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Ireland

Wexford - Our Recommended Hotels And Restaurants

Hotels

Kilmokea Country Manor and Gardens

Near Arthurstown, Kilmokea Country Manor and Garden, is a self-contained, yet modestly grand, family home. Expect homely bedrooms and a friendly welcome from genial husband-and-wife team Mark and Emma Hewlett. A small swimming pool, tasty home cooking and a charming Heritage Garden, including a Fairy Village, add to this one-of-a-kind destination.

Dubrody Country House and Hotel

Dubrody Country House and Hotel opened as a hotel 20 years ago by Kevin and Catherine Dundon. Rooms are very comfortable but the real draw here is everything else. The luxe country pile has grown to incorporate its own 'local bar', a cookery school, spa, and recently, a brewery - producing a very quaffable Pale Ale, "King's Bay", named after the small bay on which the charming and compact village of Arthurstown sits.

Aldridge Lodge

Opened by Billy Whitty and Joanne Harding, Aldridge Lodge offers luxury guesthouse accommodation. Food is a highlight here and the lodge had held a Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2007. Expect comfortable, en suite rooms and a cosy relaxing lounge, all tastefully and imaginatively decorated. Superb views of both the nearby beach, river estuary and the Comeragh Mountains.

aldridge2

Restaurants

Button and Spoon

A surprising find in Bridgetown, Button and Spoon is a tea room, restaurant and food store. Plenty of love and integrity about the place, mostly in the form of their very well-executed dishes. The "Fabulous Fish Platter" is a good choice: a symphony of the best of locally caught seafood - think ginger, lime and chilli prawn cocktail, hot-smoked trout and a delicious, well-balanced fishcake. Add a glass of chilled pinot grigio and a lunch sensation is born.

button and spoon

Cistín Eile

If you fancy a bite to eat after your Wexford town sauntering and browsing, lunch or dinner at Cistín Eile is a very good choice. Talented chef Warren Gilles has, understandably, gained something of a following in the Sunny Southeast for this clear grasp of flavour, seasoning and creative ingredient combinations. Try the unique Wexford Rissole, or almost anything else from his unashamedly Modern Irish menu.

Dunbrody House

Kevin Dundon has, rightly, gained international renown for his pitch-perfect dishes using the best of Irish ingredients. At Dunbrody House, experience that expression in the form of chef Nick Davey's executions of elegant, yet never prissy, dishes that give the freshest of ingredients plenty of room to sing. Try the classic Black Sole Meunière, pan-roasted on the bone, for the kind of dish memories are made of.

Cork - Cycle Tour: The Islands of Co Kerry

Islands of Kerry

Visit the islands of Co Kerry either before or after your Fresh Eire Adventures bike trip and you'll be rewarded by stunning landscapes, wild seacapes and a glimpse into Ireland's monastic past.  

Blasket Islands

Blasket Islands- Na Blascaodaí lie some 6km beyond the most westerly tip of the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, large humps of sandstone with awesome cliffs rise from the Atlantic Ocean.  Surrounded by smaller rocks and reefs, these are Na Blascaodaí.  The largest of the nine islands An Blascaod Mór was finally abandoned in 1953 when the last twenty people living on the island were moved to the mainland.  The island’s population, which once boasted one hundred and seventy five residents, had steadily declined through emigration.  No other island community of this size yielded such a literary wealth, producing world renowned writers who documented island life in their beloved Irish language and whose work have been translated into many languages.  An Blascaod Mór remains uninhabited today but the island is open to visitor

Skellig Islands – Na Scealga

Skellig Islands – Na Scealga lie thirteen kilometres off the coast of South Kerry, like floating pyramids of sandstone.  The most spectacular of these islands, Sceilg Mhichíl – Skellig Michael – is a peaceful spiritual idyll and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Over five hundred steps up a 1000 year-old stone stairway leads you up to one of the most magnificent monastic sites in Europe.  Stone beehive huts where monks lived and prayed centuries ago cling to the Church of St. Michael.  An Sceilg Bheag is a seabird sanctuary and one of the world’s greatest gannetries.  It is home to more than 30,000 pairs of gannets among many other seabirds.

Valentia Island

Valentia Island is one of great beauty and contrast.  The western part of the island is dominated by the barren, dramatic cliffs of Bray Head which command spectacular views of the Kerry coastline while the mild effect of the Gulf Streams result in Valentia’s balmy climate and lush, colourful vegetation.  The island’s main village, Knightstown, is reminiscent of an Anglo-Irish Village with its many stately buildings and refined ambience

But the island’s historical lineage goes back much further than that.  Tetra pod footprints were found on the northern part of the island.  These magnificent imprints of history are thought to date from Devonian times between some 350 to 370 million years ago.  An important quarry on the northern part of the island which opened in 1816 still flourishes today.  The famous Valentia Slate has been used in many prominent buildings including the British House of Commons in London.

Cork - Cycle Tour: Day Trips from the city

There is more to Cork than simply Cork City. If staying in the city we recommend the following day trips, including days trips to the stunning islands, which will give you a flavour of Co. Cork.

Blarney Castle & Gardens

This medieval Castle near the River Martin was built six hundred years ago by a famous chieftan, Cormac MacCarthy.  Situated 8km from Cork City and 16km from Cork Airport, this historic castle is most famous for its stone.  The Castle in now partially in ruins, you still have the opportunity to kiss the legendary Stone of Eloquence in order to receive the infamous "gift of the gab".  The stone is set in the wall below the battlements, and to kiss it, one has to lean backwards. Continue your day walking in the Gardens to fully appreciate Bog, Poison and Irish gardens.

Charles Fort

A classic example of a 17th century star-shaped fort, it is one of the largest and best preserved forts in the country.  Charles Fort has been associated with some of th most momentous events in Irish history including the Williamite War 1689-91 and the Irish Civil War 1922-23.  Visitors are advised to wear footwear suitable for uneven terrain.

Charles Fort Kinsale aerial

The Queenstown Story

Discover Cobh's unique orirgins, its history  and legacies, the story of Annie Moore the first emigrant processed at Ellis Island, and Cobh's special connections with the ill-fated Titanic all dramatically recalled at the Queenstown Story.

St. Colman's Cathedral

St. Colman's Cathedral is an exquisite gem of neo-Gothic architecture by the architects Pugin and Ashlin.  The Cobh Carillon now boasts 49 bells, including the heaviest bell in Ireland at 3.6 tons.

colman cathedral

Titanic Experience Cobh

Retrace the footsteps of the 123 Queenstown passengers who boarded the Titanic from Cobh.  Check-in at the White Star Line Ticket office, experience life on board and discover the facts surrounding the tragic sinking of Titanic

Fota Wildlife Park

Fota Wildlife Park is set on the scenic Fota Island in the heart of Cork Harbour, where you can come face to face with free roaming animals & birds from all parts of the world. 

Islands off Co. Cork

Bere Island

Bere Island is rich in natural and cultural heritage and has a range of visitor sites to enjoy from archaeological sites of the Bronze Age to Nineteenth and Twentieth Century military installation.  Situated at the entrance of the deepest harbour in Europe, the island offers breathtaking scenery, organised activities and great hospitality.  The Bere Island Heritage Exhibition hosts a wealth of information on the story and history of Bere Island.  Berehaven Harbour and Lawrence Cove are very safe and sheltered harbours for large and small boats and the marina has full facilities for visiting sailors.  Ultimately Bere is a charming island away from the hustle and bustle of modern life

Oileán Chléire – Cape Clear Island

The Gaeltacht Island is Ireland’s southernmost inhabited island and is a paradise of solitude and inspiration.  Its wild romantic scenery, sparkling harbours, cliffs, bogs and scenic pebble beaches all contribute to the island’s unspoilt charm.  Heather, gorse and wild flowers cover the rugged hills between dry stone walls.  Megalithic standing stones, a 5000 year old passage grave, a 12th century church ruin and a 14th century castle are testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage.  You’ll be steeped in wildlife on the island: rare migratory birds, whale, leather-back turtles, sun fish and shark are spotted every year, as well as regular visitors, the dolphins.  Its hilly landscape featuring magnificent high cliffs and lonely sheltered coves are a delight to explore on foot or from the bow of a sailing boat.  Oileán Chléire offers relaxation, nature and peace, a friendly bilingual community removed from the hustle and bustle of the mainland life.

Dursey Island

Dursey Island is the most westerly of the West Cork’s inhabited islands; Dursey lies across a narrow sound and is a great getaway from the fray of modern living.  This rugged island is accessed via Ireland’s only cable-car, which runs about 250m above the sea and takes six people at a time.  The island is part of the Beara Way walking trail and having no shops, pubs or restaurants offers the day visitor a unique experience of calm with spectacular views of the Beara peninsula.  It is also a bird watcher’s paradise with rare birds from Siberia and America being spotted there. Monks from Skellig Rock are said to have founded the ancient church of Kilmichael on Dursey, now a ruin

Garinish Island

Garinish Island or Ilnacullin is a tiny island with a big reputation.  Stashed away in Glengarriff harbour, known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island of garden and rare beauty.  The gardens of Ilnacullin owe their existence to the creative partnership, over one hundred years ago, of Annan Bryce, then owner of the island an Harold Peto, architect and garden designer.  Garinish Island is open form March to October and there is an island admission charge separate to that charged by ferry boats.  

Sherkin Island

Sherkin Island, one of the Carbery’s Hundred Isles, in Roaringwater Bay, is the ancestral home of the O’Driscoll clan whose castle lies just above their pier.  Nearby you can also see the ruins of a 15th century Fransiscan abby.  Sherkin buzzes with activity during the summer months and locals are renowned for their warmth and hospitality.  Come to hear great live traditional music or enjoy the activities of the Sherkin Family Regatta, a big splash in the island’s social calendar.  Sherkin’s three sandy beaches make great secluded swimming areas and walking along the shore you may see seals, otters, schools of dolphins or the porpoises which gave the island its name.

Ireland: Driving Tips For Your Trip In Ireland

Driving tips for your pre or post self-guided trip in Ireland

Drive on the left!

Yes, it's obvious.  Yes, everyone is doing it.  But if you're used to driving on the right, it's easy to fall into old habits first thing in the morning, after a lunch stop, or pulling back onto a quiet country road after taking that latest awesome photo.

Left Sign for ireland

Heed the speed limits

The speed limit on most regional (R) roads is 80kph/50mph, on national (N) roads 100kph/62mph, and on motorways (M) 120kph/75mph.  In towns, the limit is 50kph/30mph.

Get a good map

Irish motorways are straightforward.  Country roads ... not so much.  That's why it's a good idea to have a reliable map (such as those availble for purchase in Tourist Information Offices) or GPS in the glove box before you set off on your Ireland road trip.

Safety first

Whilst Ireland's roads are improving all the time, N and R routes can still be thin and bumpy, prone to ice in winter, and may not have hard shoulders.  For many drivers, of course, that's all part of the charm.  But it's wise to adapt your speed to the circumstances.

The tractor factor

No matter how meticulous your plans, the chance of chugging along at 20mph behind a tractor, or being held to a standstill by a herd of sheep or cattle, is always there.  It's nothing to worry about (it may even make your trip), just be aware that it may occur!  Remember to only pass when the road ahead is fully clear.

Park smart

You'll rarely have to pay to park in the Irish countryside, but pay-and-display charges are commonplace in towns and cities.  Keep some coins handy for the meters, and remember to check the signs indicating times during which on-street parking is charged.  If you ignore the parking regulations expect to be clamped - that is, you'll return to find your car with a boot on one of the wheels and this can only be released upon payment of a hefty fine.  Your car might even be towed!

park and display

Car rental tips

Most rental cars in Ireland are manual transmission, so if you prefer to drive automatic, stipulate this when booking.  Rental companies provide numbers to call if you need breakdown assistance, and fuel tanks should be returned as full as you receive them.  We recommend renting the smallest possible car to meet your needs.  Our preferred rental car companies include Avis, Hertz, Budget/Sixt and Europcar.  We do not recommend Dan Dooley Rent-A-Car.  It is always advisable to take out full insurance with a zero-deductible.

Don't forget

When driving in Ireland, you need to carry a valid licence as well as insurance and vehicle registration documentation.  It's also illegal to hold a mobile phone when driving, so keep those calls, tweets, texts and Facebook updates for when you're safely pulled in!

Fill up

There are very few online services on Irish motorways, and petrol stations can be irregular between towns.  Keep your tank topped up!  Be sure to check what type of fuel your rental car requires; most of the smallest cars take petrol (gas) while frequently you may be assigned a car with a diesel engine.  At the gas station you can identify easily which pump is which: yellow/black is diesel while green/black is petrol (gasoline).

Tolls

Around Dublin you will very likely drive on the notorious M50 ring road from which you can access all roads heading north, south, east and west.  There is an electronic toll on this road which must be paid within 48 hours.  It can be paid at most gas stations and news agents.  You simply notify the assistant of your registration number (e.g. 172-D-12345) and pay the toll for however many trips you have taken.  Other toll roads exist around the country but these can be paid on the roads themselves.

Need to know

In case of accident or emergency, call 999 or 112.

