Kilkenny’s Newpark Hotel Welcomes New General Management Team

Kilkenny’s Newpark Hotel has announced the appointment of a new general management team to acheive its ‘ambitious future goals.’


The strategic appointments will see Niall Dunne, who previously held the role of deputy manager, and Mark Flynn, an experienced hospitality professional and member of the Flynn family, take up the shared general management role.


‘Eta Sigma Delta’

Mark holds a diploma in hospitality management from GMIT and an honours degree in hospitality from Les Roches, Switzerland and is part of ‘Eta Sigma Delta’ an honours society in hospitality.

Since completing his studies, he has gained experience from 5-star brands including Relais & Chateau, Four Seasons and Intercontinental Hotel.

Flynn worked at the Intercontinental in Dublin as a duty manager before moving to Cork to the Imperial Hotel where he dedicated eight years in the role of front office manager and then deputy manager.


2000 Weddings

Dunne started his hospitality career 23 years ago in Hayes’s hotel in Thurles. He then moved on to start his hospitality training in the Newpark hotel as part of its trainee management programme.

Once completed, Dunne went on to further studies in GMIT earning a bachelor’s degree in hotel and catering management.

Dunne said he has overseen and been part of over 2000 weddings in the Newpark Hotel. He has worked in every department, both front and back of house within the Newpark hotel, from housekeeping to the kitchens to all F&B departments and management roles within the hotel.


Flynn Collection

The third-generation family run hotel, which is part of the Flynn Collection of hotels, has invested heavily in the property in recent years with refurbishments and upgrades to the value of €250,000, including a new look wedding ballroom and lobby.

Kilkenny Hotel has also said it has diversified its outdoor offering, utilising the extensive grounds to create extra amenities to enhance the guest experience including a wildlife farm, tree top adventure playground, fairy trail and most recently the addition of Jurassic Newpark dinosaur walk through attraction.


‘Future Looks Bright’

“We are delighted to have Niall and Mark leading our team. They are both highly experienced and talented local men, as we continue to develop and grow our position as one of Ireland’s leading destination hotels,” said John Flynn, owner of the Newpark Hotel.

“There is a strong sense that the hotel is being passed to safe hands. Niall Dunne has over 20 years of service working here at Newpark, and we value him highly as a dedicated and passionate manager.”

“On a personal level, I am delighted that my son Mark Flynn is returning home to Kilkenny bringing his extensive experience, knowledge of the property and brand along with passion for the family business to the table. The future looks bright for the hotel under their shared leadership, and it is exciting to see what we can achieve as a team.”


Original article by Dave Simpson on

Mark Scott-Lennon Discusses Working At Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel

Mark Scott-Lennon is the managing director of the luxurious Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, situated in a gorgeous eighteenth-century castle near Dalkey Village. A third-generation family-run business, the hotel was founded by Mark’s grandfather 53 years ago. It is now managed by Mark, his brother, Joseph, and his mum, Eithne. Over the years, Mark has held a variety of positions within the hotel and has been managing director for the past nine.


As the third generation, what kind of extra expectations do you feel?

I suppose I would be very cognisant of the risks my grandad took in buying the hotel and the hard work it took to get it to where it is and the reputation it has, which was obviously added to by my mother, so it is something myself and my brother would always want – to make sure we are adding to the hotel’s success – and not letting down all the great work done before us.

Did you always know that your career would lie with the family business?

Not always, I suppose. It would have happened quite organically. Along with growing up around the castle, my dad was a publican and owned the Abbey Tavern in Howth, so I always loved going out there to help out on nights with the large ballad shows.

Mum was the sales and marketing director for the hotel group, so on holidays I would go with her on her work trips, so I was always around hospitality. Then, in my teenage years – working in the hotel for pocket money – I caught the bug and loved the nature of the work. I was aware that I really needed to love the business, so I worked in other hotels to ensure I loved it.

Tell us about your background – where you grew up, studied, etc.

I grew up in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Prior to becoming general manager, I worked in all areas of the business, having worked part time during my schooling since 2003, before starting full time after finishing my degree in economics and politics in UCD in 2009.

I completed the management trainee programme at the castle, coupled with a master’s in hospitality management from Dublin Institute of Technology. I also gained experience in hotels abroad, such as the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Vancouver and Gurney’s Hotel and Resort in Montauk, New York. I have been a member of the IHF [Irish Hotels Federation] National Council for the last five years and served two years as Dublin branch chairman and as vice-president for two years during the pandemic.

What was your first big role?

I took on the general-manager role quite young, at 25, as I had just finished my master’s, management trainee programme, and a few management roles. We were in the middle of a large refinance, so the timing was right for me to get involved.

