Showing posts with label Dungloe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dungloe. Show all posts

Monday, July 15, 2013

From Dungloe to Kenmare: Eight Irish Tea Rooms

Irish Tea Rooms

Adare's Old Creamery

Never heard tell of the Adare Old Creamery store until a recent visit. Now feel like I should tell you all about it. It is just a few hundred yards from the County Limerick village and it quite fascinating.

Maybe you want to buy a doll’s house or furniture for it. Some beautiful scented candles perhaps. Maybe high quality china such as Aynsley or Belleek. Well, this is the place to check out – see it on Facebook.

Downstairs there is an old style sweet shop (including ice-cream) and upstairs a gorgeous tea-rooms (with the best apple pie ever!). Fun animations all over the store. Books and clothes and much much more in this treasure house. And later in the year it turns into an incredible Christmas store. A must visit.

Three Tea Rooms: one in a church, one in a churchyard and one in a "big house" kitchen.
Drumcliffe Tea House (Sligo)
Ben Bulben

“Under bare Ben Bulben’s head” sits Drumcliffe church and the churchyard where poet William Butler Yeats is buried. “Horseman pass by” is the last line of the famous epitaph.

Today’s horseman though is more likely to sup at the Drumcliffe Tea House, also in the church grounds, before turning the key in the ignition.

Here, just outside Sligo on the road to Donegal, they serve good teas and coffees (Bewley’s), “mouth-watering cakes and desserts” and good “wholesome food”, including soups and tarts.

There are Yeats and Irish interest books to browse through and a selection of good quality original souvenirs. Plenty of parking for the churchyard and there are well kept toilets in the tea rooms.

Scrummylicious Bakery and Tearoom (Dungloe, Donegal)
The old chapel in Dungloe
Another famous Irishman, happily still with us, Daniel O’Donnell, famously used to serve tea to the world and mainly to the world’s wife. That function has now been taken over by the unusual Scrummylicious Bakery and Tearoom in Dungloe, County Donegal.

You’ll find this friendly place in the old chapel at the top of the main street.  Not alone does the cafe offer teas and coffees (Robert Roberts) but they also have a full bakery service. The products can be taken home to enjoy or enjoyed in the unique tearoom within the old church building.  “Our tearoom has a select menu of gourmet sandwiches, wraps, bagels, light meals and delicious homemade soups”.

The converted building also hosts the tourist office, the library and other local services, and, yes, toilets!

Doneraile Court Tea Rooms (Doneraile, Cork)
Doneraile, with outside eating area.

Tea Rooms in the old kitchen, open daily, and a Farmer’s Market  are among the recent attractions added to Doneraile Court in North Cork. The old pile itself, just off the main street in Doneraile, is surrounded by hundreds of acres of parkland where you have a great selection of walks.

Called in there the other day for a sandwich. This was filled with real ham, cut from the bone, and was a bargain at four euro. A toasted sandwich, packed with chicken and served with a salad, came to €4.50. But there is quite a menu here. Soups, sandwiches and curries and also breakfast dishes and a specials board for during the day. You can even order some items to take away. Lots of picnic tables scattered around the park also.

Four Tea Rooms: Town, city, coast, mountain.
Jam and cream in Bandon

Lovely scone and  gorgeous plate at the Duchess.

Never really associated myself with tea rooms but I’ve been in at least four over the past few months.

Began with a call to the lovely Tea and Garden Rooms in Ballyvaughan (Co. Clare); next up was the Phoenix Park Tea Rooms; up the Kerry hills next to the Pancake Cottage before the most recent call to the Duchess Tea Rooms in Bandon.

It was a bitterly cold morning in Bandon and after a visit to the local Farmers Market a hot cup was required. Just happened to be passing the Duchess Team Rooms and popped in. Nice bit of heat there and three or four welcoming sofas, just like home.

Sat myself down and soon I was tucking into a really well made fruit scone with no shortage of cream or jam. Coffee was excellent but next time, I must try the tea as they have a massive selection.

There is great degree of comfort here, lots of calming colours all around and perhaps the ideal place for afternoon tea with a wide assortment of finger sandwiches, scrumptious mouth-watering delicate pastries, little cakes and scones to choose from.

It is the best part of two years since I indulged in the full afternoon tea. Wonder if the Fota Island Resort Hotel are still doing it.

Just like the Duchess Rooms, you may enjoy a little lunch or a light meal in all the tea rooms. Had a great Fish Pie in the well situated Tea and Garden Rooms in beautiful Ballyvaughan. This is a lovely spot, right alongside Galway Bay, and with gardens front and rear. But if you go here, you will not be able to avoid the sweet cakes. As you go in, you’ll see them in all their tempting colours, the table groaning underneath.

