The 2nd Marquess of Sligo - who had been with Byron in Greece - thought this wild place as beautiful as Delphi, and built himself a fishing lodge here in the mid 1830s. When Peter Mantle, a former financial journalist, came across the house, it was semi-derelict. Falling under the same spell, he restored it with great care and vision, and Delphi is now one of the foremost sporting lodges in Ireland. Today, fishing still generates a large portion of business at the Delphi, but it is not the main attraction. Most guests come simply to enjoy the location and ambiance. The new manager, Michael Wade, runs it like a friendly country house.
On our visit, on a misty April evening, wood smoke was rising from the chimney, a new delivery of Crozes Hermitage was stacked up in the hall and Mozart was playing in the snug library overlooking the lake. Among the guests were a couple of bankers in their waterproofs, a novelist, and some Americans from Philadelphia. Salmon are weighed and measured in the Rod Room, creating frissons of excitement and stories for the communal dinner table; the ghillies come in during breakfast to discuss prospects for the day ahead. Bedrooms are pretty, with well-chosen pine furniture; larger rooms enjoy views over the lake and all bathrooms are piled high with fluffy, white towels.
Our most recent inspector was impressed: 'a unique and stunning location; the absolute country house experience'. We therefore advise to book well ahead.