The Beer Necessities

Ireland's Beer Necessities
 
Despite the country's renowned love for stouts and international beers, Ireland has witnessed a rapid rise in the popularity of craft beer.  Amateur brewers have been investing time and money in mastering the art and creating a brand new career path.  We have taken a look at a selection of craft beers and breweries in the east of Ireland to find out why we should challenge our taste buds and try some alternative and unique beers
 
Trouble Brewing in Co. Kildare has become one of Ireland's more recognized craft beers.  Set up just over 5 years ago by three beer-loving friends, Trouble Brewing now produces a trio of delicious beers; the smooth and refreshing Deception Golden Ale, a smoky Dark Arts Porter and the strong, full-bodied Sabotage India Pale Ale (IPA).  Things have been going so well for the lads that they outgrew their original premises and moved to nearby Kill.  Trouble Brewing is availble throughout Dublin and select locations around the country.
Sabotage Bottle White
While there are many newcomers to the craft beer sector who are still showing their I.D's at the door, O'Hara's from Carlow, are more like the old man sitting at the bar ready to offer guidance to those in need. O'Hara's have been brewing since 1996 but largely for export, however, their popularity in Ireland has grown in more recent years with their beers now readily available around the country.  They have a wide range of drinks, while also boasting the award winning O'Hara's Irish Stout.  The roasted malts, dark chocolate and light bitterness offer a true taste of Irish Stout to drinkers.  ohara
 
The story of Clever Man Craft Beer sprouted in Chicago, blossomed in Wexford and had a generous watering of Texan influence along the way.  Malcolm Molloy and his Texan wife Andrea met in Chicago but relocated to Wexford where they started brewing.  Clever Man currently offers four different drinks, with new additions on the way, all of which are named in honour of a clever Irishman from the past.  Ejector Seat, is named in tribute to Sir James Martin, inventor of the ejector seat, is described as "full-bodied with a depth of stout flavour and slightly dry finish"
 
The increased thirst for craft beers in Ireland has not gone unnoticed by the big-boys of the beer market.  Guinness have realised the ever changing taste buds of beer drinkers and began developing their own range of craft beers as part of their Brewers Project.  The third creation of the project is Hop House 13 Lager.  It is named after an early 1900's hop store building at St. James's Gate and is available throughout Ireland.  Described as a distinctive golden lager, Hop House 13 is full flavoured while still being crisp and hoppy (but not bitter) with a refreshing clean finish.
hop house 2
Twelve Acres from Carlow is a Fresh Eire Adventures favourite and is proudly featured on our beer tastings during our Ireland bike tours.  Founded in 2013, Twelve Acres became popular very rapidly.  Currently, they have four beers on offer: Rya India Pale Ale, Single Malt Lager, Golden Harvest Pale Ale and 12 Acres Pale Ale.  These beers are all made from their own ingredients, which they grow on their own farm.  Their outstanding hard work paid off in 2017 when they got the bronze medal at the Dublin Craft Beer Cup, they were finalists at the Irish Food Quality Awards and they were nominated for the Carlow Food & Beverage Producer Business Awards in both 2016 and 2017.  
 

Recipe: Beef And Guinness Stew

Beef And Guinness Stew
 
A classic Irish dish, perfect for cold autumn evening! Serves four.
 
 
Ingredients:
  • 200ml of Guinness
  • 400g beef, diced into one inch chunks
  • 1 medium onion - diced
  • 1 large carrot - diced
  • 1 large celery - diced
  • 1 large parsnip - diced
  • 1 litre of beef stock
  • sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
  • champ potato (creamed mash potato and Spring Onion)

Irish beef stew

Method:
 
  1. Stir fry the beef, add the vegetables and cook until tender. 
  2. Then pour the guinness, and reduce by half.  
  3. Add the beef stock and herbs and simmer very slowly for between half an hour and an hour and a half.  
  4. Serve with the champ potato and honey roast carrot and parsnip.

Tip: Stew is always better made one day in advance.

 

Recipe: Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread
 
Easy and versatile recipe which has stood the test of time as an Irish classic.
 

Ingredients:

  • 500g (1lb) white flour, preferably unbleached
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 350-400ml buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon honey

 

Method:
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 190*C.  
  2. Grease and flour a loaf tin.  
  3. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.  
  4. Add the buttermilk, and then whisk in the egg and honey.  
  5. Form a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and then pour in the wet mixture.  
  6. Add a little extra flour if you find the dough is too wet and sticky.  
  7. Using a wooden spoon, bring the mixture together to form a dough.  
  8. Shape into a rough oval and place in the loaf tin.  
  9. Sprinkle with a little flour on top and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.  

irish bread

Allow to cool before slicing and enjoying with a little butter
 
Tip: Add in chopped spinach or even some grated cheddarfor an additional tasty flavour

Wexford Garden Trail

Wexford Garden Trail
 
Welcome to the Wexford Garden Trail, located in what is traditionally known as the Sunny South East.  The largest of the province of Leinster's 12 counties and bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and to the east by the Irish Sea.  The River Barrow forms its western boundary; the Blackstairs Mountains form part of the boundary to the north, as do the southern edges of the Wicklow Mountains.  Only an hour's drive from Dublin, it is also home to the busy port of Rosslare.
 
The gardens reflect both the history and the diversity of the county and its landscape.  Some of the gardens were originally laid out in the 18th and 19th century while others were begun just 10 years ago.  The larger public gardens provide an ideal outing for all of the family, the smaller private gardens will give you not only an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon, they will also introduce you to the large range of plants which can grow in this temperate  region.  The trail includes Specialist Nurseries for the more unusual plants and, spread through the county, award winning Garden Centres who will provide for all your garden needs.
 
The owners of all of the garden locations on the trail will be happy to welcome and assist you with any information you require to enjoy your visit to Co. Wexford.
 
 
Ballinkeele Garden
Mature trees and rhododendron form the backdrop for the woodland walk around the lake and through the parkland.  There are two walled gardens which are gradually being brought back to use.  One is planted with roses, shrubs and perennials and the other is a productive garden with old apple and plum trees as well as vegetables.
 
Ballymore Schoolhouse Garden
A two acre site with a large Oriental Temple Garden including a traditional teahouse, stone bridge, traditional stone lanterns and a Moon Gate.  Other features include the spectacular Laburnum walk complete with a Zen waterhouse, which runs through it, a decorative Potager, a Mirror garden and the peaceful Dell Garden.
 
Colclough Walled Garden
The walled garden was built by the Colclough Family in the early Nineteenth Century.  Restoration work began in July 2010 and the original layout of the garden has been reinstated as it was in 1838.  The main features of this 2.5 acres stone/brick lined walled garden include curved corners, two intra mural structures on the dividing brick wall which splits the garden in two sections, east and west.  It is a work in progress.
colclough garden
Glenavon Japanese Garden
This one acre garden, created over ten years, on the challenging clay Macemore soil, depicts the four seasons and is centred round a beautifully recreated Japanese pavilion.  Stone lanterns, statues and other features accentuate this theme and a Liquidambar walks flanks one of the perimeters.  There is also a craft shop.
 
John F. Kennedy Arboretum
John F. Kennedy Arboretum is dedicated to the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th president of the United States of America until his assassination on 22nd November 1963.  It consists of 622 acres including 4500 types of trees and shrubs, 200 forest plots, rhododendrons and dwarf conifers.  They offer exhibitions, guided tours, signposted walks, lake, cafe & miniature railway (seasonal) and also a playground and picnic area.
 
Johnstown Castle
Johnstown Castle was built by the Esmonde family who came to Co. Wexford in 1169.  It was then acquired by the Grogan family who developed the castle, grounds, lakes and estate to what we have today.  The walled gardens and hothouses, covering 4 acres, were originally laid out between 1844-1851 and retain their early design today.  Pathways throughout the grounds meander through the woodland garden and around the lakes.  The sunken garden is now a picnic area located close to the car park.
 
Kilmokea Gardens
These peaceful spiritual gardens of seven acres are beautifully laid out around an attractive Georgian house overlooking the river Barrow.  Topiary, lawns, herbaceous and mixed plantings combine with architectural features and ornaments to provide an echanting series of enclosures.  A water garden extends into woodland planted with rare and tender trees and shrubs.  The organic fruit and vegetable garden has been opened to the public in 2017.
 
Kilmurry Nursery & Garden
Beautiful herbaceous perennial garden developed over the last ten years on 1.5 acres and includes large orchard and vegetable area in an informal setting.  This garden, planted for colour and scent, provides inspiration and ideas for planting combinations.  Attached to an award winning nursery where a huge selection of plants is available.
 
Lucy's House & Garden
This two acre garden is in two parts, the original area is now the vegetable gardens but includes some wonderful trees, over the past 20 years, the additional field has been transformed into a large lawned area, long borders of trees, shrubs and herbaceous and individually themed island beds and features, incorporating a wide selection of planting styles.
 
Marlfield House & Garden
Surrounding a beautiful regency period house, the garden and grounds extend to 36 acres.  Woodlands form the back drop to meandering paths through an extensive kitchen garden of herbs, vegetables and fruits.  Long borders of shrubs and herbaceous perennials flank a yew hedge and lead to the lawns and formal gardens.  The lake and wildfowl reserve from a completely separate garden to the front of the hotel and the island, reached by a wooden bridge, has beautiful specimen shrubs and trees.
 
Monksgrange Garden & Norman Gallery
Supplanting the original 18th century garden, the current layout was completed in the 1920's.  A folly castle built in 1822 adds an air of history to its surrounding garden.  This garden contains wonderful specimen trees and shrubs, and a collection of azaleas and rhododendrons.  Peaceful paths meander along a natural stream where ponds, small waterfalls and sculptures create interest and calmth.
 
Newtownbarry House, Gallery and Garden
Parts of the garden which date back to the 18th and 19th century have been recently restored; the Sunken garden approximately two acres, is a colourful walled garden which includes a formal oval pool, a fountain and a series of borders filled with shrubs and herbaceous perennials, enclosed by lines of dwarf hedges.  Mature trees, a rose garden and a lake complete the picture.
 
The Bay Garden
This two acre garden surrounding an 18th century farmhouse has been developed over 20 years from a neglected orchard and field creating an array of different areas.  From the main lawn, with its serpentine mixed borders, one is led to the Cottage & White Gardens, the Rose Garden, Hot & Funereal borders, Pond Garden, Barn Garden, Woodland & Bog garden and finally the Vegetable Garden.
the bay garden
Tombrick Gardens
The garden has been developed since 1989 from a green field site.  A wide variety of trees now shelter this 1.5 acre plot which includes an orchard, a woodland are and borders of herbaceous perennials, roses and shrubs combining to create a tapestry of colour.  Water from a nearby stream has been used to create a number of ponds around which are areas for ornamental poultry to wander freely.
 
Woodville House Gardens
A Victorian walled garden, 1.2 acres in size with conservatories, vegetable garden, fruit trees, herbaceous borders and lawn.  A striking feature of the garden is the original box hedging proudly maintained by the present owner.  The garden is also extensively planted with several varieties of apple, pear and cherry.  The water garden is tranquil haven of shade and water-loving plants.
woodville31.dib

Dublin Airport, VIP And Business Services

Dublin Airport, VIP And Business Services
 
If you are travelling from or to Dublin Airport you avail of the extra VIP treatment on offer. This gives you the option to relax while waiting for your flight. The staff takes care of you and your luggage. It gives you access to exclusive VIP features such as private suites, private check-in and luggage handling, private security screening area, chauffeur service to your aircraft, luxury shower room to refresh yourself before or after your flight, personal shopping service and complimentary refreshments such as a massage.
DAA business services
When flying from Dublin Airport
Your Fresh Eire Adventures representative will say farewell and pass you into the charge of a VIP representative. They will then check you in and take care of your luggage, passport and boarding pass, and escort you to your private suite. Here, you can enjoy complimentary refreshments to make sure that you arrive revitalized and fresh. When it is time to depart, the staff member will come to pick you up and will guide you through private security. A chauffeur service will drive you to your aircraft in a limousine.
 
When flying to Dublin Airport
Your flight will be tracked to make sure that you will be greeted by a staff member when you arrive. Once there, you will be assisted with passing through the Immigration and Customs services. Afterwards, you can relax and make use of the complimentary refreshments and the luxury shower room. In the meantime, someone from the VIP staff will collect your luggage and coordinate its transfer with your Fresh Eire Adventures representative.
Please contact vip@daa.ie for further information and bookings or call +353 1 814 4895.

 

Dublin - Day Trip To Newgrange

Dublin - Day Trip To Newgrange
 
Brú Na Bóinne is about 8 km inland from Drogheda and is the name given to an area rich in archaeological remains which include Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, situated within a bend in the River Boyne. In recognition of the international importance of these monuments and the many associated sites in the area, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has designated Brú Na Bóinne a World Heritage Site.
 
