“If I told you,” Nora Egan smiles, “I’d have to kill you.”
Fair enough: I have, after all, just asked for the recipe to Inch House Black Pudding.
Dreamt up by her 93-year-old mother, this secret lay in a safe for 20 years before Nora fished it out and had a whack. Granny Ryan watched over her shoulder, and the result surprised everyone.
You can buy it as far away as Avoca in Co. Wicklow and Sheridan’s in Galway City – but it’s best enjoyed at the centre of a homemade breakfast in the Egan’s own Georgian dining room.
I arrived by night, catching a glimpse of evening diners through floor-to-ceiling windows in this lovely old room, strewn with antiques and served from a kitchen boasting an AA Rosette. Though too late for dinner, I was issued just the ticket in a warm glass of Tempranillo.
The following morning, I tucked into one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had in Tipperary… thanks in no small part to that pudding (below). A plate of local cheeses sealed the deal.
Inch House itself dates from 1720, was bought and restored by Nora and husband John in the 1980s, and today fits its restaurant and five bedrooms into a country mansion cheerfully cluttered with the furniture and photographs of several generations. It’s the kind of place where you’ll find a four-poster bed or wood-panelled bar one minute, temperamental water pressure the next.
The photo of the facade above was taken by renowned local photographer Sinéad Ní Riain, who specialises in Irish wedding and equine photography. “The ideal time to photograph the house is 8am,” she tells me. “It’s north-facing, but at that time of the morning, the sun is fixed right on the facade.”
It all amounts to good, old-fashioned country living: a fine house, quality food and unpretentious hospitality. Just don’t expect a copy of that recipe…
0504 51348; inchhouse.ie.