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Showing posts with label Timoleague. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Timoleague. 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



Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Other Side of Monk's Lane


The Other Side of Monk's Lane
Temple of Good Food and Drink in Timoleague
Perfect Pork

A country classic, for sure. (McKenna’s).

Those in the know happily take a drive out from Kinsale and Cork city to enjoy Michelle O'Mahony and Gavin Moore’s lovely restaurant. (Georgina’s Campbell’s Ireland Guide).

I have seen the future and it’s in Timoleague. This is a pub that manages to be utterly unpretentious but which also ticks every conceivable box.. (Irish Mail).

Most of you know by now that Monk’s Lane, a gastro-pub in Timoleague, is a must visit. But did you know, that across the lane, they now have a Gin Bar and a private dining area. And, indeed, in the lane itself, there is a beer garden, part of it covered, an inviting summertime venue.
Just some of the good beer (and cider) available here.
That Gin Bar is well endowed and serving a long list of Irish and English gins. The Irish list is as long as your arm, the English almost as long as the other one.

And another distinguishing factor here, since they opened, is the craft beer menu. No  messing here with a token bottle or two. Quite a few by draught and even more by bottle. We were there the other night and I enjoyed Roaring Ruby Red Ale by the West Cork Brewery, one of the best red ales I've come across, fantastic body and flavour all the way from Baltimore (not too far really!).  CL's pick was the Black's 1601 lager.



Here too you may have an aperitif, White Port and tonic for instance. Wine of the Week perhaps? A white from Italy, from Puglia, a Garnacha from Navarra. And there are three  cocktails on offer: based Black’s of Kinsale gin, a Longueville Mór Martini and a Gunpowder Gin du Jour. Wines, by the way, come in five different sized servings, starting with a convenient 100ml.
The burger and salad

You'd never know by these opening paragraphs but we did come here for the food and glad to say it is as varied and as good as ever, local produce well cared for, well cooked and neatly presented and delivered to the table with care and a smile. And at a fair price too.

So let us start! There are eight or nine starters to choose from and also a trio of sharing plates, virtually all featuring local produce. CL picked the Crozier Blue, apple and candied pecan salad. Hard to go wrong with that combination and it was superb, that creamy blue, those delicious nuts.

Mine was a bit more exotic: Lamb Quesadillas, with salsa fresca, salad and lime yogurt. That, with a couple of dips, one cooling, made the taste buds sit up and take notice! Have to say too that the salad leaves in both starters were as fresh as could be and well dressed, simple stuff, simply well done. By the way, each of these starters was also available in a large size.
Crozier Blue salad

On then to the mains and again we were picking from a good long list, everything from Haddock Fish and Chips, to Sea Trout, to 10 ounce sirloin. Garlic and Thyme Marinated Pork Medallions (17.95) was one of our picks and it was served with spring onion mash, char-grilled red onions, apple and raisin chutney and a cranberry gravy. Silence reigned while that was being demolished!

I wasn't doing too much talking myself either as I made my way through quite a delightful plateful: Chorizo and Rosemary Infused Wagyu Beef Burger (18.50) , on a flour bun, topped with melted buffalo mozzarella, homemade aioli, tomato chutney, sautéed onions, hand-cut chips and salad. Some wild garlic in there too. All good, the beef outstanding, loved the chutney, the chips of course and again that salad played a key role providing colour, flavour and crunch.
Be sure and check out the lane to the left!

We were feeling fairly full at this point and dessert was being turned down until we were “persuaded” to share the Rhubarb and Ginger Cake with ice-cream and cream. It didn't last long, the ginger adding a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the combination! 

Just goes to show that one ingredient can lift and distinguish a dish. We had seen it earlier with the chorizo in the burger, the candied pecan with the cheese. Get the big things right and use something small to make the difference. Looks like they do that here a lot. Worth a trip not to mind a detour.

