Showing posts with label Castlemartyr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castlemartyr. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Good Old Time in Castlemartyr

A Good Old Time in Castlemartyr
John Saul Picnic and Vintage Fair

The Castlemartyr Resort was the place to be in sunny East Cork last Monday (yesterday) and I joined the thousands that flowed through the gates to enjoy the John Saul Picnic and Vintage Festival in aid of the East Cork Rapid Response and other local organisations.

After parking (no shortage of stewards to help out), I enjoyed the walk through the grounds and past the castle ruins before coming round to the front of the hotel, finally reaching the fields in front  where much of the action was taking place.
The first big event that I saw was the parade of horses and carriages, each carrying a “Victorian” lady or two. The parade entered the grounds having first toured the village and then passed the front of the hotel before doing the rounds of the fair fields. And that wasn’t the end of the horses as we were treated to quite an exhibition, the well turned out animals put through their paces. Great discipline on display from the various units, ranging from some with just one pony to larger carriages with up to four and indeed it was one superb combination, with the four blacks together, that was a highlight for me.
Lunchtime was fast approaching. Unlike some, particularly the family groups, we hadn’t brought our picnic. But no panic.  We were in the right place with a good variety of stalls catering, everything from crepes to pulled pork available.

Spotted Annie’s Roasts in the line-up and didn’t go beyond her as she has a great name at markets and festivals all over the county. Helped myself to one of the free range chicken burgers with salad and mayonnaise and a drink, all for a fiver. Grabbed a bale of straw as a seat and tucked in and enjoyed it no end. Great stuff as usual from Annie.
Annie's Roasts. No picnic? No panic!
As we ate and drank we were entertained by the the kids in the face painting tent, one of the most popular venues of the day.  Indeed the kids were royally entertained throughout with foot races for various age groups, pottery lessons, a Teddy Bear hospital, and other amusements, such as swing-boats and carousels available.

Le Chat Noir Vintage Fair was also a major draw with specialists in clothes, jewelry and music and song (all on vinyl)  displaying their wares, some new, some old, but all reminding one of times past. Noticed quite a few of the “Victorian” ladies checking out the stalls here!

Some toys too for the bigs boys! I’m talking vintage cars here. Everything from modest Volkswagens to big red Fords. There was  an impressive Buick but my favourite was the Silver Beresford, a top class limousine according to the sticker!

One of the highlights of the day was the old time threshing, a busy spot with a bunch of small tractors around the big thresher and not a bottle of porter in sight. Could have done with some liquid though as the chaff in the air dried out the mouth. But great fun (great noise too, giving the band a run for its money) as the sheaves were tossed to the man in the thresher and the grain came out one end to be bagged and the straw out the other to be baled by an old Allis Chalmers Roto-Baler.
Hard work for the crew here but great fun for the spectators, many of who had never seen anything like it. All in all though a terrific day out and if you are a parent with kids, put this in your diary for next year.

Friday, April 4, 2014

In Praise of East Cork. Well Worth a Visit!

In Praise of East Cork. 
Well Worth a Visit!

Friendly people, great food, attractions, on land and sea, both natural and man-made, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Fota House Gardens and Arboretum, with Barryscourt Castle in between, all free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.
Cliff walk (and lighthouse in distance) at Ballycotton

Let me take you on a trip to see part of it. We’ll also enjoy some delicious as East Cork is a foodie’s paradise with top notch restaurants including Barnabrow  (ideal for a Sunday lunch), Midleton’s pioneering Farmers Market and the food mecca of Ballymaloe.


Coming from the city on the main Cork-Waterford road, take the Cobh exit ramp and head for breakfast at Bramley Lodge.  Now, set up for the morning, go over the nearby bridge to Fota Island and its many attractions.

If you have kids, go the Wildlife Park; if not, walk through the renowned Fota Arboretum  and maybe add a tour of the Georgian House. If you like it around here, you may also try the high class  Fota Island Hotel and Golf Resort.

