An October Wander in Mayo and Galway
|Afternoon near Letterfrack|
|Dozio & Pears in TIA|
So here I am in Mayo, in Louisburgh to be precise, enjoying a delicious Swiss-Irish cheese in a lovely friendly Portuguese-Irish cafe. The cheese is called Dozio ( pronounced dots-i-o) and the café is called TIA. It is the last Friday in October, it is dull and showery, but I’m nice and cozy and enjoying the grub and the lunchtime buzz.
TIA, according to Google, means aunt in Portuguese and there is a family feel about the place, lots of school kids in either with a parent (maybe an auntie) or without and a fair bit of banter between the customers and the staff. And the food is local as exemplified by the board that says the lamb chops are PJ’s. They appear on the list of more substantial meals (more like your dinner).
We study the other board and order a couple of delicious salads. There is a Sourdough toast, honey roasted ham, Barr Rua cheese (also from Dozio), relish, salad and TIA crips. The potato, chorizo, kale and fried egg combination looks attractive, well priced at €8.50. All the dishes seem well-priced and all the food is sourced locally.
This section also details a Chicken, Mozzarella and Ciabatta salad; another salad of Sausage rasher, fried egg with Blaa; and a Vegetarian Burger with Sautéed potatoes, salads and pickles.
I go for the Warm Roast Pear Salad, Dozio Cheese and excellent homemade brown bread (12.00). Danilo Dozio and Helen Grady are making cheese in Mayo, using ancient recipes from Canton Ticino in the South of Switzerland. They make a few different varieties including the soft Zing (with apricot) that I so enjoyed with my salad. Meanwhile CL was loving the Warm Chicken salad, pickles, wedges and a Chilli Mayo (10.90). And it was two happy customers that left the Halloween decorated café to continue our journey to Clifden in the heart of Connemara.
|The Breaffy House Hotel, our base for the middle night.|
Our trip had started two days earlier near Ballina with a visit to relatives. Later that evening, we dined in the quirky Gallery Wine Bar in Westport, details at end. The following day, on the Thursday, we took up an invite to visit the Foxford Woollen Mills and its gorgeous revamped café. Terrific food here also from Chef Kathleen Flavin and you may read about the mill and the meal here…
The morning hadn’t been great but the sun was out and about as we left the mills and so we decided to head for Achill (a change of plan as we had been thinking of visiting the nearby National Museum featuring country living, our rainy day option). And quite a few stops were made and many photos taken as we made our way around the nearer loop (we didn’t go as far as Keem Bay), taking in the sights including the Grace O’Malley castle.
|Superb burger, with local beef and bacon and topped with Dubliner cheese, at Oxtail in Balla.|
That evening, we headed out to Balla for an excellent evening meal at the Oxtail Kitchen (you’ll find it above the Shebeen Pub on the main street). Here, Balla born Patrick McEllin and French lady Rebecca Miton, support local farmers and producers through the ever changing menu, a menu Patrick describes as classical with a modern twist. We certainly enjoyed our visit. Details also at end.
The following morning we met up with a friend of ours in Westport and enjoyed a chat and the coffee in Leafy Greens before heading west along the road to Louisburgh. First though, we stopped to see the impressive famine memorial in Newport and the horrors of the famine would again be in our minds as we headed to Leenane via the beautiful Doolough valley, haunting and maybe haunted by the happenings there during the famine, and now commemorated by a plain stone memorial as you go through the Doolough Pass. A yearly walk is held along this route in memory of the Doolough dead of 1847 and to highlight the starvation of the world’s poor today. Otherwise though it is a lovely drive and a terrific cycle route (I’m told!).
|Detail from the famine ship memorial in Muirisk|
On then through some spectacular roads, including the final Sky Road, to Clifden. That night we would dine in the Marconi Restaurant in Foyle’s Hotel in a room whose decor recalls the exploits here of Marconi and also the story of Alcock and Browne. A good meal was followed (indeed accompanied) by pints of Bridewell, the local brew. Some excellent music in Mullarkey’s Bar meant a pleasant extension to the evening.
|The famine memorial in the lovely Doo Lough Valley|
|Napoleon was all over the|
place, even in the bathroom!
We spent the night in the Napoleon room of the quirky and hospitable, if expensive, Quay House, an 8-minute stroll from the town centre. The Quay, which closes up for the winter, has one of the brightest and well appointed breakfast rooms in the country, a conservatory room indeed and a breakfast to match.
Thus fortified, we started up the trusty Toyota and headed south, enjoying the benefit of the newly extended motorway, at least to Limerick. After that we drove through a lot of bends and a whole lot of broken promises by politicians before our home city came into sight.