The who’s who of the Irish travel and hospitality industry gathered in The Merrion hotel last night to celebrate 50 years of Ireland’s Blue Book, the exquisite collection of country house hotels, manor houses, castles, and restaurants. CEO Michelle Maguire was on hand to welcome three new properties, Cliff at Lyons in County Kildare, The Estate at Dromquinna in County Kerry and Glover’s Alley by Andy McFadden on Dublin’s Stephen’s Green, bringing to 65 the total number of properties for 2024.
The glamorous event was hosted by radio and television legend Marty Whelan and guests included former Blue Book CEO Hilary Finlay and in-coming Chairperson Marcus Roulston of Ardtara Country House, John and Gwen Brennan of The Estate at Dromquinna, Hazel Allen of Ballymaloe, one of the original properties, Catherine Dundon of Dunbrody House, as well as eminent food writer, Georgina Campbell and Fiona Cunningham Marketing Manager ROI of Tourism Northern Ireland.
In speaking about this milestone anniversary year Michelle Maguire commented,
“In commemorating fifty illustrious years of Ireland’s Blue Book, we take immense pride in the high standards we’ve set, the enduring friendships we’ve cultivated along the way, and most significantly, the cherished guests we’ve had the honour to serve. As we celebrate this significant milestone, we look forward to marking this momentous year in 2024 and turning a new Blue Book page to all that lies ahead for our members and their guests”
Guests enjoyed a delectable selection of canapés including Seabass and Dublin Bay Prawn Bouillabaisse with a Saffron Aioli Croute, Mini Salt Baked Potato with Killowen Cream Cheese and Chives, Irish Beefsteak Burger with Dubliner Cheddar and Red Onion Marmalade, Scotch Quail Eggs with Caper and Parsley Mayonnaise, and Arancini of Saffron and Champagne with Aioli and were served delicious Champagne Deutz which was generously sponsored by Febvre Wines.
About the New Members
Nestled in the heart of County Kildare, Cliff at Lyons is a meticulously restored 18th-century village boasting a mill, dovecote, walled garden, water features, stone cottages, and a range of amenities. Within its idyllic bounds lie the botanically inspired Well in the Garden Spa, the period-styled Mill Restaurant, an artisanal gourmet café, The Pantry and a plush suite of event venues. The culinary offering is led by Donegal-born Executive Head Chef Sean Smith, whose ethos is rooted in marrying regional flavours and contemporary techniques. Seasonality is central to the design and preparation of his menus using the exceptional local produce from Waterford and Kildare to ensure the dishes reflect the rich surroundings and cultural heritage of the property. Accommodation options include elegantly furnished rooms and quaint cottages steeped in country charm. This magnificent estate is a true celebration of Irish culture and heritage, promises a riveting tale at every turn.
Also new to the collection is The Estate at Dromquinna in Country Kerry. With its extensive woodlands and rolling grounds, this 40-acre waterfront setting feels like a world apart. Sprinkled with a unique collection of places to stay from Luxury Camping, Estate Houses, The Hideaway, Potting Sheds to the Courtyard Mews, the estate has been lovingly restored with a unique character. The safari style tents located on the property allow guests to connect with nature without foregoing creature comforts. With real beds and crisp linen, guests can admire breathtaking views of the Wild Atlantic Way while enjoying a delicious continental breakfast hamper delivered to their private veranda each morning. The Nantucket inspired Boathouse Bistro is also located on the estate, serving a delicious selection of local dishes.
The third new property is Glover’s Alley by Andy McFadden, a contemporary and refined dining experience overlooking the iconic St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Having proudly retained its Michelin star for the second consecutive year in 2023, the restaurant offers a delightful fusion of great local Irish produce with a touch of French inspiration. Located in a 1930s-inspired first-floor dining space at the five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel, Glover’s Alley is renowned for McFadden’s creative menus, unique setting and ambiance, excellent service, and an outstanding wine list. In addition to its traditional offerings, the restaurant also boasts exceptional vegetarian and vegan menus.
With the addition these new members, the collection now boasts a total of 65 exceptional properties, each contributing to the rich tapestry of Irish hospitality and culture.