What was that like?

It was very intense, as we needed to secure new financing in my first six months in the role. It was a great education in the finance of the hotel, as we had to meet around ten different investors, finance companies or banks on multiple occasions. It was very important to have a strong understanding of every element of the financial history and future projections. I really loved the period of time, as it was super exciting, and not like what I had done before.

Tell us about the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel – the ethos, food, service, etc.

We are proudly a third-generation family business founded by my grandad, Paddy Fitzpatrick, in 1970. We are a peoplefocused business who try to go above and beyond for all of our guests and really make them feel at home. We really believe in trying to create experiences for people, so their visit is a memorable one. We believe that you have to do more than just the expected service if you want people to have that experience and want to return.

How has the hotel changed in the last ten years or so?

The hotel is ever changing, but, in the last ten years – coming out of the last recession – we have spent a lot of money on improving the property, and we thankfully continue to do so. There have also been big changes, as with everyone, in how we do business and the use of technology to deliver better service and make better, more informed decisions.

Although a lot has changed over the last ten years, we have a large number of long-serving team members who have remained constant, and this is hugely important to us and gives us a great sense of pride.

What makes a great hotel?

Unquestionably, the people. You can have all the systems and an immaculate property, but if you don’t have the right people with the right people-focused ethos, then it won’t matter. On the other hand, if things aren’t perfect with the product or mistakes happen and you have the right people with the right attitude, things can be forgiven.

What are the major challenges at the moment?

Staffing the hotel and rising utility costs, along with costs in general. With regards to staffing, unfortunately, due to the length of the lockdowns and Covid, we lost a lot of good people in the industry. This, coupled with the lack of availability of housing and cost of living, makes it very hard for us to recruit and retain team members.

In relation to rising costs, we are facing huge increases in utility costs, which really challenge our ability to be profitable enough to continue to invest in the business. We have embarked on a largescale investment programme to reduce our utility usage at the property by 35%.



How many rooms? One hundred thirteen.

How many covers (for lunch and dinner)? In the region of 50,000 covers a year.

Number of staff members – front and back of house? One hundred sixty, full time and part time.


Original article by Dave Simpson on

Mark Dunne Explains Mount Juliet and SETU Work Placement Programme

In an industry where skilled roles are hard to fill, Mount Juliet Estate and South-East Technological University (SETU) have just confirmed an exciting partnership that will see students studying hospitality and culinary courses and securing work experience at Mount Juliet Estate, linking in with Marriott training. The work placement programme also allows students to avail of experience in a Marriott property and participate in a Marriott training programme internationally.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in July of 2023.

Mark Dunne, general manager of Mount Juliet Estate, and Professor Veronica Campbell, president of SETU, tell Hospitality Ireland about the collaboration and what it means for Irish students, and for the industry and its standards.

Tell us about the work placement training. How did it come about?

With the perpetual demand for hospitality professionals, the whole concept of work placement training came about with the objective of training our future generations of professionals right from the grassroots in the procedures and systems of the industry.

How is it organised?

Invitations are sent out to the target hospitality educational institutions on a yearly/quarterly/monthly basis, requesting them to select batches of students or to-be graduates and offer them a tour of Mount Juliet Estate, with a detailed introduction to each department and process of the hotel.

Who participates?

This form of training is offered to recent hospitality graduates, and even students who are interested in applying the theoretical knowledge they have acquired in a practical, hands-on environment while training under hospitality experts.

What is the day-to-day structure?

Running over an initial introductory period of two to three days, the trainees are directed to their manager’s day-to-day schedule of allotted department introductions allocated to each group. The trainees are encouraged to interact with the head of department or senior manager, putting forth any queries or asking for any explanations they may need.


What is the end goal of the scheme?

To put it briefly, the end goal is to offer these aspiring individuals an opportunity to gain first-hand industry knowledge, develop essential industry skills, and definitely improve their chances of employability in the industry. This scheme offers a brilliant platform to these individuals to build their professional networks while enhancing their resumes and guiding them on discovering their real work passion.

Why is it important to organise this?

Work placement training is a form of training that has grown to be essentially vital across industries. They say that no form of training comes close to comparison when it comes to actual hands-on, on-the-job training. Working alongside seasoned experts of the industry offers an opportunity to gain immense practical knowledge and grooms these individuals to handle real-life work situations professionally. This system not only benefits us as a company, but benefits the entire hospitality industry, offering up steady batches of capable hospitality professionals.

What are the gaps in the industry that you aim to fill?

