Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Dean Cork opens this November

 The Dean Cork opens this November  

 It has been on everyone’s radar for some time now, and finally, we can reveal that Cork’s newest and hottest hotel, The Dean Cork, is set to open its doors this November. 


The striking seven storey building, designed by Irish firm Wilson Architecture, forms part of the new Horgan’s Quay development, located moments from Kent Station overlooking the majestic River Lee.  


So what to expect? Let’s start from the top… 


Visitors will get a whole new perspective on Cork from Sophie’s Rooftop Restaurant and Bar on the 6th floor. With 360° views, from the River Lee to the city skyline, Sophie’s will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and brunch on weekends. The rooftop space has two terraces for outdoor dining, the perfect spot to watch the sun go down, cocktail in hand. 


One hundred and fourteen stylish, comfortable, design led bedrooms and suites take up residence on floors one to five. Expect super cool and comfortable rooms filled with stuff that will make you smile, designed to ensure you have everything you need at your disposal. We’re talking big bouncy beds, rainfall power showers, fully stocked Smeg fridges. We’re talking Netflix enabled smart TVs, Irish Munchie Box filled with goodies, Marshal Amp for your tunes, record players and vinyl by the dozen, luxury toiletries and loads more.  


The Blue Room, a bright and funky function room with private bar, is the perfect spot for events, weddings and parties, along with two smaller meetings rooms available to hire.  


If you want the best room in the house (or quite possibly Cork), The Dean Penthouse is not to be missed. Two supersized ensuite bedrooms, each complete with freestanding copper bathtubs, with an adjoining loft loaded with fun and filled with stuff dreams are made of. Private bar, foosball table, huge Smart TV, dining table, hand-crafted furniture, record player, vinyl, guitars, games and more. You might never want to leave.  


Entering the large, open and spacious ground floor, you’ll be greeted by The Dean’s famously friendly staff and the familiar neon welcome note sitting above Reception, a bespoke design created by Irish artist Domino Whisker.  


Coffee lovers can rejoice knowing that the ground floor will be brewing up Irish roasted DIME coffee, for all your caffeinated needs throughout the day. Pair this with the super-fast wi-fi, plugs and hot desking spots, and you’ve got a productive combo if you need a space to work before you can play. 


Art is a prominent feature across the building. The Dean are creative partners of IMMA, and aim to promote and support Irish art. The Dean Cork’s walls will be covered with over 400 pieces of eye-catching, innovative and inspiring Irish art from both established artists and up and comers, sourced predominantly from Cork and the Munster region.  


The ground floor is also home to POWER Boutique Gym, scheduled to open in January 2021. Not your average hotel gym, POWER is a luxurious and functional facility in which to train and recover, with world class equipment and group classes, high spec changing rooms, state of the art sound and lighting, sauna, steam room and a heated relaxation pool. All Dean hotel guests can enjoy complimentary access to POWER gym and spa facilities, with the option to partake in classes with leading trainers for an additional fee. Full membership of POWER is also available.  


Speaking in advance of the opening, Bryan Davern, Director of Hotels, told us;   


“The Dean is all about fun. Stylish, slick and comfortable rooms packed with everything you might possibly need, spaces for work and for play, great food and drink, brilliant Irish art, boutique gym, music and loads more. It’s got something for everyone, whether you’re staying with us or not. We want The Dean Cork to be a launch pad from which to explore the city and make memories”. 


So, there you have it, from top to bottom, a small guide of what’s in store when The Dean Cork opens its doors this November. A rooftop bar and restaurant with panoramic views of Cork city, slick and stylish rooms, event spaces, lobby eats, coffee to go, art collections featuring local and upcoming artists and much more.  All that’s missing is YOU! 


The Dean Cork will create 120 full-time and part-time jobs. 


Bookings are now available from December 10th – visit for exclusive opening offers.  


press release


If Douro or Duero is on the bottle label, you're on an Iberian winner. The River and its Wine.

