Showing posts with label Bantry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bantry. Show all posts

Sunday, April 3, 2022

The Maritime Hotel & Bantry Town. Great Base For West Cork & South East Kerry

The Maritime Hotel & Bantry Town

Great Base For West Cork & South East Kerry.

Our base for a recent quick trip to Bantry was the town's Maritime Hotel. And an excellent place it is, with very courteous staff, from reception, to bar to breakfast. Comfortable spacious rooms here, all with a view over the harbour. 

Made a call to the bar and confirmed (again) The Maritime supports local drinks producers - gins, whiskey and beer - and I was delighted to see the 9 White Deer Kölsch on draught. What a superbly refreshing drink, a fine reward after a walk on sunny Sheep’s Head.

And breakfast is good, served in an impressive room. There is a hot buffet but here it is regularly refreshed. And you have the usual juices, meats and cheese too, and breads of course. No shortage at all. The long low rise hotel ais  few steps from the main square, has its own underground car park and that, with a lift up to reception, is very convenient. Recommended.

Brendan the Navigator

It is also very convenient as a base for touring. We didn’t have all that much time on this occasion and our main trip was to the fabulous Sheep’s Head Peninsula and that walk on the Goat’s Path. But Mizen and Beara are also within easy reach and you can head for Kerry via the spectacular Healy Pass.

Corner of the breakfast room

After our Friday breakfast, we headed uphill to a place called Vaughan’s Pass though I think the locals call it Sheskin and you’ll also see Dromleigh Heights on signs. Turn up High Street and look out for the signs (you do go past the local hospital). A good Sat-Nav or this Google Maps link should get you there. You will see some large communication aerials on the top as you approach and there is a car park.

It is well worth making this trip, particularly on a clear day as you will see spectacular views of the Bantry area, the harbour including Whiddy Island and right across to Glengarriff. Very Highly Recommended,

We took our time there for a while before heading back down to the town and the fantastic Friday morning market, held in the impressive Wolfe Tone Square where statues of St Brendan and Wolfe Tone himself stand. 

Aside from the food, you can buy carpets and other household items, lots of bric-a-brac and certainly lots and lots of tools. I think there were at least three stalls selling hand tools there on that Friday and they seemed popular. This being Bantry, you will also find a stall selling fishing gear. Quite a varied market and one that will be getting better as the days get longer. Our main purchase was a box of plants, now happily taking root in the back garden!

On this trip:

The Fish Kitchen 

Garden goodies from the
market's Natural Growing

Donemark West Restaurant

Sheep’s Head Peninsula

Previous Trips:

A Couple of Days in West Cork

Manning’s Emporium. Syrian Food.  An Eagle’s Nest.

Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic. 


Glengarriff’s Eccles Hotel

Bantry’s Donemark West Restaurant

Bantry’s Donemark West Restaurant


You’ll find one of the Bantry's best restaurants in Donemark West. Donemark what? You may well ask. Well Donemark West is a small but excellent restaurant in a cottage type building between Bantry and Ballylickey. 

You’ll find them waiting at the door for you with a warm welcome and soon they’ll have you seated with menus in hand. Service, from start to finish, was just as friendly as  the welcome, helpful too without being intrusive in any way

The seating is varied. There are a couple of tables for two, a few booths for four, a circular booth for six and another free standing table for six. Large windows look out across the road but the blinds were down when we visited perhaps to shade us from the setting sun. There are roadworks in slow progress outside but don’t worry as Donemark has its own parking yard. 

We called there towards the end of March for dinner, nibbling on their excellent breads and dips while waiting for our starters. Our options included Warm Scampi Salad, Golden Fried Brie with Sweet Chilli Jam, or Union Hall Smoked Salmon all off the regular menu while the Specials were Leek and Potato Soup, Chicken Liver Paté with Smoked Skeaghanore Duck and Local Crab Toes in Garlic Butter.


Those delicious crap toes were my pick. CL absolutely enjoyed her Peri Peri Warm Chicken Salad. I got a taste of that and the chicken, so well cooked, was also really high class, as good as you’ll get. 