The hospitality industry is one of the main industries that provide work opportunities to a huge number of amateur and inexperienced individuals, who – despite having the potential to Stephanie Roche announced as new Mount Juliet Estate Women’s Golf Ambassador achieve an expert status – are held back by their lack of industrial training. By acquiring this talent early on and charting a professional path with the right guidance, we aim to raise the overall work quality of hospitality professionals in our organisation and the industry as a whole.

At whom is this aimed?

Work placement training is essentially aimed at potential hospitality talent that would definitely contribute to sustain, and maybe even revolutionise, the industry someday. This form of training provides a platform for future generations of hospitality professionals to really discover their strengths and hone their skills.

What is the benefit to Marriott?

Our company is greatly benefitted by this form of training, as this system provides us with the opportunity of identifying, observing, acquiring and grooming the best talent available in the hospitality industry, which, in turn ensures that Marriott upholds its standard of impeccable service that it is synonymous with worldwide.

What are the current challenges, in terms of staff and skills within the industry?

A high rate of attrition has always been a bane of the hospitality industry – mainly born out of the dissatisfaction of newer generations of employees who envision a meteoric growth in their careers, but who, unfortunately, do not have the required skills and experience, most of the time, to even be potentially offered the same in such a short period of time. With the right level of dedication and a pint-sized portion of extra commitment, they could develop the skills to demand the remuneration and recognition they deserve.

How do you see this developing over the coming years?

Work placement training is a system set up to gradually improve the quality of hospitality professionals that enter the industry, year on year. We could eventually look to set up even more development programmes – possibly with a more detailed focus on specific roles within departments. With the ever-increasing adoption of technology in hospitality services, an increase in property management and guest-experience software training would also be imminent.

Tell us a bit about your own background, Mark.

After a number of years working in a variety of roles within the Jurys Hotel Group properties, in 2007 I joined Doyle Hotels as deputy general manager of the Westbury Hotel. In a short space of time, I was promoted to acting general manager of this five-star Leading Hotel of the World property. As deputy general manager, I oversaw a €25 million renovation project, which included the transformation of the Wilde restaurant and the opening of the hotel’s Café Novo, while maintaining the five-star status of the hotel.

In 2012, I became the general manager of the Newpark Hotel, a member the Flynn Hotel Group, based in Kilkenny. During my tenure there, I held external support roles, namely as chairperson of the Kilkenny Tourism Hotel Cooperative and vice-chairperson of the south-east region of the Irish Hotels Federation.

The in-depth knowledge of Kilkenny tourism meant that I was perfectly placed to be appointed general manager of the historical Mount Juliet Estate. As general manager, I oversaw the (continuing) transformation from a four-star country house to a five-star resort, overseeing the completion of the renovation of the 93- bedroom Hunter’s Yard hotel, refurbishment of the Manor House, including the introduction of a new cinema and the 1757 bar, as well as seeing the resort successfully host the 2020 and 2021 Irish Open golf competition.


Original article by Dave Simpson on

Diageo Ireland Launches Tailors Bar At Dublin Airport

Diageo has launched Tailors Bar, a cocktail and spirit venue, in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport.



Tailors Bar takes its design inspiration from the world of fashion and tailoring.

The décor is influenced by the blending of spirit brands Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray Gin, and Roe & Co Whiskey.

Speaking about the opening of Tailors Bar, Hilary Quinn, Diageo Ireland marketing director, said, “We are immensely proud to bring Irish and International travellers the first ever cocktail and spirits only, bar to Dublin Airport. We are thrilled to showcase the elevated drinks and luxurious experience that discerning travellers can look forward to enjoying before their journey with Ketel One, Tanqueray Gin and Roe & Co Whiskey at the helm of this exciting opening, just in time for summer 2023 travels.”

Referencing the partnership, Leonard Miller, head of media sales and brand partnerships at Dublin Airport, said, “Dublin Airport are thrilled to join forces with Diageo in launching Tailors, Dublin Airport’s first cocktail and spirits-only bar experience. This partnership exemplifies our commitment to enhancing the airport journey and providing an exceptional experience for our passengers. We cannot wait for travellers to immerse themselves in the allure of Tailors, where craftsmanship, flavour, and ambiance intertwine.”

Open seven days a week from 10am-7pm and located next door to the Sunglasses Hut in the central thoroughfare of Terminal 2, Tailors Bar is a bar & table service bar with limited seating managed on a first come first served basis.

Alcohol-Free Pop-Up Bar

Diageo has also revealed the opening of a new alcohol-free pop-up bar adjacent to Tailors Bar in Terminal 2. Guests can sample alcohol-free alternative brands such as Tanqueray 0.0%, Guinness 0.0, Carlsberg 0.0 Alcohol-Free beer and Gordon’s Alcohol Free 0.0%.