The River and its Wine

The river begins its journey in the centre of the north of Spain and is called the Duero. Five hundred miles to the west, it enters the Atlantic at Porto where it is now called Douro. Not quite a river of wine but there is no shortage of the drink as you travel from east to west, from Spain to Portugal. Our first bottle below comes from the Spanish area known as Ribera del Duero (ribera means riverbank). In Portugal, the amazingly scenic Douro is perhaps best known as the home of Port but here too you will find excellent still wines such as the example below from Quinta Da Esteveira. 

Viña Fuentenarro “4 Mesas En Barrica” Ribera Del Duero (D0) 2018, 14%, 

Tempranillo, in many Irish people’s minds, is the grape of Rioja. And it is. But, since the end of the 20th century, the 300 plus bodegas of Ribera Del Duero are also laying a strong claim to the grape by making some excellent wines with it.

This deep red Fuentenarro (from a family owned winery) is a 100% Tempranillo. Traditional aromas of black berry fruit, touch of spice. Big intro of fruit and spice, no shortage of acidity either, juicy yet dry. Powerful start eases smoothly down to  super-long finish. One to sip - a little goes a long way - and enjoy your long lunch or dinner as the sun goes down. Very Highly Recommended. That it is well priced is a bonus.

Wine has been produced in this beautiful region since Roman times, though it became well known outside of Spain only in the 1990s. North west of Madrid and south west of Rioja, in the Castilla y León region, the vines grow on a flowing swathe of land that’s approximately 115 kms long and 35 kms wide. 

The vast majority (including Fuentenarro, near La Horra) grow in the province of Burgos but some too in Segovia, Soria (Antidoto, for example) and Valladolid.

Two related factors that make Ribera different are the average altitude of 850 metres and the big variations in summer between the heat of the day and the cool of the night. The heat of the day promotes the ripening, the chill of the night preserves acidity. 

Casel Dos Jordões Quinta Da Esteveira Reserva Tinto Douro (DOC) 2014, 14.5%, €15.20 Mary Pawle

This organic Portuguese blend is a dark red colour. Rich and ripe aromas. Smooth, fruity and a bit spicy, a lovely mouthful with a good finish as well. Highly Recommended. Pretty well priced too.

The label indicates the blend is composed of 70% Touriga Franca, 20% Touriga Nacional, 10% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo in Spain). It also recommends pairing with meat dishes, cheese, smoked meats and roasted chestnuts. 

Two of the grape varieties, the two Tourigas, are also used in the production of Port. The Jordoes family began producing wine from terraced vineyards on the slopes above the river Torto in 1870 and, since 1994 have championed the production of organic port. They are just one of quite a few Port producers also involved in still wine (no big surprise there!).

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

You'll Find Jacques Always On The Sunny Side Of The Street

You'll Find Jacques Always On The Sunny Side Of The Street

There may be less covers in Jacques these days but the menu is still expansive as the popular Oliver Plunkett Street restaurant hasn’t followed the trend that sees less options available to the diner. No shortage of choice at all when we called for lunch last Wednesday, everything from soup to ribeye, from toasties to fish and chips. And much more in between with most tastes and budgets catered for.

Hands sanitised, we were soon seated in a comfortable corner by the window and, after the usual warm welcome, were studying the long menu. The salads looked very tempting indeed: Baked Ham Salad with Ballinrostig Cheese, the Roast Beetroot Salad with Knockalara Sheeps Cheese (this was just one dish underlining a great loyalty between Jacques and their suppliers), and the Fresh Crab and Bushby Strawberries.

We would have those luscious strawberries in the dessert. And what a dessert! The Almond Meringue, Custard and those Bushby Strawberries (perhaps the last of them for this season) sent us off into the sunny afternoon in great form. And that form was also boosted by a terrific cup of coffee, Maher’s of course. After all, Maher’s are next door neighbours!