And they kept coming up with the good things. Again I went to the Specials board (they do tell you all about them in any case) for my Grilled Fillets of John Dory with a Prawn and white wine sauce. Looked great and tasted even better. 

Meanwhile the fish theme continued with our other mains of Baked Fillet of Cod with a garlic crumb, cauliflower purée and bacon crumb, another delicious and well executed dish. 

John Dory and prawns

We knew there were sides coming but more than surprised when four dishes arrived for sharing: red cabbage, mash potato, fries and carrots. Again all nicely cooked, not too hard, not too soft. Lovely and all as they were, we didn’t get through all the sides but the main dishes were certainly polished off with gusto.

Other mains on offer that evening were Honeyed breast of Barbary Duck; two different steaks, Dry aged fillet and Dry aged Ribeye; and a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan and Salad. And they have a wide ranging selection of wines to choose from.

To finish we could pick from their Cheeseboard or from desserts such as Meringue Kisses with cream, strawberries and caramel sauce; Creamed Rice Pudding with ice cream; or Vanilla Crème Brûlée. We decided to share the Warm Chocolate Fondant with Praline and ice cream, a real treat for the finalé.


The place was buzzing at this point but that didn't stop our main server from seeing us to the door and saying good night. Like I said, a friendly spot with good food. 

Also on this trip:

Sheep's Head Peninsula

The Fish Kitchen

Maritime Hotel

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Fish Kitchen Delivers Once Again

 The Fish Kitchen Delivers Once Again

Delighted to get the chance to call to the Fish Kitchen during a recent visit to Bantry. We got the best of weather while in the seaside town and in the popular upstairs restaurant we got the best of fish.

Of course, we got the warmest of welcomes from Diarmaid and his team. It was quite busy and their outside seats were filling up quickly and we were quite happy to go upstairs and watch the sun splashed world go by from a good perch.

No time for people watching though until we’d taken in the details of the menu on the blackboard, a menu that changes quite often, depending on what the local boats have brought in. 

It may be hake, haddock, cod, tuna or John Dory or some other fish. Haddock or Hake may be your fish in the Fish and Chips while the likes of Tuna may appear as a starter, for instance Tuna Carpaccio with Mango and Chili Salsa. Later on, dinner choices may include a seafood pappardelle Pasta Mariniere with Garlic Bread, a half or full Bantry Bay Lobster,  or a sharing platter.

Our lunch selection was quite extensive, no shortage of choice. There was a Courgette and Red Pepper Soup, Battered Haddock and Chips (including Mushy peas), Pan-fried Hake with Lemon and Herb Butter, veg and potato, Breaded Lemon Sole, Red Prawn Thai Curry, and an Open Crabmeat Sandwich, all well priced. I really should have picked the Half Dozen Sherkin Island Oysters for €11.00! But, with a big dinner scheduled for the evening, I was being a little cautious!

My choice was a Bowl of Chowder and half an open Prawn sandwich (12.00). Quite a feed actually, so perhaps my caution about the oysters was justified! The Chowder was delicious, packed with proper fish and veg, great value too by the way.

CL’s pick was Fish Cakes & Calamari (13.50) with sweet chili mayo, all on a house salad. Another packed plateful and another delicious one. By the way, a bowl of fries also appeared and they too were excellent.

No desserts ordered - we were heading for a walk on the beautiful Sheep’s Head Peninsula which is just a few miles out of the town. Some tempting sweets on their blackboard though including a Zesty Lemon Posset, a Mixed Berry Meringue, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Vanilla Creme Brûlée and a seasonal Rhubarb Crumble.

The wine list is short, appropriately slanted more to whites than reds, six in all available by the glass (three whites, two reds and a bubbles). It includes an Albariño, a Riesling, a Chablis and a French Sauvignon Blanc and Prosecco of course. There’s a rosé also but only by the bottle.