Constructed during the Neolithic or Stone Age, the passage tombs at Brú Na Bóinne are about 5000 years old. The people who built these monuments belonged to a thriving farming community who used simple tools of wood and stone. Nevertheless, they had within their society expertise in architecture, engineering, geology, art and astronomy. As the name implies, passage tombs consist of a passage leading into a chamber where the remains of the dead were placed. A large mound of stones or earth covers the passage and chamber, which in turn is retained at is base by large boulders, called kerbstones. The time and labour invested in the construction of the tombs implies a well-organised society with specialized groups responsible for different aspects of work.
 newgrange 3
Description
 
The passage at Newgrange points to the south east and is just less than 19 metres long. It leads into a chamber with three recesses. A corbelled roof covers the chamber. To construct the roof, the builders overlapped layers of large rocks until the roof could be sealed with a capstone, 6 metres above the floor. After 5000 years the roof at Newgrange is still waterproof. The flat-topped cairn or mound covering the chamber is almost 0.5 ha. in extend. It is roughly circular and is estimated to weigh 200,000 tonnes in total. It is made up of water-rolled stone from the terraces of the River Boyne. Excavations showed that white quartz stone, from quartz veins in the Wicklow Mountains and other areas and round granite boulders, from the Mourne and Carlingford areas, were used to build a revetment wall above the kerb along the front of south side of the mound. As is usual in Irish passage tombs, the recess on the right as one enters is the largest and most ornate. On its floor are two stone basins, one inside the other. The upper basin, worked with flint tools from granite, is a superb example of the skill of the Neolithic craft workers. The lower stone basin must have been positioned before the roof was closed because it would have been too large to bring inside once the chamber had been completed. The other two recesses have sandstone basins – treasure hunters broke the basin in the back recess at the end of the 18th century.
 
These basins held the remains of the dead although how many people were buried at Newgrange is unknown because the chamber was disturbed before archaeological excavation took place. However, the remains of at least five people were recovered during excavation. Most of the bones found had been cremated although small amounts were unburned. Grave goods of chalk and bone beads and pendants, as well as some polished stone balls were placed with the dead. Presumably these objects held a special significance in the burial ritual.
 
Art
 
The art of the passage tomb builders has stimulated interest since the monuments first came to notice. Some of the art is spectacular – wonderful combinations of spirals, lozenges, chevrons, triangles and arrangements of parallel lines and arcs. The designs were first lightly incised and then picked out with a flint of quartz point. Sometimes the area around a design was picked away to form a relief or else the entire stone was pick-dressed after the designs were completed. The entrance stone at Newgrange and Kerbstone 52 at the back of the monument are highly-accomplished pieces of sculpture, regarded as some of the finest achievements of European Neolithic Art.
 
The designs on many stones continue on to surfaces now hidden. Excavation revealed that many stones are carved on their undersides and on the sides turned inwards to the cairn. Whatever their significance to the artists, it was apparently not always important for the whole design to be visible. Perhaps the art was to be seen by the spirits of the dead or the deities. Perhaps the act of carving transformed the stone into something extraordinary and that once this had been done, it was no longer necessary for the art to be seen. Whatever the significance of the art to the builders of these monuments, we can no longer interpret it.
 
 
Winter Solstice
 
Of the many notable features at Newgrange, certainly the most famous is the small opening, the roof box, situated above the passage entrance and discovered in 1963 during archaeological excavations. At dawn on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (December 21st), and for a number of days before and after, a shaft of sunlight enters the chamber through an opening in the roof-box. The rays first hit the edge of the broken basin stone at the back of the chamber floor and then, as the sun rises higher, the beam broadens and moves down the passage. The alignment is so accurate that there is very little chance that it was accidental. Modern research suggests that Newgrange is probably the oldest known deliberately aligned structure anywhere in the world.
 
Astronomical calculations have now proved that, 5000 years ago, the initial thin beam of light would have reached the right back wall of the chamber. That it no longer does so is due to changes in the earth’s orbit relative to the sun over the intervening years.
 
To the Neolithic farmers the winter solstice marked the start of a new year, a sign of rebirth promising renewed life to crops. It may also have served as a powerful symbol of the inevitable victory of life over death, perhaps promising new life to the spirits of the dead.
 
Late Neolithic / Early Bronze Age: Beaker People
 
Around 2000 BC, new people or new ideas reached Ireland. Called the Beaker Period because of the distinctive pottery type associated with it, this time coincides with the rise of metalworking, even though stone tools continued to be used. When Beaker people were living beside Newgrange the monument had fallen into disuse and its entrance was probably blocked by the collapsed cairn. However, its attraction as a focal point of ritual had not waned. Within 10 metres of the passage tomb, Beaker people constructed a huge enclosure which served as a religious centre as important in its day as the passage tomb had been. Archaeological excavations revealed it to be a large double circle of wooden posts (c. 100m. in diameter). Within which portions of animals were cremated and buried in pits. Archaeologists refer to this monument as the Pit Circle.
 
Stone Circle
 
Newgrange is also surrounded by a circle of standing stones whose purpose are unclear although recent research indicates that it could have had an astronomical function. The Stone Circle was erected sometime after 2000 BC since excavations have shown that one of the stones of the circle lies directly on top of the Early Bronze Age Pit Circle. Originally, there may have been more stones, which have since been dislodged. This was the final phase of building at Newgrange.
 
From the Celts to the Present
 
With the coming of the Celts about 500 years BC, Newgrange was transformed from a place where people gathered into a place where their deities lived. In Celtic mythology, Newgrange or Síd im Brúg (the Fairy Mound of the Brú) as it was then known was the home of the greatest of the Celtic gods, Dagda Mór and his son Oengus. The stories of these deities inspired such awe that Newgrange was revered even by visitors from Roman Britain as late as 400 AD. Their votive offerings of coins and jewellery were recovered from around the periphery of the entrance to the tomb. Even though Newgrange appeared as a large overgrown mound, it was recognized as a construction rather than a natural feature, but lay undisturbed most likely because of superstition, well into the Christian era.
newgrange
After the foundation of the Cistercian Abbey at nearby Mellifont in 1142, the land around Newgrange was acquired by the order. It became a grange, an outlying farm, of the abbey thus giving the passage tomb and the surrounding townland its modern name.
 
The chamber at Newgrange has been accessible in modern times since 1699. Newgrange became a place of interest to various antiquarians and reports on it are well documented. However, it was until 1962 that the major excavation of the site began under the direction of Professor M. J. O’Kelly. After the excavation, he directed the conservation and restoration of the monument. The interior passage was straightened and, to relieve the pressure of the weight of the cairn on it, it was enclosed within a second passage (now unseen). The original façade of white quartz and granite was rebuilt using stone found at the site, its height and angle deduced from how the original wall had collapsed.
 
Newgrange, as well as the other passage tombs of Knowth and Dowth are protected and managed by the Office of Public Works. Access to Newgrange is through the Visitor Centre at Brú na Bóinne. (This publication is reproduced with kind permission and original copies can be found free of charge at the OPW site at Newgrange Co. Meath)

Aran Islands - Inis Mhór Day Trip From Galway

Aran Islands – Inis Mhór day trip from Galway
 
On the West coast of Ireland you can find the Aran Islands. Inis Mhór, which means the big island, has a lot of things to offer most notably Dun Aonghasa described below.  Inis Meain, the second largest of the islands and home to Ferboy's Fort, Conor's Fort, Saint Kenderrig's grave, dramatic cliffs and beautiful beaches.  Inis Oirr, at 3km x 3km, is the smallest of the Aran Islands but very distinctive in its own right, boasts white sandy beaches, views of the Cliffs of Moher and the Plassy shipwreck are among its key features.

There are two ways to get to Inis Mor, by boat or by plane. From Galway, the boat of Aran Island Ferries will take you there by way of a bus shuttle to the ferry port of Rosaveal. Travelling by plane will result in a return ticket with Aer Arann Islands. Both give a different perspective and point of view of the big island. Once you set foot on the island, you can rent a bike and cycle around the island.
 
 
Dun Aonghasa daytrip from Galway
 
Who Angus was is unknown. According to legend, Aonghus belonged to a high-ranking dynasty who were displaced from their lands in Co. Meath in the early centuries AD. Another possible candidate, is Aonghus Mac Natfráich, King of Cashel in the 5th century AD, who had dynastic affiliations with Aran.
dun aoghasa22
Recent excavations by a team from The Discovery Programme found evidence for human activity on the hilltop stretching over two and a half thousand years (c. 1500BC – 1000AD). First enclosed ca. 1100BC, the most dynamic period in the history of this hillfort was around 800BC. At that time, Dún Aonghasa was probably the political, economic and ritual centre for a group of people with a common ancestry. Only the elite members of this group would have lived in the fort. After 700BC, the importance of the site waned and, over the following thousand years, it seems to have been occupied only intermittently. A major rebuilding programme was undertaken in the Early Medieval period (500 – 1000AD) but the fort was abandoned shortly afterwards. Dún Aonghasa became a National Monument at the end of the 19th century and was extensively repaired shortly afterwards. It is now conserved by the Office of Public Works.
 
The Late Bronze Age Hillfort
 
Covering an area of 5.7 hectares (14 acres), the interior of the hillfort is divided into an outer, middle and inner enclosure by three curvilinear walls terminating at the cliff. An additional stretch of wall runs along west side and, when the fort was occupied, there was probably a ‘safety wall’ along the cliff-edge. Outside the middle closure is a broad band of chevaux de frise (closely-set stone pillars) that even today are difficult to negotiate.

The original approach to the fort was from the north and the main entrances through the outer and middle walls face in this direction. Today, the entry point is through a breach in the outer wall, but the original doorway can be seen at some distance to the right.
 
Middle Enclosure
 
The original doorway to the middle enclosure, about 50m to the right of the present entrance, is now blocked up because of the poor condition of the roof lintels. The entrance would have been closed off by a wooden gate and the sudden drop inside the threshold was probably designed to trip any unwanted visitors. The bodies of two young men were interred in the paved entrance around 1000AD. These may have had Viking connections but there was no evidence to suggest that they died violently.
 
Inner Enclosure
 
The inner enclosure wall measuring 5m in width, was built up in layers so that the foundations could be stepped over rising ground. Originally, it was probably about 6m high and ca. 6500 tonnes of stone were used in its construction. The terrace on the interior gave access to the wall top and the small chamber in the west side of the wall may have been used for storing precious or perishable goods.
 
Lifestyle
 
The stone foundations of seven houses were found in the inner enclosure. The floors were paved and a number had a stone hearth. The outline of a circular house, ca 5m in diameter, is still visible near the west wall. Its foundations are partly covered by the enclosing wall, indicating that the house predates the final alterations to the defences. A stone trough the outside door was probably used either for storing water, keeping shellfish fresh or for boiling meat using the hot-stone cooking method. In addition to meat and cereals, fish and shellfish were an important part of the diet of the Late Bronze Age occupants. Almost 8 tonnes of limpet shells were found during the excavations. Most of the tools in everyday use (hammers, axes, whetstones and quern stones) were made from stone. Clothing was made from wool or leather and fastened with bone pins; the range of needle types found also showed that the Late Bronze Age people used a wide variety of organic materials.
dun aoghasa 21
Ritual
 
The rock platform at the cliff edge may have had a ritual or ceremonial function and a hoard of four bronze rings deliberately buried beside it was probably an offering to a deity. At the opposite end of the inner enclosure, a large hearth seems to have been associated with communal feasting and with the casting of bronze weapons and tools.
 

History of Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara

The history of Ballynahinch Castle, the 'household of the Island'

Ballynahinch Castle Plaque 1

Ballynahinch Castle has been interwined in the history of Connemara and its people for centuries, from the recorded battle between the O’Flahertys and O’Malleys, in 1384, to the visit by all the Lord Mayors and Mayors of Ireland and some from overseas, to celebrate the Quincentennial year of Galway city receiving its charter.
Ballynahinch i.e. Baile na hlnse, means ‘household of the Island’, and refers to the O’Flaherty Castle built on an Island in the lake.

The O’Flahertys

The land of Lar Connaught stretched from the Castle at Bunowen and the plain of Murrisk in Mayo over to Moycullen on the banks of Lough Corrib.  This was the land of the O’Flaherty Clan, lords of Connaught and masters of Ballynahinch.  It was into this family that the most famous resident of Ballynahinch married; this was Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen of Connaught, who married Donal O’Flaherty or Dónal-an-Chogaidh (Donal of the battles).  This was about the year of 1546 when Grace was sixteen.  The marriage united two of the most powerful families in the country and bonded the lands of Murrisk and lar Connaught.  Ballynahinch was just one of the many Castles the O’Flahertys held.  The others were at Aughnanure, Doon, Moycullen, Bunowen and Renvyle.  

Donal at this time was tanist or heir apparent to Donal Crone, ruler of all Connaught.  Grace divided her time between Bunowen and Ballynahinch, Bunowen being the newer building of the two.  She gave birth to four children and on the death of Donal (it was said that he was murdered by the Joyce Clan as revenge for the seizure of Hen’s Castle on Lough Corrib) Grace took over as head of her family – some said she was a better “man” than her dead husband.  Her life as a pirate is well known, as is her famous meeting with Queen Elizabeth 1st in September 1593. These two formidable ladies met on equal terms as monarch to monarch.  They spoke in Latin, and of the only Gaelic woman ever to appear in court it was written: “In the wild grandeur of her mien erect and high Before the English Queen she dauntless stood.”  The mystery of where her last resting place is has never been solved but it is generally thought to be Clare Island in Clew Bay.  She died in 1603 – the same year as Queen Elizabeth the 1st. 

In 1584 the Queen appointed Murrough-ne-Doe O’Flaherty as head of the Clan against the wishes of the vast majority of the O’Flahertys, thus causing a split in the clan.  In this same year Murrough-ne-Doe captured the fortress of Ballynahinch, but Grace’s sons, Owen and Murrough, recaptured it later in 1584.  Murrough, son of Grace, retained possession of the castle until early in the seventeenth century.  A sad footnote to the O’Flaherty connection with Ballynahinch – In 1586 Sir Richard Bingham, governor of Connaught, and arch-enemy of Grace, appointed his brother Captain John Bingham as a lieutenant of the area.  In the same year, 1586, Captain Bingham, with 500 men, captured Owen O’Flaherty and eighteen of his followers, along with four thousand cattle, five hundred stud mares and horses, and a thousand sheep.  With the livestock and men, he went to Ballynahinch. 

