Showing posts with label Lismore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lismore. Show all posts

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Can of Bass and A Swallow in a Country Pub. My Nire Gap Walk. Thirsty Work


A Can of Bass and A Swallow in a Country Pub
My Nire Gap Walk. Thirsty Work.
Paint the town red?

We saw a swallow in a country pub. Well, you would wouldn’t you, lots of them! Sorry, not that kind of swallow. It was the one that can fly!

Let me start at the beginning, that very morning when I,  as fresh as a daisy, left Cork; I was heading for the Nire Valley in West Waterford with a plan to walk the Nire Valley Gap. 

First call though was to Lismore, a lovely town with many attractions including the castle, the cathedral, the park, its location on the Blackwater River, its cafés (even without the much lamented Chop House) and its hotels (including Ireland first purpose built hotel).

What attracted me most this morning though was the frontage of Biddy Greehy’s Public House and Grocery. This famous pub lasted from 1952 to 2003 and the current owners maintain the window displays – now part of their home – as they would have appeared in the middle of the previous century: all manner of wine and beer containers (including a can of Bass that looks more like a can of paint), tobacco boxes, shoe polish tins, snuff and wine corks and so much more. 

After a “considerable” delay there looking at the old curiosities, we headed to nearby Cappoquin and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Barron’s Bakery (one of the oldest if not the oldest in Ireland). 

About 30 minutes later, having passed through Ballymacarbry and passed Hanora’s guesthouse, we arrived at the Nire Valley Car Park, the Sat Nav lady working very well indeed on this occasion. It was a warmish but grey day. I'd have preferred a bit more light for the photos but locals said later we were lucky the sun wasn’t out as it would have made the trek very difficult.
Movin' on up!

Anyway, we changed the footwear, sorted out what to carry (water, for sure), picked up our sticks and headed into the hills. A few walks, mainly big loops begin here, but we only had eyes for the Gap Walk, the shortest and most straightforward one. The opening stretch was perhaps the toughest and we rose rapidly with our view expanding all the time, the car park quickly becoming a dot below.

Once we went through a stile, the walk through the Comeraghs became easier as we were now walking across the slope, mainly on a grass surface with lots of sheep and those Comeragh lambs around us, red splotches of paint marking them now (they had been blue before the stile). Lots of stops for photos and we were delayed by having to skirt around some boggy bits (there had been very heavy rain two days earlier). Some watery bits had permanent timber platforms across to help the walker.

Cheeky chappy
In the mountains, of course, you think you are near your destination, that the height ahead is the final one. But that is seldom the case. We were wondering were we ever going to get to the gap! 

Then we met a small group who promised us that the cafe at the top was excellent! We checked the remaining distance and they said about 20 minutes. Not very encouraging but, being so close, we kept going and indeed got to that magnificent view out the other side, over the lowlands where the village of Rathgormack is situated.

If you are up to it, you can now go to the left or the right and head off on a loop that will take you back to the car park. But we were just about fit enough to make it back the way we had come and that was the plan in any case. 
Rathgormack is down there somewhere!

Two mile walk
Of course, the sun began to peep out every now and then and give us a tempting glimpse as to what the lovely area would look like when the sky is clear. So on we went, slowly but surely and we did manage to make it back about 15 minutes outside the maximum of two hours indicated in various sources (the minimum is 90 minutes). But we certainly enjoyed it and I promised myself I'd be back once the weather is guaranteed!

Back to Ballymacarbry now and soon we found our Glasha Guesthouse, a splendid place with the splendid Olive in good form, tea and cake at the ready and we soaked up the now well-established sun in the well kept enclosed garden with the fountain running. Later, she served us an excellent dish of salmon and we washed that down with very nice organic Verdejo from her short list. Not every guesthouse can offer such a service!
Glasha sunset

Large Bottle
Then she suggested a visit to the pub (three minutes away) but said a drink would only be deserved if we competed another walk, a two mile loop around the country roads. We did that as the sun began to go down and eventually headed to Lonergan’s pub across the bridge. 

No big selection on tap here  as you might expect and so I ordered the large bottle as the locals do. Indeed, I had a works colleague once, from this area, who was known as Large Bottle. Mine was a Smithwick Red Ale #1 and it is indeed a large bottle at 568 mls (and with an abv of 3.8). Very cool and enjoyable after all the walking.

It was then that the swallow flew in, past us and over the head of the only other customer who was reading his paper before circling the small area and exiting out the front door again to join his feathered colleagues in the dusk. The customer didn’t spot the bird but suggested that since it had left so quickly, it hadn’t liked what it had seen!

Anyhow that led to a chat with the customer and the barkeeper about the demise of some birds, including the corncrake. The customer, from nearby Newcastle (Co, Tipperary), said he does hear the cuckoo from time to time. 

That got us on to Old Moore’s Almanac, for some reason. I remember using that little magazine to try and pick (without success) the Grand National winner. It is still being published apparently and its latest success according to our fellow customer was in predicting that Prince Philip wouldn’t be well enough to greet President Trump. I reckon Philip was happy that that one came true!

On this trip:

Plum Wine. Sparkling Apple Juice. The Butler and The Queen. Fruit Cakes and Steeplechasers. All in a Tipp Day-trip

Enjoyable lunch at historic Barron's Bakery
Lonergan's Bar

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ardmore. A Gem on the Waterford Coast.