Like all our restaurants and cafés, the Fish Kitchen is again finding its way in these post (?) covid days so expect changes to menus and opening times. Probably the best way to keep up to date is via their Facebook Page.  I can heartily recommend this friendly place and, by the way, if you are self-catering in the area, the family fish-shop, the Central Fish Market, is downstairs!

Also on this trip:

Sheep's Head Peninsula

Donemark West Restaurant

Maritime Hotel

The Beautiful Sheep's Head Peninsula. Small. Perfect.

The Beautiful Sheep's Head Peninsula. Small. Perfect.

Leave Bantry on the N71. Shortly after passing the Westlodge Hotel on your left, turn right onto a narrow road with signs for Kilcrohane and Goat's Path. Stay on that road, with Bantry Bay on your right. Eventually you will have to climb to your left, following signs for Kilcrohane and Fionn Mac Cumhaill's Seat. There are parking spaces here on this high point and also a calvary group. Walk behind the statues and follow the waymarkers (yellow painted tops) but first consult the maps that are displayed here.

On our visit (24.03.22), the path was mostly rocky, and otherwise hard and mostly dry. The posts are easy to spot, certainly from one to the next, sometimes you can see two or three in a row. The path takes you along the lower ridge and eventually to a higher ridge. We didn't get that far, happy enough with a walk to the 9th or 10th post in from the car park.

There are outstanding views. On your left, you have Bantry Bay and the Beara Peninsula. On your right, you will see Kilcrohane village below and beyond that Dunmanus Bay and the Mizen peninsula. We had fantastic weather and that helped enormously. For more on Sheep's Head and the many superb walks (short and long) available, read here.

Bantry Bay

On the Sheep's Head. Look closely and you'll see another waymarker 
in the distance. The two white dots are in the car park by the trailhead

Bantry Bay to the left

Info at trailhead.

Enjoying the view; The Beara peninsula and Bantry Bay.

The lighthouse near Castletownbere

Short video from Sheep's Head with Bantry Bay to the left, 
Dunmanus Bay to the right.

Also on this trip

Monday, September 17, 2018

Eye-opening Boat Trip on Bantry Bay. Thanks to Diarmaid of the Fish Kitchen.

Eye-opening Boat Trip on Bantry Bay
Thanks to Diarmaid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen.

Last week we found ourselves in a boat in the middle of the Bantry Bay mussel farming area, very extensive, and could see the long lines where blue mussels are placed on ropes that remain suspended in the water. Once the industry was very labour intensive but Diarmuid told us that it is now very much mechanised. In any case, the results are great as we found later that evening in the Murphy’s Fish Kitchen.

If you want a guide to Bantry, land and sea, Diarmaid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen is your man. He has immense experience of the sea, including boats (he is cox for the local lifeboat) and fishing, and allied to that is a love and detailed knowledge of the history of the town and its magnificent bay and its surrounds. Next summer (2019), he plans to do guided trips on his six-passenger rib.
Windy, even inside the harbour wall.
We were delighted with our “preview”. It wasn't the best of days on the bay, far from the worst though, and we were in good hands as we headed out from the new marina that has made a huge difference to boating in the bay. 
From the hotel. The bay looked more benign an hour or so before the trip.
See the green fields of Whiddy and, beyond, the mountains of the Beara peninsula
Having left the Bantry pier and the marina behind - the ferry from Whiddy Island was coming in - we headed towards the left of the island taking a look to the mainland on our left. Diarmuid pointed out the aerodrome where private planes come and go, some from the continent. Nearby too is the Blue Cliff. Not blue during our trip but quite grey. The blue is noticeable when the sun shines.
Homeward bound - the Whiddy ferry

Plan was to do  full circle around Whiddy and get close to the liner over in Glengarriff. But, with the rib hopping off the incessant waves, discretion was the better part of valour so we turned and ran alongside the town side of the long island, meeting the ferry again on its return trip. We saw the local pub, the Bank House.
The Whiddy local

Of course, one of the major historical events in the bay came with the Wolfe Tone attempted invasion in 1796. Unsettled by this, the British ordered the construction of three forts on the island and these were pointed out to us in their hilltop locations.
Cruise liner Astoria in the bay
Over a hundred years later, the USA Navy set up a short-lived flying-boat base here during the great war and the planes were used to hunt German submarines. And in 22 October 1918, Walford A. Anderson (an US flier from Springfield, MO) was killed in a crash, the first ever air-crash fatality in Ireland according to our guide.

