A view of The Irish Inn
A view of the Inn in warmer days

The Abbreviated Holiday Edition

Sometimes Christmas is best spent in tranquil isolation. If you want to spend Christmas Day and the sixth day of Hanukkah amid utter peacefulness and the sort of pampering you can’t get when you’re basting turkeys all day, consider Irish Inn in southern Illinois, run by Belfast-born Brian Marshall and his wife, Lynn Moore McCreery. (Marshall says he is a direct descendent of the Dark Ages Celtic King Niall of the Nine Hostages and McCreery a descendent of William the Conqueror.) With most of the area’s attractions closed for the holidays, it’ll be just you and the Shawnee National Forest, a primeval grove mere steps from the Inn’s front door. With only three guest rooms, the Inn has a decidedly Old World feel, including a suite with views of the forest.

GO The Irish Inn, 600 Soloman Ln., Ozark; 618-695-3355, irishinn.tripod.com.

Where to eat: You’ll be hard pressed to find anything open on the 25th, but on Christmas Eve, the family-owned Kay’s Sugar Creek Café  (105 W. Blue Ave., Creal Springs; 618-996-8289) will be serving their locally praised made-to-order hamburgers and fried pollack.


Photograph: Courtesy of The Irish Inn