Showing posts with label West Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West Cork. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

One day in West Cork. Rosscarbery, Glandore, Union Hall, Reen Pier, Castletownsend, Baltimore, Celtic Ross, Lough Hyne, Cliff Walk, Clonakilty

 One day in West Cork 

Warren Strand, Rosscarbery

Our itinerary for this day in West Cork started at our base, the lovely Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery. Glandore, Union Hall, Reen Pier, Castletownsend, Baltimore,  Lough Hyne,  Cliff Walk, and Clonakilty were all visited before we got back to our hotel in the evening.

Took the side road (from Rosscarbery) to Glandore and enjoyed the views of the waters between it and Union Hall and made a stop or two. From Union Hall, we headed for Reen Pier and enjoyed a longer break here.
Warren Strand, from the cliff walk.

After Reen, we made our way to nearby Castletownsend. Included a visit to the old church in our walkaround and then a lovely lunch at Mary's Anns (link below). On then to Baltimore as the sun continued to shine even if the wind was brisk. Spent quite a while watching young boys and girls being trained on boats in the harbour and just outside of it (link at end of this post).
Looking out at Galley Head lighthouse from Warren Strand.

Lough Hyne was our next stop. Quite a few people here, relaxing, picnicking and swimming in the clear waters. No stop in Skibbereen (next time!) as we headed back to the Warren Strand in Rosscarbery and took that short steep-ish cliff walk with its views over the sunny strand and the Galley Head lighthouse in the distance.
The Celtic Ross Hotel, from the cliff walk
Into Clonakilty then looking for a bite to eat. But quite a few places on our mental shortlist were closed (in some we were too late for daytime opening eg Scannells, others weren't open on Wednesdays). But there was a good crowd in the Courtyard Bar, both inside and out. The atmosphere, lots of craic and laughs, was inviting, a counter full of lively conversationalists having a drink and, in the room itself and outside, quite a few were dining. Here, I found a tasty curry that certainly did the job. 
Glandore sailing

Then it was time to head back to Rosscarbery and a walk around the village. Good to see life returning to the idle Pilgrims with Jacks busy preparing for their opening (that followed a few days later). Market House was open, while across the road O'Callaghan Walsh opens on Fridays and Saturdays only and a trusted source told me that the food is as good as ever.

Lough Hyne

Curry in Courtyard Bar, Clonakilty

Bounce all you like in the sheltered corner by the Celtic Ross.
Often a very lively spot but this was taken a bit too early in the morning!

Castletownsend. Church & Castle

The Lövön, tied up at Baltimore

Baltimore in the afternoon sun

Clear waters of Lough Hyne

O'Callaghan Walsh, weekend restaurant in Rosscarbery

Market House restaurant in Rosscarbery

West Cork patriots remembered in Rosscarbery

Top athlete remembered in Rosscarbery. O'Mahony's exploits would earn a
West Cork Sports Award these days!

Baltimore basking in the afternoon sun

See also on this trip:
and previously

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Visiting The Home of Clonakilty Black Pudding.

Visiting The Home of Clonakilty Black Pudding

The late Edward Twomey, a leader

When you visit the Clonakilty Black Pudding Visitor Centre in the town, not alone will you see and hear the history of the famous product made right here but you’ll also get to taste it! So you get an hour’s entertainment and a mini-lunch! Well worth the tenner admission (though we two seniors paid just €7.50 each).

And of course, you get a friendly welcome. The tour is self-guiding but you are aided by an audio device that fills you at each stage. Much the same info is covered on a number of illustrated panels. You’ll also get a “chat” with the grocer and the butcher (they’ll have their eyes on you) both of whom have a good sense of humour. 

Nostalgia: the delivery bike, bus stop, petrol pump

Colette Twomey

And you get to know some of the key characters in the story, that began in the 1880s. It was then that the recipe originated in the town of Clonakilty; it hasn’t changed in that time. Since the Twomey family took responsibility for the secret recipe in the 1980’s, the popularity of the Blackpudding has continued to grow in Ireland and now around the world. Over the years they have extended the product range to include sausages, rashers and most recently Veggie Pudding!

The first Clonakilty black pudding maker was Johanna O’Brien, a farmer’s wife, from nearby Sam’s Cross who wanted to subsidise the household income making black pudding for Harrington’s butcher shop - to this day you’ll note “Original Harrington’s Recipe” on the label. When Johanna died, the recipe, which included Johanna’s secret spice mix, was faithfully handed down to Philip’s family and for over a century, the black pudding was made by Dan Harrington, Con O’Callaghan, Paddy Allman.

In 1969, the butcher shop was sold as a going concern to Patrick McSweeny. In 1976 the butcher shop which included the black pudding recipe was bought by his nephew Edward Twomey.

Edward wasn’t that keen on the product but realised his customers were and eventually he became hugely enthusiastic. Edward’s personality and belief in the product helped propel Clonakilty Blackpudding to get the recognition it deserved. 