Monk's Lane
15 Mill Street
Timoleague
Co. Cork
tel: 023 884 6348
Web: http://monkslane.ie/ 

See other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane


Monday, July 20, 2015

Dillon’s of Timoleague. The 2015 Version

Dillon’s of Timoleague
The 2015 Version
Let me start with the desserts. Not with the changes at Dillon’s of Timoleague, not with the old abbey, not with the 18th century tsunami, not with the earthquake of 2013 (2.6 magnitude), not even with the earlier courses.
All was calm along the estuary and in the deserted village streets when I arrived in Dillon’s, where West Cork chef Richard Milnes now reigns, at the weekend. No tidal waves, no waves even, just lots of mud and flocks of birds feeding.

Maybe they got some tasty bits, I’m sure they did, but nothing as sweet as my Caramelised Almond Slice, quite a generous cut too. A delicious delight and indeed so too was our other sweet, a Tunisian Orange Cake, well matched with sour cream. Happy yes. But not one hundred per cent. I had a quick look at the dinner menu and spotted more temptation: Stewed Gooseberries with Elderflower Ice Cream. That could well draw me back one of these evenings!

The menus here, both lunch and dinner, are short but this is a small restaurant and better to have a short quality list than a long one in an attempt to please everyone. The incoming produce is mainly local and of a high standard and the Milnes kitchen magic does the rest. Craft beer and cider and a short wine list can help wash down the lovely food. Friendly staff there too.

And this is the smaller portion!
My mains was the Provençal Fish Soup (€15.00 - I could have had a smaller portion for eight). It was a winner, packed with chunks of monkfish and lots of flavours provided by red peppers, courgettes, herbs, all in a tomato base. And as well, there were two wee bowls on the side, one with shredded cheese and the other with a garlic aioli (that gave another little kick). Glad I got the big one.

CL meanwhile was tucking into her salad: Beetroot, Goats cheese and Almond. Again, quite tasty and well presented but I think I got the better deal this time! Oh, I almost forget to mention, we had been served with a little basket of their Focaccia bread, made on the premises that morning (and every morning, my server told me proudly!).

Excellent all round and I wasn't going to depart without a cup of tea. I had been studying the list through the meal; the list by the way gives eleven options, including some white ones, including Pai Mu Tan. My pick was the lovely Jasmine, fragrant, subtly sweet and delicately flavoured. Wide coffee choices too and CL had an excellent Cortado, a Spanish variation of the Italian Macchiato.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Twenty Four Hours in Kinsale

Twenty Four Hours in Kinsale
Forts, Food, Craft Beer!
It was Friday the 13th but we weren't staying at home. We were on the road to Kinsale for an overnight stay.


First call was to Charlesfort, this time, not to visit the early 17th century fort but to take the harbourside walk that begins with a stroll down the left hand side of the sprawling complex.  There are good views of Charlesfort and the town as you start off and later the Old Head comes into view.
Charlesfort (above) and James Fort
The path, with the waters of the harbour on your right, is not the smoothest and, at one point, you have to make a short walk across a stony beach. You pass through a boatyard on your way to Lower Cove. This was where we turned back. The way forward is not clear but apparently you can reach the point with views across to the Old Head and out to sea where the Sovereign Islands lie.

We had a date with Sam and Maudeline Black at their brewery in Farm Lane. They were working their way through a busy afternoon but found time to give us a tour and tasting. After that, we checked into our hotel, the Old Bank. Though this is right smack bang in the middle of the town, I must admit I'd never heard of it.

Kinsale evening
It is part of the Blue Haven holdings here and it proved a very good base indeed. It has no parking but the public car park is quite close. We got a warm welcome and indeed spent a pleasant night here and the breakfast was very good indeed. They had some decent choices and the toast was cut from a proper loaf (Cuthbert’s), not your usual sliced pan. Good value too.