A contemporary account describes Owen’s last hours. “That evening he (John Bingham) caused the said eighteen persons without trial or good cause, to be hanged.  The next night following a false alarm was raised in the camp in the dead of night, the said Owen being fast bound in the cabin of Grene O’Molloy (Grace O’Malley) and at that instant the said Owen was cruelly murdered, having twelve deadly wounds, and in that miserable spot he ended his years unfortunate days.”   Now if anyone has a good reason to haunt the Castle it is Owen O’Flaherty.  The connection with Grace is kept to this day with a portrait of her by American artist, Cleeve Miller, which hangs in Fisherman’s Pub.  The decline of the O’Flaherty family towards the end of the sixteenth century is marked by their recognition of the Queen’s Lord Deputy.  In 1590 Robert Martin bought their estate at Ross outside Galway.

 

ballynahinch home 1 1

 

The Martins

The Martins trace their ancestry back to the Crusader, Sir Oliver Martin, who received his armorial bearings from Richard the Lion-Heart, with the pious motto: “Auxilium Meum Domino”.  He came to Ireland with Strongbow during the Norman invasion in 1169, and settled for a while in Limerick.  His family established themselves as one of the Fourteen Tribes of Galway.  The Martins were the first of the tribes to venture outside the safety of the walled city of Galway.  The O’Flaherty’s still kept a jealous eye on the Martins after they had sold to Robert, and in later years they were to kill a son of Nimble Dick, a great grandson of Robert, who lived at Dangan on the (then) outskirts of Galway.  It was in that house that Richard Martin, “Humanity Dick”, was born in 1754. 
The present house at Ballynahinch was built by Richard’s father as an inn, so history repeats itself and has come in a full circle once again.  The house was extensively renovated about 1813 and Humanity Dick moved there permanently.  Hardiman recorded in 1820 – 
“Dangan of late years has been suffered to go to considerable decay”

This move thereby made Ballynahinch the principal seat of the Martin family.  Richard Martin was indeed a most colourful man in the mould of his good friend the Prince Regent, later King George IV.  His lifestyle was opulent and he was well known for his lavish parties – which later contributed to his money troubles.  He was also known for his duelling skills which earned him his second nickname, “Hair-Trigger Dick” He was the leading exponent of duelling in Galway, and prior to each encounter he would display an old wound to his opponent with the comment –
“Let this be your target, Sir”
His opponents were never on target but he usually was.  Ballynahinch Castle was host to many famous people during the early part of the nineteenth century.  Maria Edgeworth, author of “Castle Rackrent”, was one such visitor in 1834, and on arrival was personally brought a glass of port by her host.  Of the food at Ballynahinch Miss Edgeworth made the comment –
“It is worthy of the greatest gourmet”
Hopefully, if she returned today, she would say likewise.  Daniel O’Connell stayed a night and had lunch the next day before going to Clifden to address a Repeal meeting.  The story goes that he spoke to the throng in English and only about 30% of them understood him.  One hundred years later Eamon de Valera came to Clifden and addressed the crowd in Irish, and, as before, only about 30% of the listeners understood him!
In his travel log, “An Irish Sketch Book”, W.M. Thackeray wrote –
“O you who laboriously throws flies in English Rivers, and catch at the expiration of a day’s walking casting and wadeing two or three feeble little trout of two or three ounces in weight, how you would rejoice to have but one hour’s sport on Derryclare or Ballynahinch; where you have but cast, and lo! A big trout springs to your fly”.
And, also, it is nice to think that if Thackeray were to fish here again today he would not go away disappointed.  One other notable visitor at this time was tutor to the Martin children who fell hopelessly in love with Richard Martin’s wife, Harriet, - he was one Theobald Wolfe Tone.  Richard Martin was M.P. for the area, and during one election campaign he called on his duelling for the answer to the question of who was going to win.  His reply was –

“The survivor, Sir”

As M.P. he introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1822, the “Cruelty to Animals Act”.  As a result of the bill being passed the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed, and it is for this reason that Richard Martin is most fondly remembered as “Humanity Dick”.  It was a final gesture on his part for, not long after, he lost his seat at Westminster.  It was at this time, under pressure from creditors, that he left Ireland, never to return for he died in Boulogne, France, in 1834.  Asked on his death bed why he was so kind to animals and so ruthless to humans his last words are reputed to have been –
“Did you ever see an ox with a pistol?”
Then he died, and thus passed on the king of Connemara, the master of Ballynahinch, and the man who owned the longest driveway in the world –
“Forty one miles from Galway to his front door at the Castle”.
Richard’s Town house in Galway still stands in Quay Street, it is now occupied by Naughtons pub and in the first floor, the aptly named “Humanity Dick’s” Restaurant.  After the death of Thomas Martin (Richard’s Heir) who died of famine fever, the heavily encumbered estate was left to his daughter Mary (a prolific novelist).  She left the country to avoid the debts and died in The Union Place Hotel, New York not long after her arrival in America.  Her death was brought about by the anxious voyage and the birth of a child in board the ship.

The Martin family had other notable members in more recent times.  One was Violet Martin of Ross House near Oughterard.  Under the pen-name of Ross she became famous as half of the literary partnership of Somerville and Ross, who wrote the “Irish R.M.” stories.  Another was the writer Edward Martin of Tullyra Castle, near Loughrea, Co. Galway.  Along with Lady Gregory of Coole and the poet W.B. Yeats he founded the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and it was as a result of his generous patronage the Palestrina Choir of the Pro-Cathedral was founded.

After the Great Famine the Martins huge estate was sold up through the Encumbered Estates Court.  The purchasers, the London Law Life Assurance Company of London, later sold it to Richard Berridge.  It was the Berridge family who restored and enlarged the Castle to its present day structure.  The Berridges were highly respected landlords, and were most kind and considerate to all their tenants.  The lakes of Upper and Lower Ballynahinch, Derryclare, and Lough Inagh were all part of the estate.  This continued up to the mid-fifties when a vast part of the lands were sold during the ownership of Mr. Noel Huggard.

Ballynahinch Library 1

“Ranji”

After the Berridge family the Castle passed into the hands of His Highness the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanager, better known as Ranjitsinhji, or Ranji Prince of Cricketers.  Ranji had come to know Ballynahinch through its famous fisheries and in 1924 he purchased the property from the Berridge family.  He had fallen in love with the beautiful and rugged scenery of Connemara, and wished to own part of it.  It was Ranji who was responsible for most of the landscaping of the gardens and woods, plus the erection of the fishing piers and huts along the river.  He was a fabulously wealthy man, having property in England, and, of course, his many palaces in India.  He is best known as a world class cricketer and is regarded as second only to the legendary W.G. Grace, of whom Ranji was a team mate.  He still holds many cricket records, and has two mentions in The Guinness Book of Records, which have yet to be broken. 

But it was Ballynahinch which granted him most pleasure in his later years.  He arrived every summer, around June.  In Galway before coming to Ballynahinch he would buy five motorcars, two limousines and three smaller cars, and when leaving for India in October, he would give the cars to the locals as gifts – one maybe to the parish priest, to the local vicar, etc. and this was done each and every year!  The avenue up to the Castle was covered with marble chips, which were raked every day.  Each year on Ranji’s birthday a party was held for all the staff who worked for him.  The party was held in the billiard room (the present day bar).  He served the guests himself, and had a truck outside the door to take home the by now well-intoxicated staff.  He had his own train carriage from Galway to Clifden, stopping off at Ballynahinch station (the Galway-Clifden line closed down in 1936) and as he neared the station, the locals placed fire crackers on the line as a sign of welcome.  The locals and his many Indian servants seemed to co-exist happily, and two of his nieces went to school at nearby Kylemore Abbey.  Due to a shooting accident in Scotland Ranji lost his right eye, and this injury ended any hopes of his carrying on his cricketing. He had a glass eye, and, in one of his palaces in India, one can see five spare glass eyes on display.

When word got back to Ballynahinch that he had died of an asthmatic attack the locals did not believe it as the date was April 1st, 1932, All Fools Day! This time it was no joke, but the truth.  In September 1983 one of the most famous gillies ever to work in Ballynahinch died.  His name was Frank Cummins.  The day before he died he was still remembering fondly the pair of ruby cufflinks that Ranji had given him over fifty years before.  The kindly Indian Prince still lives fondly in the memories of the locals old enough to remember the Prince of Cricketers. 

Ballynahinch Beat 1 with Fisherman 7 1

Modern Times

After the death of Ranji the Castle passed into the hands of his nephew Dulipsinhji who sold it to the McCormack family from Dublin.  It was in 1946 when the Tourist Board took possession that the many years of private ownership came to an end. 
This takeover gave a new lease of life to an old House, for it was insured that Ballynahinch Castle did not go the way of so many other stately houses, either being burned to the ground or stripped of its materials, as happened in the Castle of Dunsandle house, and Smiths of Maysinbrooke.  For the first time the world famous fisheries were open to the public, and they took advantage of it.  During this time the Castle played host to Eamon de Valeria.  His signature is the first to be seen in the old visitors’ book.  The writer Liam O’Flaherty was a regular visitor.  Sir Alec Guinness, the actor, also stayed here, as did many other celebrities.  The Irish Tourist Board (the forerunner of Bórd Fáilte) held the Castle until the early nineteen fifties when Mr. Noel Huggard took over the running of the Hotel in conjunction with Ashford Castle.  From a tourist Guide in 1954 we can now see how prices have changed since then – 
“Fully licensed: From 10 to 11 guns. B & B from 16/-; Meals: Lunch 6/- to 7/-; Tea 2/6 to 3/6; Dinner 10/6 to 12/6; (5 private bathrooms). Dogs not allowed.”

It is nice to think that we still have guests who first came in those days.  The slight rise in prices does not seem to deter them.  As was stated before Mr. Huggard disposed of a large part of the estate, including the fisheries of Inagh and Derryclare, and sold Ballynahinch Castle and Fishery in 1957 to an American businessman, Mr. Edward Ball. Mr. Ball in turn sold turn sold shares in the Castle to many friends and business associates.  In 1978 when Mr. Ball was 89 and no longer traveling overseas he resigned as president of the corporation and nominated Raymond Mason for that post.  Under his direction the Castle has undergone extensive renovation, and all-round standards have been improved.  In 1981 the former President of America, Mr. Gerard Ford, and his wife Betty were guests of the Masons at Ballynahinch, as was former British Prime Minister James Callaghan.  Ballynahinch has seen many changes since the days of “the ferocious O’Flahertys” over 700 years ago.  It has been the home to many great and generous people.  It has seen hardship – during the Great Famine of 1847 it was shelter for many starving people; it has seen great opulence and lavish parties; but, no matter what was placed in front of it, it lived on, and today the Castle takes a well-deserved rest as a leisurely retreat for the fisherman and a relaxing Hotel which caters for its Guests in a way that is personal, professional, and with the friendly Connemara touch. 

Stay at Ballynahinch Castle on our Deluxe Connemara or Burren Islands and Connemara Bike Tours

Reproduced with kind permission of Ballynahinch Castle and Des Lally.

Cultural Vandalism - Centuries of Ireland's census records destroyed

How centuries of census records were destroyed

Was it the most despicable act of cultural vandalism ever perpetrated in the name of Irish freedom, or just the most unfortunate piece of collateral damage wrought by a savage civil War? A century on, the destruction of priceless documents in the Public records Office remains a matter of hot dispute.


In April 1922, six months after the Anglo-Irish Treaty brought the War of Independence to an unsteady end, 200 anti-Treaty IRA men took over the Four Courts.  Bedding in for a long siege, they aimed to force the British back to arms, which they hoped in turn would reunite the pro- and anti-Treaty Irish camps.  Late June arrived with the rebels still dug in.  The British, with thousands of troops still in Ireland awaiting evacuation, pressurised the pro-Treaty side to take action.


Fearing threats of a terrifying new, scaled-up British invasion, the Provisional government of Arthur-Griffith and Michael Collins had to get tough. On June 27th, the rebels were given an ultimatum to get out – or else.


A great deal of what happened over the next 48 hours is hazy.  Most historians believe Collins gave the order to open fire with rifles and artillery, but others dispute this.  Anti-Treatyites claimed they were preparing for an 8am evacuation when the bombardment began around daybreak.  The rebels’ position was hopeless, but several hours before they surrendered a massive explosion shot a towering mushroom cloud into the sky. Raining down on the Liffey like black snow were the fitters of countless pages documenting Irish history, some dating back to the 13th century.  

 

The blowing up of the Public Records Office destroyed the Irish census returns of 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851.  Most of the wills and testamentary records that had ever been proved in the country were incinerated, along with more than half of all the Church of Ireland records dating back to the establishment of Ireland’s Anglican church.  Centuries of unique law court and local government records went up in smoke.


The recriminations and conspiracy theories continue to this day. Some think the records were wantonly destroyed as another nailing the coffin of the British rule, while others have claimed the records Office was booby-trapped to kill Free Staters reclaiming the building.  Perhaps the most widely held view is that smell hit two truckloads of gelignite in the rebels’’ ammunition store, making the catastrophe an unhappy accident.

