Showing posts with label Courtmacsherry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Courtmacsherry. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Visit Courtmacsherry. Small Place. Lots to see and do.


Visit Courtmacsherry.
Small Place. Lots to see and do.



The West Cork village of Courtmacsherry, just about an hour from the city, is within easy reach for a break of a day or two. Here is what I got up to on a recent visit.

On the way down, I stopped in the lovely well kept village of Kilbrittain. Here they have on display the skeleton of a huge Fin Whale that got stranded on the nearby shore in 2009. 


The impressive skeleton is mounted near a playground. From here, you can take a short woodland walk and see the old Kilbrittain Castle  to your left on the way down. Cross the road to a peaceful spot near a small waterfall. If you feel like doing more walking, there is one through a forest here or you may just prefer to walk back up either via the path you originally took or on the road itself.

If it is dinner or lunch time, then you’ll be in Timoleague in a few minutes. There are a couple of good restaurants here and the one we most recently visited is the excellent Monk’s Lane just about a hundred yards away from the village’s ancient and famous abbey ruins.


Courtmacsherry is just four kilometres away and there is an easy flat walk between the two villages. Courtmac, as most people down here call it, is attractive whether you approach by car or on foot.

We came in by car on this occasion and booked ourselves into the ten room Courtmacsherry Hotel. Small it may be but it has a big hearty welcome for you.
Kilbrittain Walk

If it is Sunday, I’m told they do a amazing fish platter in the hotel. If you’d prefer something lighter at lunchtime, then try Diana Dudog’s Food Depot, a truck which parks up by the beach every Sunday.

Before lunch, or after, you might fancy a walk through the nearby woods. This is something you must do if you come in May as then the flowers of the bluebells and the wild garlic put on a big show here. If you are a “real” walker, then keep going - there’s over forty kilometres of the Seven Heads walk ahead of you!
Wild Garlic in Courtmac wood

Most people will head back to the village, I reckon. And recently quite a few are heading to the newly opened restaurant, The Lifeboat Inn. We enjoyed a lovely evening meal here and also a beer out on their new terrace overlooking the harbour.

if the sun shines, then you have a beach at your doorstep, just outside the hotel. Fancy something more dramatic? Then head over to the spectacular Dunworley beach.
Lunchbox from the Food Truck

Even though Courtmacsherry may not be the biggest place, I know you’ll find your own spots in which to wine and dine in the general area. And be sure to bring those walking shoes. And the camera - sunsets are spectacular down here but I was never up for the sunrise! 

And don’t forget the fishing rods - you can hire a boat and perhaps spot some of those sharks and whales that visit here. A year ago, we saw a basking shark but wouldn’t really have known what it was but for the shouts of some excited locals on the cliffs beyond the walk in the wood.
Donworley. Kids below. Cows above.

And, on the way home, you might fancy calling to the Farmers Market, held in nearby Bandon, every Saturday morning. Clonakilty has one on Fridays. Bandon’s not the biggest a round but the quality is high and you’ll find plenty of good food for dinner and that will save you having to go shopping when you get back home.
Courtmac sunset
See other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Courtmacsherry Hotel. Welcome to the Club.


Courtmacsherry Hotel. Welcome to the Club.


In some multi-starred hotels, the fuss they make of you is about as genuine as a Trump tweet. Not the case in the 10 room Courtmacsherry Hotel. Here, the chats are warm and real. You feel you’re part of a social club, you’re not a stranger here.

How about this for social? On a recent Saturday, May 19th, they were catering for a wedding, two communion settings and, yes, two matches on the big screen. And the season hadn’t really started yet. They admit they are struggling a bit to finish off renovations before they go full-time on June 1st. In May, it is open just Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I was kind of sorry that I wasn't around there on the Saturday but had a great time in Courtmac and surrounds on the sunny Friday. We got that real down to earth Irish welcome and were soon shown up to room number six. 

By the way, if you are booking in here, do ask for a front facing room. Number six has three fairly large windows and two of them have views over the magnificent Courtmacsherry Bay. The renovations hadn't passed it by either and it had all we needed: tea-making facilities, bottled water, new carpet and mat, and a very comfortable bed.

