Situated on sprawling coastal land in Ireland’s scenic County Clare, The Lodge at Doonbeg is the last word on elegant country escapes. -Lindsay Lambert
Boston is a handy gateway to Western Europe and the UK, making an escape across the pond from the North Shore easy to pull off. We recently did just that, setting our sights on the bucolic coastal town of Doonbeg, in southwest Ireland’s County Clare. There, we discovered a postcard-perfect landscape of green fields and sapphire sea-not unlike our own backyard here on the North Shore, but with a history, warmth, and richness all its own.
A world-renowned golf resort, The Lodge at Doonbeg draws guests from all corners of the globe, eager to take a few swings on its Greg Norman-designed 18-hole links-style course. Golf is a big draw at Doonbeg, but happily for non-golfers, offerings here reach far beyond the links. The resort is also home to the magnificent White Horse Spa and offers plenty of activities on and off site. (A bicycle ride into Doonbeg village gives guests the lay of the land and a chance to check out the ruins of Doonbeg Castle.) Note, though, that the ebb and flow of the ocean at the property’s edge and the lodge’s deeply cozy accommodations make it easy to hole up here and never head out on the town. doonbeglodge.com.
When dining at Doonbeg’s restaurants, The Long Room and Darby’s Bar, you won’t find boiled meat and potatoes. Instead, in the Long Room, guests can expect anything from langoustine and fennel ravioli to roasted loin of venison. At Darby’s, pub food takes a sophisticated turn, offering fare like fresh seafood stew made with the local catch. Pub classics like burgers and fish and chips are light years beyond the versions back home. doonbeglodge.com. In Doolin, a fishing village some 25 miles north of Doonbeg, having dinner at Roadford
House is like being hosted by your worldly best friends, who also happen to be gifted chefs. The B&B/restaurant’s menu offers a little something for everyone, from charcuterie and smoked salmon to lamb and vegetarian, often with an international twist. Each dish’s beautiful presentation is only part of the near-perfect package. roadfordrestaurant.com. A trip to Ireland wouldn’t be official without a pint (or two) of Guinness, and Keating’s Bar, in the village of Kilbaha, not only offers a refreshing seaside setting in which to throw a few back, but it also bears the distinction of being the “nearest bar to New York, as the crow flies.” keatingsbar.com.
In the vast limestone region of Northern Clare known as the Burren, the Burren Perfumery is the stuff of storybooks. Pick up perfumes, soaps, and other sweet-smelling products (they’re made on site), and sit for tea in the tea room. burrenperfumery.com. At the Burren Smoke House, guests can sample smoked locally caught wild Irish salmon-there’s also trout and mackerel-pick up souvenirs and specialty Irish chocolates, and learn about the smoking process. burrensmokehouse.ie. Want to catch a wave? Head to the surf village of Lahinch, whose streets are lined with cute shops, pubs, and galleries. tourclare.com/lahinch. A visit to County Clare wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the Cliffs of Moher by boat. Clifftop paths allow visitors to peer down at the sea, but only when viewed upward from the water is it possible to truly appreciate the cliffs’ incredible height and beauty. cliffsofmoher.ie.