Michael Clifford, was one of Ireland’s most famous chefs, holder of a Michelin star, was an early and influential supporter of the Clonakilty product. And it is acknowledged here that his signature dish of black pudding elevated the humble breakfast staple to being acclaimed as an excellent starter. (Lots of recipes on their site here).

Covid reminder
It wasn’t long before Clonakilty Blackpudding was being mentioned in the press and media. And eventually that led to Edward appearing on the Late Late Show (you can view that excerpt during the tour).

Edward and his wife Colette were very much in demand at food shows and exhibitions all over Ireland the UK and an export market began to grow. In 2005 Edward Twomey died. Colette now led the company forward and still does.

And that included building a brand new production facility that was opened in Clonakilty in October 2017. The new production facility also includes administration offices, new product development facilities and distribution along with this new visitor centre that reflects the company’s pride in the town. The story of the building of the local church and that of the local GAA club are also highlighted here. 

The butcher

There are quite a lot of artefacts from the history of the company and the town to be seen on the tour and you may also view part of the production through special windows to the factory floor. 

And, at the end, there’s that treat. Some freshly cooked black and white pudding, also that new and tasty veggie pudding, some sausages and a big cup of tea or coffee. There is also a lovely little café here but that can’t be used at the moment (June 2021) because of Covid restrictions. Hopefully, that restriction won’t last to long more and you’ll get even better value from your visit.

The newly opened visitor centre is another indoor attraction in the progressive town, great on a misty day (as was the case with us). Other indoor places (that I know of) are the Michael Collins House and the Clonakilty Distillery. Part of the Model Railway Village is indoors too.

Also on this trip:

Ron D's Food Truck Ballydehob

Superb Dining at Garden Restaurant in Liss Ard Estate

Come on down!

Open Monday – Sunday

10am-4pm (last entry 3.30pm) 

Booking is essential 


Phone: +353 (23) 8834835


Adults: €10

Seniors & Students: €7.50

Children (5-18): €5

Under 5: Free

Family ticket: 2 adults, up to 3 children (under 18) – €25

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

West Cork in Brief

West Cork in Brief

Stay: Celtic Ross Hotel 

Dine: with Michelin Chef Dede at Customs House, Baltimore.

Barleycove Strand, near Mizen
Visit: Spectacular Mizen Head 
Head for the islands - there are dozens of them

Check out the local "wild" life

Visit Clonakilty or one of the many other towns and villages
or just put your feet up!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Mizen Head's Spectacular In All Kinds Of Weather

Mizen Head's Spectacular In All Kinds Of Weather
Always worth a look!

Fair weather or foul, or even foggy (as it was last Wednesday), spectacular Mizen Head is a must visit if you’re in the West Cork area. 

As with everywhere else, there are Covid19 restrictions in operation and you must wear a mask to gain entry to the indoor areas including exhibition rooms, café (takeout only) and so on. Because of Covid, the seasonal Mizen opening had been delayed and indeed their first day had been the one before our visit. In any case, they had it well organised (sanitisers, distance markings etc) and everything onsite went very well indeed.
Masked on Mizen

Speaking of masks, some visitors, who had decided against the full visit, asked to use the toilet. Two of a group near us had just other one mask between them. So the young lady went first, came out and handed the mask to her partner who then took his turn!

When we arrived it was quite foggy and that had put some people off. But we paid the reasonable fee and enjoyed our visit. We were feeling a little hungry after the two and a half hour drive* from the city. So we took a look at the pretty extensive menu outside and settled on a couple of well made and decently priced toasties.
Dunlough Bay

That set us up nicely to take on the fenced paths (with helpful hand-rails). The one up to the viewing point over rocky Dunlough Bay is the most worthwhile. Another, the first one really, and a much shorter one, gives you a fine view from above over the footbridge.

Then, carry on to the lighthouse itself over the bridge that was opened in 1993. On the way back, be sure and take the short path down towards a viewing point just below the bridge level. Here we saw a couple of seals frolicking in the water below. The final path for us was the longest, down to the rocks, with a view of the arch in the rocks and also quite a view back to the rocky point where the lighthouse stands. Tough enough coming back up!

The fog had thinned out quite a bit as we departed and indeed a few minutes later we were passing above the lovely Barleycove beach and here the sun was blazing down and the beach looked very impressive from our viewing point. Car parks were more or less full and there were quite a few people on the sand. It is a large beach though.

Next stop was at the bay of Toormore. We have often seen its famous Altar Wedge Tomb (signposted) but the bay itself is an attractive one with very pleasing views when the sun is out. A notice here says people may have been worshipping in this place some 4,000 years ago. Good spot for a picnic, not there’s any table! 
Go to the last on the left!

