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Five Minutes With Dermot Fetton




In the heart of Dromoland Castle resides a culinary gem known as the Earl of Thomond Restaurant. At its helm stands Dermot Fetton, a consummate professional whose passion for hospitality and dedication to excellence have recently earned him the esteemed title of Restaurant Manager of the Year in County Clare at the Irish Restaurant Awards. As we celebrate this remarkable achievement, we sit down with Dermot for an insightful Q&A session, delving into his inspiring journey, the cherished moments from his time at Dromoland Castle, and his vision for the future of hospitality.








Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a restaurant manager? What inspired you to pursue a career in hospitality?

I was always interested in service and hospitality, and began my journey when I was 15 years old in Dooleys Hotel Waterford as a glass boy. Along the way I met some inspiring people, and gained lots of experience and insights.

The Tourism Training Agency, Cert was my first point in Training, where I met my Tutor Shane Raftery from Galway who paved the way for my Dromoland career.

What does winning the Restaurant Manager of the Year award mean to you personally and professionally?

Really, this was a lovely recognition for all the Team, I am really lucky to have great support from my colleagues who make my life easier every day.

How has your experience at Dromoland Castle shaped your approach to restaurant management?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people. Tony Frisby was my Earl of Thomond mentor for many years and I learned a lot from him, also Jean Baptiste Mollinari was executive Chef when we gained a Michelin Star in the 90’s, he also organised a work placement in France where I  spent one year immersing myself in the world of wine. Finally David McCann Dromoland’s current (long-serving) Head Chef came to us from the Connaught in London, he has been a wealth of knowledge and brings super nuggets of information to the fore.

Could you share a memorable moment or experience from your time working at Dromoland Castle?

This has to be meeting Nelson Mandela when he stayed with us, again in the 90’s. I had the privilege of serving him a light supper in his room, he was staying in our top suite, but chose to eat his Pea Soup in the tiniest corner of the room at a dressing table with a small stool, I could not help thinking that perhaps the area of the room was close to how he had eaten meals for many years before. He was a wonderfully friendly and engaging man; I’ll never forget the moment.


What do you think sets the Earl of Thomond restaurant apart from others in County Clare?

Really apart from the wonderful food and friendly service, it’s the surroundings, it’s the original Dining Room of the O’Brien Clan, steeped in history and beauty, it really is hard to beat.

How do you balance maintaining the high standards of service expected at Dromoland Castle while also fostering a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for guests?

I really feel the two go hand in hand. My total ethos in managing the Earl of Thomond is to nurture and empower my team with a sense of empathy, my job is to help them enjoy their job, and deliver the best, friendliest service, while always making a connection with our guest.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career in restaurant management?

Go for it, it’s so rewarding and the younger you start the more experience you gain and the more opportunities you have to travel the world.


What do you see as the future trends or challenges in the restaurant industry, and how do you plan to adapt to them?

I think there will be a place for our style of food and service, particularly in a Castle environment, but staffing will become more challenging. We are very lucky that in Dromoland we have an employer who really gives our team lots of benefits, Accommodation, utilities, and training, along with lots of classes etc. that benefit our everyday lives.

Finally, what are your hopes and aspirations for the future, both personally and professionally?

I love my job, and I love training younger Team members,and love our guests. I also believe that hitting my mid 50’s it’s not over yet, anything could happen, and you must be open to this prospect.


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