Showing posts with label seals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seals. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Islands in the Sun. Ferries and Food in West Cork

Islands in the Sun
Ferries and Food in West Cork
 It was sunshine all the way for last week's two day excursion to West Cork. It looks as if there is no shortage of sunshine this week either.


Once we knew the weather was “settled” we determined to re-visit two islands, Garnish near Glengarriff and Sherkin near Baltimore. West Cork of course has many more islands and most have a ferry service. Check here for island and ferry details and do look out also for the Ten Island Tour.

Our base was the Celtic Ross in Rosscarbery but Garnish was our first destination so we took the R585 via Crookstown and headed off down on the old Bantry line. On reaching Kealkil, where our road joins the R584 from Macroom, we felt the need for a quick pit-stop as we did have a specific time for the boat from Glengarriff.


Italian Garden on Garnish
At the junction we spotted a board saying Cully & Sully Soup and Brown Bread for three euro. The Gala shop, also the Post Office, is right there and, within minutes, on the seats outside, we were tucking in to a tasty lunch, great value too.

On then to Glengarriff where we caught the ferry (€10.00) from the Blue Pool to Garnish. But first there were a couple of stops to see the many seals basking on the rocks around Seal Island. Lots of close-ups taken!

Garnish (€4.00 entrance) is an amazing mixture of gardens, arboretums, clock tower, Italianate buildings, even a Martello tower and will look even better in the weeks and months ahead as the trees, shrubs and flowers put on their summer show. Great views too over the bay and mountains.
Dessert at the Clonakilty Hotel
Back then on the ferry, and again a stop, this to say goodbye to the seals. Next call was to Manning's Emporium for a cool drink and a chat with Andrew. Manning’s will of course feed you, and feed you well, but we had a dinner date that evening. Soon we were making our way through Bantry and Skibbereen and then we got a lovely warm welcome as we checked into the spick and span Celtic Ross.

That evening’s dinner was in the restaurant of the Clonakilty Hotel, very enjoyable too. Afterwards we spent a hour or so in the Celtic Ross bar sipping a pint or two of Franciscan Well’s Rebel Red, available on draught.

After a hearty breakfast we were off on another island trip, making the short journey to Baltimore to connect with the ferry (€10.00) to Sherkin Island. We thought we'd be the only passengers until a large bus parked up and some forty Italian students joined us. You’d be hard pressed to find a more well mannered, well behaved bunch.
Horses graze on Sherkin.
 Like Garnish, Sherkin is noted for its peace and quiet. Some good walks too that we enjoyed though again the place will look better in a month or so when the fuchsias are in full bloom. We made our way back towards the ferry point as lunch time approached and called up to the nearby Islander’s Rest where we got one (well two) of the best fish and chips ever. Hake was used and it was so well cooked.


I don't know how many of you know about the pirate raid on Baltimore by Algerian pirates in June 1631 when 107 locals were taken away to be sold into slavery and never seen again. You can read all about it and indeed see some artifacts of the time in the newly restored Baltimore Castle (also known as Dún na Séad). More history too in this recently restored building that started life in the 13th century. An interesting visit (€4.00) and from the top you get terrific views over the town and the harbour.


Beach on Sherkin
Off then towards Rosscarbery again, this time via the villages of Glandore and Union Hall (where you see from the memorial to those drowned at sea that it isn't always as nice as it had been to us these two sunny days).

Dinner that evening was taken in the hotel dining room. With chefs of the calibre of Graeme Campbell and Alex Petit, we were expecting good things and that’s exactly what we got. The highlight was my main course of local pork belly served with a White Bean and Chorizo cassoulet. The pork comes from the Allshire’s nearby and is only available here. Well worth a detour.


Fish & Chips at Islander's Rest
 Indeed, our final visit on the following day was to Caherbeg to see the free-range pigs and have a chat with Avril about her busy life in food. It turned out to be a lovely visit, memorable for many things, including a lunch of her special Black-pudding lasagna! And the sun was still shining as we headed east and back to the city.
Somebody's shopping arriving on Sherkin!