Time now for a walk down the Pier Road as the sun began to set. Got a few photos in before heading back to the hotel. Our next port of call was the relatively new restaurant, Bastion (they have Prosecco on tap!), where we enjoyed an excellent meal.
Evening in Kinsale
 Afterwards, just a few yards away, I sampled some craft beers, Black’s (of course) and Metalman, in the Malt Lane. They had quite a selection here and an even bigger selection of whiskeys.

Old Bank

We visited another fort in the morning. This is James Fort, across the water from Charlesfort which it pre-dates. Nowadays, it is stoutly defended by the OPW (no interior access) but there are fine views and also some excellent walks in the surrounding fields.


Back down to the car then and away to Garretstown where we expected to find the surfers. But they were outnumbered by canoeists from a city club who were getting some much needed practice in. Needless to say, the camera was out of the bag again.

Stayed with the coast roads until we came to another beach, this Harbour View near Kilbrittain. This looks safer, certainly calmer, than Garretstown but not as well equipped with parking facilities. Still, a lovely place to stroll around in the sun and we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the beach and the dunes.
Harbour View
 We had a late lunch pencilled in at another relatively new restaurant, this the Monk’s Lane in the middle of the village of Timoleague, famous for its ruined abbey. But before all that the camera, with fast lens attached, was put into action again in an attempt to get a few shots of cars taking part on the West Cork Rally. They were driving (though not racing at this point) along the road by the abbey.

 The meal in Monk’s Lane was superb and great to see local craft beer on sale there as well. The rally cars had vanished at that stage and we headed up towards Bandon on the way home after a lovely twenty four hours, well maybe 26, in the area.


See also: My Kinsale Guide



Part of a walk-on circle of plaques depicting local people and
connections in the grounds of Timoleague church

Friday, March 20, 2015

Come Join The Cheerful Chorus at Monk’s Lane

Come Join The Cheerful Chorus at Monk’s Lane
There is almost an monastic silence as we stroll towards Monk’s Lane in the centre of Timoleague. But, open the door, and there is the happy sound of people dining. Our table is ready and soon we join the cheerful chorus.

The menu is full of promise. The sandwich section uses the best of local produce: Toons Bridge, Gubbeen, Ummera. And so it continues. In the mains and salads you see O'Neill's sausages, Crozier blue cheese and Clonakilty black and white pudding.

I spotted an Eight Degrees tap on the bar and that was just the start of the craft beers as a separate menu lists over a dozen of the best including the local Black’s of Kinsale. And the wine list is good too, quite a few available by the convenient (it was midday!) 100ml glass.

Service is excellent, knowledgeable, chatty. The furniture has touches of the ecclesiastical and there are lovely bunches of wild flowers on the tables.

It is a cold day so we start with the soups. They are very simply titled: Roast Vegetable Soup (4.50) and Spanish Fish Soup (6.50). Both are excellent but that Spanish dish is a gem, packed with fish, mussels, vegetables too, and warming spice. We get real bread and butter on the side. Great start.

CL then goes for the Lamb Quesadillas with salad and salsa fresca. You can have a small portion for eight euro and the larger one will cost 11.50. Well cooked and presented, the minced lamb was very tasty and not too spicy (no great need to use the cooling dip).
My choice was the Steak Salad and I hit the jackpot here: Seared steak salad with pecorino shavings, toasted pumpkin seeds and cherry tomatoes, all for 12.50. The steak, in strips, was plentiful and perfectly cooked and all the elements, including a robust salad, complemented each other in an explosion of flavours and textures. Compliments to the chef!

Dessert. The usual question: would we? The usual solution: we shared. And there was plenty to share when our generous slice of Apricot and Raspberry cake arrived, surrounded by some fresh fruit cubes, cream and ice-cream! Happy out, as we say around here.

We made a detour to get here. Well worth it. Very Highly Recommended.


