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Grooms with a view

Co Kildare woman Audrey tells Jean Smullen how she turned her home into a highly popular restaurant

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Audrey Byrne at Grooms at The Ranch in Monasterevin.

Audrey Byrne at Grooms at The Ranch in Monasterevin.

Audrey Byrne at Grooms at The Ranch in Monasterevin.

Lockdown has changed priorities; many have started questioning how they live and lives are starting to change. Audrey Byrne is one of them. Last year she converted her home in Monasterevin, Co Kildare into a small restaurant - not bad for a lady who has spent most of her life working as an accountant.

Audrey went from filing tax returns to running a restaurant and she reveals how it all started on a walking holiday of the Camino de Santiago a few years ago.

She says: "I was with family and friends, I don't know if it was the place or the time of my life, but one night I blurted out that I always wanted to work as a chef."

Their response promoted her sign up for a six-week cookery course with JP McMahon, the Michelin starred chef and proprietor of Aniar restaurant in Galway.

"I don't know how I did it" she adds. "I had to juggle the course, my clients, the family and the commute to Galway."

Audrey blossomed under JP's tutelage and passed the course with flying colours. She was completely blown away when JP asked her to assist him as a trainer for his next cookery course.

She then decided to open a restaurant in Monasterevin because the town didn't have one.

Audrey and husband Sean had recently bought the house of their dreams, an ornate manor house known as The Ranch. "Sean and myself were driving through Monasterevin when we saw the 'for sale' sign," she recalls. "We both immediately looked at each other and the following Friday we made an offer." The couple made the move in May 2019.

The Ranch was originally a home for the Head Groom, in charge of the stables, at Moore Abbey Estate. During the first lockdown, the idea for Grooms at The Ranch was born. They converted the elegant reception rooms into an atmospheric dining area with a capacity for 12 people. They opened up in July 2020 offering a seven-course fine dining tasting menu experience with paired wines.

As word of mouth spread, before they knew it, Grooms was booked out every Saturday night until the next lockdown arrived. In December 2020, to keep the business going, Audrey started to produce hampers called A Taste from The Ranch.

As the country is reopening and with smaller weddings now the norm, Grooms at The Ranch is the perfect exclusive dinner venue for a small wedding or private party.

"I've been blown away by the response," adds Audrey. "I really love planning and producing the menu." As socialising changes, it's heartening that out of adversity dreams can be realised, giving us all much to hope for in a post-Covid world.

  • See groomsattheranch.ie or contact info@groomsattheranch.ie for more

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