Cork couple: Good food is really an important part of our family

This month, the first ever gourmet escape will be hosted at Dunmworley Cottage, as its owners explain in our weekly Person to Person column
Cork couple: Good food is really an important part of our family
Gilly and Richard Murphy, owners of Dunmworley Cottage Organic Garden and Accommodation in Dunworley, West Cork

Tell us about yourselves?

We are Gilly & Richard Murphy, owner proprietors of Dunmworley Cottage Organic Garden and Accommodation in Dunworley, West Cork.

We moved back to Ireland from London in the mid-eighties when we started to have a family (we have three girls and a boy).

We lived on the Bandon River a couple of miles outside Kinsale and opened a deli/health food shop in Kinsale called Oasis. It did reasonably well, but was definitely before its time!

Richard went back to work at what he did in London, creating bespoke hand-painted furniture and interiors all around Ireland, including the TV set for Darina Allen’s series Simply Delicious. We also held courses teaching these techniques and the participants got a delicious lunch prepared by Gilly and wine — the wine made their painting a lot more fluid in the afternoon!

As our family grew, Richard took the business commercial and set up a Furniture Wholesaling business supplying retailers in Ireland and the UK with high-end furniture made from sustainable hardwoods, sourced from all over the globe.

This means Dunworley Cottage has a collection of beautiful furniture spanning from Richard’s hand-painted ones to various different styles from the wholesale business.

We bought Dunworley Cottage in 1999, and set about restoring the buildings and gardens. Gilly transformed the gardens and put in polytunnels to grow produce all year round, selling produce grown here at our local Farmers’ Markets. We started letting our cottages in the early Noughties. Richard closed his business in 2015, although he still supplies larger retailers and hotels (Parknasilla is one of his customers) directly from various manufacturers around the world.

When Richard closed the business, he started helping Gilly with growing produce and the accommodation business. Now that our children have all flown the nest, we have started letting the main house and supply a lot of local pubs and restaurants with our produce. We also cook breakfasts and dinners for some of their guests, using produce from the organic gardens.

Dunworley Cottage now has a healthy song-bird community and the dawn chorus is truly magical. We also now have a bat colony which is really encouraging.

Where were you born?

Richard is from Cork, and Gilly is from Limerick.

Where do you live?

We are so lucky to live on beautiful Dunworley Bay, overlooking the Seven Heads Peninsula in West Cork.

Family?

Richard: I am from the Murphy distilling family that owned Midleton Distilleries, Cork Distillery Co and Murphy’s Stout. I grew up near Innishannon on the river.

Gilly: I am from Co Limerick, where my family were wine and tea merchants. My mother is a descendent of Daniel O’Connell (we married in his chapel in Derrynane), and she taught her children how to cook in a really natural and delicious way, getting her olives from the chemist as they were the only shops stocking it. Good food has always been an important part of our family. Our daughter, Milly, has the highly acclaimed food truck Vietnom in Stoneybatter, Dublin, which was recently voted one of the 100 Best Places to Eat in Ireland in the Irish Times.

We both grew up on vegetables grown in our parents’ kitchen gardens, we don’t ever remember frozen or processed food at the table but did like visiting friends who used to get ‘fry ups’ with chips — something that we never had!

Best friend?

We have too many to name just one!

Earliest childhood memory?

Richard: Catching Mackerel and barbecuing them. I used to catch them near Sandycove in Kinsale.

Gilly: I spent my childhood summers in beautiful Derrynane, Co. Kerry, we did a lot of fishing together as a family and would cook them straight away. A good way to barbecue mackerel is to put them in a bed of bay leaves, which protects them.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

We love Tuscany, the best garden to table food in the world, what a garden they have to choose from! They are masters of using the best of ingredients in the simplest way with delicious results.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Our signature dishes are mainly curries! We have four large Indian spice chests crammed full of a huge variety of spices. People know we have them and give us amazing spices. One recent guest had an organic spice business in the U.S and added to our collection. No curry is the same as the last one, they always vary depending on what is in season in the garden.

Favourite restaurant?

Deasy’s Harbour Bar and Seafood Restaurant in Ring, just outside of Clonakilty in West Cork. The head chef there is Caitlin Ruth – she is an inventive and genius chef.

Last book you read?

Wilding – The return Of nature To A British farm by Isabella Tree. It’s the story of a rewilding project on a 1,400 hectare farm in Sussex. We would highly recommend reading it.

Best book you read?

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. It is beautifully written; imaginative, magical, entertaining and philosophical. Another example of a great Irish writer.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Glass Animals, they’re a British four-piece psychedelic music project. They have such an accomplished sound. Joe Seaward, the drummer, is a regular visitor here and loves our sustainable garden to fork ethos.

Favourite song?

Imagine by John Lennon. It spells out so many things that are wrong in our society

One person you would like to see in concert?

David Bowie. He was such a brilliant showman.

Do you have a pet?

We have always had Springer Spaniels. Sadly, we just have one at the moment as we had to put one down last week.

Morning person or night owl?

Morning, because there is always so much to do then, between the hens, dogs, garden, etc. And at this time of year, we are woken by the dawn chorus anyway!

What else are you up to at the moment?

This time of year we are busily running our holiday cottages and working and harvesting in the garden. It’s a 24-7 commitment this time of year!

This month we will be hosting our first ever West Cork Gourmet Escape. We are working alongside Caitlin Ruth of Deasy’s Resturant to create a four-day immersive experience which will include trips to meet our local lobster and crab fishermen to catch evening dinner, and walks along the Seven Heads Peninsula and Dunworley Beach.

Guests will enjoy breakfasts, gourmet lunches and dinners, cocktails and wine, while also availing of demos, culinary workshops and masterclasses from Caitlin in bread- making, cooking and cocktail-making.

The West Cork Gourmet Escape takes place from September 27 to 31, set in one of the most beautiful parts of West Cork.

Accommodation, all meals, wine, excursions and tutoring is included and costs €890 (single occupancy) or €750 per person sharing.

We have spots for just ten lucky souls! Book a place online at our website: www.dunworley.com/Gourmet_Escapes.html

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