(023) 884 6348

Friday, January 11, 2013

A twinning proposition: Timoleague and Samaniego

A twinning proposition: Timoleague and Samaniego
Timoleague (above) and Samaniego



Let us twin the ancient villages of Timoleague (West Cork) and Samaniego (La Rioja). Maybe I can’t pull that off but I sure can get Ummera and Baigorri together. Ummera is a famous state of the art smokehouse in Timoleague while Baigorri is a renowned state of the art winery in La Rioja.

Indeed, I have already brought them together, stumbling on a fantastic wine food pairing, as an unforeseen postscript when I recently opened a bottle of Baigorri Garnacha that I had purchased in Samaniego last summer.

Approaching the end of this bottle, I remembered that I had a few slices of the fantastic Ummera smoked duck to be finished off. Thought to myself that they might make a match.

For once, heaven agreed with me. Chewed a sliver of the duck and added a little wine. Eureka! The "chemistry"  revealed depths of smoky flavour, hitherto unsuspected. Amazingly, products from two ancient villages met on my palate and turned it into a flavour filled paradise.

Baigorri Garnacha, Rioja 2009, 14.5%, €19.54 at the winery in Haro.

Baigorri tend to experiment a bit and they even have a “garage” wine. This Garnacha has been influenced by the winemakers, a vin de l'auteur they call it. A well made wine for sure and highly recommended (very highly recommended if you add the smoked duck!) but a little pricey in comparison with their excellent Tempranillo Reserva.

Quite a dry introduction and then a bubbly rush of fruits. A flavoursome wine then with a stirring persistence. It has a rich red colour with calm fruity aromas, especially plum, plus hints of spice. Overall, the experience in the mouth echoes that of the bouquet.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dillon’s Abú




Dillon’s Abú


Timoleague, long famous for its impressive if ruined abbey, is fast becoming well known now for Dillon’s, the brilliant restaurant with the welcome touch provided so genuinely by Julie and Chef John Finn, the engaging owners.

Parked by the abbey last Saturday and worked up an appetite by walking over towards Courtmacsherry. The appetite reached 100% before we got to Courtmac so we turned back and headed for Dillon’s, just in time to see a parade of veteran cars go by. By the time we left, we were full, the appetite needle comfortably in the resting position.

Began the meal with a chat and then we were presented with some tasty brown bread and a magnificent Wild Garlic hummus, made in-house of course. Just cleaned out the bowl. It was so gorgeous.

While waiting for the soup, Julie brought out a tasting sample of the West Cork Seafood Chowder with Coconut and Coriander. She was obviously proud of this (not to mention hubby John’s part in it) and rightly so. Just brilliant. If you get the chance, go for it.

Was then half-wondering had I made a mistake by ordering the Creamy Asparagus and Leek Soup with Wild Garlic Pesto and that Brown Bread (€4.95). Not a bit of it. Looked good and the taste was top notch.

And now for the main courses. CL chose the West Cork duck, Piccalilli Red Onion Marmalade and Hummus Wrap with local salad and roast potatoes (12.95). Great ingredients and a terrific combination. Really fantastic roast potatoes.

And I had the same potatoes on my dish: Roast Fillet of Hake with Shaved Fennel and Beetroot slaw, Salsa Verde and Wild Garlic Pesto (15.95). Again this produced a pretty photograph. The camera wasn't lying as Dillon’s once again outshone themselves. Everything was perfect and that unusual slaw went down a crunchy treat. Happy out!

But not finished yet! Dessert. Would we? Of course. But we did share the delicious pear, almond and blackberry tart (5.50). A couple of coffees and more chat and soon two happy customers walked out into the West Cork sun with a jar of that Wild Garlic Hummus and a loaf of the brown bread, both to be demolished at supper time! Couldn’t wait.

Great stuff in Timoleague, an essential stop on the Bandon Food Trail

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GOURMET RAINBOW AT END OF BOREEN


GOURMET RAINBOW AT END OF BOREEN
Anthony Creswell with his 2010 UK Great Taste Gold and newly delivered salmon being processed.