Original article by Dave Simpson on

Andy Ferreira Discusses Cork Cocktail Bar Paladar

Paladar, in Cork – a Latin American-inspired cocktail bar and kitchen with a rotating menu of classic and signature cocktails based around rum, cachaça, agave and pisco – has been announced as a 2023 Spirited Awards regional top-ten honouree for Best New Cocktail Bar for Europe.


Paladar comes from the team who created Cask on MacCurtain Street, and it is owned by Andy Ferreira. Bar manager Oisín Wolfe – a finalist in this year’s Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year – curates the cocktail menu.  Since their founding in 2007, the Spirited Awards – run by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation – have become some of the industry’s most sought-after accolades, celebrating global excellence in the drinks industry and recognising professionals, organisations and establishments shaping the cocktail community worldwide. The judging panel includes respected bartenders, bar owners, educators and writers from across the globe, who draw on their years of experience to evaluate nominees from far and wide, to ensure that the Spirited Awards are inclusive and represent the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry.


Congratulations, Andy! So, tell us, what makes a great cocktail bar?

Interior design, lighting, music at the right level, the welcome you receive when you go in the door – all the elements that make up any great bar. For me, what’s key is cohesion. I think the cocktail bars that work well have a very clear identity and know what’s important to them.

At the end of the day, though, bartenders make great bars. The best mojito I ever had was in Cuba, nearly 20 years ago now. It was in a pretty ordinary bar in the countryside. The elderly bartender went walkabout to get the mint, and he seemed to be gone forever. He just sauntered back in his own time and made me the best mojito I’ve ever had in my life – I still remember it to this day. Cocktail bars and bars in general are about how they make you feel. Atmosphere and friendliness is far more important than block ice and sexy glassware.


How has the Irish customer’s approach to cocktails changed in the last ten years?

To be honest, I’d say if you looked at the best-selling cocktails from ten years ago in Ireland, they wouldn’t be a million miles away from the current best-selling drinks. Margaritas, espresso Martinis, etc. are still super popular. Where things have changed is that Irish cocktail bars have evolved and standards have increased – better ingredients and methodology, but you’ll still see that famous Irish charm. As our cocktail bars have improved, so has the expectation of our guests, and that’s a good thing.


Where do you get your inspiration?

Food and drink is akin to music or art. There’s an infinity of combinations, and when you get it right and you nail that riff or create a really interesting, tasty drink, it’s incredibly rewarding. I love, at the weekends, sneakily watching guests have that first sip of one of our drinks. It’s so rewarding when you see a smile after the first sip or a look of interest when they’re tasting a combination they’ve never had before. The inspiration comes from trying to give customers a good time and a great experience in our bars.


Talk us through some of the trends that you’re seeing in cocktails and cocktail bars.

Less booze is an obvious one – drink less, drink better – low ABV and no ABV. The number of products in this category is hard to keep up with. It’s so important to have a quality non-alcoholic cocktail offering. Other trends? Natural wines have exploded, obviously. I think we’re maybe going out less, but we also want to have a really good time and don’t mind spending a few quid on quality when we do go out.

It’s funny – being asked about trends is one of the most common questions, but I always struggle with it. For brands, it’s obviously key to know what’s going on in the markets, but for us, as operators, it still comes down to guests wanting to have fun and have tasty food and drinks.


What does it mean to you to be shortlisted and nominated for this award?

It’s amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in award-winning bars in Ireland for nearly two decades. The thing about success, though, is you always want more. For years I craved recognition on a global awards [level] – not necessarily for a bar I operated, just any Irish cocktail bar. The reality is, though, it’s an incredibly competitive industry.

Last year, Cask was nominated in the top ten in Europe for Best Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail, and this year, Paladar and 1661, in Dublin, were both nominated, so it’s the first year ever we’ve had two bars nominated, which is a testament to the work being put in. Our culinary scene has been globally respected for a while now, and, finally, the world is seeing that our cocktail bars are also at a really good level.



Original article by Dave Simpson on

Dublin’s F.X. Buckley Named World’s Sixth Best Steak Restaurant

F.X. Buckley in Dublin has been named the sixth best steak restaurant in the world on the 2023 World’s 101 Best Steak Restaurants ranking.


For the fourth consecutive year, the ranking has been presented by London-based Upper Cut Media House, after being initiated by Ekkehard Knobelspies in 2019.


The winner of this year’s ranking is Parrilla Don Julio from Buenos Aires, while the 2022 winner, Hawksmoor from London, ranked in second place, and American Cut Tribeca from New York ranked third.