 

Reproduced by kind permission of Irish writer Damian Corless.  Follow Damian on Twitter or see his website for for details on many related titles he has published.

And if you are interested in history and genealogy and want to know more, consider having a look at our Genealogy and Bespoke tours !

Ballyfin Demense - the ultimate in Irish luxury

Yesterday I saw a most delightful place indeed, much beyond any place I have seen in Ireland – Ballyfin

- Lady Kildare, 1759

For centuries the enchanting beauties of Ballyfin have been admired by visitors like Lady Kildare from Carton House in the adjoining county.  Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the centre of Ireland, it is a place of history and romance, of tranquillity and great natural beauty. Stone walls enclose 600 acres of parkland, a lake and ancient woods, delightful garden buildings, follies and grottoes abound. Ballyfin is steeped in Irish history and the site has long been admired as the most lavish regency mansion in Ireland, the work of the great Irish architects Sirs Richard (1767–1849) and William Morrison (1794–1838).

small ballyfn 1
Over the last decade the magnificent estate has been painstakingly restored to become a small hotel like no other.  Indeed, after eight years of restoration aiming at returning Ballyfin as closely as possible to how it functioned when it was built, the estate re-opened in May 2011 as a 5 star country house hotel.  It offers the very best of Irish hospitality in the most beautiful surroundings imaginable.  Ballyfin is the perfect place for a break from the stresses of the modern world and provides discretion and privacy like few other destinations.

 

small ballyfn 2

Its comfort lends itself to family celebrations, its magnificent grandeur makes it perfect for weddings while its unparalleled seclusion and privacy makes it an ideal setting for business retreats.  Hence why we recommend at least a two night stay at Ballyfin at the end of any Bespoke Ireland trip before returning home, and is the ideal property for those discerning guests who expect exclusive use.

 

 

 

Ashford Castle Estate; accepting visitors since 1228!

Ashford Castle
Hotel & Country Estate.

ashfordcastle

Founded in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family to be their principal stronghold, the original Castle of Cong remained ruled for some 350 years before Queen Elizabeth I recertified the Castle as a British fortress in 1589.  Ownership then turned to the Oranmore and Browne family in 1715, who first named it Ashford Castle.  They were responsible for the building of a French château at the centre part of the Castle.  

Later, in 1852, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness purchased Ashford and extended the estate to 26,000 acres, building new roads and planting thousands of trees and adding two large Victorian style extensions.  The estate and Castle then passed to his son Lord Ardilaun in 1868; who welcomed the Prince of Wales in 1905, for which the George V Dining Room and Prince of Wales Bar were built to celebrate.  In 1915 Ashford was retained by the Iveagh Trust on behalf of the Guinness family until it was leased by Noel Huggard in 1939.  Huggard established the Castle as a first class hotel renowned for the provision of its country pursuits.  As a hotel it changed hands many times, notably in 1970 by renowned hotelier John Mulcahy who developed the golf course, and in 1985 by a group of Irish American investors.  In 2008 the hotel was bought by local entrepreneur Gerry Barrett. 

Since 2013, Ashford Castle is part of Red Carnation Hotel Collection and has been lovingly restored to fully reflect the Castle’s extensive history and Irish heritage. Ashford Castle was voted in 2015 the Best Hotel in the World, by Virtuoso

 

The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and directed by the legendary John Ford, is a 1951 romantic love story.  The Quiet Man was filmed in and around the village of Cong, Co Mayo including much of the grounds of Ashford Castle.  The film received a total of seven Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars.  Guests can visit many of the film locations including The Quiet Man Cottage Museum and Pat Cohen’s Bar, complete with replica of the interiors featured in the film.  Alternatively, guests can sit back and rekindle The Quiet Man experience in the Castle’s luxurious cinema.

 

Ireland’s School of Falconryfalconry2

Ireland’s School of Falconry was founded in 1999 and is the oldest established Falconry School in Ireland.  Home to the largest and most diverse collection of Harris hawks, it offers guests the chance to fly hawks around the spectacular Ashford Castle grounds and woodlands.  Six instructors are on hand all year round to introduce guests to the 20 Harris hawks a species renowned for its’ easy-going temperament and unusually sociable nature, one Eurasian eagle owl and four falcons who all call the Falconry School their home.  A hawk walk is highly recommended.

 

We recommend Ashford Castle on our Deluxe Bespoke tours, while our Deluxe and Classic Connemara Bike tours end with a stay in The Lodge At Ashford Castle.

Grace O'Malley - The Pirate Queen

Grace O’Malley (Granuaile) 
An icon of 16th Century Ireland

The Pale had been established in Ireland in 1488.  English rule was mostly confined to that area.  Elsewhere the country was ruled by Anglo Irish Lords and Gaelic Chieftains who lived in castles.  Some of them got embroiled in English conflicts beyond these shores which had repercussions here; others were busy enough feuding and fighting among themselves.


The ordinary people, as always, struggled on in the hope of better days and survived on oatmeal, milk, butter, watercress and wild herbs.  They valued animals for their skin, wool and milk rather than for their meat.  The only language they knew was Irish (Gaelic), their only law was administrated by the local Chieftain through his breitheamh and their souls were in the hands of friars.  Some Chieftains and their families also spoke Latin which was essential for trading with foreigners.  One of these Chieftains was Owen O’Malley whose comparatively small territory on the shores of Clew Bay, Co Mayo was surrounded to the north and east by MacWilliam Burke of Mayo and to the south by O’Flaherty.


The year was 1530.  Ferdinand Magellan’s Portuguese ship had made history and circumnavigated the world.  Construction of the Basilica of St. Peters had recently begun, Martin Luther was preparing to break with Rome.  In England, Henry VIII was about to be bewitched by the charms of Anne Boleyn.  And on the west coast of Ireland, pounded by the Atlantic gales, was born Grace O’Malley, also known as Granuaile*, destined to become an outstanding woman of courage and adventure.


The environment she grew up in was dominated by fishing and trading.  Survival meant sailing to distant shores to trade for silks, wines and spices in return for wool, linen and hides.  Grace loved the sea and soon learned to navigate . When she married an O’Flaherty, she became a tough fighter and leader and often led raids on other ships.  After the death of her husband she proved to be a stout defender in fights both against other clans and against the English who were now determined to extend their rule across the country.


She returned to her native Clare Island castle and made a name for herself as a seafarer, trader and pirate.  Piracy was rife in those days and foreign ships were considered fair game.  She married Richard Burke and lived with him at his castle at Rockfleet until his death.  She was friendly with the two great Ulster chieftains O’Neill and O’Donnell.  This was viewed with suspicion by the English who greatly feared their growing power and influence.


English rule in the area was in the control of Sir Richard Bingham, governor of Connaught.  He was ruthless and unfair and Grace fell foul of him. Her livestock was confiscated, her son murdered, another thrown in prison.  So she bravely set sail for London to seek an audience with Queen Elizabeth I to plead for her son’s release and the return of her property.  Her boldness was rewarded and her request granted.  She returned to Rockfleet in triumph.


During her final years she heard of the defeat of her old allies in the Battle of Kinsale. It must have saddened her to realise that she was among the last of the Chieftains and that her death marked the end of a significant era in Ireland’s history.

*Grace O’Malley is popularly called Granuaile.  The story goes that she tried to sneak aboard her father’s ship which was about to set off on a voyage, and cut off her hair so as to look like a boy.  This caused great amusement when she was discovered and her father is supposed to have laughingly called her Granuaile (the Irish word maol means 'bald').

Reproduced by kind permission of Greenleaf Publications Ltd.

To learn more about the Irish Pirate Queen, and to see some of her ruined castles from your saddle, take one of our Connemara Castle & Manor,  or  Burren, Aran Islands and Connemara bike tour.  #pedalon

Waterford - Bike tour: Attractions, Hotels & Restaurants

Waterford

Waterford city is located in the south east coast of Ireland and is known to be the most ancient town of the country. Throughout its history, Waterford was coveted by the Vikings and English who successively failed to conquer the city until 1650, earning it the name of «Urbs Intacta Magnet Waterfordia» (Waterford remains the untaken city) and thus acknowledging its fierce resistance. Besides its ancient historical legacy which remains an important part of the city’s architecture and identity, Waterford is recently famous for its crystal and glass production showcasing its unique local know-how and expertise. 

waterford front

 

Hotels

Fitzwhilton hotel

- Fitzwilton Hotel:

Fitzwilton Hotel is a beautiful 4 star boutique luxury hotel located in the centre of Waterford. It is a true institution in terms of luxury, quality and leisure and has a strong modern character in its design. The Fitzwilton Hotel provides large rooms which will perfectly welcome your whole family and its advantageous location will allow you to serenely discover the city. Moreover, you will find on the ground floor of the hotel an excellent restaurant, Chez K’s Bistro, offering a diverse selection of products in order to satisfy everyone’s taste.

 

640px Waterford Castle 9731237454

 

- Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort:

The Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort is an emblematic historical landmark which hosted the famous Fitzgerald family for centuries before being turned into a prestigious hotel. The hotel is located in a private island on the eastern part of Waterford and offers a splendid setting surrounded by nature. It is the perfect place to enjoy intimate holidays and even more if you are a golf fan. Indeed, here you will find Ireland’s only true island golf resort with top facilities.

 

 

Restaurants

- Bodega:
Bodega is one of the most praised restaurants in Waterford because of the quality and freshness of its products. The collaboration with the local food providers allows the restaurant to both put forward the local food scene and offer worldwide famous dishes. This original approach between localism and globalism has been granted several awards reflecting the ever growing demand. Nonetheless, a lunch or dinner at Bodega will guarantee a good experience in a friendly environment with an excellent range of choices for wines or cocktails.

Geoffs

 

- Geoff’s:

Geoff’s is a traditional Irish pub offering great food and drinks. Its central location makes it an excellent place to stop by, either if you want to grab a beer or just taste some local dishes. Either way, you will enjoy an authentic and pleasant ambiance. Despite its popularity with locals which can lead to large crowds, Geoff’s is a place totally worth seeing and experiencing if you come to Waterford!

 

 

Attractions

- Waterford Museums of Treasures:

The Waterford Museums of Treasures are three different museums located each in the historical city centre just a few blocks away from each other. The Medieval Museum, Reginald’s Tower and Bishop’s palace will give you a broader insight regarding the history of the most ancient Irish city and allow you to contemplate sumptuous vestiges of the past. Indeed each museum presents a different aspect and time of Waterford and hence allows everyone to choose what you want to see depending your area of interest. The Reginald's tower is an impressive stone monument which survived throughout the ages, where Vikings used to gather their winnings whereas the Medieval Museum presents treasures from the Middle Ages. The Bishop's Palace is the place where you will find the creations from the last three centuries.

Medieval Museum 2reginaldsBishops Palace Museum 1

 

Waterford Crystal engraved glass

 

- Waterford Crystal Museum:

The Waterford Crystal Museum offers a unique opportunity to its visitors to discover the crystal production from the mould making to the engraving. During the previous centuries, this special know-how has put Waterford on the map makes it the pride of the city. The originality of this museum is the first hand experience provided to visitors, as indeed you can admire the whole production process of true crystal masterpieces.

 

 

512px Golf ball 3

- Golf:
As we previously mentioned, Waterford is a great place to golf in Ireland! In complement to our previous recommendation for Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf resort, we would like to add the Faithlegg Golf Club. It was designed by a famous Irish golf course architect, Mr. Paddy Merrigan, and is known to be a challenging step for golfers of every level. The Faithlegg Golf Club has also great facilities going from a spa to its Red Cedar Lounge which will allow you to profit from the greens as well as the leisure installations in order to fully appreciate your stay in Waterford.

 

- Edmund Rice Museum:

The Edmund Rice Museum is a tribute to a man who dedicated its whole life to the poors and disadvantaged of Waterford. This eponym museum presents the legacy of a man who inspired not only its generation but a whole people. Edmund Rice was a successfull businessman who tragically lost his family and a Roman Catholic philanthropist who dedicated its fortune and time to give a chance to the poor children to receive an education. Its behaviour in troubled times has been a great source of inspiration and a life lessons which still keep on motivating people. 

Dublin - Bike Tour: Cafés & Restaurants

Here are our Top Café & Restaurant Recommendations in Dublin.

Hatch & Sons

Located at the edge of St Stephen Green, Dublin 2, Hatch & Sons offers an authentic Irish food experience served in a beautiful Georgian kitchen. The Irish breakfast is served on a beautiful Irish oak wood board, and the chicken salad comes with refined buttermilk dressing.

Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :

“Excellent quality lunch with a pal, seated on their basement terrace in the sunshine...a wonderful Dublin treat. My fishcakes were superb; served with a light salad. My friends goats cheese salad was also superb. Wonderful food, great setting but service was a little disappointing (I had to send back my white wine - dirty glass, wine not cold)...”

