CHRISTMAS is a time when many Irish businesses “make” their year, generating enough revenue to get them through the long winter months. Traditionally, Carrygerry Country House has not been one of these, as it attracts a strong American tourist trade throughout the summer months. However the festive season is now, more than ever, in sharp focus for the Newmarket-on-Fergus guest house and restaurant, due to the travel disruptions enforced by the Pandemic in 2021.
Carrygerry Country House, under the guidance of Gillian and Niall Ennis, developed the Carrygerry Range in 2010, a range of exclusive and homemade artisan products including creamy seafood chowder, jams, chutneys, dressings, patés and more. Using local ingredients where possible, they are produced in the kitchen by Niall and his team. It would prove to be an inspiring move as the Ennis family were able to diversify their business model when dealing with the pandemic.
This range is available from either the on-site shop, their website, along with eight retailers around the county (The Fruit & Veg shop in Shannon, Crowe’s in Minister’s Cross, Crowe’s in Kilkishen, Crowe’s in Quin, Coote’s in Ennis, Lynch’s Centra, Ryan’s Centra and O’Brien’s on the Tulla Road in Ennis).
Gillian admits that these local shops offered Carrygerry Country House a lifeline as they refocused their attentions on their homemade range over the last 18 months. “They’ve been hugely important to us. Without them, we would have had very, very little so it was great, even being able to keep some staff on our books. They’ve always been a huge part of our business since we started the Carrygerry Range, the shops are so important to us.
“There’s been huge changes over the last 18 months. Initially our business would have been mostly American tourists which would have been non-existent this year. Our accommodation side of the business was hugely reduced but the positive was, we had all Irish business. So while the summer months were quieter than usual, within reason it was okay.
“We’re lucky enough in that we have the products side of things and that stayed strong for us throughout lockdown and then that continued throughout the year and then for Christmas we have the hampers.”
The Christmas Hampers are sold from the House or can be ordered online from December 1. “We’ll have our shop open in the House where all the products will be on display, and people can put together their own hampers or they can buy ones that are pre-made,” explains Gillian, adding that hampers generally range in price from €30-€200. In addition to the Carrygerry range of products, they also include options for Clare-produced cheeses, crackers, biscuits and wine.
Carrygerry Country House – built in 1793 – last year developed an e-commerce website, carrygerryhouse.com/shop, with the help of Local Enterprise Board Clare and Gillian admits to being surprised by the customer uptake on the facility. “A lot of people are using the website to buy their hampers. We only went live last year with our hampers and products online; last Christmas there was a huge uptake on it, a lot of local people ordered online and paid for them and then either collected them or had them delivered.”
While last year saw Carrygerry Country House running successful weekend markets, it’s more a case of business as usual as they look ahead to 2022. “It looks positive for next year. 2022, I think will be a bumper year with tourists and the wedding business is very strong for next year. With the American flights coming back to Shannon in March, it’s all very positive and our American bookings are very strong so I think it will be very good, please God.
“The support from local people has been really fantastic. They are what has kept us going, the regular people in the shop buying the produce every week, it’s really appreciated and without them we may not be here now. So it is fantastic, the continued support we get year on year from people that come to the restaurant, that come back and buy our produce every week, who buy our hampers, it is huge and we really, really appreciate it, now more-so than ever.”
For more information on hampers or to make a restaurant booking, call Carrygerry Country House on 061-360500 or visit carrygerryhouse.com.
Carrygerry Country House is just one of the many retailers taking part in Click for Clare 2021. An initiative involving Local Enterprise Office Clare and The Clare Echo to drive local website traffic to Clare businesses with an online. Visit the Click for Clare Directory to see the many shops and businesses across the county taking part this year.