The meat ambassadors and testers noted that the quality of the tested restaurants is constantly developing and improving, not only in terms of meat quality but also in the areas of product knowledge, cooking methods, service and interior design. It was also noted that it can be seen that, especially the European steak restaurants with their focus on old local breeds, new aging techniques and from “nose to tail eating” are increasingly asserting themselves against the former supremacy of the established classic steak restaurants in the USA, and convince with a more individual offer.


The other restaurants voted into this year’s top 10 are as follows:

  • No. 4 – Carcasse, Belgium
  • No. 5 – Bodega El Capricho, Spain
  • No. 6 – F.X. Buckley, Ireland
  • No. 7 – I due Cippi, Italy
  • No. 8 – Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney
  • No. 9 – Lana, Madrid
  • No. 10 – Bazaar Meat, Las Vegas


The listed steak restaurants in Ireland and the UK are as follows:

  • No. 2 – Hawksmoor, London
  • No. 6 – F.X. Buckley, Dublin
  • No. 12 – Cut at 45 Park Lane, London
  • No. 37 – Beast, London
  • No. 39 – Le Petit Beef Bar, London
  • No. 41 – Goodman, London
  • No. 52 – Blacklock, London
  • No. 55 – Porter & Rye, Glasgow
  • No. 61 – Temper, London
  • No. 62 – Rowley’s, London
  • No. 67 – Guinea Grill, London
  • No. 70 – Pasture, Cardiff
  • No. 91 – Zelman Meats, London


Additional Information

Between 700 and 800 restaurants are visited and evaluated each year, from which the 101 best restaurants are then included in the ranking. To view the full World’s 101 Best Steak Restaurants ranking, go to


Original article by Dave Simpson on

Brendan Comerford Outlines A New Chapter For Castlemartyr Resort

Happy news for Castlemartyr Resort, in Co. Cork, which has been inducted into Historic Hotels Worldwide – the official programme of the United States of America’s National Trust for Historic Preservation – for recognising and celebrating the finest historic hotels around the globe.

Preferred Hotels & Resorts represents more than 650 distinct and independent luxury hotels, resorts and residences that are rooted in their local culture across 80 countries.

The luxurious five-star Castlemartyr Resort recently underwent a renovation programme, which saw refurbishments to the seventeenth-century Manor House and the contemporary wing. Renovations were made to the bedroom suites, a new hotel reception was installed, and there are two new restaurants and dining experiences for guests to enjoy. The Terre restaurant offers a Michelin-star tasting experience under French chef patron Vincent Crepel, and the Canopy restaurant and bar offers a fine-dining menu in relaxed, social and convivial surroundings. A state-of-the-art driving range was installed into the popular Castlemartyr Resort golf course, positioning it as one of the country’s favourites.

General manager Brendan Comerford talks to Hospitality Ireland about the work that was done, and what the new induction means to him.

Tell us about the refurbishment of Castlemartyr.

We are coming to the end of a €9 million investment programme across the whole resort. I tell people there is not a wall in the business that has not been knocked, newly built or decorated during this refurbishment. All public areas and spaces have been improved on and upgraded. We have effectively created and launched a brand-new resort.

All 108 bedrooms have been refurbished. We built a new reception and arrival area, which is more centrally located, for guests’ ease. We built a new hotel restaurant – Canopy restaurant and bar – a brasserie which seats 150 guests with an accompanying bar and new outdoor dining terrace. All outdoor paths, driveways and car parks were redesigned, along with improved lighting and landscape works.

In the Manor House, we launched our signature fine-dining restaurant, Terre, which is a fully immersive dining experience, with part of your meal served in the chef’s kitchen. We were delighted for the team when their effort was rewarded with a Michelin star just six months after opening. Later this month, we will open their grow garden to the public for tours.

The Castlemartyr Resort Golf Club has received significant investment, too – seeing the installation of a new driving range, refurbished bunkers and pathways – and, later this year, we start the installation of a state-of-the-art drainage system for the fairways.

We also acquired the lovely Hunted Hog, which is a traditional Irish pub in the village of Castlemartyr. There we offer a daily food service, along with an extensive covered outdoor space for private events. It’s proving to be popular with wedding parties for second-day get-togethers.


What is the purpose of the refurbishment?

When our new owners purchased the property in 2021, they saw the potential to bring the resort to the next level. It’s a beautiful resort in a wonderful location, and we are now repositioning it back where it belongs in the market.


Have you seen an impact on sales/bookings so far?

Certainly, business has been very strong in the last year. We remained open during the refurbishment works, and throughout this period, the business has grown. The exposure the business has received about the refurbishment, along with the Michelin award, has driven great demand.


Tell us about your background – where you grew up, studied, etc.

