2021 Award Winners 'THE LITTLE THINGS' AWARD 2021



HOUSEKEEPING: Mary Bourke The Mustard Seed Ballingarry Co Limerick

The Cinderella of hospitality, good housekeeping is the behind-the-scenes ‘engine room’ activity that is meant to be unnoticed, but when everything is just right it too often goes unrecognised as well. And yet no matter where you go, from five star hotel to the humblest B&B or café, housekeeping is the foundation of every comfortable stay or relaxing dining experience – and it has taken on a crucial role of late, with the safety and wellbeing of both guests and staff at stake. Good housekeeping staff abound throughout Ireland, but the best are not only well trained but also dedicated to the job – and have often been inspired by an outstanding manager. A great example is Mary Bourke, Accommodation Manager at the much-loved Co Limerick country house and restaurant, The Mustard Seed. A quietly important presence for many years, Mary has instilled a great housekeeping ethos in recent times with Covid compliance and has happily worked extended hours to ensure the bedrooms are fresh and spotless as ever for every lucky guest.

TOILETRIES: The Handmade Soap Company Slane Co Meath

There’s been talk recently of discouraging hotels from providing complimentary toiletries, but that would be a shame. The bathroom treats are small but, if well chosen, can be a special part of the guest experience and convey a sense of place as well as supporting the local economy. Before the pandemic we noticed a welcome increase in the number of establishments providing products made by small Irish businesses, and one brand that it was always a particular pleasure to find in the bathroom was The Handmade Soap Company – especially the refreshing (and long lasting) little blocks of sage-green boxed soap subtly infused with cedarwood, lemongrass and carrageen. Much is made of the wastefulness of in-room toiletries but it’s unlikely that too many of these are left behind. So, we are delighted to see that, although their hospitality market vanished overnight, The Handmade Soap Company has prospered. Speedily launching their lovely hand sanitiser when it was most needed, it introduced their products to a whole new retail market – and, with strong demand and a growing workforce, the rest is history.

FLOWERS: Flower Farmers of Ireland www.flowerfarmersofireland.ie

Nothing says ‘we care’ to guests like fresh flowers - but not all flowers are equal. Fresh, lively, seasonal flowers from the cutting garden or a local grower will out-class the superficial perfection of imported ones any day - and many locally grown blooms have beautiful natural fragrance too, which is rarely the case with those flown in from afar. The number of air miles racked up by Irish hotels’ flower orders doesn’t bear thinking about and, as well as the pleasure given to guests, there’s the satisfaction of supporting local businesses – in the same way as so many hospitality professionals now support Irish food producers as a matter of course. Weddings and events are usually the main business for many growers, so retail sales have been hugely important during Covid and, now that hospitality is getting back to ‘normal’ it’s time for hoteliers and event organisers to think local for flowers too. Although not all growers are members the go-to reference for finding local Irish flower farmers is Flower Farmers of Ireland which promotes sustainably grown local, seasonal flowers. All provide a range of services including local and, in some cases, national delivery – and, for smaller orders, individual local flower growers are at Farmers’ Markets and on the NeighbourFood website

TABLEWARE: Fermoyle Pottery Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry Fermoylepottery.ie

The simple background of white china to set off beautiful food may not have had its day, but bespoke pottery has become a highlight of the dining experience in leading restaurants of late and it seems to capture the zeitgeist of a time when provenance is king. A number of talented potters around Ireland are crafting pieces to order in collaboration with chefs, and many more are sure to take inspiration from their creativity, technical experimentation and sense of place. Stephen O’Connell and Alexis Bowman’s remotely located Kerry studio, Fermoyle Pottery, is an exceptional example that has caught the imagination of top chefs. Designed to complement the food in specific situations, their one-off pieces are adding to the enjoyment of a meal in some very special restaurants indeed, including the Co Kildare star, Aimsir, and Aniar in Galway city. And, significantly, bespoke Fermoyle pieces were presented to appreciative winners at both the Euro-Toques Ireland Food Awards and the Euro-Toques Young Chef Competition in 2019, so all the signs are that this is just the beginning.

SOFT FURNISHINGS: Magee 1866 Donegal Town Co Donegal

The current revival of interest in traditional Irish tweeds should ensure a bright future for our remaining weavers and manufacturers - which is very good news for the hospitality sector, as there’s no better way to create a sense of place than through the colours and textures of soft furnishings. As well as small readymade items like cushions, there’s a wide range of gorgeous locally handwovern and powerwoven tweeds on offer including furnishing fabric by the metre, from Magees of Donegal, for example. Much of the Irish tweed currently available is made with imported wool, however, so one of the most exciting announcements we’ve heard for a long time is that Magees are introducing Irish wool in their collections. “At Magee 1866,” they state, “We are part of the wider movement towards a more sustainable future and we are committed to developing and using Irish Wool in our collections. Working closely with our supplier Donegal Yarns, wool is sourced from Irish farms, spun in Kilcar, woven at our mill in Donegal Town and brought to life in our collections.” Although availability is limited as yet, this heralds the beginning of a new era - and a very welcome one.

Finishing Touches.jpg
47 votes

The Mustard Seed

Ballingarry, Co. Limerick
Country House / Restaurant
For Cooking & Service Well Above Average A selection of establishments outside the standard categories that should enhance the discerning travellers experience of Ireland Has Good Hotel Guide Url Denotes genuine Irish food culture, ie special Irish food products/companies/producers, and highlights the best places to shop for regional and artisan foods; the selection excludes obvious 'non-Irish' elements regardless of quality, eg ethnic restaurants and specialists in coffee, wine and other drinks, unless relevant to local production or history. Eat & Stay establishments are chosen for their commitment to showcasing local produce and Irish hospitality. Highly Recommended as a Special Place to Stay Previous Georgina Campbell Guides Award Winner The "Best of the Best" - Only the very best establishments across various categories have been chosen for this accolade
Established in 1985 as a restaurant by that great Limerick hotelier, Dan Mullane,The Mustard Seed started life in Adare and later moved just ten minutes drive away to Echo Lodge, a spacious Victorian hideaway set on seven acres of lovely gardens, wi ...

Show me all 2021 Award Winners