Since 2007 —
Curating a world unique hospitality experience
"…if any young restaurant couple in Europe deserve to flourish it is the de Blacams, deeply rooted on its very western extremity."
The Financial Times
Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites was created by Marie-Thérèse and Ruairí de Blacam in 2007, with the aim of enabling guests to best experience their island location of unique natural beauty.
They designed and built it in a way that every detail is inspired by the island and a way of living that is necessary in such a remote place exposed to all the elements.
It is an intimately private retreat, run personally by Ruairí and Marie-Thérèse and a small team. Both are widely travelled and have curated their best hotel experiences into their very unique hospitality offering - Ireland's original luxury nature lodge.
Ruairí de Blacam Ruairí is the cook in the restaurant, and as a native of Inis Meáin, is inspired by the purity of the ingredients and the food traditions of the island.
He spent 15 years working as a professional chef in Dublin, Italy, Germany and France before returning home to the island to open his own restaurant.
Ruairí was born before the island had electricity and experienced an Irish childhood that was more akin to that of the previous generation in the 1950s. It was a time when there was just one supply boat to the island each week - if the sailing wasn’t cancelled in rough weather.
Each house on the island had a cow, and milk was borrowed from the neighbour’s cow when your own cow was in calf. Pigs and chickens were also common, as was salting fish, and foraging, not for fashion sake but to ensure a continuous food supply.
He has a very grounded approach to food through which his philosophy of Elemental Eating has developed. Based on using the best available island ingredients and presenting them simply using just two main elements in each dish to highlight their deliciousness.
Marie-Thérèse de Blacam Marie-Thérèse wears many caps for Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites including Host, Designer, Gardener and Marketeer.
She has a broad background in these areas, and an enduring interest in food and hospitality first piqued by a work placement in Ballymaloe Cookery School near to her family home in East Cork.
A degree in Entrepreneurship through Irish first brought her to Inis Meáin, and combined with a Diploma in Fashion Design provided a skill set that proved useful in creating the Restaurant & Suites.
As host in the restaurant, she regularly provides insights to guests curious about both the idiosyncrasies of their unique location, and the specially curated drinks list including more than 100 wines. She has an advanced certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET).
A keen baker, she has developed the many breads, cakes and biscuits enjoyed by guests during a stay, and also manages the gardens to provide ingredients for the restaurant.
Ruairí and Marie-Thérèse, together with their two young girls, are active members of the small island community all year round, and the Restaurant & Suites support island groups and events including the Schools, the Sports & Social Committee, the Aran Islands GAA Club, the RNLI, the Inis Iron Meáin Run and other events and development projects that happen on the island.
There they are...
The Dream Team
We've been lucky enough to work with many fantastic people over the last decade all adding in their own way to both the team and the island. They are a mix of islanders and people who relocate to Inis Meáin to work with us for the season.
We thoroughly agree with the guest that said to our Restaurant Manager Steph "I love your exuberance!" A native of Cape Town, she came to us via London where she managed restaurants including the cult, michelin-starred St John for several years.
Like MacGyver, he has an extraordinary knack for unconventional problem solving. We don't know where we'd be without Pat, our multi-skilled neighbour, wall builder, potato grower and a lot more, who always helps get us out of a jam.
Roger & Olivia Goodwillie
Roger and Olivia have vast experience growing and rearing food for themselves and others in Lavistown House in Kilkenny. They are longtime friends and supportive guides of our growing in the polytunnel and outside gardens next to the restaurant.
Saileog was our wonderful restaurant manager for 5 seasons. She is now progressing her career in the drinks industry, while completing her WSET diploma and continues to help us in the evolution of our carefully selected wine and drinks collection.
Shane de Blacam
Shane sensitively designed our stone-clad building housing the restaurant and suites. He and his partner John Meagher have been referred to as
the “Godfathers of Irish Architecture”-Architects of Today (Laurence King 2004). Proud to be in his canon.
Awards & Ratings Marie-Thérèse and Ruairí have a long-standing commitment to quality, receiving highly-regarded reviews, awards, ratings and recommendations both nationally and internationally ever since opening in 2007. Some of these are listed below:
- One of the 12 Best Meals of the YearNick Lander, The Financial Times, December 2018
- Best Meal of the Year Catherine Cleary, Irish Times, December 2018
- Best Dining Experience/Best Boutique HotelIrish Hospitality Awards 2011-2018
- 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland Bridgestone/McKenna's Guides 2008-2018
- 100 Best Places to Stay in IrelandBridgestone/McKenna's Guides 2008-2018
- Hall of Fame - Certificate of ExcellenceTripAdvisor, 2013-2018
- Best Design in Irish TourismIrish Tourism Industry (ITIC) Inaugural Awards 2015
- One of the 10 Best Architectural RetreatsGuide to Architectural Retreats 2010 - Worldwide
- Best Commercial Building Design in IrelandZurich LAMA Architecture Awards 2010
- Newcomer of the YearGeorgina Campbell's Ireland Guide Awards 2008