I am a proud Cork man – aren’t we all? I grew up in Cork City and now live with my wife and three children in Glanmire, Cork. It’s wonderful to see our visitors enjoying Cork and all it has to offer.


What first drew you to hospitality?

My father, Tim, and mother, Mary, met while working in hospitality – a very similar story to how I met my wife, Orna, too. My father was the restaurant manager in the Silver Springs Hotel for over 30 years. By the time I came of age to work, at 16, I had him pestered to allow me to start work. I had finished school, I had the bug, and I continued my training under the Fitzpatrick family at Silver Springs, where I worked my way through the ranks. I continued my career progression in several four- and five-star properties in Cork.


When did you join Castlemartyr?

I joined in 2018, working with the previous owners. I have to admit, it was a very different product and offering then.


How did you find that?

When I started working with Castlemartyr, I was very excited by the plans of the then owners, who wanted to refurbish the property and establish its credentials as a great five-star resort. Unfortunately, circumstances changed for the owners, and we were unable to implement any upgrading projects. Not surprisingly, this was very challenging for the team, but we set ourselves the target of controlling what we could, and we focused on the guest experience at the resort, and to grow our customer service standards.

Thankfully, the new owners – Mayrange Hotel Management – are totally committed to putting Castlemartyr Resort on the international map. It’s been super to see investment going into the resort, the people, and the area. It’s been a really rewarding experience, overseeing the refurbishments and other investments into the property. I believe the results are clear for all to see.


Tell us about the hotel – the ethos, food, service, etc.

Our ethos is simple: everything we do is about people – our people and the people we welcome to the resort. We look after them equally because when both are happy, the business is doing well. We are very lucky – the team are fantastic, they are proud to work here, and are knowledgeable about the locale, as well as the wider Cork area, and that translates to a great rapport with guests.

We welcome a diverse profile of guests, from corporate clients to leisure guests, domestic and international, wedding and event guests, along with our spa and golf guests. Each has different needs, and it is our job to preempt these and exceed their expectations.

We pride ourselves on our food offering, from the Michelin-star Terre to the social dining at Canopy restaurant and bar. Our afternoon tea is a wonderful tradition in the Manor House, also. The chefs use the best ingredients – many are supplied by local producers and it’s a joy to be able to champion the wonderful local produce where we can.


What makes a great hotel?

Its people – they are the greatest asset we have. If we mind them, invest in them, they will feel valued and reward you. A happy team, confident in their roles, translates into accelerated service and hospitality for guests. At Castlemartyr Resort, I’d like to think we’re personable and our team makes guests feel welcome, relaxed, and at home.


What are the changing trends in hospitality – people’s expectations, new elements, etc.?

Hospitality, like life itself, is continuously evolving. The team are always researching our products and developing services to make sure guests have the best experience possible whilst staying with us.

Increasingly, we are seeing requests for outdoor activities and guests wanting to keep their daily fitness routine on their holiday. We have a state-of-the-art gym, with the option of personal training and specialist classes for our guests, that gets plenty of use. The resort boasts 220 acres to explore, and there’s a wide range of country pursuits for all ages to enjoy. We have also connected with many local attractions and activities, so guests can immerse themselves in the locale for memorable experiences.

Gastronomic vacations are also proving to be really popular. Since we opened Terre, we have seen a big increase in visitors who are gastrotravellers. We are very proud of our award-winning dining that is on a par with the best menus found worldwide. We continue to benchmark locally and internationally, to keep ourselves ahead of the curve.


What are you finding to be the major challenges at the moment?

It’s a simple answer: costs. Running costs have increased dramatically, and maintaining budgets can be a challenge, however, revenues are growing, and the sales team have done a great job this year.


What are the main opportunities?

We are targeting international guests and putting Castlemartyr Resort on the international stage. We have just returned from two sales trips to the US this month alone, and it’s great to see that the demand and interest for Ireland as a destination is very strong. We are looking forward to welcoming our guests from the US and other international markets and giving them a true Cork reception and experience. We offer guests a luxurious, bespoke Irish stay, and our location is the perfect base for exploring the wider Cork surrounds.


Any other plans on the horizon for the next year or so, personally or professionally?

Personally, to help my daughters win the league next year! I help out with their local soccer club, Riverstown FC, in Glanmire. They came second this year. Professionally, to increase our international guests visiting the resort, and to continue helping our own teams implement their growth and development plans.


How many rooms?

One hundred eight [108] bedrooms and 46 residences – two or three bedrooms each.


How many restaurants?

The Canopy restaurant serves a contemporary Irish menu in relaxed surroundings, with a beautiful outdoor dining terrace.

All-day dining in the Castlemartyr Resort Golf Club.