On a boreen at the back of Timoleague, the back if we agree the front faces the estuary, there is a fork and if you take the left, even before you take the left, you will see a modest timber building below you.

It looks like a big hut but this is a state of the art smoke house and is the home of multi-award winning Ummera. Some of the awards are displayed outside. I had a guide here last week, none other than the owner Anthony Creswell.

Not only is this building a state of the art organic smoke house, it is also a highly efficient production unit, very streamlined indeed with the raw material arriving at one door and the tasty finished products leaving at the other end.

On the day I arrived, a delivery of salmon from Clew Bay had been made. The ice-packed boxes were being opened and the salmon, all individually tagged, were being filleted in preparation for the smoking. At the end is the packing and the dispatch, a room from which these high class products are sent to destinations all over the world.

The much sought after Ummera Smoked Products include Smoked Organic Salmon, Organic Gravadlax, Smoked Eel, Smoked Chicken, Smoked Duck and Smoked Dry Cured Bacon and are available at a range of outlets in Ireland. Sea Salt from Portugal and Raw Cane Sugar (Organic) from Costa Rica are used in the process but no artificial preservatives.

Ummera products have even ended up in Hawaii but they are also appreciated locally and indeed I enjoyed a gorgeous plateful of them in Dillon’s Restaurant (highly recommended) in Timoleague village before meeting Anthony.

Aside from being a very efficient “production line”, the smoke house is also extremely environmentally friendly. There are armies of worms working out the back in the vermi-composting unit set up to dispose of production waste and the site has a natural wetland for water waste.

The business goes back to the early 70s but this new house was built in 2000 and modified in 2004 to meet the demanding standards required by the Irish Government and the EU for the export of meat and poultry products. This enabled Ummera Smoked Chicken and Smoked Dry Cured Bacon to be exported throughout the EU in compliance to EU regulations. The Ummera Smoke house is the only one in Ireland licensed to smoke both fish and meat (including poultry).

Check out all the fascinating details here. http://www.ummera.com/

Monday, October 24, 2011

AT HOME IN DILLON'S WITH JOHN AND JULIE


DILLON’S RESTAURANT
Of Timoleague


In Timoleague, where stands the substantial ruins of a 13th century abbey, there is a restaurant called Dillon’s, run for the last couple of years by Julie and John Finn. This was an old bar and shop and that kind of atmosphere still remains as the bright spot is still a great place for social interaction, groups gathering for a chat and a coffee and even a game of bridge in the mornings.

That such a link to the past remains, says much for the friendliness and welcome you receive from the Finns. Julie looks after the front of house while John (originally from Mitchelstown) is the chef. Lovely people and lovely food.

Made my first call there last Friday, for lunch, and we got a terrific welcome and a terrific meal. Timoleague may be a relatively small place and Dillon’s a small restaurant, but the scope of the lunch menu (it is changed daily) is amazing, as you can see from the photo.

Took us a while to make the choice but knowing that the organic Ummera Smoke House was close by, we picked the House Platter with Smoked Salmon, Smoked Chicken and Smocked Duck, with homemade chutney, local Organic Salad and Brown Bread.
Click on image to enlarge
Didn't regret a bite of it. The fish and meats were up to the standard we know and expect. The chutney was top notch as was the salad and brown bread. Enjoyed it and the chat.

After that, and the Tasting Menu the night before at the Cornstore, we weren’t too sure about dessert but were persuaded when we saw the tart on the counter, the Pear, Almond, Blueberry and Raspberry tart that is.

Had something like this in Cafe Madeleine’s in St Gilles Croix de Vie in the Vendee in the early 80s. The Dillon’s effort was probably better and that too will find a special place in my food memory (which I must admit goes back a surprisingly long way!). “I’d drive down from the city just for this alone,” enthused CL.