This is a picture of Hatch and Sons Restaurant

 

 

Fade Street Social

Fade Street Social is an excellent restaurant that focuses on combining an uncomplicated way to cook using home grown products to give a rustic and exquisite flavour to their food. Inspired by his artistic mind, Chef Dylan McGrath highlights the importance of simplicity and final taste in his process. The restaurant is based just in front of the Brooks hotel, on the corner of Fade Street and Drury Lane in Dublin 2.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Fade Street Social by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :

“This is really one of the best gastro bargains in Dublin; a recession-busting 3 course gourmet lunch for €25. But don't be in a hurry to enjoy the Fade Street Social experience. On the menu: a choice of 4 mains, 4 starters and 2 deserts. The starters are served with an extra flat bread pizza of mushroom and pumpkin - no one, not even the most famished, will go hungry. My (solitary) scallop was a delight; perfectly cooked and full of flavour. My friend's seasonal vegetable plate was the superior choice however; a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. The accompanying flatbread pizza was exquisite; a taste sensation and an original deviation from the typical bread-in-a-basket. Some might say that this is overkill; that perhaps it is excessive. I, for one, having had just the scallop, was delighted the starter was accompanied by something a tad more substantial than a lone bivalve. We both opted for the ravioli. This was an exquisite dish; a selection of mushrooms (ceps, girolles...) and a sheet of fresh pasta (not parcels as one might expect) in a rich truffle sauce with a fresh gremolta. Perhaps one of the finest plates I had all year thus far. Service was a little haphazzard (although not terrible for a lunch service); our mains went to the other side of the restuarant and it was a minute before they realised for whom they were inteneded, and it took a while (5 minutes) to get the attention of the server when we wanted to pay and leave (he was hanging out by the doorway chatting with the restaurant manager and bar tender and didn't so much as throw a cursory glance in our direction during that 5 minute period). House waters (still and sparkling) were €1 each for a c.600-750ml bottle (great idea as long as you are not after mineral water as my lunch companion was), I had a super glass of Tempranillo (€7) and we enjoyed two Americanos (€3.25 each). Not terribly busy for a Monday lunch; there were perhaps 20-30 diners well spread out in the well appointed airy room. Stylish and comfortable (yet functional) furnishings, a table runner (fussy, unnecessary) and good quality napkins. I did not visit the bathroom. On the other tables: quite conservative looking folks in their mid 30s upwards; couples, friends, business meeting types. On the stereo: inoffensive trendoid tunes. Not in my pocket: €75 including tip. The atmosphere was a little flat; the restaurant manager, while making eye contact and smiling at the guests, did little else to interact with customers; something which (especially in a quiet restaurant) takes very little effort and can go a long way in establishing a long standing rapport. Perhaps most folks wouldn't see this as important, and I admit to being old fashioned when it comes to hospitality, but I believe a Manager should always work the room whenever possible. Overall a fantastic lunch and highly recommended.”

 

Chez Max

Established in 2005 and located on Palace Street at the gates of Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, Chez Max is an excellent French restaurant considered as a traditional French café. The decoration is wonderful and inspired by the Paris Gardens. Chez Max offers delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner all homemade with a Parisian style.

Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :

‘’One of the most authentic French restaurants in town, I recently visisted Chez Max with a couple of friends. The experience was superb from beginning to end. Seated at a central table, we were immediately offered water and drinks by our server who was friendly, informative, efficient and answered our questions confidently and insightfully. The menu is extensive with some true stand out features such as the seared tuna (delicious). 

Some regular wines were a little on the pricey side (Gigondas at €45 per btl, €11.25 a glass) but there are some commendable bottles such as the Riseling at €29. Not the most affordable French bistro in town (€177.25 plus tip; 3 starters, 3 mains, 2 bottles as described, 2 espressos. no desserts) but an outstanding meal nevertheless and therefore great value. Highly recommended.’’

This is a picture of the Restaurant Chez Max

 

Market Bar

Located in front of L’Gueuleton on trendy Fade Street in Dublin 2, the Market Bar is an original gastro bar and an excellent tapas restaurant that offers pretty good snacks (especially the garlic bread and the soup of the day, delicious) and its own range of meats, salads, seafood, pizzas and vegetarian menus. We recommend to try the delicious “Gambas Pil Pil” (it comes with fresh bread) with a glass of red wine; the “Château Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux”.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Market Bar by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :

‘’Wine list is on the value side but offering a fair selection sub 25 euro a bottle while the tapas selection is comprehensive. Excellent calamari, risotto with fish kebabs and simple tortilla are standouts for me. Service is superb and overall this casual dining experience offers excellent value for money.’’

This is a picture of the Market Bar Restaurant in Dublin

 

777

Located on South Great George’s Street, 777 is an authentic Mexican restaurant that successfully combines the bold flavours of Mexico City with the national Irish techniques. Open 7 days a week, 777 offers a modern environment, is friendly,and inspired by the typical image we can have of a Mexican’s interior saloon. This is the best Mexican in Dublin by a long way.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of 777 by Padraic, director and owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :

‘’I had heard much off 777 since it opened some time ago...all positive but I also heard people grumble about the prices. I went along with an open mind and was blown away. What I wasn't expecting was the amazing food on offer (Ireland does not have a good track record of doing Mexican fayre at all well - need I remind anyone of the plethora of Tex Mex menus masquerading as the real deal?) I was also not expecting to be wowed in almost every other way possible. Our server was friendly, chatty, polite, witty and efficient; off to a great start. She also looked the part. They don't take reservations (grumble) but we arrived early and were seated right away. The place filled up within 30 minutes - my advice; get there early! We ordered some excellent cocktails (I had a non-alcoholic ginger based extravaganza - amazingly refreshing and delicious...if not cheap; grumble!) and perused the menus. Lots of choice here for meat eaters and pescatarians / flexitarians alike...vegetarians however have limited choice. The specials were also appetising. While we waited for a third member of our group to join us we ordered some chips and guacamole - again excellent (served in Tacqueria style red plastic basket - small touch adding to the authentic feel of this place). Decor is a mix of Lower East Side NYC art deco of white tile, booths with formica tables...a long elegant bar open to diners with well stocked tidy shelves. Bar tenders knew what they were doing too and made an excellent job of my friend's Maragrita. No table cloths or linen napkins here; but high quality paper napkins and very well cleaned down tables. Dark lighting and blacked out frosted over windows makes this place look a bit like a sex club from the street - not necessarily in a sleazy way but gives a sense of "best kept secret" as you enter. Sure, it's a hipster hangout and is unapologetic about it. This is utterly fine with me; I'm a wannabe hipster who is probably old enough to know better but I like looking at cooler people prettier than myself these days. On the stereo; a strange mix of 80s dance tunes, hip hop and Americana...somehow it worked as it was subtle and more background music than pumping thumping tunes. Womack & Womack meets Don Henly. Who knew? On the other tables: couples on dates, friends having dinner and drinks, after work crowds...buzzing in general. The food was OUTSTANDING - I ordered a special of Shrimp in chipolte, some soft shell tacos with Snapper and shrimp emenadas...all perfectly executed; not fussy and utterly delicious. And AUTHENTIC Mexican - this is as good as it gets folks. Mexican is one of my favourite types of cooking and I've been spoiled for choice because I travel to the USA so much and have been to Mexico (not just for the food) 5 or 6 times. Bathrooms were spotlessly clean and followed the blacked out lighting theme throughout. No expense spared in the toiletries either; L'Occitane Verbena liquid soap and bars all the way. Thankfully no horrific hand driers to contend with either; high-quality civilised paper towels all the way. You must walk through the kitchen pick up area to access the bathrooms so you can throw an eye on the goings on back there too. For desert we ordered sorbets and 2 portions of OUTSTANDING Key Lime Pie...again; if you haven't had Key Lime Pie done properly before you're in for a real treat if you order it here. I've never seen it on a menu in Ireland before. OK,, so it was not cheap. The damage for the three of us came to 155 euro before tip. For what we had however this was reasonable. For the entire experience however I'd go so far as to say this was amazing value for money. Wow factors all the way from the service to the bathrooms to the food to the cocktails. Top drawer all the way. Yet fun and super casual. This is one of my new favourite restaurants and one I can wholeheartedly recommend to friends and clients alike. Bravo for getting it done right first time around. I can't wait to return. 10/10.’’

 

L’Gueuleton

Located on trendy Fade Street in Dublin, L’Gueuleton offers a fusion of exquisite French bistro food, wine and high quality Irish produce in a relaxed and casual setting. You should try the caramel cream, the most popular dessert of the bistro. A recent guest of Fresh Eire Adventures compared the experience here to the very best French food outside of France.

Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :

“When this place opened it had an air of self-importance. Roll on a few years and the recession has hit. The pretension has disappeared but the menu, food and service are still right up there with the best Dublin has to offer. Prices are reasonable. Their specials are always worth checking out. The layout of this French style restaurant is simple yet possesses a comfortable atmosphere and a wonderfully solid, uncomplicated menu with plenty of choice. Their Oysters Rockerfeller are the best in Dublin. There is almost always a buzz here at night but during the day, especially mid week, lunches are quieter. Mid week lunches are now my favourite time to eat here; a long lesiurely boozey lunch where the servers are not trying to move you on! I recommend this restaurant to colleagues and clients alike - everyone who goes here RAVES about the service, ambiance and especially the food. Great wine list too with plenty of good quality bottles in the sub 40 euro category. Keep up the good work.”

Galway - Cycle Tour: Restaurant Recommendations

The Claddagh is a symbol of love and friendship.  The story of the famous Claddagh ring began in a small fishing spot in Claddagh, Galway.  The area contains little more than a church, a school and a visitor centre, providing privacy and yet a tradition steeped in love.

 

Here are our Top Restaurant Recommendations in Galway.

Anton’s Café

Located on Father Griffin Road, Anton’s Café is our top choice for lunch in Galway. Open 7 days a week, the restaurant offers 3 main menus (House menu, Take out menu and Breakfast menu) all made with locally sourced products. Anton’s Café has its own in-house bakery, its own focaccia bread, and uses only fresh ingredients for its soups & salads. The flour-free chocolate cake is divine. The restaurant also acts as a gallery and, from time to time, art exhibitions are on display as part of the Galway Arts Festival.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Anton’s Café by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :

“A Galway institution I've been enjoying since 2001, Anton has been baking his delicious foccacias at dawn and filling them with the highest quality produce; home made pesto, hot tuna, blacky ham, aged cheddar...complimenting everything with hearty home made soups, fresh salads...followed by classic desserts and muffins with probably the best coffee on this side of the Corrib. No trip to Galway is complete without calling in to soak up the ambiance at the very least. Do yourself a favour and go. And return. Many times. Gets very busy at lunch time Mon - Fri so try plan your visit keeping this in mind. VERY highly recommended.’’

This photo shows a dish from the Restaurant Aniar

 

 

Aniar Restaurant

Located in Galway’s West End, the authentic Aniar restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star in 2013. Chef, JP McMahon prepares recipes with ingredients from Galway and the West of Ireland. The restaurant offers a daily tasting menu, which consists of 10 enticing courses. Aniar also offers an early evening menu of 5 delicious courses.

 

 

This is a picture of Ard Bia RestaurantArd Bia at Nimmo’s

The quality of its food and the variety of its menus have made Ard Bia one of the most enduring restaurants in Galway. It’s fun atmosphere and excellent service coupled with the unique culture curated by Galway institution Aoibheann McNamara, Nimmo’s is our top dining recommendation for your trip to Galway. Opt for a table next to the water and you will take in views of The Claddagh while small groups of 4 should request The Snug. McNamara has also received acclaim for her Tweed Project; another feather in this maven’s cap.

Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :

‘’I've been going to Nimmos for over ten years now...it changed management a few years ago and the quality has, if anything, improved. The building itself is historic and built right on the pier. It attracts a great variety of people; there's almost always a few suits and glammed up ladies, a few arty types, hipsters and urban professionals; and a few smug-looking tourists who look as though they got in on Galway's best kept secret! The food is simply wonderful; a great array of seafood especially. Great presentation, lots of originality but very straightforward. Excellent wine list also. Service is very laid back, casual and friendly - it's very much in keeping with the laid back vibe of this special place. My favourite table is 'the snug' - ideal for 3 or 4 people only.’’

 

 

Kai Restaurant

Kai is an excellent casual restaurant, which delights with its simple authenticity and combines the old with the modern in a comfortable and homely atmosphere. The restaurant offers a large range of affordable and tasty menu. Kai also houses a great collection of artworks and paintings.

 

McDonaghs Restaurant

Locals rate McDonaghs as the "Best Fish & Chips" in Galway, if not in Ireland! Indeed, with a menu that lists a dozen delicious fish (ray, hake, salmon, cod and so on) and tasty french fries, McDonaghs offers a fine insight into this Irish staple dish. The service is speedy and informal – there are two options; either take-away or dine-in. With the take-away option you get your food in around 5 minutes after you order and you can sit at communal benches to enjoy your food. The dine-in option is more traditional with table service. Staff are polite and friendly, and the price is very affordable for the quality of the food. You will appreciate the original and unique marine-themed decoration of the interior, which tells the story of local Irish fishermen.

Padraic, founder and managing director of Fresh Eire Adventures, tried this restaurant and reviewed it on TripAdvisor :

‘’A great selection of fresh fish, cooked to perfection. My recommendation is the battered salmon, with chips and a side of curry sauce (try it!). Do as the Galwegians do - order at the counter and take a bench seat. It's effectively the same menu as the restaurant (which almost always involves a wait for a table). Great people watching opportunities if you side outside on the benches.’’