The Phoenix Park Tea Rooms, just across from the entrance to the Dublin Zoo, looked splendid under the Autumn colours of the many nearby trees and, as we ate, the squirrels were hopping around outside.

They are open all day long and include some terrific organic stuff on the menu, including the coffee and tea. All the vegetables, salads and fruits are from Kinneden Organics in Roscommon, the chicken is from Cootehill in Monaghan. And their sourdough is by Arun Bakery.

On the road from Sneem (Co. Kerry) to Moll’s Gap, there is a place called A Strawberry Field  where you will find Pancake Cottage, which is open all year round. The views from the garden are splendid, weather permitting!

While you may enjoy a cuppa here, maybe with a Dutch Apple Pie, their speciality is the pancake. The selection of pancake toppings just goes on and on, sweet and savoury, and also a kids menu.

Another tea room well worth a call, just like the other three.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fantastic Fantasia, Daniel O'Donnell and the sands of Bunbeg

Fantastic Fantasia, Daniel O'Donnell and the sands of Bunbeg
The bar at Ostan Gweedore overlooks the sands of Bunbeg.
Today’s smashing weather was an unexpected bonus. Spurred by the early morning sun and thinking it wouldn’t last too long, we headed off south for a change, down to Dungloe with our intention being to slowly work our way back up the coast. The sun stayed and we enjoyed another fab day in Donegal, rounded off just a short while ago with a tremendous Italian meal in Davide Tullio’s La Fantasia in Letterkenny. The sun was still there as we drove back, though dipping!

But let me begin in Dungloe where there are at least two big names, Daniel O’Donnell and Pat The Cope Gallagher. The Cope gave the young Daniel a job in one of his many outlets but Daniel could probably buy the entire village now and have plenty of money left.
Daniel's school bag!
It wasn't always so and his story, a really fantastic life of achievement, is detailed in the Daniel O’Donnell Visitor Centre in the town. Many highlights of his life and career are recalled here, including the famous Red Book from the This is Your Life series, just one of many very impressive honours given to the popular singer. Lots more memorabilia here too including gold and platinum discs.


Had a lovely pot of tea (no, not at Daniel’s!) but at the local community centre cafe. The centre also houses the library, the tourist office and other offices. But the café is worth a call. They serve great little bites and are very friendly indeed.

On then to Burtonport, from where the ferry leaves from Arannmore Island. The day was fine and we were tempted but decided to stick with the original plan. Burtonport hosts a memorial to eleven young men from two trawlers, the Evelyn Marie and the Carraig Una, that were lost nearby in 1995 and 1996 respectively.

As we moved through the Rosses, our next stop was Kincaslough, the home of Daniel O’Donnell. No queues for tea here anymore. Great views out to sea as we headed up the coast and then to Annagary and Crolly and then inland to Gweedore and beyond to get a better view of Errigal, the highest mountain in the county.
For many miles around here, it dominates the landscape just as Mont Ventoux does in Provence. We drove as far as Dunlewy, getting a close-up of the spectacular mountain and also great views of the valleys below, including the Poisoned Glen.

Back then towards the coast again and soon we were on the magnificent stretch of sands by Bunbeg. Had a good stroll there and then headed up to the Ostan Gweedore. The balcony of the bar here has a super view of the sands and the waters and here we relaxed and took it all in.
Wreck at Bunbeg
More great coastal sights as we continued the drive north with famous names such as Bloody Foreland and Tory island coming into view. We closed the day’s loop at Gortahork feeling privileged and spoiled. Back “home” via Dunfanaghy and Portablagh to Downies.

There was a pretty quick turnaround and we were on the road again, this time heading off to La Fantasia in Letterkenny.  Started off with Cozze Pomodoro (Sauté mussels in a spicy tomato sauce) while CL enjoyed her Bruschetta alla Pomodoro (4.50). Mine was €6.90.
Mains were superb. Pollo Cacciatora is a favourite of CL’s and remains so after a lovely plateful of Pan Fired Chicken served with onions, peppers, mushrooms, white wine and a spicy tomato garlic sauces, all for €16.50.

Vitella al pepe verde (23.90) was my choice, Irish thin cuts of veal served in a green peppercorn sauce. All main  dishes are served with a choice of side dishes so by the time I added Rosemary potatoes and CL added Vegetables we had quite substantial meals in front of us. Good stuff and good value.

Wine was, naturally enough, Italian, an IGT Sangiovese from the Adriatic region of Molise, along the Adriatic Sea between Puglia and Abruzzo.  It was dry and mellow with smooth tannins, quite a pleasing, easy-to-drink red wine.

So that was about it, aside from the gorgeous Tiramisu, of course!
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