Lots of people drive down from the city (just about an hour) in any case and Sunday lunch in Dillon’s is very popular. Opening hours are a little restricted at this time of year so check the latest on the website  before you go.

Afterwards you may work it off by taking the walk along the route of the old railway to Courtmacsherry and back (about ten kilometres return). Speaking of walks, who walked in as we finished the coffee only Anthony Creswell, the owner of the aforementioned Ummera Smoke House but that is another story, another post.

Dillon’s of Timoleague: 023 8846390, dillonsrestaurant@gmail.com.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MAGIC: WEST CORK WEEKEND


Click to enlarge

WEST CORK WEEKEND


Just back from Clonakilty and a packed two days in the area. First stop was Dillon’s in Timoleague for lunch on Friday and to see owners John and Julie Finn.

Highlight here was a multi-fruit pie, worth the trip for this alone. But before that we had a brilliant plateful of Ummera smoked products and just as well as Anthony Creswell soon made an appearance. Delighted then to take up his invitation to see his smoke-house, the only one in Ireland licensed for both fish and meat smoking.

Took the scenic route then – it was quite a fine day – though Courtmacsherry and Butlerstown and Ring – and then headed to our base, the Macliam Guest House in Clon. We got a warm welcome from John (and an equally warm one from Maeve later on) and installed ourselves in a very comfortable room.

Still daylight aplenty so headed off down to Inchadoney for a long walk on the sand. Fully refreshed and with appetite renewed, called into Costello’s Malthouse for dinner. Lovely welcome from Amanda and a fine meal too where the highlights were a couple of top notch fish dishes.
Click on image to enlarge

Rain was expected on Saturday morning and it didn't let us down. It lashed in Skibbereen as we walked through the market which, in fairness, was still doing a good business, especially the Sheila and Mary fish stall.

We had a magnificent breakfast at the guesthouse but time now for a coffee and a call to Fields where I couldn't resist their smashing Tunisian orange cake. Had a look around the supermarket and delighted to see so many local products, including virtually all of the range from Just Food in Cobh. My kind of supermarket.

The rain still fell as we drove back towards Clon and a return visit, after decades, to the Model Village and Railway. Just bought our tickets and the sun came out and stayed out for the rest of the day. Really enjoyed the stroll around the village and the models of the area’s towns but the highlight for me was a very nostalgic audio visual presentation of the last day of the West Cork railway in 1961.

With the sun now firmly established, we drove to the coast and to Red Strand where half a dozen surfers were braving the strong waves. Galley Head was silhouetted in the distance and we made that our next destination. Enjoyed walking round the area in the stiff enough breeze and took a few photos of the waves crashing in against the rocks.

Dinner was on the agenda again, of course, and this time we had a booking at the bright and breezy bistro called Richy’s. First though we made a call to An Sugán for a drink. Nobody there at seven but it was packed half an hour later (punters there for the food as much as the drink) as we left to cross the road.

Great service at Richy's where the pretty large menu is supplemented daily by a blackboard full of specials. We knew we were on a winner the minute we tasted our starter of Clonakilty Black Pudding Samosas and also with the first mouthful of a gorgeous Domaine La Columbette Pinot Noir 2010 (down from 35 to 28 euro).

I’ll have more details on the restaurants in later posts but all three are highly recommended.

And another big recommendation for Mcliam’s. Met some lovely guests there including two US couples, travelling separately. They were amazed at the friendliness of the Irish people and backed it up with concrete examples. Like the man who interrupted his walk, sat into the car and guided one of the couples to their destination. And another who interrupted his chores to drive ahead of them to a tourist site - some 22 miles away!

Hard to beat that kind of friendliness but we found it too. Well we didn't have much need of directions but a query in one town was answered, in a friendly manner, by a young French person and one of the US couples were amazed when a foreign person in Dublin used his own phone to get directions for them. But everywhere we were greeted with a smile and, if we needed info, that was provided too. Just loved the couple of days.