CARAGH LAKE, Ireland Caragh Lake, prominent in many photos of
Carrig House, is largely window dressing. The shore is uninvitingly
muddy. Though there is a dock, this is no beach resort.
But what window dressing: a sinuous lake reaching back through
the foothills toward MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest
mountain range. The vista shifts from dramatic cloudscapes to
rainbows and back, with, of course, frequent showers in
Carrig House, on the Iveragh Peninsula, is a fine base for
exploring Ireland’s southwest. It offers 17 pleasant rooms, good
food and shelter from a climate that most travelers would rather
look at than live in.
It is not a place for a working vacation. There is no Internet
access from the rooms (no televisions either, for that matter). The
staff will offer time on the hotel computer but even that isn’t a
sure thing: Ireland has gone high-tech as a member of the EU, but
utilities still are at the mercy of North Atlantic gales.
Breakfast is as to be expected in a country inn: hearty. The
thick bacon and, for those who can deal with the idea, the black
pudding are particularly good. Dinner includes the usual lamb
(good) and beef and some seafood, plus some interesting
concoctions, such as a tartlet of wild asparagus and mushrooms.
The inn is surrounded by a rich garden of the sort that can grow
only in the fog and rain and mild temperatures of an exposed
leeward shore in high latitudes.
Beyond the grounds, there are extensive opportunities for
tramping and touring. The lake is within the Ring of Kerry, the
road tour of the Iveragh Peninsula, reaching seaward from Killarney
and its lakes. The drive takes five hours.
You may want to return for byways, such as the road through
Ballagh Bearn Pass. If you read the map right, this single-lane
track will lead to the lakeshore road back to the inn. Or you may
spend a forenoon at Muckross House in Killarney. (Don’t try a
driving shortcut through the Gap of Dunloe: feet and hooves
A little farther afield is the Dingle Peninsula and some
remarkable dry-stone structures from the Dark Ages. Most are low
domes known as beehive huts; the most spectacular is the Gallarus
Oratory, a religious site dating to about 800 but looking as if it
was constructed last week.
In all, Carrig House has the comforts you expect of a country
inn in the British Isles as well as some of Ireland’s most
picturesque landscapes and traces of its most distinctive
353-66-976- 9100 or www.carrighouse.com.