A Five Star Castle for Mom and Dad

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Copyright Michael Bencik 2018

Seeing how my parents were coming out to visit, we felt they needed to have a nice relaxing vacation. My sisters have them running ragged in their 70s; between soccer games, lego competitions, swimming, concerts, skiing, snorkeling, driving, driving, and yes, more driving. So we did not want their visit to be like that. Nope, so we arranged something really special. Seeing how the Irish drive on the wrong side of the road, no one wanted them to be driving over here anyway. We got reservations in a 5 star castle and I was their chauffeur. The only small print on the deal was that they had to baby sit Skylar.

 

Locke Eske is about 12 kilometers outside of Donegal town. Driving down a dark forested lane, we skirted around a large lake you could see hints of here and there. We passed a lovely gatehouse, with roof crumbling down, in a state of abandonment. After skirting over numerous large speed bumps, the road branches and you have a large dragon sculpture to meet you. Turning left the illuminated castle rises up in all its glory.  There is a large square tower jutting up over the remaining building.  There are two large 3-story bays off to the right of the tower flanking the arched doorway. If front was a fountain with a large fish statue dominating the center.

We were all very excited to be staying at this five star gem. We got adjoining rooms with my parents for the instant babysitter effect. The first night in a hotel with Skylar is always tough; she does not take to new locations. So its always a rough night. We decided to have drinks in the bar area, where I tried some of the local Poitín or moonshine. Drinking gasoline would be just as nice.

Next morning we went for a walk around the lake. There is a great walk circling the lake with large planks. It’s very lovely and tranquil there. On the other side of the lake was another 5 star private resort called Harvey’s Point that has rooms going for a lot more than we paid.

During the day we shot off to the cliffs but we returned in early afternoon for a swim in the spa pool. I will go on record that this was one thing I was bit disappointed with. So not knowing where the pool was, we all headed down in our swimsuits and asked where the pool was. A person at the front desk was nice enough to escort us out a door, in the rain, and point to the horizon and say its down that way. Well isn’t that just wonderful. Perhaps he could have said it was 2 football fields away, and that we may want to go back to our room and put regular clothes on but no, he watched us tromp through the driving rain to the pool.

The pool was made to feel spa like, and they put it in the original outbuildings, so it’s small and long. I was not impressed at all, especially for a five star hotel. Plus, no hot tub; come on man! Is this five star of 2? Yvonne was nice enough to go grab robes for my parents.

That night we had our dinner reservations at Locke Eske. We had the earliest reservations, and they ushered us to a padded booth. Unfortunately we chose a high chair for Skylar, which really just inspired the monkey side of her, so she was not up for five star dining. Needless to say, she was in full attack mode, but the staffs were wonderful in trying to distract and tame the beast in her, while at the same time providing us with topnotch service. It’s was a wise decision to put us in a padded cubby for sure.

The staff asked what the occasion was, and at first we said my parents visiting, then we backpedaled and said it was Skylar’s birthday. A small fib, but truthfully my parents had not seen her for her birthday, so only four months off. So at the end they brought out a little marshmallow cakes with a candle for Skylar to blow out.

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Copyright Michael Bencik 2018

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Copyright Michael Bencik 2018

 

 

Food highlights: Garden Humus, my mom ordered this. The humus was coated in ground up olives, which looked like beautiful black soil. Then planted in the humus were baby carrots, beets, and asparagus. It literally looked like a small garden plot, with fresh vegetables growing out of it.  Another highlight was a gorgeous egg that the staff then poured hot chocolate on it, melting away before your eyes to see the treat inside. This is just really cool to watch, beside yummy. Everything that they brought out was plated in ways that I had never seen before, creative and delicious. Again, the staff was top notch and the food was beyond words good.

That night Yvonne and I hit the bar and library area for drinks. We met some other couples, one from Dublin, and the other from Bushmill’s area. We had a great night talking politics and farming.

In the morning we did the history tour of Locke Eske, which is to say 60 percent of the building was destroyed in a fire, and nothing inside is really historic. They did a great job though rebuilding, though in my opinion it’s a bit like any other hotel out there. Needs more character. One of the daughters of the original owners came back in her 80s and said that they had redone the layout fairly accurately. I still recommend the tour though. I never would have though that they would have been able to do so much with what was really just ruins. It gives me hope for Duckett’s Grove being saved.

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