Take us to the island

Inis Méain Restaurant & Suites is getting ready to reopen for the season, with a wine bar bringing a new dimension to the stylish space

 Marie-Thérèse de Blacam setting tables in the dining room in preparation for the new tourist season on Inis Meáin

Marie-Thérèse de Blacam setting tables in the dining room in preparation for the new tourist season on Inis Meáin


Do you remember the old Guinness advert? The quiet island pub, the ticking clock, the dog snoozing on the stone-flagged floor pricking up his ears at the sudden call: “Tá siad ag teacht!”

It’s a little like that on Inis Meáin just now, as Marie-Thérèse and Ruairí de Blacam are watching the clock, the weather and the tides, as they await the arrival of their new wine bar, by boat from the mainland.

That’s right: the new wine bar for the renowned Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites has been waiting on the mainland, on the Aran Islands cargo boat, ready for installation to start the new season with a swing. Oh, and all the new wine stock too. The weather has been against the de Blacams, the last scheduled sailing
was missed, but Marie-Thérèse is

“It actually is just like the ad, I’m listening to the clock ticking, and thinking come on, come on. We’re hugely privileged to have the site here, but it’s hugely challenging too,” she adds.

In these days of instant gratification, how often do we ever have to wait for anything? That’s part of the special charm of Inis Meáin, where the restaurant, which seats just 16, with additional space in the wine bar, has garnered superlatives and accolades around the world.

It’s a slower pace, a gentler pace, but also an exciting one, as waves spray the rocks and clouds scud over stone-walled fields. The food is island fresh, grown in the poly tunnel, or harvested from the land and sea.

That doesn’t mean you miss out on your comforts, though. The five suites (starting from €440 per suite for a two-night stay) are stylishly modern, and the fine wine list includes specially selected organic and biodynamic options.

The de Blacams opened in 2007, but such are the island ways of working, they are, as Marie-Thérèse puts it, only now “getting closer to what we always wanted to do”. Seeing as the Financial Times listed the restaurant as one of its 12 best in the world in 2011, you get a sense of the incredibly high standards at work here.

A video on the website gives you a sense of the extraordinary rugged beauty, and whets the appetite for an island adventure. But better hurry, the suites are already fully booked for May and June, although there is also plenty of accommodation for diners in B&Bs across the island. The Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites reopen next week.

All they need now is their wine bar.

See inismeain.com.

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