My Mount Juliet masterclass: The way to outwit Kilkenny’s good brown trout

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The second I requested the query, it was clear that I used to be already in bother: “Are trout good fish?” I puzzled out loud, whereas making an attempt to wriggle into lengthy rubber waders.

an O’Neill, the fishery supervisor of Mount Juliet Property, checked out me with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Tonight, you’ll know the reply to that query,” he remarked, whereas handing fishing rods to my son and me and heading for the River Nore. A wonderful day of fishing was about to start.

It began with a tough father-son dilemma. My son Sebastian, who’s 20 and half Irish, likes to fish. A scholar in London, he made me promise to take him for a day journey to catch wild salmon or trout when he got here again to Eire earlier this month.

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The executive suite at Mount Juliet

The chief suite at Mount Juliet

The chief suite at Mount Juliet

As for me, I do like to go fishing with him however, I’ve to confess, solely after I can achieve this in luxurious circumstances. So, I will agree to face an entire day in a river, however in return I actually wish to keep in plush environment and be served a scrumptious meal within the night. The reply to our dilemma: the five-star Mount Juliet Property in Co Kilkenny with its grand fishing expertise.

I knew Mount Juliet, which lies just a little greater than an hour from Dublin, from its nice fame. Associates who’re eager golfers had been lyrical in regards to the Jack Nicklaus-designed course set throughout 180 acres of rolling inexperienced countryside. Lately, it was voted Eire’s Greatest Parkland Golf Course by The Golfer’s Information to Eire. Simply a few weeks in the past, Mount Juliet’s well-known par-four fourth was featured within the Irish Impartial’s ‘Prime 50 Holes in Irish Golf’.

It may be a paradise for golfers, however my son and I weren’t after eagles and birdies, however salmon and brown trout… the Mount Juliet Property is located on the famend River Nore and presents its company loads of fishing alternatives. So, we booked a time out with Dan O’Neill, who would introduce fly-fishing novices like us to crucial methods.

Dan, who combines his job as a instructor in close by Kilkenny metropolis together with his function as fishery supervisor, turned out to be the right information. Sure, the river had flooded a few days in the past and the water was nonetheless too excessive. No, there wasn’t a single salmon, however there have been loads of trout and Dan would assist us discover them.

I realise that I simply mentioned we’re not into eagles and birdies. Truly, we’re. The day earlier than we went fishing, we determined not solely to discover Kilkenny, which in line with my son is “one of many nicest cities in Eire”, with its spectacular fort and gardens, but additionally to participate in a Hawk Stroll on the property.

To be frank, I used to be afraid that it may be a little bit of a vacationer entice, for individuals who wish to stroll round with a chicken of prey on their arm. But the extra that Caroline from Hawkeye Falconry taught us about her eagles, hawks and owls, the extra enthusiastic we each turned.

It is onerous to not be impressed when an enormous hawk swoops down from the treetops to eat hen meat off your (luckily gloved!) hand. It was cute, too, to see how that little owl flew backwards and forwards between Sebastian and me.

Nonetheless, we had been there within the first place to not admire birds of prey, however to be taught new fishing methods.

Dan introduced us to the Nore and taught us tips on how to “give our canine a drink” (the rod goes right down to the water), to “reply our telephone” (the deal with of the rod comes as much as your ear), to wade via the fast-flowing water, to solid the road, to maintain our eyes on the floating fly, and to repeat this over and over and over. “No worries” when the hook and line get fully tousled, the fly is misplaced or the hook is caught. Dan was serving to us out time and again and once more…

The stretch of river on the White Bridge, the place we had been fishing, should be one of the vital peaceable locations on earth. Throughout your complete day, from 9am to 5pm, there have been actually solely the three of us.

In the meantime, on the opposite facet of the river had been a few of the most lovely horses I’ve ever seen in my life. That is the world-famous Ballylinch Stud, one among Eire’s main stallion farms. Standing as much as my waist within the Nore, I could not assist fascinated about the historical past of the 1,000-acre stud farm. It was once a part of the Mount Juliet Property, however was purchased in 2014 by the American entrepreneur, John C Malone.

I solely know a few of that historical past of the place as a result of yesterday, my son and I met Des McGrath, a pleasant native man of about 70 years of age. He began work as a caddy on the property 14 years in the past, however now proudly carries the title ‘Visitor Relations Supervisor’ on his badge. Visitor relations supervisor seems to be an elaborate title for ‘native historian’, or ‘the person who is aware of every thing about Mount Juliet’, or simply ‘the person who likes to inform good tales’.

