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WEST CORK WEEKEND
Just back from Clonakilty and a packed two days in the area. First stop was Dillon’s in Timoleague for lunch on Friday and to see owners John and Julie Finn.
Highlight here was a multi-fruit pie, worth the trip for this alone. But before that we had a brilliant plateful of Ummera smoked products and just as well as Anthony Creswell soon made an appearance. Delighted then to take up his invitation to see his smoke-house, the only one in Ireland licensed for both fish and meat smoking.
Took the scenic route then – it was quite a fine day – though Courtmacsherry and Butlerstown and Ring – and then headed to our base, the Macliam Guest House in Clon. We got a warm welcome from John (and an equally warm one from Maeve later on) and installed ourselves in a very comfortable room.
Still daylight aplenty so headed off down to Inchadoney for a long walk on the sand. Fully refreshed and with appetite renewed, called into Costello’s Malthouse for dinner. Lovely welcome from Amanda and a fine meal too where the highlights were a couple of top notch fish dishes.
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Rain was expected on Saturday morning and it didn't let us down. It lashed in Skibbereen as we walked through the market which, in fairness, was still doing a good business, especially the Sheila and Mary fish stall.
We had a magnificent breakfast at the guesthouse but time now for a coffee and a call to Fields where I couldn't resist their smashing Tunisian orange cake. Had a look around the supermarket and delighted to see so many local products, including virtually all of the range from Just Food in Cobh. My kind of supermarket.
The rain still fell as we drove back towards Clon and a return visit, after decades, to the Model Village and Railway. Just bought our tickets and the sun came out and stayed out for the rest of the day. Really enjoyed the stroll around the village and the models of the area’s towns but the highlight for me was a very nostalgic audio visual presentation of the last day of the West Cork railway in 1961.
With the sun now firmly established, we drove to the coast and to Red Strand where half a dozen surfers were braving the strong waves. Galley Head was silhouetted in the distance and we made that our next destination. Enjoyed walking round the area in the stiff enough breeze and took a few photos of the waves crashing in against the rocks.
Dinner was on the agenda again, of course, and this time we had a booking at the bright and breezy bistro called Richy’s. First though we made a call to An Sugán for a drink. Nobody there at seven but it was packed half an hour later (punters there for the food as much as the drink) as we left to cross the road.
Great service at Richy's where the pretty large menu is supplemented daily by a blackboard full of specials. We knew we were on a winner the minute we tasted our starter of Clonakilty Black Pudding Samosas and also with the first mouthful of a gorgeous Domaine La Columbette Pinot Noir 2010 (down from 35 to 28 euro).
I’ll have more details on the restaurants in later posts but all three are highly recommended.
And another big recommendation for Mcliam’s. Met some lovely guests there including two US couples, travelling separately. They were amazed at the friendliness of the Irish people and backed it up with concrete examples. Like the man who interrupted his walk, sat into the car and guided one of the couples to their destination. And another who interrupted his chores to drive ahead of them to a tourist site - some 22 miles away!
Hard to beat that kind of friendliness but we found it too. Well we didn't have much need of directions but a query in one town was answered, in a friendly manner, by a young French person and one of the US couples were amazed when a foreign person in Dublin used his own phone to get directions for them. But everywhere we were greeted with a smile and, if we needed info, that was provided too. Just loved the couple of days.