There was a much larger tragedy on Whiddy in January 1979, when the oil tanker Betelgeuse blew up at the offshore jetty for the oil terminal on the island. The explosion and resultant fire cost 50 lives.
Mussel farmer at work. Eagle Point in the distance
Soon we were at the other (eastern) corner of Whiddy, we could see across towards Glengarriff and the visiting cruise liner, the Astoria. Diarmuid thought we might get closer from this side but it was not to be as the waves were a little too big so we retreated in the general direction of Ballylickey.
There were plenty of mussel rows here also and we got a splendid view of the Eagle Point Caravan Park; it has a very impressive location indeed and well spaced pitches. No wonder it is a very popular place and locals mark the start of summer when the “Eagle-Pointers” arrive.
Bantry, with the Maritime Hotel on right.
In this area also, you’ll find Donemark (the fort of the ships). Often saw this name on signposts but didn’t realise the legends and history attached to it. Indeed, they say it is the first place that humans (the Milesians) landed in Ireland although there is also a story that a niece of Noah’s landed here much earlier!
Bantry House
Bantry Bay longboats are replicas of the captain’s landing vessel used by the French navy in the 1700s. A longboat from the Wolfe Tone attempt was found in the bay and eventually ended up in Bantry House. There have been international races featuring the longboats and their 13-person crews and again Diarmaid has been involved.
The Blue Cliff
Other points of interest included the very scenic Bantry Golf Club, the hill of Seskin, the various smaller islands, the ruin of the jetty wrecked in the 1979 explosion and more. I may well have missed out on some others as sometimes, with the wind, it was hard to hear each other and it was not a day to be taking notes and not the best of days for photos either. But the whole experience was brilliant, exhilarating for these two ancient land-lubbers.

Thanks a million to Diarmaid and we wish him well on his sight-seeing venture next summer and will let you have details when available.

Read all about our dinner at the Fish Kitchen here.
Reckon this guy would fancy a mussel
The Blue Harvest. The mussels farmed here are Blue Mussels.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Fish Kitchen’s Special. A Taste of West Cork Waters

The Fish Kitchen’s Special
A Taste of West Cork Waters

As we walk up the stairs to our Bantry restaurant, the multi-event A Taste of West Cork festival is in full swing, heading for its closing weekend. Many attractive food options around the towns and villages but knowing punters make their way to the Fish Kitchen and a packed house enjoys the best produce from the local shores and seas. The Kitchen crew are busy but not a bother as the delicious meal is served.

“Freshness, simplicity, quality” is what they promise here and that is exactly what we get. Excellent service too, a good choice of wines and craft beer and good company too at the long tables. We enjoy the chat with Esther and Joe from Cappoquin and Jim and Barbara from the town.

Diarmaid, who owns and runs the Fish Kitchen with his wife Ann-Maria, served us a simple Amuse Bouche, a sharing plate of Sheep’s Head periwinkles with garlic. Hard to get them out of the little shells but well worth the effort!

Next up was a trio of Smoked Salmon, Prawns and Oyster. Tasty stuff. Excellent salmon, amazing prawns from the bay outside and a superb Carlingford oyster. Quite a hat trick of flavours.

We were very happy with that and got even happier with the next round: Steamed Bantry Bay mussels with Stonewell Cider. We had been out on the bay earlier and had seen the lines and lines heavy in the water with rope-grown mussels. And here they were now on our plate, meatier and tastier than any I’ve tried in recent times.

Another course was on the way as the Salterio Albarino level in our bottle was falling and this was another handsome combination: Union Hall Smoked Pollack and crabmeat croquettes, served with a simple salad.