Regulars were rolling in as we engage with our mains. CL choose the Pan Fried Plaice, Hollandaise, Seasonal veg, and Ballycotton Queens. Those buttered up Queens were a highlight, the broccoli cooked to perfection (not too hard, not too soft) as was the fish itself while the sauce was served on the side (always a good idea as it leaves the diner in control).

I had been seriously looking at the cheeseboard, all for myself: Cashel Blue, Durrus Classic and Ballinrostig Gold, with sourdough crispbread and drunken figs! It’s also an end of meal option. In the event though, I picked another favourite: Italian Meatballs, Tomato, Spaghetti, Basil and Parmesan. Usually a superb combination of flavour and texture. It was all that here and more!

Jacques have also have a huge choice of drinks. Earlier in the week, I spotted on their Instagram that they now have some of the beers from the German Brewery called And Union. The one featured in the photo was a Wheat Beer called Wednesday, quite appropriate since we were in on a Wednesday! They have a beer for every day of the week (and more) and you’ll note that the And Union bottles and cans come in one solid colour - Wednesday is yellow, Tuesday is blue....

Anyway, this Wednesday Weiss is easy drinking with perhaps not so much clove in the aromas as you might expect, more vanilla and banana. This traditional German beer is a hazy gold and smooth and rich in the mouth. 

Sisters Jacque and Eithne Barry started Jacques over 40 years ago. “..we still love it, still driven by food, by people. It's a good way to earn a crust. Over the years we have built up a great network of growers, farmers, cheesemakers & small wine suppliers.” 

And the customers keep coming back for the honest and unpretentious food, well sourced, well cared for and cooked to the highest standard and, mask or no mask, served with the friendliest of smiles.

Maybe I should have had this Crab and Strawberry salad!
Probably would have had it had I seen this on their Instagram earlier.

They have a website here but if you want the most up to date info (and these Covid days, it can change) you’d be best advised to keep an eye on their Instagram page where you’ll see menus and so on. Do note that, though you’ll see otherwise, even on Insta, that they are now open on Wednesdays (from noon til late).

Jacques Restaurant

23 Oliver Plunkett Street*


Tel: 021 4277387

*They have a second entrance in Phoenix Street at the other side of the block.

And Union - Noreast

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Quart of Ale± #14. Moving on over to craft. Weihenstephaner. To Øl. Brooklyn. Wicklow Wolf. Dungarvan. Kinnegar.

A Quart of Ale± #14

Moving on over to craft.  

The Non Alcoholic Alternative

Weihenstephaner “Original Helles” <0,5% abv, 0.5l bottle Bradley’s of Cork

“Our Original Helles – even without alcohol, it is refreshing and enjoyable.” That’s what they say and I’d have to agree. Bright gold colour, fountains of rapidly rising bubbles. Fluffy white head, in no rush to fade away. Slightly hoppy notes, slight spice also, introduce this thirst quencher. Light and crisp with excellent full flavour. Not quite all-out lip-smacking but pleasantly refreshing for sure with a mild bitterness and a clean dry finish. That the bitterness is mild is confirmed by the IBU number of 20.

Germany breweries regularly suggest food pairings and here Weihenstephaner, the world’s oldest brewery, provide the full recipe for Swiss Wurstsalat (Sausage Salad). All the details here.  

They say: Our bright sunny-yellow alcohol-free lager “Original” with minerals, vitamins and micronutrients is an isotonic, low-calorie alternative to our lager and also a thirst quencher for active people. The pleasant spicy hops note and the full light and sweet flavor, with a slight bitterness, makes it an ideal companion for snacks, hearty salads or simply a refreshment on hot days. Brewed according to our centuries-old brewing tradition on the Weihenstephan hill.

Almost a thousand years ago the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan was the monastery brewery of the Benedictine monks. Then, the Royal Bavarian State Brewery stepped in and it is now operating as a state directed enterprise under the control of the Bavarian Government.

