Brennan brothers ‘thrilled’ at latest restaurant accolade

John and Francis Brennan are “thrilled” at taking the title of Ireland’s best hotel restaurant.

The Park Hotel, in Kenmare, Co Kerry, beat off the Marker Hotel in Dublin and Wilde’s at The Lodge that sits within Ashford Castle estate in Cong, Co Mayo.

Other major contenders for the All-Ireland best hotel and guesthouse title in the Irish Restaurant Awards were Ballyfin Demesne, Co Laois, and Newforge House, Magheralin, Co Armagh.

The Brennans heaped praise on the kitchen team at the Park Hotel led by James Coffey and the dining room team led by Louise Lyne.


“James is constantly sourcing the best local producers for his innovative menus and Louise ensures wonderful service is delivered with Kerry charm,” they said.

“Park Hotel Kenmare celebrated its 120th birthday in 2017 and awards like this help us to the next milestone.”

The national awards, now in their 10th year, are run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) and over 90,000 online nominations were received this year.

Etto on Merrion Row in Dublin, restaurant of the year 2018, was also named as best customer service.

Dublin’s Etto Restaurant took home the coveted All-Ireland best restaurant award 2018.

RAI said Etto offers a daily changing, seasonal menu, served in a relaxed and informal environment. 

Dishes are “honest and simple”, with ingredients from local producers and suppliers where possible.

All-Ireland best chef winner was Jess Murphy from Kai in Galway. The RAI said Ms Murphy sources fresh, organic produce from local suppliers to create daily menus that are “bursting with flavour, texture, and colour.”


Pilgrim’s in Rosscarbery, Co Cork, was named all-Ireland best casual dining winner. The small West Cork restaurant is popular because it serves a seasonally crafted and ever-changing daily menu.

The award of all-Ireland best restaurant manager went to Sally O’Brien of Farmgate Restaurant and Country Store in Midelton, Co Cork. 

Sally O’Brien, Farmgate, third from left, with head chef David Doran, receives the award for best restaurant manager.

“I am thrilled for myself and thrilled for our team. It was a huge surprise because there are amazing people out there in our industry,” said Ms O’Brien.

“My mother, Máróg O’Brien, started the business in 1983 and 13 years ago she needed some time out so I went in temporarily – not planning on staying, and am there ever since.”

Vying for the award were Talha Pasha of Michael’s, Mount Merrion, Dublin; Lee Hanifa of the Cottage Restaurant, Jamestown, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim; Joanne Harding of the Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon, New Ross, Co Wexford; and Saul McConnell of NOBLE, Holywood, Co Down.

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