On then to Schull. We had intended making a short stop here but the noted holiday village was packed. I made a couple of attempts to find a parking place before deciding to motor on. We were heading for the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, our base for the night. Having checked in, we took a walk by the water, watching the many different seabirds feeding here, before going back for an “excellent” feed ourselves in the hotel’s restaurant. More on that in a later post.
Barleycove beach on the way back from Mizen

* Should have been shorter than the eventual 2.5 hours but a few things conspired against us. We’ve been here at Mizen a few times and never had a problem. But our current Sat-Nav didn’t recognise the name, the fog didn’t help, and crucially the final sign to go left was missing. We went straight on there and ended up in the car park for Three Castles Head (another excellent visit, by the way). On the way back, we found the Mizen Head sign, well rusted, in the briars, the pole itself, with Goleen on top, was standing and in good condition!

The sign for Mizen in the briars. Didn't see it in the fog earlier on

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A Half-day Tour in West Cork? Now we can dream. Baltimore Beacon, Coffee Shop at Uillinn, Leap Waterfall

Half-day Tour in West Cork? Now we can dream a little.
Baltimore Beacon, Coffee Shop at Uillinn, Leap Waterfall

Actual Trip: 6th March 2020
The Beacon and, right, Sherkin Island

It’s a Friday and we’re heading west for a night, long booked at a bargain rate, in the Celtic Ross Hotel. The weather is dry and often bright so we leave a little early and eventually decide on a trip to the famous Beacon of Baltimore.

Plan was to arrive in Skibbereen around lunch-time with a visit to the Coffee Shop at Uillinn (which houses the West Cork Arts Centre and is popularly known as the Rust Bucket). I know that Jessie and Billy, who previously ran the operation in Union Hall, have transferred here.
Gubbeen sandwich and, left, a lovely Frittata
No bother finding parking in the town, indeed there are a few spaces available in the very central lot where the Saturday morning market is held and it’s free. We can see the “rusty” sides of the high-ish Uillinn from here and take an easy stroll over.

It is a small café with a good sized outdoor space for the better days. And there were a few hardy souls outside. But we headed in and Jessie, who told us they are edging towards their first anniversary here, filled us in on what was available. It is a small enough space, no kitchen area as such, but they make the best of some excellent local produce.

There are a few eye-catching light fittings around, including one colourful globe by the window that reflects some of the buildings across the way. But the most eye-filling piece of all is a large painting of the local Reen Pier area by artist John Kelly. In a few months this will be auctioned at Sotheby’s with the proceeds going to CUH and West Cork Rapid Response.

There is quite a choice: Sandwiches, Salads, Toasties, Frittata, Quiches, and more are on the menu, much of it chalked up on boards. Our order soon arrives. I am delighted with a toasted sandwich featuring Gubbeen ham and cheese and the delicious salad that comes with it. Much the same salad is with the well-made Frittata (CL’s choice). And we each enjoy a bottle of lovely Attyflin Estate Apple Juice. We did a bit of sharing and we agreed that the sandwich was one of the best of its kind that we’ve come across in recent years.

Back to the road then and into Baltimore. Fairly used to seeing it in summertime but I’ve never seen it as quiet. We don’t drive all the way to the Beacon and give ourselves a short walk. There’s a fair bit of mud and water at the start of the climb but we do stretch ourselves a bit to make it to the plateau!
At work. Lights on! 

The white painted signal tower at the entrance to the harbour is Baltimore's famous landmark. Jokingly, it is sometimes also called Lot's Wife by the locals, an allusion to the bible, where Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt.  It was built sometime in the 19th century. Various dates are mentioned but there seems to be some consensus that, in its present form, it dates from 1849 or thereabouts!

The views are well worth the climb, cliffs and sea to the left and right,the ocean and  Sherkin island ahead (a bit to the right) and the town and harbour behind.  We do find an easier way down but there’s still the odd slip or two and one of us gets a muddy behind!

Back to the harbour car park then. In the toilets, we see the first of those yellow Covid-19 safety signs - we would see them again in the hotel later on. A stroll around the village is next and we take a peek at the Customs House where work is going on inside in preparation for “a new concept” with an opening on March 19th (three days a week for Michelin chef Ahmed Dede and his team for a start). But that opening was knocked out (temporarily) by Covid19 but they did get going with a very popular takeaway service. Better days ahead!
The Beacon, from a previous visit
Lamp in the Coffee Shop

We skirt around Skibbereen on the way back and soon find ourselves in Leap. I spot the sign for the local waterfall. We’ve never seen it, so we park up on the street and head in the few yards. No charge but you are asked, via a notice, for a donation. After the recent rains, the water was flowing quickly down the narrow channel but the whole thing is on the small side. 

According to Wikipedia, the town’s full Irish name means "O'Donovan's Leap" and is derived from the story of a chieftain called O'Donovan, who was pursued by English soldiers, but escaped them by jumping across a ravine and its waterfall. A local website says “an O’Donovan leaped on horseback while being pursued by British soldiers”. Check it out here.  
Dunsead Castle
in Baltimore

After that, it's an easy drive back to Rosscarbery and to the Celtic Ross, our marvellous base for the night where we had a five star dinner. Read all about it here.

Actual Trip: 6th March 2020