Ardmore. A Gem on the Waterford Coast.
Breakfast at Cliff House
Ardmore is a gem on the Waterford coast. Fortunately, one the generous Deise folks don't mind sharing. Generations of people from neighbouring counties have made Ardmore their summer destination for its beaches, history, walks and the nearby mountains.


We headed there last Friday, the fabulous Cliff House Hotel above the village our final destination. But, as usual, we had a few stops and detours. First halt was in Youghal. It is not looking its best at the moment and hopefully the paint and brushes will be out and used before the season starts.
Ardmore

But there is no shortage of eating places here, well known like Aherne’s or newer and more casual such as Clancy’s. We were looking for a light lunch and Sage (not related to the restaurant of the same name in Midleton) had been recommended. It was bright and busy and I enjoyed my quiche and salad there. Details here.

Plan then was head to Helvic and work our way back through the Rinn gaeltacht. The fishing boats gathered in the harbour were a bit like some of the shops in Youghal, looking the worse for wear, but then the boats and the seaside towns (there are still sandbags in Youghal) have been through some horrendous weather in recent months and we are all hoping for better to come

Youghal

It was sunny and windy when we arrived in Helvick and now the rain made its appearance. So we wasted little time as we drove through Sean Phobal and so on, past the familiar beach at Ballyquin and on to Ardmore itself and up to the Cliff where a warm welcome awaited,a brolly held open even as we stepped from the car (a hint of the excellent service to come).


Soon we were installed in our room with a view and quickly made our way to the fabulous swimming pool, equipped with sauna and steam room and which also enjoys a great view over the bay.


Helvick

When the rain died down, we walked down to the town (to work up an appetite!) and made a loop back that took us past the famous round tower built in the 12th century. St Declan was here in the 5th century and his name is associated with some of the walks. Many (including a loop around the cliffs) start by the hotel and the staff there will give you all the information you need and indeed will provide a guide if necessary.


Your excursions from Ardmore needn't be confined to the coast. You may head for the nearby mountains. Mahon Falls is one of the attractions up there. If you want to do some shopping, then Cork and Waterford are each about an hour away while the lively towns of Lismore (for its castle and heritage centre) and Dungarvan are much closer.
Lismore

The Cliff House has some fantastic facilities though the outdoor dining areas were out of bounds last weekend! Do take time to explore. You will find quite a few books in your room but there are many more in the spacious and comfortable library which has one of the best views because of its height. The hotel is also unusual in that when you enter from the parking area, you are already on the fifth floor!


We enjoyed a memorable dinner there that Friday (details here). It was dark at that stage so we weren't able to take in the view but we did get it in the morning at breakfast, a very enjoyable breakfast I might add. In between, there was a call to the bar. An extensive menu of drinks here, as you'd expect, and delighted to see a terrific selection of Irish craft beers (and cider) on the list.
View from Cliff House room

Saturday was quite a decent day and we headed east to Portlaw (Waterford) and Turkstown (Kilkenny) to visit relations. Indeed, we visited Kilkenny, Waterford and then Tipperary in quick succession as we made our way home via Clonmel, Cahir and the M8. Only problem: what would we eat for dinner? The answer was in the freezer, the second portion of a curry made with Green Saffron’s Tikka cook-in sauce. Not quite Michelin! But just perfect.  

Looking towards Ardmore from Cliff House library






Monday, August 13, 2012

Lunch Treat at O’Brien Chop House


Lunch Treat at O’Brien Chop House
 Having worked up an appetite during an amazing sunny morning on The Vee, we dropped down to Lismore and sought out O’Brien’s Chop House for lunch. Best decision of a very good day in the area! The lunch, in the garden, was top drawer. Local food - they get their meat from McGrath’s on the main street - served simply, as they say themselves. Simply superb!
 We got a lovely greeting from Richard Reeve and his friendly and efficient staff and were soon at our table, under the dappled shade of the garden trees. A really smashing facility and what a pity it hasn’t seen very much use this grey summer. Still, they have plenty of seats indoors and indeed many were taken up for lunch.


One of our starters was the Apple & celery salad with toasted hazelnuts, Cashel Blue and a yoghurt dressing (€7.90). It wasn't mine but I did get a few samples and it was gorgeous, a brilliant combination of textures and flavours, really well balanced. Very pleased too with my own choice: Ballyvolane saddleback pork terrine with pistachio and pickles (€8.90). Looked well and tasted well.

We both agreed on the main course: fillet of Hake with sea vegetables and a lemon/butter sauce (€21.90). The Hake was cooked to perfection and the sauce and vegetables were an apt accompaniment. The sea vegetables were brilliant, comfortably crunchy and with a robust taste. Oh and we also got some tasty spuds! Highly recommended, if you get the chance.




With the sun beating down, the rosé was always a likely wine choice. O’Brien’s have a gem: Artadi Artazuri Garnacha 2010  from Navarra, €7.25 per glass, also available in 150ml pitcher, 250ml pitcher and full bottle.

But the drinks highlight for us was the Elderflower Bellini (€7.95). The Prosecco provided bubbles galore and there are inviting scents and flavours via the Elderflowers. Well worth a try!


Saw the Badger and Dodo  logo in the bar on the way in, so guessed the coffee would be good. It sure was, sterling stuff. Excellent way to finish off an excellent meal.