At the heart of Kilshanny village, a small stop on the N67 between Lisdoonvarna and Enistymon, Kilshanny House is far too easy to drive past if you're not looking for it. I can nearly guarantee having done so in the past, my mind set to a destination and not the area around me.
On this trip, Kilshanny House was my destination; stories of the incredible food, wonderfully warm welcome, and great craic having filtered back to me through social media and Ireland vacation reports.
Arriving on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, my girls and I entered a picture perfect pub. Everything at the bar gleamed as if it had just been polished, a cozy seating nook with fluffy pillows begged us to sit down and curl up in the sunny window with a book and a pint.
Moments later we received the warm welcome I had heard about from Mary, who with her partner Aidan, creates everything you see and taste at Kilshanny House.
Eating the Burren at Kilshanny House
As Mary told me, everything she serves is sourced from 5-10 miles away. Fish from the Atlantic Ocean, fresh goat cheese from just down the road, greens from near Galway Bay, herbs from the backyard garden, a fresh bread baked daily by Aidan.
I hesitate to call the food simple, as it tasted anything but. Each sip, bite, and nibble burst with flavor. Paired with the stunning presentation, our entire meal was a feast for the senses.
We began with an incredible Carrot and Ginger Soup served with Aidan's brown bread. Though he won't share the recipe, I did taste a bit of treacle (molasses). The slight sweetness was a perfect compliment to the warm soup. Tip – don't ask for a spoon, this is meant to be sipped from the cup.
Following the soup Mary presented a feast: the spectacular Inagh Goat's Cheese infused with garden herbs and served with a beetroot & black currant puree (so beautiful it could have been dessert!), a warm and filling Shepherd's Pie, the Corn-fed Filet of Chicken was so incredibly moist and flavorful (the best I've ever tasted!), and the Trilogy of Burren Smoked Fish was just stunning in its presentation.
Thankfully my friend Susan (from Vibrant Ireland) and her partner had joined us – otherwise I'm afraid quite a bit of that incredible meal would have gone to waste!
Though the adults declined, my girls are never ones to pass up a sweet after a meal. I think Mary called this concoction of fresh berries, fresh cream, and home made meringue an “EatenMess”- though I have probably butchered the spelling. Bets were taken on whether the girls could each finish their large, fluffy concoctions. I should say that I am amazed they did, but really, it was so delicious that they couldn't help but scrape the cups clean!
As we left Kilshanny House a couple hours later, full and happy, people were beginning to arrive for a quick chat with friends over a freshly brewed espresso or a pint. Laughter combined with the sound of glasses being set onto tables made me wish we didn't have to rush off to evening plans – I could have easily sat in the pub all evening just absorbing the céad míle fáilte of this small Irish pub.
When You Visit Kilshanny House
Amazing as it may be, this is a two person operation. Mary is your chef and server, while Aidan mans the pub, brews the espresso, and bakes the bread. Your meal is created for you upon order, so prepare to relax and enjoy a chat – it's worth the wait!
There are no credit or debit card facilities at Kilshanny House, so do bring cash. If you forget, Aidan and Mary can direct you to an ATM just a few minutes drive from the pub.
In the winter months the pub doesn't serve food, but the bar is open. Be sure to check the website for any events that are coming up.
Other Tasty Spots in the Burren
The Burren Food Trail is filled with delicious places to stop for a wee bite, buy a few bits to stock your cottage, or enjoy a meal and a bit of craic.
A few of my favorite places:
Gus O'Connor's Pub in Doolin has long been a favorite of mine for their incredible Fish & Chips. Really, the best I've had anywhere (and I've had a lot!) Local musicians gather here (almost nightly) for an evening session.
Sanctuary Cafe at the Burren Nature Centre. The bakery here is just wonderful – and the light meals are tasty as well. A perfect place to relax after exploring the grounds. Or, do what I do and make use of the complimentary wifi while the kids enjoy the fabulous play areas!
St. Tola Irish Goats Cheese. As tasted at Kilshanny house. Plan a farm visit from April – September.
Linnalla Ice Cream, Ireland's most westerly ice cream parlour. Be sure to try the honeycomb.
Burren Smokehouse. As tasted at Kilshanny House. (Why wait to visit Ireland? International shipping available!)
Clareville House Kitchen Garden makes a wonderful variety of jams, relishes, and sauces.
Wild Kitchen isn't so much a place to visit as an experience. Oonagh leads wild food walks through the Burren followed by preparation and cooking of the foraged foods.
Cliffs View Café at the Cliffs of Moher uses the best local produce from County Clare and the view isn't bad, either!
Cliff Coast Coffee at Doolin Hostel. Their scones & giant cookies are perfect for an afternoon bite, and their pizzas hit the spot after a long day of touring when you just want to stay in with your feet up in front of a warm fire.
Quills Deli in Lahinch (open for the summer season) is the perfect place to pick up tasty food for your evening meals in.
What is your favorite place to eat in the Burren? Share in the comments- and be sure to tell everyone why it's so great!