Kilshanny House is the ideal country pub, writes John McKenna

John and Sally McKennas’ Guides: ALL THE BEST PLACES TO EAT, SHOP AND STAY IN IRELAND. A LOCAL GUIDE TO LOCAL PLACES.

smoked salmon gateaux at Kilshanny HouseKilshanny House is a peach. It’s everyone’s idealised version of the Irish country pub, a place where everything gleams, where the courtesy and welcome are real and true, where the cooking is smart and shows its capable way around local artisan ingredients. You step in the door, take a look, and you’ve found a little bit of heaven,

st.tola goat's cheese infused in herbsMary Butler and Aidan Galvin are the owners, and they have brought a marvellous pair of sensibilities to the craft of running a County Clare landmark. The pub is set hard by the N86 between Ennistymon and Lisdoonvarna. If you need a Google map reference, just type in that it’s across the road from the wee field with the mare and the foal who was born a month ago, and that will get you there, sure as rain.

Pristine doesn’t describe the housekeeping. Everything gleams with the sheen of 5-star spit and polish. If you thought rural pubs inevitably offered the patina of age and nicotine, step into Kilshanny and see what a different sensibility can do. The rooms are bright and magazine photo-shoot styled, the feng shui is precise.
luxury grain free chocolate cake raw cacco toppingAnd the cooking completes the picture of a destination where everything has been considered. Tomato and celeriac soup is a beautiful combination, especially with a little slick of kefir cream. A gateau of excellent Burren Smokehouse smoked salmon is a lotus of superb salad leaves with slices of the beautiful smoked fish arrayed with a milliners precision amongst the dressed leaves. St Tola goats cheese is served with Aidan’s beautiful brown bread and another fine, fresh salad. A pudding of gluten-free chocolate cake is light and intense.

Mare and foal across road from Kilshanny HouseKilshanny House is quixotic and mesmerising. It’s yet another of those extraordinary Burren destinations – Gregans Castle, the Burren Perfumery, Hazel Mountain chocolates, the Burren Emporium – places where dynamic people have fashioned cutting-edge ventures in unlikely, idyllic destinations. Add it to your county Clare list of don’t–miss places.

And remember: straight across the road from the mare and the foal.

You can’t miss it.