On the way in, there were dozens of people enjoying themselves, not in the hotel's Seven Heads Bar, but in the sun outside, dining and drinking. The hotel building, which dates from Victorian times (you’ll note those high ceilings), provided shelter and also reflected the sun back to diners and drinkers. There is a lovely old tree in the middle of the manicured lawn and lots of rustic style tables and chairs there as well.

On the way down from the city, we had stopped at Kilbrittain (mainly to see the huge skeleton of the fin whale), taken a stroll on the gorgeous beach at Dunworley and had reacquainted ourselves with the bluebells and wild garlic in full flower in Courtmacsherry Wood.

A week earlier, we had dined at the excellent Lifeboat Inn and had spotted their garden and terrace overlooking the bay. It was too cold to sit out on that occasion but we weren't going to miss out this time. Strolled down through the village and called to the Inn. Soon we were out on the terrace, enjoying the splendid views and also enjoying a well deserved pint of ale from Black’s Brewery in Kinsale.

We would renew our support of local in the Seven Heads that night with a gin, also from Black’s. They are not just a brewery, you know, as they also produce this excellent gin and more recently a rum! 

Later, I said I’d try out another gin from Shortcross, one I hadn’t tried before. The lady serving got a bit of a shock when she keyed it in and saw it was costing €10.50 a shot! Something wrong there, I thought, this must be some kind of super-premium. But it was late, the gin was in the glass with the ice so I went ahead with it. An excellent drop indeed but not worth that much! So maybe you'd better check the price if you are ordering it there!

While most of the day to day eating is done in the bar, or outside if the sun shines, breakfast is taken in the eye-catching Cork Tree Bar with its recently exposed original stone walls and unusual candelabras. And it is a very good breakfast indeed. If you like the Full Irish, you’ll get it here, even a mini version if you'd prefer. Plenty of variety with various eggs dishes, waffles also, and kippers. I went for the Scrambled Eggs with the top notch Ummera Smoked Salmon.

Very happy with that. And very happy too with their buffet table. Some great fruit there including fresh strawberries (I assume they were Bushby’s but I didn’t ask), good choices of juices, and also brown bread and tempting pastries and service was friendly (as ever) and efficient too, just one lady keeping the show going without any fuss whatsoever.

And, as we left on Saturday morning, heading for a final walk in the woods and then a visit to Bandon Farmers Market, the staff were getting the outside area spic and span for the visitors (while the bouncy castle was being readied for the kids). The soft covers, having been removed overnight, were being replaced on the chairs and the parasols were being put in place. Another sunny day ahead, another busy one at the friendly little hotel. And hopefully many more in the season ahead.

Just in case you can’t get a booking here in the 3-star hotel, why not try their holiday cottages situated in front of the magnificent woodland and overlooking the bay. All the cottages have central heating, two spacious bedrooms (sleeping 6+) and two fully tiled bathrooms with shower downstairs, towels and linen are supplied.

There is a barbecue area where you can sit out and enjoy the view in a relaxing atmosphere. The cottages come with parking, garden, free Wi-Fi and use of hotel facilities when it is open.

Other recent posts from this area:
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Lifeboat Inn. Courtmacsherry's Gastro Pub Up and Running


The Lifeboat Inn.
Courtmacsherry's Gastro Pub Up and Running

The Lifeboat Inn in Courtmacsherry is not open a year yet but is making quite an impression in the village. Serving good local food, much of it from the nearby waters, in a casual atmosphere has been the aim of David O’Halloran and chef Martin Buckley since they started here last summer and already it is paying off for them. 

Indeed, they have “expanded” across the road where an inviting terrace has been set up with views over the water. I reckon that will be buzzing in the months ahead. So, a tip for motorists: drive slowly here and allow that server (it may well be David as he looks after front of house) get across the road!

We were there recently and the menu , as promised, has lots of fish and seafood: cod, black sole, John Dory, crab claws and prawns. And quite a bit more as well. The menu is short enough but I prefer to see a short list and high quality, and that's what you get here.