A delicious, relaxed and traditional pub menu at the Hunted Hog in Castlemartyr Village.

A light menu of soups, sandwiches and bites and a traditional afternoon tea at Knights Bar, in the Manor House.

A Michelin-star dining experience at Terre, in the Manor House.


Number of staff members – front and back of house?

We currently have a team of 280 across the business. This will grow to over 300 for the summer.


Percentage breakdown between food & beverage and rooms?

Accommodation would account for nearly 50% of our revenues, with food, beverage, spa and golf contributing significantly to the total resort revenue.


Original article by Dave Simpson on

Deirdre O’Neill Talks Compass Group’s New Direction

The Compass Group has relaunched and rebranded as Compass Ireland, in recognition of the distinct nature of the company’s Irish team. With annual revenue of roughly €68 million in Ireland and employing 1,500 people here, this is an important step. DEIRDRE O’NEILL, newly appointed Irish MD, spoke to Hospitality Ireland about the group’s new direction.

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in October of 2021.

For Deirdre O’Neill, new Irish MD of Compass Ireland, innovation and growth are keywords for the next stage of the group’s development. O’Neill studied in Galway, where she did a business degree at GMIT and a master’s in marketing at NUI Galway. She clocked up 15 years’ experience in Irish food and retail – including marketing roles in leading FMCG companies like Kildare based O’Brien Fine Foods and Carroll’s of Tullamore, as well as HMV Ireland Xtravision – before joining the Compass Group in 2016, to head up the marketing division and drive digital and brand communications. She developed the company’s ‘cloud kitchen’ operations as future food offer director, before being promoted to MD in June 2021.

“To continue to develop an industryleading team of foodservice providers, and to innovate in client services and sustainability initiatives. We aim to build transformative partnerships for each of Compass Ireland’s clients with flexible food services that meet unique needs and exceed expectations. We are dedicated to reducing the environmental footprint of the business by eliminating waste and sourcing responsibly grown produce from local Irish farms. Compass Group recently rebranded as Compass Ireland here, and that was to recognise our Irish team as a distinct business unit, at the forefront of global innovation for what is a substantial organisation.”

The people with whom O’Neill works “punch above their weight. They love to excel, to try different approaches, and to ensure their food, our service, and our customer satisfaction levels are consistently excellent.”


Why has Compass chosen to pursue this new direction?

“The world of work has changed, with hybrid workplaces, flexible hours, and employees’ health and well-being viewed as a central concern for employers. Food solutions need to be flexible, varied, high quality, and easily accessed, wherever the employee is based. Employers also need assurances on cost, value and sustainability issues, which Compass is tasked to meet. Clients tell us that our food helps them win ‘the war on talent’ – the perk of a huge variety of freshly cooked meals and snacks on site, in a staff restaurant or available to personally order on our Feedr app, is a recruitment draw.”


Where does chef Kevin Thornton fit into the new vision?

“As a double-Michelin-star chef, Kevin Thornton is a fantastic food innovator and a great business person who is very much tuned into exciting the customer. His expertise will contribute to the Compass Ireland food philosophy, menu development, training and team-building. Kevin is consulting with our culinary director, Shay Kendrick, on all aspects of our food and service, and I imagine that he will hugely motivate our team and appeal to our customers also.”


So, what are the major innovations that Compass will be making?

“Our Copper Pan Kitchen was a first for our industry – a centralised production kitchen for freshly delivered meals, established even ahead of Covid-19. The concept has become a solution for the new hybrid-working situation, capable of scaling up and down with demand, and delivering food experiences when and where required.

“We’re also helping businesses digitise catering solutions. The launch of the handy Feedr app earlier this year delivery of meals to workplaces and homes, and offered employees healthier choices from an extensive rotating menu of 140 balanced meals. This way, businesses can provide a flexible food perk without needing a full on-site restaurant. Employees have nutritious meals delivered to the office, when they’re in, and Feedr simultaneously groups orders, to facilitate deliveries.

“Among our food solutions to support the safe return to workplaces is an Irish Village Markets partnership for on-site food trucks at client premises, which offer diverse street food and multicultural cuisines, ranging from Spanish, Mexican and Lebanese to Korean and Hawaiian.”


What changes has O’Neill seen in the foodservice industry in Ireland over the last five years?

“The new generation of foodservices is built around customer needs and employee wants, providing a flexible and scalable way for employers and venues to feed their teams and visitors. Where the focus, initially, was on the food, the service is now equally, if not more, important. We need to get a variety of great food to people when, where and how they want it, to suit their business operation.

“The local agri-food sector and sustainability have also become key business drivers. Corporates are conscious of their environmental footprint, and Compass Ireland is the first foodservice company here to publish a commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its own operations and value chain by 2030.

