They were also particularly impressed with the gentleman who ran the shop, who was super-friendly and who, because they didn't have quite enough money, gave them a third bottle of pop for free. How to win future customers...

The next night they ate at Packie's, and declared it to be, maybe, their favourite restaurant. Sam had the roast duck, Connie had the coconut chicken, and PJ had the pasta. For dessert they demolished the sticky toffee pudding, and unambiguously declared it the finest of them all. Using his Dad's money, Sam tipped generously: the lad recognises some of the finest service in the country when he gets it...

Sam's folks, meantime, were up in The Park Hotel, enjoying their Celebration of Ireland Festival, which we will cover in the next posting.

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