Sailing ship at Cobh, exactly where the liners dock in summer.
Moving on, go over the Belvelly Bridge and you find yourself on Great Island where the cathedral town of Cobh is situated. Much to do here including the Sirius Art Gallery, walking tours (including the Titanic Trail and Spike Island), harbourside bars and restaurants and of course the Cobh Heritage Centre which tells of forced deportations  and also the tales of the ill fated liners, The Titanic and the Lusitania. Cruise liners now call here regularly during the season, with a carnival atmosphere in the town on the days they are in port.

Time now to head out of the islands, maybe call to the Bakestone Cafe at Ballyseedy (Cobh Cross) for a tasty bite to eat before heading east for Midleton and a tour of the Jameson Experience. If you give the right answers here, you’ll end up with a certificate of proficiency in Whiskey!
Roche's Point, worth a detour.
You may have lunch at the distillery cafe here. Quite a few others to choose from but I have a particular in Kevin Ahern's Sage and his amazing 12-mile menu.

There will be detours, of course. One that I like is off the Whitegate road, out of Midleton. Look out for the signs for East Ferry and enjoy a walk by the estuary and maybe reward yourself with a well cooked meal at Murph’s, a restaurant with a lovely view.
Next stop though is Ballymaloe, the home of modern Irish food. You could spend a day here. Maybe an overnight stay to sample the world renowned cooking. Be sure to take a look at the impressive Cookery School gardens and call to the cafe for a mid afternoon or mid morning  coffee. The cafe at the Stephen Pearse pottery in Shanagarry is now gaining quite a reputation.
Youghal has many miles of beaches. Many more all along the East Cork coast.
In the nearby seaside village of Ballycotton, take a stroll down to the pier and see the fishermen come and go. If you feel you need to stretch the legs, then there is a spectacular walk along the cliff tops. After all that exercise, treat yourself to a gorgeous meal at Pier 26.
Time now for dinner. If heading back towards the city and make a stop at the estuary village of Glounthaune and the Rising Tide Bar Bistro. Enjoy your meal here, as Lady Gaga did, and take time for a deserved pint in the bar afterwards. If heading east, then you’ll find a lovely cafe called Sage or a fine seafood meal at Aherne’s, both in Youghal. Maybe you'd like to rest up for the night and have a meal in the Old Imperial Hotel on the main street, maybe just a drink in its old Coachhouse bar.
Fresh fish at Ballycotton's Pier 26

Friday, August 24, 2012

Excellent Lunch in Pat Shortt’s Bar

Pat Shortt’s Bar
Lunch in Castlemartyr

 It was just about lunch-time when we arrived in Pat Shortt’s Bar in Castlemartyr last Saturday. The place was packed inside. Luckily, there were seats in the outside area by the local river, the Kiltha, and so, for the second time in eight days, we dined al fresco in Ireland!

And we got good stuff. The starters were terrific. I got an ample helping of Bill Casey’s Oak Smoked Organic Salmon served on a lovely brown bread (€7.50). Bill is just down the road; chef Mike Hanrahan told me he collected the fish that morning. It tasted gorgeous, really impressed.

The local theme is strong here and was again well illustrated in CL’s starter: Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese, black pudding, and pear salad, served on a bed of leaves with roast peppers and Ballymaloe Relish (€6.50). A terrific well balanced combination of textures and tastes.

Had more than enough fries earlier in the week so had to give D’Unbelievable Burger a miss. Settled instead for the Chicken and Chorizo penne pasta in a tomato and herb sauce (€10.75). Quite a bit of chicken and it was first class, the real thing, and the sauce was brilliant and gave the dish a nice lift.

Polished it off in the sun and then crossed the road to the Village Greengrocer where Shortt’s get their veg. Just a few yards up is Clifford’s, his butcher. It was a busy afternoon but soon everything stopped as dozens and dozens of motorbikes came through the village. It was the members of the Gold Wing Treffen driving their bikes from Cobh to Youghal. Just another talking point on a terrific day in the East Cork area.