To Øl “Implosion” 0.3%, 33cl can Bradley’s of Cork

This Danish ale is a pale and hazy yellow. Citrus in the delicate aromas. No explosion of flavours on the crisp palate but quite a pleasant balance and a good dry refreshing finish. May not be quite perfect but is one of the better non alcoholic beers. And the Danish brewery isn’t finished with the style yet: “You'll love where this non-ABV craft train is headed, I promise.” These brewers have a habit of living up to their promises!

The hop varieties used are Hallertau Blanc, Citra, Tettnanger and Mosaic, promising fruity and floral flavours. But it is the yeast that’s key here; it doesn’t produce alcohol though it does leave a little more sweetness than usual.

They say: It is light and chuggable, with nice peachy notes from the yeast. Slightly sweet, but not too prominent, nice and fresh hop aromas, and absolutely NO hangover! Alcohol-free beer as it should be.

I caught a recent Facebook post by the makers, sympathising with all of us who have tried some of those awful non-alcoholic drinks over the years.”You tried that beer in the bar years ago, against your better judgement - and it tasted like awful, sparkly bread water. You were horrified. Scarred for life. You swore to stick to the strong stuff, where it was safe. But, my friend, times - they are a-changing.”


So they threw out the rule book with this non-alcoholic Implosion beer. “We used a yeast that, when it ferments, doesn't create alcohol but still gives off amazing, ale esters. We then added hops to create a delicate, aromatic profile - and therefore didn't need to boil off the beer at the end of the process and risk losing all those amazing flavours.”

Brooklyn Hoppy Lager “Special Effects” 0,4% abv, 355ml bottle Bradley’s of Cork

Quite a warm amber colour, essentially clear. Must admit I didn’t get on at all with this one. Must try another bottle sometime, to be fair. If you had one of these as part of a session involving regular alcoholic ales, it might well pass. A bit disappointed with the Special Effects. Doesn’t have second glass appeal for me, though my drinking partner enjoyed it.

They say: Special Effects is a hoppy lager with an unexpected piney aroma and pleasantly bitter finish. It tastes like a regular beer but therein lies the special effect. It’s only 0.4% abv

Brooklyn Special Effects tastes just like a regular beer, but therein lies the special effect. We use a special fermentation method that develops the flavors, aromas & character of beer with none of the alcohol, and a generous dry hopping resulting in lively hop notes and a clean finish.

They have quite a long recommended food list: Spinach Salad, Grilled Chicken, Omelettes, BLT sandwiches, Toast Skagen (Brooklyn do have breweries in Scandinavia), Hot Wings, Working Lunches (it’s not a saison though), Weeknights, Fresh Goats Cheese (Ardsallagh, I reckon, rather than Shepherds Store).

Irish Contenders

Wicklow Wolf “Moonlight” Hoppy Ale 0.5%, 330ml can Supervalu

Brewed with speciality malts, this Wicklow Wolf states a claim to a high ranking among Irish non-alcoholic beers. Nice gold colour with a short-lived head. Citrus aromas in the hoppy head, hoppy all through really, well flavoured and an excellent fruity finish. One of the better ones for sure, neck and neck with the Dungarvan entry below, maybe marginally ahead.

Hops: Cascade, Hallertau Blanc, Citra

Malt: Melano, Cara Gold

IBU: 20

Dungarvan “Main Sail” <0,5% abv, 500ml bottle Bradley’s of Cork

Ireland’s first micro-brewed alcohol free beer has a gold colour, a white fluffy head with little staying power. Hoppy aromas are followed by a stiff backbone of the same on the palate where notes of citrus also show, all before a lingering bitter finish. Ireland’s first and one of the better ones.

They say: Our head brewer, Cormac O’Dwyer, believes that it takes quality ingredients, time, care and attention to detail to create the perfect brews and this is the methodology that he employs when brewing our Dungarvan beer.All the beers are traditionally brewed and bottled on-site in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford made using only four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water. No chemicals are added to the beers, they are unfiltered, unpasteurised and vegan-friendly.