This is a picture of the McDonaghs Fish and Chips in Galway

 

Dough Bros Pizzeria

Located in Galway city centre, Dough Bros is a casual venue to enjoy an authentic wood-fired pizza like no other in town. The place is warm, cosy and you can enjoy the combination of the wood fire and pizza smells. The service is friendly, and the flavour of each featured ingredient is easily identifiable such is the quality. The size of the pizza is relatively small for enthusiastic pizza lovers so we recommend that you double your order – lucky you!

 

Moran’s of the Weir Restaurant

Moran’s of the Weir is an excellent seafood restaurant, which is famous for Galway flat oysters and tasty fresh mussels. With their produce directly collected from the sea in front of the cottage restaurant on Galway Bay, you will appreciate their delicious menu with a refreshing Guinness or glass of wine. Enjoy a large piece of their traditional homemade brown bread with (my favourite ) the garlic breaded grilled oysters with a splash of Tabasco. In a simple and comfortable setting, the restaurant offers a friendly atmosphere in which to relax and enjoy a pleasant dinner. Based just outside Clarinbridge (on the Galway side), Moran’s of the Weir is ideally located for your visit en route to or from the Burren or the Cliffs of Moher.

This is a picture of Moran's of the Weir Restaurant

 

The G Counter

Open 7 days a week, the G Counter is a delicious and trendy cafe-restaurant. The G offers an appetizing breakfast, tempting sandwiches, succulent dishes and tasty homemade burgers. We also recommend trying its fresh bakery and pastry products with a excellent cup of dark coffee. Located at the rear of the G Hotel this is an ideal place to try on your way in or out of town.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of The G Counter Café - Restaurant by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :

‘’I ate here twice in the last month; both times for lunch in a hurry - service was superb both times despite the restaurant (a bright, spacious industrial style airy space) being very busy. The first day I had the Nicoise sandwich - an open extravagnaza on home-baked sourdough, served on a breadboard and ENORMOUS. Delicious. Second time (2 weeks ago) I ordered the best salmon fish cakes in Galway - featuring salmon 3 ways; in the fish cakes, in a side salad (smoked salmon) and poached. With a bowl of fries and a coke this came to €15 - outstanding value for money. Service on both occasions was speedy and friendly, efficient and well informed. Bathrooms could be better. Not a great location. Lots of free parking however - every cloud! I love this place and have no hesitation in recommending it. Top Drawer.’’

Galway - Bike Tour: Hotel Recommendations

The Claddagh is a symbol of love and friendship.  The story of the famous Claddagh ring began in a small fishing spot in Claddagh, Galway.  The area contains little more than a church, a school and a visitor centre, providing privacy and yet a tradition steeped in love.

 

Here are our Top Hotel Recommendations in Galway.

 

The G Hotel

This is a picture of the model Linda EvangelistaA few minutes walk to the city centre, The G Hotel is ideally located to discover the theatres, the restaurants, the souvenir shops and the nocturnal vibes of Galway. Whatever your expectations, this fabulous 5 star hotel is willing to carry you in its glamorous atmosphere. Each room has its personal workspace, furniture and artworks equipment; all design by Philip Treacy. His muse was supermodel Linda Evangelista and the evidence is everywhere.

Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures, stayed here to evaluate it for future guests. Here is his review from TripAdvisor :

‘’Elegant, efficient, stylish and professional. I had feared that this mecca of luxury would be a case of style over substance...however I was wrong. The lobby is very impressive; lots of glass and subdued lighting and something you'd be more likely to see in Miami Beach than in Galway. Staff were well-informed, courteous - nothing seemed to be any trouble to them. The rooms are super luxurious; great comfortable beds, huge wardrobes, comfy sofas and stylish fittings. The bathroom was top class with a great bath and fantastic shower. I also had dinner; an exquisite affair...an inventive menu, extensive wine list and friendly, professional service. Breakfast the next day was a relaxed affair. Great value and a fantastic top-end experience in Galway; there's nothing else like it.’’  Room Tip: Ask for a room overlooking Lough Atalia.

 

 

The House Hotel

The House is one of our favourite 4 star hotels in Galway. Located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, the hotel offers chic and quiet spacious rooms to make its guests feel at home. We recommend spending time in the bar to enjoy a delicious homemade cocktail and appreciate the stylish surrounding.

 

 

The Meryck Hotel

This is another highly recommended 4 star hotel for your trip to Galway. Based in Eyre Square to facilitate your stay, the Meryck hotel combines efficient sophistication and elegance. Originally named The Great Southern Hotel, and honouring its links to the great rail heritage of yesteryear, The Meryck has no less than 163 years of Irish hospitality under its belt.

This is a picture of the Meryck Hotel's Saloon

 

The Park House Hotel

The Park House, situated in the heart of the city centre is a traditionally luxurious 4 star hotel which offer guests an authentic "cead mile failte" * in Galway. The quality of the service is impressive and Kitty, a Galway institution in her own right and a tour de force of hospitality professionalism, will ensure you will feel at home.

* "one hundred thousand welcomes"

 

The Victoria Hotel

Located in front of Eyre Square shopping centre, a few minutes walk to Galway Cathedral, the Victoria is a great 3 star hotel and an ideal budget option for a stay in Galway. The rooms are clean with good quality accommodations and stylish furniture while their Irish breakfasts will set you up for the day.

This is a picture of a room in the Victoria's Hotel

 

The Heron’s Rest Boutique B&B

Located on the pier behind the Spanish Arch this boutique B&B is lovingly run by local nutritional expert Sorcha Molloy and her fabulous team. Rooms are cosy and have excellent views over The Claddagh and the River Corrib as it enters Galway Bay. Breakfasts here are a real treat with delicious and nutritious homemade Granola and freshly baked scones, brown bread and muffins. Very highly recommended.

Dublin - Cycle Tour: Cafés & Wine Bars

Here are our Top Café & Wine Bar Recommendations in Dublin.

 

Brother Hubbard

Recently opened (2012) in the North of the City, Dublin 1, the Brother Hubbard Cafe is enjoying an incredible success thanks to its traditional menu, which offers delicious coffees with tasty sandwiches, cakes and biscuits. The Brother Hubbard is persistently accolade with awards such as the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, the “Best Chocolate in Dublin” by Lovin’ Dublin 2015, the “Best Lunch in Dublin” by Lovin’ Dublin 2015 and the McKenna’s Guides “Top 100 Places to Eat in Ireland” 2014 and 2015. 

This is a picture of the Brother Hubbard facade

 

3fe

Located in Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2, this 1 star Michelin Café is an ideal meeting point for coffee lovers. Furthermore, 3fe is also a boutique where you can buy all the coffee listed on the menu as well as a large range of other coffee tools / accessories. How hipster are you?

 

This is a picture of a dish and a glass of wine from Cake Café RestaurantCake Café

Specialising in the design of tasty cakes and simple hearty plates, the Cake Café offers a perfect mix between the sweetness of their cakes and the temper of their delicious coffees. Furthermore, few minutes walk to the St Stephen’s Green, the Cake Café is ideally located for you to enjoy your trip in Dublin. Hidden away at the back of the ecologically focussed Daintree Building, and accessed from the Camden Street entrance of a stationary shop, this is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets frequented by locals.

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Cake Café by Padraic, owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :

‘’This is a great spot run by a few people who are clearly passionate about what they do - and it shows. I've seen reviews on here written by people who clearly just don't get the magic on offer. Let me explain. This is NOT a fine dining experience; it's a cafe. They specialise in cakes, tarts, buns, scones and breads. The name even suggests this. Coffees, teas, cold drinks. A cafe. They also offer some simple salads, and short orders. What they do, they do VERY well and in a super pleasant, friendly manner which is becoming more difficult to experience in Dublin. Cake Cafe is laid back and casual and they use a mish-mash of old fashioned crockery, teapots and cutlery. And it's good value for Dublin too. Sure, it's hip and trendy but not in an arrogant way and attracts a friendly clientele for the most part. Yes, it's a bit of a squeeze sometimes but then you'll never know who you'll strike up a conversation with! Service can be slow, and you might have to wait for a table, so don't come here on your 15 minute lunch break. Located off Wexford Street, in the Daintree Building, it can be a challenge to find the first time (you can walk through a paper/stationery store to get to the courtyard, or you can walk around and enter the building from the back)...it has a Alice In Wonderland appeal. If you are after something fast and devoid of character then go elsewhere; you're ruining it for them and for the rest of us!’’

 

Fallon & Byrne Wine Bar

Located on Exchequer Street, close to the famous Grafton Street, Dublin 2, Fallon & Byrne Wine Bar offers an unrivalled list of 600 quality wine choices. Wine is served by the glass (or bottle) and all bottles can be taken away. The wine cellar also offers lots of appetizers to accompany your wine degustation with a group of professional experts willing to help you choose the perfect wine for your meal. Fallon & Byrne’s Wine Bar’s offer of €1 corkage on all wines from the cellar shelves is available every Monday & Tuesday (except in December).

Here’s a review from TripAdvisor of Fallon & Byrne Wine Bar by Padraic, director and owner of Fresh Eire Adventures :

‘’Having dined in the main dining room a few times in the past, and having attended a wedding dinner there a few years ago, I have always been underwhelmed by the experience (forgettable plates, service lacking in charm and often efficiency). I recently had the opportunity to return for a pre-theatre bite and opted for the wine bar in the basement. Thankfully we did and were rewarded with a pleasant experience. A very buzzy space, with an outstanding wine list, the basement attracts an after-work, professional-looking crowd and the day we visited (a Wednesday) it was very, very busy. Expecting to be told there was no room, our server immediately presented two options to us; either at a circular bar (around a pillar) or at a table; we plumped for the latter. Explaining to our server that we had to be in and out in under an hour she immediately brought our menus, took our order and then returned with water, bread and our drinks order (the excellent house Sancerre; €8). Ten minutes later our main courses arrived - outstanding effciency! I had the Poached Flaked Salmon salad as a main. Perfectly cooked and served on a simple bed of crunchy gem lettuce it was incredible value at €13. My friend had the Lamb & Spinach Curry which he enjoyed - again, great value at €16. Service was friendly, well informed and entirely efficient. Couldn't have been better, in any way, in fact. Overall I'd say the experience in the basement far exceeded that of the restaurant and I'd have no hesitation in recommending it to my clients. The restaurant however I'll avoid. Visited July 2014.’’

This is a picture of the Fallon & Byrne Restaurant

 

Cork - Cycle Tour: Attractions, Hotels & Restaurants

Rich in history and tradition yet increasingly urbane and sophisticated, the ever evolving city of Cork is a vibrant place with a unique blend of contemporary style and old world charm. 

Pedestrian laneways and narrow streets, small boutiques, galleries, gourmet food shops and a host of interesting pubs and clubs fan out across the city.  Cork is renowned for its culinary flair, vibrant and edgy cultural scene and was the European Capital of Culture in 2005.  It was listed by the Lonely Planet Guide as one of their top ten cities for 'Best in travel in 2010'.  A strong festival programme attracts the best of film, jazz, folk, literary and musical talent year round.  You certainly won't be short of things to do!

As Cork City is surrounded by water, the area is awash with activities such as cruising, whale watching and sailing.  If the pastime of people watching appeals, a host of waterfront cafés and bars afford the perfect vantage point.  And should you be in the mood for a little pampering, most hotels offer revitalising spa and beauty treatments or perhaps you'd prefer to tee off at one of the famous parkland or links golf courses in the area. 

After dark, the range of attractions in Cork never dims.  Greyhound racing, a night of theatre, a relaxed dinner in one of the city's superb restaurants followed by a traditional music session are just some of the options on offer to make the perfect end to you perfect day.

 

Here are our Top Attraction, Hotel & Restaurant Recommendations in Cork, as prepared by intern Mathieu.

 

Hotels

Hayfield Manor hotel :

Located near the city center, Hayfield Manor Hotel is a fabulous 5 star hotel set within a wonderful walled garden. Rooms of the manor are spacious and each of them are unique and  warmly decorated in a traditional irish manor style. Their luxurious spa is a paradise in which to relax and unwind. Orchids restaurant offers a gourmet menu in a sumptuous setting.

The River Lee Hotel : 

The 4-star River Lee Hotel is a luxury modern building on the banks of the River Lee. 5 minutes walk to the city center, this establishment is the ideal way to enjoy a night in Cork before relaxing in the Spa or or keeping up your fitness in the gym. 

Jurys hotel :

Jurys 3 star hotel is an affordable option which offers you all the comforts you will need during your city centre stay. The location is excellent and offers great value for money.

 

Restaurants & Bars

Isaacs restaurant : 

Located on McCurtain street near the Everyman Palace Theatre, Isaacs restaurant offers you seasonal ingredients on a refined menu for over 20 years. Described as one of the most original and authentic restaurants because of its 18th century warehouse setting, Isaacs restaurant is an affordable fine dining experience in the heart of the city.

Café Paradiso :

Café Paradiso is a vegetarian restaurant, a must for Corkonians as well as for those from all over the world. It has been named the best restaurant in Ireland according to Tripadvisor’s viewers. Even if you’re not especially a lover of vegetarian food, this cuisine is an explosion of pure taste which enlivens the senses.

Crane Lane Theatre :

Located in the center of Cork, the Crane Lane Theatre is a welcoming bar, where locals congregate to spend some memorable times drinking wines, beers while dancing and singing with friends, and listening to musical acts.

