Family behind well-known Cork hotel launch cookbook for Childline

This Cork family have produced an e-cookbook in aid of Childline, during the COVID-19 crisis, sharing their traditional family recipes handed down through the generations, reveals CHRIS DUNNE
Family behind well-known Cork hotel launch cookbook for Childline
WOW FEATURE Katy Lucey of the famous Gougane Barra Hotel in Ballingeary and her daughter, Jane

FAMILIES staying together during the Coronavirus outbreak are cooking together — and while too many cooks spoil the broth, chef Katy Lucey of the famous Gougane Barra Hotel in Ballingeary and her daughters, Jane and Ali, are cooking up a storm for Childline.

The Lucey ladies have produced an e-cook book of traditional homemade recipes for the charity.

“Our homely recipes for brown bread, scones and vegetable soup have amassed a huge following on Facebook since I began posting them during the lockdown,” says Katy.

“The video on making scones attracted a world-ide audience of 90,000 viewers including from places like Sydney, United Arab Emirates and the USA! It’s mad, but wonderful,” says Katy.

People across the globe are savouring a little piece of West Cork heaven.

“The bakers are sharing photos of their culinary efforts with us. They are really enjoying the whole experience,” says Katy.

“It’s a great connection for all of us in times of isolation.”

Caring is sharing.

“I like to share my recipes,” says Katy, who is married to Neil — Katy Vaughan and Neil Lucey met at hotel school in GMIT.

“I come from a hospitality background in County Clare and my father used to say recipes should be shared,” she says.

“Every branch of the family are reaching out to get both novice and dedicated cooks sifting, whizzing, mixing, kneading, and whipping up wonderful culinary delights to keep connected and to help a good cause.”

Katy, a master chef, has licence to share some of the secret recipes handed down through the generations of the Lucey family.

“When we first got married, Nana, Neil’s grandmother, who was then in her eighties, used to bake in the bread every day in the Aga,” says Katy.

Katy Lucey of the famous Gougane Barra Hotel with husband Neil.
Katy Lucey of the famous Gougane Barra Hotel with husband Neil.

“She taught me the recipe for Mrs Cronin’s vegetable soup which is in the e-cook book we just launched for Childline. Nana didn’t work full-time in the kitchen then, but she still baked for Neil’s dad, Christy, making scones, soup and porter cake for him.”

Was there any issue that the Gougane Barra Hotel kitchen, that still has the Sacred Heart picture over the Aga, was a one- woman domain and a one-woman operation when Katy arrived in 2005, sleeves rolled up, pinny at the ready?

Katy laughs.

“Both Neil’s mother, Breda, and his Nana both welcomed me,” says Katy.

“Neil’s parents, Breda and Christy, got on great together and it was easy to fit into the family.”

Katy was a good fit in the hotel kitchen. Her dad ran the popular seafood restaurant, Mr Eamon’s, in Lahinch for nine years.

“As a young girl I lived at that restaurant,” says Katy, who after graduating from GMIT, worked in kitchens in Germany and the UK.

“I just loved that world. I was about nine years old when I came over every night to dad’s restaurant to work. I couldn’t get enough of it!”

Katy had the ideal recipe to make everything she cooked turn to gold.

“Families in business understand what makes it works,” says Katy.

“We love what we do. Being from a family business the work ethic is part of life and it is what you do. We are so lucky to love what we do.”

Neil — realising that the kitchen is often a one-woman operation — works front-of-house.

“Katy’s a brilliant cook,” he says.

What’s his favourite dish?

“Apple crumble and home-made custard!” he says.

Just like nana and mum used to make?

“And just as good!” says Neil laughing.

The Luceys are a family outfit who enjoy the icing on the cake.

“We work well together and we have a great team,” says Neil.

“We miss them and we hope that we will all be working together again soon.”

The couple miss their regular customers also.

“We miss seeing our regular customers,” says Katy. “And it feels very strange not being open yet, but we will keep to the government guidelines and open when it is safe to do so.”

Meanwhile, Katy is putting her culinary skills to good work.

“Jane persuaded me to do the videos,” she says. “And we decided it would be best to cook simple wholesome food and bake homely treats.”

The family decided to support Childline.

“It is a universal charity that does wonderful work everywhere,” says Katy.

The baking and cooking endeavours from the Lucey kitchen proved a wonderful source of connection for people everywhere.

“Our online community overwhelmed us with their response,” says Katy.

They felt the love spreading all over the globe.

Katy Lucey's e-cookbook.
Katy Lucey's e-cookbook.

“We were sending a part of Gougane Barra to the four corners of the world.”

They saw Nana’s brown bread coming out of ovens in UAE, Canada, California and Italy.

“To name but a few locations,” adds Katy, who is still gobsmacked at the tremendous response that her online recipes garnered.

Even the locals gave it the thumbs up too.

“It’s really touching when I’m out for a walk in the evening, the 2km walkers tell me they are trying out my traditional recipes and that everyone in the household is really enjoying eating the results!”

Something good was brewing.

“Due to the popularity of the recipe posts, over dinner one night, Ali came up with the idea of doing an e-book,” says Katy.

The success of the venture posting online recipes from the West Cork haven prompted the Luceys to make their baking an extra magical ingredient to help a charity close to their hearts.

“Jane took on the project, the content and the design. We worked on it together to make it happen.

“We decided to give all the proceeds to the ISPCC/Childline because they empower, support and protect children who need somebody to speak to in confidence, especially at this time.”

At this time, comfort food is consoling.

“Our recipes are family and customer favourites,” says Katy.

“Comfort food is important and gives you a feeling of reassurance at this time of lockdown.”

Katy ends with some sage advice.

“Cooking and baking is good for you.”

The e-cookbook with 17 recipes and costing €7 is available on the Gougane Barra Hotel website. All proceeds to Childline.

See or email:info@gouganebarrahotel

You can blitz up the soup, or leave it chunky. Picture: Stock
You can blitz up the soup, or leave it chunky. Picture: Stock

Gougane Barra Simple Soup

This recipe has been used in Gougane Barra since Joan Cronin (Neil’s grandmother) started making it in the 1930s. The hotel was self-sufficient with its own farm and gardens. They used to grow all the ingredients used in this recipe to make this delicious, simple soup.

It has stood the test of time and is still a popular item on the hotel menu.


1 dessertspoon of olive oil or butter

5 to 7 carrots (organic if possible)

2 sticks of celery

2 onions

2 potatoes

1/2- 1 tsp of salt

1 litre of vegetable stock (using homemade stock or 1 vegetable stock cube)


  • Wash, peel and roughly chop the carrots.
  • Wash and finely slice the celery.
  • Peel and chop the onions.
  • Peel and chop the potatoes. Rinse them under cold water to remove the starch.
  • Heat the oil or butter in the saucepan
  • When the oil is heated, add the onion and celery and give a quick stir with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes to release the sweetness in the onions without colouring them.
  • Add the carrots and the potatoes.
  • Cover with 1 litre of vegetable stock.
  • Put the lid on and bring to the boil and let simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Blitz if you like a pureed soup, or, leave as is if you like a chunky soup (might be more appealing to the eye if you cut your vegetables a similar size)
  • This soup will last in the fridge for one week in a covered container and freezes perfectly well, best to do so in small batches
  • Mrs Cronin always finished it with a drop of cream, this is optional


When making the soup, add some butternut squash and sweet potato for a smoother finish or add celeriac or parsnip for sweetness

It is also possible to add a little spice of your choice, like a teaspoon of cumin or coriander- or a dollop of cream or greek yogurt.

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