Hops used for Mainsail: Amarillo, Challenger

Malts: Munich, Caramalt, Crystal Malt, Cararoma

And  where did the name come from? From the Pogues’ “When The Ship Comes in”

A song will lift

As the mainsail shifts

And the boat drifts on to the shoreline

Kinnegar “Low Tide” Pale Ale 0.5%, 44cl can O’Briens

This aptly-named Low Tide from Kinnegar is a mid-gold, with a close to clear, white head that slowly fades away. Aromas feature hops. Indeed, it’s moderately hoppy all the way through. Don’t think I’d stick with this for a session but it could come in handy if taking it easy for a night, one Limeburner, one Low Tide and repeat!

They say: Low Tide is our traditionally brewed zero-point-five per cent pale ale, created to make life with less alcohol enjoyable, even for beer lovers.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Enjoying (mostly) the good life at Killarney's Aghadoe Heights

Enjoying (mostly) the good life at Killarney's Aghadoe Heights

Friday, September 11th, in this year of Covid, found us dining in the Lake Room of the Aghadoe Heights Hotel in Killarney. There were over 80 others, socially distanced, in the large bright room with its splendid view (not everybody gets the same view!) over the lakes below. And it was the same story in the adjoining room, the more “casual” Heights Lounge and Piano Bar.

Our Lake Room menu was fairly restricted as regards choice but the quality was excellent all through, from Amuse Bouche to Dessert. Our wines, chosen from the by-the-glass groups, about five each of red and white, were the intensely fruity Pionero Mundi Albarino (10.50) and the vibrant fruit-driven Old Coach Road Pinot Noir from Nelson in New Zealand (11.50). Dinner (three courses with tea/coffee) comes to €59.50 per person. The Amuse Bouche and Sorbet are included.



There were 6 starters in all, including Oysters and Crab Claws, both supplemented. Another included Avocado so I passed on that. But I must say I hit the jackpot with the Burrata Salad with Peaches and Basil. The peaches were surprisingly effective in the delicious ensemble. And our other starter was equally satisfactory: Chicken Croquette with celeriac remoulade and pomegranate. Next up was the lovely unlisted treat of a Champagne Sorbet.

There were just five main dishes to choose from and two of those were beef. Another was seabass which I skipped. This is usually imported and I cannot imagine why the hotel, so close to the lakes and ocean, doesn’t have at least one Irish fish on the menu.

Chicken starter

My pick was the Irish Hereford Sirloin Steak with glazed ox cheek, onion, roasted carrots and Béarnaise sauce and it was quite a splendid plateful, well cooked and presented, the cheek a bonus. CL meanwhile was enjoying her Supreme of Chicken with crispy polenta and green beans, another excellent combination. Also on the table were two sides of seasonal vegetables and one of gratin potato.

Service had been excellent up to this point but then our table seemed to become invisible. Eventually, we had to ask for someone to take the dessert order and its delivery took just as long again, 40 minutes in all. 

The list, another short one, was hardly inspiring with usual suspects such as Apple Crumble, Tiramisu and Chocolate Fondant appearing. I went for the Raspberry Millefeuille and I’d go for it again. Somewhat different from the usual effort and really excellent.

Later, we slept well in a spacious and well-equipped room and enjoyed the morning views over Lough Leane below from the balcony. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy these views as there is a public viewing area with car park. Just head out the Killorglin Road from Killarney town, turn right for Dingle and then right again and it will be on your right with the hotel on the left.

As you know these days, all meals in hotels have to be booked so we were back in the Lake Room for breakfast at 9.00am. Very surprised to find they were operating a buffet, a buffet where you served yourself from uncovered receptacles and where those that needed toast all handled the toaster controls and those that wanted pastries or cheese or salamis used the thongs provided at each stop. Same with the juice dispensers. There was a small hand sanitiser available at the start of the queue.