Surprisingly enough, the wine list is a long one with lots of choice. The outstanding Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc features but the New Zealand wine is one of just a few from the New World. We enjoyed the Tandem Wines Casual Rosé and an Albarino, both from Spain, two of about ten whites available by the glass. 

A few more from the New World in the reds, where I spotted the lovely Finca Florencia Malbec from Argentina; some excellent European offerings too, ranging from 22 euro to 130. And there is a bar right there in the middle offering the usual suspects plus an outstanding local craft beer by Blacks of Kinsale.

We had five starters to choose from and my choice was their Prawns in garlic and white cream with crispy sourdough on the side to soak up the cream. A simple enough dish, delicate and delicious and pleasurably dispatched. 

CL’s opener had more texture, more flavours, also a little bit more robust, and the warm Haulie’s Black-pudding salad served with apple, walnut and crispy hen’s egg was also a winner.

Aside from the fish dishes, the mains may also include a Beef Burger in a Brioche Bun with Gubbeen Cheese and Tomato or a Sirloin Steak with all the trimmings.

My choice though was the Wild Mushroom Risotto with herbs and shaved Parmesan. This was one of the best I've had, just perfect and, at €14.00, good value also.

CL meanwhile also struck gold with her Cod with a Parmesan crust, baby potato, roast cauliflower, and wild garlic (no doubt from the local wood where we had earlier walked through swathes of it in flower). The fish was pristine, the whole dish a delicious combination of textures, flavours and aromas (19.95). Go for this if it is on when you visit!.

We were tempted by the desserts but eventually decided to share the cheese board. And we got a generous selection - Milleens, Hegarty’s Cheddar and Cashel Blue - served with an outstanding pear and fig chutney and plenty of bread and crackers. Another one to look out for!

Probably not surprising that the offering is so good here. Both David and chef Martin have put in long years learning the trade in London and Dublin before settling in Courtmacsherry. Their Gastro Pub is truly up and running and well worth a call, even if it is just for a glass of wine or beer on the terrace.

While we were among just a few diners - we were in very early - it would be advisable to book ahead, especially if you are going down just for the meal as they tend to get full early on at the weekend.

The Lifeboat Inn
Main Street
Courtmacsherry
Co. Cork
Tel: (023) 886 4656
Twitter: @the_lifeboatinn 
Web: www.lifeboatinn.ie 

Other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

West Cork in 36 Hours. So Much To Do, See, Eat!

West Cork in 36 Hours
So Much To Do, See, Eat!
Busy at Inish Beg
It’s bluebell time in Ireland and the magic flowers were a highlight of our last weekend's 36 hours in West Cork but there were also Tiger Prawns, Basking sharks, Sicilian Cauliflower, even a Mobile Sauna.

The Mobile Sauna came early on, spotted by Garrettstown beach on Sunday morning as we took the long way west. Don't think there were too many customers in the tented facility. Indeed, the weather was too fine for the Garrettstown surfers yet some of the food outlets were doing well as we headed up the hill (not to Ballinspittle) to take the coast road, passing an old creamery stand and three well weathered churns on the way.
The Food Depot's extension

We were taking the long way over Courtmacsherry Bay. We soon joined the R600 from Ballinspittle, went past the lovely Harbour View beach and then drove up the estuary to Timoleague and its ancient monastery, now an impressive ruin. Over the bridge then and off to Courtmacsherry. We have sometimes walked along here - think it’s about 4.5 kilometres, all on the flat (the path is over an old railway line) and arrived in Courtmac beach shortly after noon.

The queues were already starting at the Food Depot, the truck that features the amazing cooking of Diana Dodog. We parked the car, had to look hard for a space, and got our order in!  Mine was the Grilled Tiger Prawns Salad Box, Garlic & Herb Oil. The Salad Box is a a bit of an understatement containing as it did, couscous, beetroot, pickled cucumber, hummus and more. It was a very tasty box, full of colours, textures and flavours, all for eight euro.
Popular prawn dish; garnish changes from time to time
CL's choice (the menu regularly changes) was the Grilled Cajun Chicken Wrap, Zesty Slaw, Aioli, sweet chilli, another well balanced piece, an excellent example of what a wrap should be! Well priced too at seven euro.