“Certainly, I like to carry hearth chats,” Des tells us.

“Again in March, earlier than Covid-19, I had in the future an viewers of 88 individuals listening to me from 5pm till 6.30pm. An hour and a half! And you would hear a pin drop!”

Then off he goes… about this property, which was constructed between 1752 and 1757 by the Earl of Carrick as a gesture for his spouse, Woman Juliana (Juliet). In regards to the Walton household and Oliver Cromwell, in regards to the Civil Battle and the McCalmont household, in regards to the truth that there have been 100 individuals working there, about Tiger Woods, who gained the WGC-American Categorical Championship on the property in 2002 and about…Owen Brennan.

“You do not know who Owen Brennan is?” Des challenges me. “He labored right here between 1940 and 1944 as a blacksmith earlier than emigrating to the US. In 2013 he got here again to go to this place together with his two sons. I confirmed them round. Owen, Tom and John Brennan. Certainly… that man, John Brennan, was by then head of the CIA.” He smiles.

So far as I do know, John Brennan did not do any fishing when he was right here, however casting within the Nore seems to be lively, technical and enjoyable. Sebastian masters the approach way more shortly than me and simply earlier than lunch I hear him shout out when he catches his first brown trout. It has a wonderful color and a really first rate measurement (which saved rising over the course of the night, as many fish miraculously do).

As Dan taught us, Sebastian rigorously put the trout again into the river. “Fishing is all about getting misplaced,” Dan advised me. “You must focus so onerous on casting that you simply neglect every thing else. And nothing is extra rewarding than catching your first trout. It is a feeling you always remember.” I hoped to get that feeling after lunch.

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Speaking of lunch, once we had organized the fishing, the lodge requested if there have been any allergic reactions or dietary necessities that the kitchen ought to have in mind when making ready our picnic. And what a picnic! Out of an enormous basket got here two blankets, three crystal glasses, bottles of nonetheless and glowing water and recent fruit juice, linen serviettes, picket cutlery, containers of sandwiches with salmon, egg, cheese, ham… to not point out the scones, desserts, whipped cream and recent fruit.

The standard of the meals is certainly one of many many causes to go to Mount Juliet. The night earlier than our fishing expertise, Sebastian and I had booked a desk for 2 within the Woman Helen Restaurant. For the final seven years, the restaurant has proudly carried a Michelin star. The “seven-course signature tasting menu” (€105 per particular person) was a real gastronomic journey, that includes scallops (leek velouté, seaweed, cucumber); cod (violet artichoke, broad beans, lemon); Kilkenny rosé veal (girolles, parsley, vin jaune sauce). Then the desserts had been nonetheless to come back…

The French sommelier, Jonathan, who was born in Montpellier was, rightly so, very happy with his Muscadet de Sèvre, 2017 and his Gnarly Head Outdated Vine, Zinfandel, USA, 2014, however he admitted that one of many important causes he cherished Mount Juliet was “la pêche à la mouche” (fly fishing). Jonathan, we had learnt from Dan, is a talented fly fisherman, simply catching 4 or 5 huge trout each time he leaves his wine cellar for the river.

As for me, by the tip of the day I certainly received a solution to my query: are trout good fish? My son a minimum of caught one first rate brown trout. Me… I solely caught two tiny ones, who clearly weren’t but good sufficient to keep away from biting on my bait. Clearly, I launched them again into the river, the place they’ll develop larger and get smarter. And after they’re larger, I will return and attempt to catch them once more as a result of (excuse the horrible pun), I actually am hooked on this five-star fishing expertise.

Go to www.mountjuliet.ie, (056) 777 3000. From now till December 20, Mount Juliet Property in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, is providing a Fall for Mount Juliet autumn particular: e book two nights B&B midweek and obtain a 3rd evening as a deal with. Bookable Sunday to Wednesday, third evening is room-only fee. Provide is €213 per particular person sharing, per evening. Be aware that bookings for all actions and eating should be made previous to arrival. For info on fishing journeys, go to www.mountjuliet.ie/past-times/fishing/ For particulars of Hawkeye Falconry, go to www.hawkeyefalconry.ie For extra on locations to go to and issues to do within the Medieval Metropolis this autumn, go to www.visitkilkenny.ie

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