Back at the table, we ordered our hot breakfasts from the kitchen, Both the dishes, the Eggs Royale (with smoked salmon) and the Pancakes with maple syrup and berries were faultless.

Soon we were ready to hit the road again but not before a walk out the front to take in the view and a stroll around the hotel to take a final look at its terrific collection of art, including works by Knuttel and Kerry artist Liam O’Neill. Time then to say goodbye to the lovely people who manned the reception, warm and friendly as they had been when we arrived.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Amuse Bouche

via Pixabay

It’s also from Elqui that our pisco comes, a liquor made from the muscatel: transparent, virtuous, and serene as the angelic force that emanates from the land. Pisco is the prime ingredient of the pisco sour, our sweet and treacherous national drink, which must be drunk with confidence, though the second glass has a kick that can floor the most valiant among us.

from My Invented Country by Isabel Allende (2003). Very Highly Recommended.

Taste of the Week. O'Mahony's Italian Sausages with Spanish Rice

Taste of the Week

O'Mahony's Italian Sausages with Spanish Rice

I don't know how many times we've found our Taste of the Week in our Neighbourfood delivery box. The latest is Italian Sausages from the O'Mahony Butcher stall in the English Market. Indeed, you're always on a winner when you purchase at this particular outlet.

What would we do with the sausages? And then I remembered a recipe we used put to good use a few years back. The Blog Chef found it in an instant: Spanish Rice with Chorizo and Sage. We substituted the Italian Sausage for the Chorizo and ended up with a very enjoyable bowlful indeed, our fleeting Taste of the Week.

You also need tomatoes, garlic, red pepper, turmeric (which adds a warm glow) and frozen peas and sage. The trick with the sage is to add a bunch of it (well shredded) towards the end; Dry Sage it, just like a brewer Dry Hops his beer!

It's a relatively easy dish, all cooked in one pan. If anyone wants the recipe, DM me.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Fernhill House Hotel. Its history and its beautiful gardens.

Fernhill House Hotel and its beautiful gardens.

You notice the ferns straightaway. After all, they are planted in groups around Fernhill House Hotel in Clonakilty. And, of course, in the 14 acres of gardens, (itself divided into three sections: managed, lightly-managed and wild). Garden Designer Mary Reynolds has plans and, because Fernhill is a great wedding venue, ferns just have to be included. 

The first reason is that they’ve always been here and the second is one of Mary’s inspirations. Cloich na Coillte is the Irish name for Clon and means ‘Stone in the woods’. Ferns help form the carpet that clothes the earth as part of  healthy woodland, covering the ground in a soft carpet of feathers. “In ancient Ireland, every plant was associated with certain energies. Ferns represent marriage and the secret bond of love. The gentle unfurling of the fern fronds symbolise the slow blooming of love in a committed relationship.”

And so couples come from all over West Cork to get married here, sometimes in the more managed part of the garden. Here, their photographer has some amazing backgrounds to work with, especially at dusk when parts, including the little bridge, are highlighted by fairy lights. 

And, on the Valentine’s Day after their wedding, the couple are invited back to plant an apple tree.

Our September visit to Fernhill started with a warm welcome from Michael O’Neill (jnr), the fourth generation of the family in the hotel. The hotel is built around the original house which dates from 1826. The Atkin family were the first owners. They didn’t have much luck on the male side. When the father died, the family, including Robert Travers Atkin (born Fernhill 1841) went to Australia where he went on to be “the founding father of social justice” in that country. He too died prematurely and the family headed for England. Here, a son of Robert’s became Lord Atkin and was directly responsible for opening the way for compensation claims.

Michael O'Neill and a herb spiral

The Wrights and the Cowpers were other families associated with the house as the 19th century closed and the 20th began. Michael Collins was a visitor in 1920 and, during the war, the Irish army were based here (an ammunition bunker from that time still stands here). The mansion house was bought by M.J. O Neill in the 1940’s and was turned into a hotel by his son Con with his wife Mary in the 1960’s.