“We work with 180 Irish food producers, spending in the region of €35 million a year with our Irish supply base. We partner with sustainable producers, like Ireland’s first commercial vertical farmer, Brian O’Reilly of Emerald Green, who uses cutting-edge indoor farming technology at his Ballyporeen hydroponic farm.

“Menus need to constantly change and offer diverse flavours from around the globe, whether Asian, French, Italian or Eastern European dishes, or traditional Irish. We’re catering for multicultural, well-travelled workforces, and vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, dairy-free and glutenfree meal options are a given these days. Our Feedr app even lets users choose their lunch based on life goals, such as low-carb or gut-health-optimising food.”


What post-Covid changes does O’Neill expect to see?

“More flexible food solutions in workplaces, facilitated by innovation, like contactless ordering and delivery via apps. For on-site catering providers like ourselves, a cloud canteen service makes sense for many employers, too. It takes the headache and risk out of managing their own kitchens, particularly with businesses trying to manage costs when on-site headcounts are unpredictable. It’s cost-effective, scalable, and doesn’t sacrifice quality, but saves on maintenance, utilities and waste.”


What are the priorities now for Compass?

“To continue to meet customer needs, recruit food professionals and producers of the highest level, and to motivate our team to consistently innovate and excite. Our annual revenue on the island of Ireland is in the region of €68 million, and the business employs 1,500 people here. Our 2020 income was hit by the initial lockdowns, but the business has turned a corner, thanks to groundbreaking, clientfocused solutions. We will continue to restore business and expand our innovative foodservice solutions – many of which originally piloted in Dublin – countrywide.”


What does O’Neill see as the most significant challenges for the industry at this time?

“Sourcing talent is a top challenge for the entire sector. There is scarcity in highly trained professionals and the pipeline of upcoming talent. For this reason, we have always focused on developing staff, teamworking and mentoring. We believe passionately in ‘hiring the smile’ and ‘training the skill’, and committed employees can develop rewarding careers with us.

“Added to this, we have a new apprenticeship programme, to encourage people into our sector and to promote gender balance and enhanced diversity, including more female participation in culinary roles with Compass Ireland. Michelin-star chef Danni Barry is the ambassador for the new Compass Ireland apprenticeship scheme, which will support the skills development of existing employees and attract new talent, helping future-proof personnel needs in the business. It is being developed in conjunction with Shay Kendrick, chef and culinary director of Compass Ireland.

“Supply chain disruption and difficulties in the logistics sector are affecting some foodservice businesses, but our long-standing commitment to local in Ireland and our recent moves to expand Irish sourcing have lessened any exposure to import headaches.


Any new developments on the horizon for the next year?

“We will launch Ireland’s first ‘frictionless’ food-to-go store in Dublin later this year, bringing next-generation retail to the Irish market. A first in the Irish market, the store will use cutting-edge computer vision technology, allowing shoppers to buy meals and snacks to go, without having to wait in line or stop to scan or pay. This will offer the convenience of self-service at any time of day, and fresh, quality, ready-prepared food round the clock.

“By innovating and adapting our operations and offering, we will ensure we continue to lead the industry and remain relevant to clients and consumers. This direction is already helping to win business and secure strong retention rates, so we constantly grow and further leverage our scale and resources.”


Original article by Dave Simpson on

Hawksmoor Restaurant Opens In Dublin’s National Bank Building

Hawksmoor has opened a restaurant in Dublin’s National Bank building on College Green.



The 152-seat restaurant includes a back-to-back bar and private dining space, and a menu of drinks designed by Liam Davy, the group’s head of bars.

The venue is open for dinner all week and for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday.

The College Green venue is the 12th restaurant in the group and, as with all Hawksmoor restaurants, it has selected a local charity partner, The Dublin Simon Community, kicking off the relationship by sending them an initial donation of €10,000.


“Delighted To Be Welcoming Guests Into Our Wonderful New Dublin Home”

Alex McGettigan, general manager of Hawksmoor in Dublin, is looking forward to introducing guests to some of the most popular traditions that Hawksmoor have created over the past 16 years, from the group’s Sunday roasts to the award-winning cocktail list and the Monday Wine Club.

“We’re delighted to be welcoming guests in to our wonderful new Dublin home,” said Alex, who was born in Bray, raised in Bristol and is now back living in Bray again. “These are spaces that are designed to be full of people enjoying life. Being open for dinner every day and lunch from Wednesday to Sunday means we’ll have the opportunity to welcome all kinds of audiences, all kinds of diners, through those grand old doors.”


Original article by Dave Simpson on

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