Now for the big one: herb crusted Castletownbere Hake with sun-dried tomato and Gubbeen chorizo pesto. Sometimes in Ireland we smother delicate fish with heavy sauces. Not here. The Hake was the star, the others there just to show it off to perfection. And, yes, it was perfect, as were all the courses.

And of course there was dessert. Here we had a choice and the Plum Crumble won hands down at our table; maybe the lavender infused pannacotta found takers at the other tables!

While this was a special dinner (we paid 45 euro a head) for the festival, you will get the freshest of fish, skilfully handled and simply presented at a fair price every day, lunch and dinner, at this town centre venue. And, if you are eating at home, then grab some fresh fish from the family market on the ground floor!

New Street
(027) 56651

* Diarmaid was our host on our earlier trip around the bay - check it out here. He has been doing it a bit over the past summer and intends to make it a permanent feature next year. A proud native of the area, he is a superb guide to the huge bay, its geography and amazing history. His sturdy rib will take six paying passengers so keep an eye out for that in 2019.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Couple of Days in West Cork Syrian Food. Manning’s Emporium. An Eagle’s Nest. Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.

A Couple of Days in West Cork
Manning’s Emporium. Syrian Food.  An Eagle’s Nest.
Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.
On Garinish Island, with the Italian Garden in the centre

Mid April and we’re off to West Cork for a couple of days. We get to taste Syrian food in Bandon, lunch at the amazing and expanding Manning’s Emporium, see the eagle’s nest near Glengarriff where we stay and dine at the spectacular Eccles Hotel before a wander around the large and engaging Bantry Market.
Manning's Pizza oven

First stop is in Bandon where we had a little lunch at the Bayleaf (LINK), a restaurant serving a delicious mix of Irish and Syrian food. Then a stroll around the town and a call to Ruth at URRU for coffee and also to check out the shelves stocked well with good food and drink. URRU by the way is expanding, upwards, and Ruth is waiting patiently for the stairs to be installed! It will be an even better place to visit and relax over a cuppa.

Salad at Manning's

The first major halt is at the beachside hotel Inchydoney Lodge, a spectacular place. We are here for the Louis Jadot Burgundy Wine dinner and, before that, a walk on the beach of course.

The Ploughman

The following morning, after breakfast, we decide to take advantage of the emerging sun to walk the beach on the other side of the hotel before heading off west. First stop is at Manning's Food Emporium in Ballylickey. They too have well-stocked shelves, all kinds of food and drink.

Eagle's next, top right
But the major attraction is their expanding outside dining area (they have covered and indoor spaces too, in case of rain!). And we spot their newly installed pizza oven, going down a treat at the weekends.

A little lunch is called for on this occasion and one of us has a plate of crisp and beautiful salad while the other enjoys a delicious Ploughman’s on a baguette. Amazing freshness, colour, flavour and texture on each plate. And the tea was top class also!

On then to beautiful Glengarriff. With the sun in a strong position, it was an ideal day to visit Garinish Island. We got the boat at the lovely Blue Pool and our skipper took great care of us, making sure we had lots of time to enjoy the seals lazing on the rocks and then he pointed out the lofty tree top nest of the sea eagles. Enjoyed the walk around the island - we’ve been there a few times before - especially the climb to the Martello tower and the Italian Garden. 

There is a new attraction here now, a guided tour of Bryce House. You need to plan this into your schedule. It starts at quarter past the hour and takes about 45 minutes. We didn’t have quite enough time but will visit on the next occasion. The ferry charge is 12 euro and there is a 5 euro fee to visit the island.
On Garinish, Italian Garden
 More seals and another look up at the nest (there was an eagle standing there) as we made our leisurely way back to the Blue Pool. Time then to check in at the Eccles. We had specified a room with a view and it was rather special. After a little drink in the hotel's Harbour Bar, we strolled up to the village.

Dinner in the bar (the main restaurant opens for the main tourist season) was excellent. Breakfast was actually served in that lovely main restaurant, the Garinish, and that set us nicely. It was another sunny morning and ideal for a visit to the huge Bantry Market where everything from the best of local food to bric-a-brac is for sale. Well worth a visit.

Links for this visit:
Bantry Market