The hotel has “grown” around the original house and so too has the wedding business and the garden is a key part of that. But the 14 acres accommodate much more nowadays. Many apple trees grow here and other fruit as well.

Ferns, and a well worn mill-wheel embedded in the wall

And expect to see many varieties of Irish trees and bushes under Mary’s direction, even if there are many here already. And not planted willy nilly! During the tour, Michael explained that they use a layering system with bushes or small trees in the first row, medium sized specimens  next and then the tallest; always with the aim of keeping compatible species close to one another.

We had just 30 minute for so in the garden but you could spend all day here to take in all the detail. As you move from the more fully managed area to the semi-managed area, you come across their stone circle (they built it themselves - it’s not an ancient one!). Here in the grassy circle on certain days you will see a group doing their yoga.

Move on a little further and you will hear the calming sound of running water as the river flows down the glen. Just sit here and relax. Indeed, forest bathing tours can be arranged here. Michael said he slept like a baby after his first experience of the bathing. Foraging tours are also done here, the schedule somewhat curtailed these Covid days, so do check availability with the hotel.

Listen to the birds and see those layered ranks of trees and imagine how they’ll look in the future. And as you stroll up the slope, note the series of terraces near the river. Here, trees are being planted and each terrace will be harvested (and replanted) in rotation, with the harvested timber going to the hotel’s wood-burner.

The family are much into sustainability. They have solar panels in place and have their own sustainable water supply. Michael jnr himself is a director of Sustainable Clonakilty and was a board member of the European Union’s EDEN group. His group had plans to plant no less than 10,000 tress locally this year until the Covid interruption but, still, they managed to get most of them into the ground.

Michael is also a keen historian and his starting point is the house. You can read some of the early details in our first post on our visit here and you’ll know that quite a few well known people have been through its doors. The early families, who lived in the 1826 built mansion and its then 1,257 acre estate, were part of the landed gentry. They had lawn tennis courts, a cricket pitch, a four storey castle tower, an ornate orangery and more. In fairness, they also ran a soup kitchen to feed the starving during the famine.

What may not be so well-known is that Fernhill has quite a literary connection as well, ranging from Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, the Victorian novelist, credited with the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” to Louise O’Neill author of the bang up to date “Asking for it”. Louise, by the way, is a cousin of Michael’s and a great grand-daughter of MJ who purchased the house in 1946.

The Irish army march through Clon during WW2

Michael has put together a folder showing other literary connections with sites that relate directly to the history of Fernhill and its surrounds.

Louise O’Neill - Almost Love and Asking for it

Sophie Hannah - Closed Casket (a Hercule Poirot story set in a Georgian mansion in Clonakilty)

Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (wrote as The Duchess) - Molly Bawn

Tim Pat Coogan - Michael Collins; Eamon De Valera.

Tim Crowley - In Search of Michael Collins

James Douglass - JFK and the Unspeakable

Henry Ford - My Life and Work

Mary Reynolds - Garden Awakening

Damien Enright - Scenic Walks in West Cork

Alison Wickham - Irish Women Speak.

From the garden to the kitchen

Michael had arranged lunch for us but before that he had another little surprise. He showed us some pretty old scrapbooks, full of newspaper cuttings. As with many such collections, the dates had been trimmed from the scraps but, judging by some that still had dates, it seemed they were collected in the early decades of the 20th century.

There were a few recipes that caught my eye:

Lobster Omelet (US spelling).

Salmon Kedjeree (sic)

Little Cheese Custards

Macaroni a la Napolitaine

Kidney Toast

Savoury Vermicelli

Roes and Mushrooms on Toast.

Needless to say, none of those were on the day’s lunch menu! It was a meal that we enjoyed very much indeed and you may read all about it here.