Our second “mission” in Courtmacsherry was a visit to the bluebells in the wood. Take a rising path that starts by the beach car park - it is part of the Seven Heads Walk (total over 40 kms, but some shorter loops as well!). Some detail on the walk here.
Wild garlic in Courtmacsherry wood, by the sea
The bluebells come early on in the walk, as soon as you enter the wood. Even before you get there you see the magical blue "haze". And there are as many Ramsons or Wild Garlic and I also noticed some wild mint growing in among the garlic. There is a huge bank on your right among the trees as you enter. Look. Smell. Enjoy. As you come out of the wood, you get a clear view of the ocean at and near Wood Point. And it was close to here that we spotted the fin moving swiftly through the waters below. “Basking shark,” I heard a local say.

We had turned back by then and were soon on the road again, taking the long way again, over towards Butlerstown, past the Seven Heads, past Dunworley Bay and on towards Ring where Deasy’s Pub (another well known food venue) stands. Into Clon then and time for a break from the sun and a drop of Dungarvan Pale Ale in the well known pub/restaurant called An Sugan.
Courtmac bluebells
Next stop would be the Celtic Ross, our base in Rosscarbery. They had a deal on for the Sunday, quite an attractive one: dinner for two, and B&B for €78.00 total. They have lots of deals, so be sure and check here   How often have you been down in West Cork, wishing you could stay and couldn't get last minute accommodation? It has happened to us on a few occasions so we took up this offer and were very happy with it. The Ross is a fine friendly hotel and, between Clonakilty and Skibbereen, so well placed for exploring West Cork.

We took a walk in the sun down to Warren’s Beach to join quite a few people there, young and old, some in swimming. We were down that way again later on to get a few shots as the sun sank behind the village.
A bank of primroses on the Seven Heads Walk
In the meantime, we had enjoyed an excellent 3-course dinner. We had a choice of three starters and I enjoyed every little bit of the Sticky Chicken Wings, Jamaican Jerk Style, Blue cheese and sesame seeds. CL was also happy with Peter’s famous Fish Cake.

We each had the same mains: Local Hake Fillet, Sicilian cauliflower, nutmeg potato, black olive oil, Sauce Vierge, Port. This was outstanding, particularly the raisins and the pinenuts, with the cauliflower, adding a touch of texture, sweet notes too from the raisins and the Port, and the fish had obviously just jumped up from the waters outside, such was its freshness. Top notch overall.
Galley Lighthouse, from Warren Beach in Rosscarbery
Breakfast is served in the same area with a very friendly vibe, quite efficient too. We had a nice bit of fruit and yogurt and a variation of the full Irish (not quite a full Irish!). Checked out then and headed west through Skibbereen and out the Baltimore Road.

We were on the lookout for Inish Beg on the left, an island, but one with a bridge. It is a private estate where you may stay in various type of accommodation. There is also an indoor swimming pool (in the walled garden!). Lots to do here. You may even get married on a mini island, reached by a small bridge. Check it all out here.
Warren Beach
But we were here to take a walk - its costs a fiver - through the gardens and the woodlands. The walled garden is in great nick. You start there and then follow your map where you’ll come across features such as Pumpkin's Puddle, Bird Hides, The Boat House, The Gypsy Retreat (where two caravans provide your accommodation), the Sunken Garden, the Bamboozle (a couple of bamboo tunnels) and the Orchard.

There is a good scattering of bluebells around the place at the moment. They seem of a slightly darker shade than those of Courtmacsherry but that is a non-scientific observation! Perhaps the best display was that under the old trees in the Orchard.
Hake in the Celtic Ross
It was getting close to lunchtime and so we headed for Baltimore. We had been hoping that the Glebe Cafe would be open but, being Monday, they weren't. Le Jolie Brise was though and here a big bowl of mussels and a smaller one of fries did the business.

Time was running out for us and it was with some regret that we left behind the increasing blue of the West Cork skies and headed back to the city. Glad to say the blue came too at least for this May evening.
Inish Beg's wedding island

Bamboozled