Fancy living how the other half live? Get a taste for it at Delphi Lodge in beautiful Connemara
Spring has officially sprung and we’re hitting the road. Throwing a bag in the car and escaping for a few days. Off to see how the other half live. We’re going way out west where the winter sun sets over the ocean.
Galway city is bright and lively. Yes we love it. But it’s not our final destination this time round. When we said we’re escaping to the west, we really meant it. We’re heading out through Moycullen, Oughterard and beyond Lough Corrib. To captivating Connemara, so heart-shatteringly beautiful, there really must be a God. Then passing Maam Cross and the Maumturk Moutains, on little roads with nothing but sheep for companions. Finally, the gateway of the country lane, that leads to our resting place, Delphi Lodge in the stunning Delphi Valley of Connemara.
General Manager Michael Wade is bounding up to the car even before its doors are open. He must have heard the first crunch of wheels on gravel when we turned into the drive. Shining eyes and a warm smile greets us. ‘How are you? Welcome. Can I help with your bags?’ That’s service for you. This man is a born natural to the hospitality industry. There are eyes in the back of his head. Nothing any of his house guests needs escapes his attention. Michael ushers us inside this gorgeous characterful ivy clad country house.
It’s not long before we’re by the fire in the comfy sitting room, sipping tea while Michael reveals the history of Delphi Lodge. Not exactly a Manor House it turns out, but a Georgian period grand old fishing and hunting lodge built in 1830 by the Marquis of Sligo, as a sporting hideaway. It soon became the place to visit for British Army officers who wanted to enjoy a spot of fishing on the private lake and rivers, and hunt on the Delphi estate. King Edward VII came here in 1903. Now we’re talking. What’s good enough for a king is definitely good enough for us. We look around and like to think that even though Delphi Lodge is now a luxury country house accommodation, with every need catered for in the times we are in, apart from the odd lick of paint and some new wallpaper now and again, not much has changed here since the Royals were in town. That’s a nice feeling.
In the days when Trinity College mathematician Alec Wallace ran the house, between 1958 and 1971, Delphi was a house party destination for his college colleagues, friends, poets and Nobel Prize winners, who came here to fish and dine on the catches of the day. We’d like to have been flies on the wall for the conversations those guys had around the dinner table! And no doubt we’ll be regaled with a few new tales of our own this evening, when we join the other house guests for a convivial dinner around that same big table in the formal dining room. But not before we’ve unwound with a bath and a power snooze on the beautiful feather soft antique bed in the perfectly charming bedroom. Kick off the shoes. We could get used to living to the manor born.
Part of the fun of Delphi is the house party feel it still carries. Whether you come here alone for peace and quiet, as a twosome looking for a romantic getaway, or as a group travelling together, it just feels like home from home. Our dinner is preceded by drinks in the sitting room. Casual pre-dinner drinks hosted by Michael and his wife and enjoyed on the squashy sofas by the fire while chatting to the other guests. No formal bar or bartenders here. We choose our own from the drinks cabinet with its honesty box. Guests put money in the box for what aperitif they drink – hence why it’s called an ‘honesty’ box. How quaint is that? And how comforting that they’re still able to preserve lovely informal touches like this.
A fine feast of estate caught salmon, smoked by Graham Robertson at Connemara Smokehouse, followed by mountain lamb from the Delphi estate, cooked by Delphi’s head Chef Pascal Marinot, is enjoyed by all. Dessert and cheese arrives. Wine and conversation flows. The evening is over all too quickly.
In the morning, after an informal breakfast at the dining table, which other guests attend at their own pace, we join Michael for a wander round the grounds of the house. Delphi has a sustainable wild salmon fishery. The little rivers here with their pea gravel beds, make the perfect spawning grounds for fish to come back to, year after year. Michael is a son of the soil, a one-time salad grower in North County Dublin, now a keen estate man who knows this land like the back of his hand. He and his Estate Manager David McEvoy, run the grounds and fishery, returning around two thousand baby salmon to the waters each year. These young fish take to the quieter rivers to grow and develop, before heading out to the Atlantic Ocean to mature to adulthood. It’s then they will come back to breed, and the cycle begins again. The estate includes the Bundorragha River, Fin Lough, Doo Lough, and Glencullin. Plenty of places to cast a line, and we’re not stuck for tackle. Delphi has a rod room, where we can find everything we need, another bonus of living at this level. Of course there’s going to be a tackle room. And wellies and wet gear too.
A couple of days in this territory is a boost to the soul, It’s a spiritual spot with mysteries embedded deep in this valley. We can’t help but soak up that calming energy and bask in the warm glow of the welcome Delphi Lodge provides. Sipping coffee at the little table at the front of the house, listening to the quiet, soaking up the morning’s mountain fresh air and watching keen anglers already out on the lake, scratching their heads as a wily silver backed wild Atlantic salmon leaps out of the water just feet from their boat, we know we’re in a heavenly idyllic place. That big fella didn’t get caught this time. But as every good fisherman knows, there’s always a next time.
What We’re Lovin’ About Delphi Lodge…
The idyllic location, with country walks, mountain trails for hiking and biking, and peaceful spots to picnic.
A wealth of activities go on in the area, check out Delphi’s Event Calendar for a list of what’s on month by month.
Informal dining where you get chance to meet other guests round the table, and strike up interesting conversations over the best local and estate produce and great wines.
Superb relaxed breakfast that leaves you full to bursting before you set off for your day’s adventure.
No formal check in desk or hotel feel. This is a home above all else and it feels like that from the get go.
The management’s superb professionalism, local food and regional knowledge, friendly service and exquisite customer care approach! Good attitudes!
Private House Parties, for every occasion, from small weddings to private fishing and/or shooting parties, walking groups and family celebrations, the house can be hired for between twenty and forty people for a minimum of two nights.
Delphi Killary Fjord Historical Famine Outing includes a power boat ride on the fjord to an abandoned famine village in one of the worst hit areas in Ireland, poignant and unforgettable.
Delphi Seafood and Farming Traditions Day bring you closer to nature with a trip to Killary Fjord where fine shellfish is produced. Then there’s a country walk through stunning scenery to a traditional mountain sheep farm for sheep shearing, turf cutting and working sheep dog demos.
Fishing. The salmon fishing season 2016 started on the last weekend of January. The first few weeks usually sees a bit of space available for those who haven’t booked and are dying to get a catch. We’re told it’s looking good for this season already, with a large fish caught on the opening day and another one jumping off the line, the one that got away this time round. But it bodes well for the future months.