 The Oval Bar :

Like The Crane Lane Theatre, The Oval, also located in the heart of Cork, in the historic South Main Street directly across the street from the tudor-inspired Beamish & Crawford brewery. Still in its original condition, this traditional Irish bar combines good music and Irish beers.

 

Attractions 

Cork City Gaol :

Cork City Goal was one of the most terrifying prisons in Ireland. From now on, you can enter and visit this spectacular structure in the heart of Cork to feel how strange this place is and was. This prison is also famous because it welcomed only women from 1870 to 1923. Judged unhealthy, Cork City Gaol prison closed in 1923. Since 1993, this museum is an unmissable attraction in Cork.

Blackrock Castle Observatory :

Located near Cork, 2 km from the center, Blackrock Castle is a fortification on the banks of the River Lee. Elizabeth 1st decided to build a castle to protect and reassure Cork citizens from potential invaders from the sea. Nowadays, this castle is an Astronomy Observation Center open every day 10 to 5 (except Sunday) where you can discover the stars and talk about the universe with amateurs and passionate astronomers.

English Market :

Since 1788, every day, the English Market is a meeting place where producers and consumers exchange local products, from fresh fish, oysters and others shellfish to irish spiced beef, bread, vegetables, cheese, and other typical irish treats. Do not leave this market without visiting the second floor where you will find many restaurants worthy of a visit. When you do drag yourself away be sure to leave by Mutton Lane and drop in to the atmospheric pub of the same name and reward yourself with a refreshing local and delicious alternative to Guinness ; either Beamish or Murphys.

University College Cork (UCC) :

The University College of Cork is a world class university and the alma mater of Fresh Eire Adventures founder Padraic.  Some 17,000 students take its undergraduate  and postgraduate programmes. Founded in 1849, under the Queen’s Charter which established similarely designed Universities in Belfast, Galway and Dublin, the University is now a center of excellence in fields such as Law, Marine Research, Linguistics and Engineering.

Lewis Glucksman Gallery :

Inside the University College of Cork, the Glucksman Gallery is an institution that promotes the visual arts. The gallery was created to increase interactivity between artists and the public. The Glucksman Gallery was honoured to receive « Best Public Building of Ireland » architectural award in 2005.

 

The Butter Museum :

This quirky attraction invites you to turn back time to understand how the city of Cork was the biggest butter exchange in the World. In the heart of Cork, learn about butter-making and the evolution of Kerrygold butter, the most famous in Ireland, and perhaps the world.

 

 Beamish Brewery :

Established in 1792 by William Beamish, the Brewery produced an exclusive stout for 400 years until 2009, « Beamish ».  Really appreciated by consumers, and not unlike Guinness, this beer in now produced inside the nearby state-of-the-art Heineken Brewery.

The old  brewery, currently a museum,  open its gates (8€) where you can learn about the evolution of Beamish in relation to Guinness Beer and also show you all the materials they used in the manufacturing process.

this pictures let you discover Blarney Castle famous for its stone of eloquence this image gives you an idea of Cork city Gaol, here it's one corridor of the prison   this pictures let you discover the wonderful establishment of Hayfield Manor Hotel and its virginia creeper.

Dublin - Cycle Tour: 3 Top Day Trips

Our Classic Connemara Bike tour is on sale until November 30th 2018. Quote "Blog Offer" in your enquiry email and receive $200 off per person on our May 6-112018 trip. #pedalon

Here are our Top Day Trips Recommendations in Dublin, as prepared by intern Mathieu.

 

Day 1 :

The Irish National Stud in Tully is not only an institution in County Kildare, but also a must visit for all horse industry enthusiasts. The only stud farm opened to the public in Ireland, you will admire some of the most beautiful and prestigious horses in the world. For instance, Queen Elizabeth II spent time in this farm to see where family’s best horses were produced.

The nearby Japanese Gardens give you the opportunity to fully relax by walking through this unique park. The Gardens symbolise the meeting between Eastern and Western cultures. This is really a tour worth doing for family with children.

 

After your visit to the Irish National Stud and walking in the Japanese Gardens, it’s time to expand your own closet in Kildare Village.  Kildare Village located around 59 Km far from Dublin, is known as Ireland’s most elegant outlet shopping centre, with up to 60 % off.   This is a great opportunity to wear fashion and luxury brands from Calvin Klein to Hackett or Hugo Boss.  Plus they offer Tax Back shopping to non EU residents.  Even for the lunch, you can enjoy cultural different cuisine, from a French Creperie, l’Officina to an Italian restaurant, l’Officina.   The best way to discover all those chic, adorable but affordable brands is to take a look on your own.  “Your visit, your style” as they say in Kildare Village.

 

Newbridge Silver Museum of Style Icons in Kildare, Ireland, allows you to turn back time and admire collections and artefacts of the greatest cinema’s figures like Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Diana, Audrey Hepburn and others icons.

 

 

Day 2 :

The Marble city of Kilkenny is only 90 minutes south of the capital. Founded in the 6th century, a monastery and over the years it attracted Ireland's various religious figures. In the 12th century, one Lord decided to built an sumptuous castle in the heart of the city. Kilkenny is also famous for its beers "Smithwhicks" and "Kilkenny", which have been brewed in the oldest brewery in Ireland, the St. Francis Abbey since 1710. It is possible to visit the brewery today. Our favourite store in the city is The Little Green Grocer - a fantastic store which stocks lots of unique Irish gifts. Our favourite restaurant is Campagne - a tour de force of French style gastronomy which was awarded a Michelin star in 2013 ; their lunch menu (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) offers fantastic value for money.  The Cathedral Church of St Canice boasts a round tower (one of only two in Ireland which one can climb - weather permitting) is a gothic gem.  Kilkenny Castle is one of the most popular attractions in the city; visitors will learn about the past owners the Butler family and their remarkable history, explore the elegant gardens and stroll through the city woodlands on the estate.  Jerpoint Abbey, a Cistercian abbey, is located in Thomastown Co Kilkenny and is home to some notable stone carvings and sculptured tombs and its visitor centre is also recommended.

Near Athy in Co. Kildare, Burtown House is a Georgian villa surrounded by flowers, woodland gardens and a park.   This house is the home of the well known Photographer James Fennell and here you can admire a surprising gallery space and lifestyle tore.   The brand new Green Barn Restaurant, inside a rustic décor, looking out on the vegetable gardens, affords you the opportunity to fully enjoy your relaxing time in Burtown.  Their Olive Oils are infused with kitchen garden herbs and for their salts they use a combination of Celtic sea salt and pink himalayan salt. Having had a rocky opening period where they found it difficult to overcome some teething problems, they appear to have found their feet; they now offer a gourmet cafe style menu, well-executed and professionally served.  

Waterford is the oldest city of Ireland. Established in 914 AD, the Vikings invaded the region and they created a seaport to facilitate commercial exchange on the island of Ireland. Waterford's international reputation grew when very high quality crystal manufacturing began in 1783. Their work is particularly appreciated by the British royal family and you will find pieces in all the major stately homes in the world including the White House which receives a crystal bowl of Shamrock each St Patricks Day. In Waterford you will also discover Reginald’s Tower, an old defensive tower and the world's oldest mint which now houses the Waterford Museum Of Treasures which tracks the story of vikings. Be careful of swords while you admire all jewellery and ceramics from ancient Ireland!

Day 3 :

Wicklow Mountains National Park is the largest in the country. The landscape is unique and you will find lots of natural beauty spots to make this trip unforgettable. The pink heathers and yellow gorse flowers are stunning in the summer - catch the scent of the gorse flowers and close your eyes; you'll be surprised to find the scent is very similar to that of coconut - in fact, many experimental Irish chefs extract the essence from this prickly flower to create what has become known as "Irish coconut".

Glendalough (the glenn of the two lakes) is one of the most important monastic sites in the country, where many of St Kevin's buildings still survive despite the attacks over the years namely from the Vikings. It’s a real opportunity to understand better Ireland's Ancient East but on a calm and still day be sure to bring some bug spray with you as the midges (or "No-See-Ems") are plentiful owing to the lakeside setting. Even the Secret Service weren't able to contend with this challenge on a recent visit there by the Obama family.  With some excellent hiking trails you could easily spend an entire day here and finish with a visit to The Wicklow Heather restaurant for a hearty meal. 

this image gives you an idea of Wicklow Mountains National Park with its stretch of greenery and lakes.this image is a shoot inside the relaxing Japanese Gardens, Irish National Stud this image is a shoot in Glendalough with Obama's family visit.

Dublin - Deluxe Bike Tour: 4 star Hotels

Here are our Top 4 star Hotel Recommendations in Dublin.

This picture shows the Bar of the O’Callaghan Stephen’s Green Hotel

O’Callaghan Stephen’s Green Hotel

Located close to St Stephen’s Green, not far from Temple Bar and at few meters from Grafton Street, the Stephen’s Green Hotel is in a fabulous location. The 99 rooms are solid, a good size and comfortable without being sumptuous; more typical of a business style hotel. Popular with large tour groups it's advisable to time your arrival and departure at less busy times.

 

 

 

Brooks Hotel

Located in the Dublin’s cultural quarter, two minutes walk from Grafton Street, you will appreciate the warm and cosy Brooks Hotel. With a stock over 130 types of Whiskey from all over the world, the hotel will be able to offer you a unique tasting experience in the Jasmine Bar. The hotel also hires a private cinema for the comfort of its guests; but don't expect to share your popcorn with Colin Farrell!

On this picture we can see the cinema room of the Brooks Hotel

 

The Gibson Hotel

The Gibson is a 4-star trendy hotel near the center of Dublin. The hotel attracts attention because of its architecural glass. Rooms are very modern and bright. The Luas tramway is right next the establishment. Taking a stroll to and from here is an enjoyable way to see the city.

On this image we can see a wonderful room of the Gibson Hotel

This picture shows the beautiful front door of the Clarence Hotel

 

The Clarence

The Clarence 4 star hotel ideally located on the River Liffey, in the Temple bar neighbourhood offers you spacious and comfortable rooms. For the record, U2 lead singer Bono and The Edge bought this luxury hotel in the 1990s and it has since become the place for movie stars and musicians to stay in when they visit the capital. American actor Danny de Vito famously tweets pictures of his feet from his balcony when staying here! The Octagon Bar is a great place to start your evening on the town.

 

Dublin - Cycle Tour: Top 5 restaurants

Here are our Top Restaurant Recommendations in Dublin, as prepared by intern Mathieu.

 

Restaurants 

- Greenhouse :

The Greenhouse Michelin Star restaurant on Dublin’s Dawson Street offers you a refined cuisine in the heart of the capital. Mikael Viljanen, formerly of Gregans Castle in the Burren, was recently judged Ireland’s top chef at Irish Restaurant Awards for 2015. His inventive cuisine includes elements of molecular gastronomy while the dining room is contemporary and sumptuous. Their wine list is superb and their Sommelier Julie Dupouy is also award winning.

- Rustic Stone :

Chef Dylan McGrath welcomes you to The Rustic Stone to discover a new food experience only with local produce. The Rustic Stone’s chef creates a nutritious and tasty food experience for everyone, he himself takes great care to source the best seasonal ingredients. Their bar offers some fabulous cocktails among which is our favourite, The Riddler. The bar also stocks an Elderflower Cordial made in small batches by Hotwell House - you'll find this on some of our tours such as our Croatia Bike & Sail trip. Dylan McGrath is also the celebrity chef on the most popular cooking tv show in Ireland, Masterchef.

 

- L’Gueuleton :

L’Gueuleton, located on trendy Fade Street in Dublin offers a fusion of exquisite French bistro food, wine and high quality Irish produce in a relaxed and casual setting. You should try the caramel cream, the most popular dessert of the bistro. A recent guest of Fresh Eire Adventures compared the experience here to the very best French food outside of France.

- Amuse :

Chef Conor Dempsey allows you to enjoy a meticulous French & Japanese Cuisine. Located near St Stephen Green, Amuse is a small but unique, warm and cosy fine dining restaurant with a casual flair. Why not start your evening by having a cocktail across the street in Peruke & Periwig?

- Heron & Grey :

Recently awarded a Michelin Star in 2016, one of the smallest restaurants to be awarded such an accolade, Heron & Grey is the new gastronomic attraction in Blackrock, a suburb of Dublin. This is the new darling of the Dublin dining scene. We advise you to book in advance in order to avoid disappointment - while cancellations are always possible there is currently a 6 month waiting list.

 

this pictures is a shoot of L'Gueuleton restaurant entrance in Dublin  this pictures is a shoot of The nutritious ans tasty Rustic Stone's restaurant  this picture is a shoot of a typical nutritious food Rustic Stone restaurant offers you.

Dublin - Cycle Tour: Top Attractions

Dublin has an abundance of well-known attractions for visitors, but why not take a step away from the 'must-sees' and look for your own unique mix of memories.  The city's streets are like a maze of art, design and just plain quirkiness, so turn of your GPS and just wander freely around the city.  While everyone knows the craic to be had in Temple Bar, skip the pubs (for now) and stroll up to The Music Centre's Wall of Fame to view the iconic photos of Ireland's best loved rockers from Phil Lynott and Rory Gallagher to Luke Kelly and Bob Geldof.  

While there, pop around the corner to one of the city's most endearing vintage shops, Lucy's Lounge.  A mix of upcycled and vintage goods fill the basement, and staff love the chance to recommend styles or sizes.

From Temple Bar take a stroll onto George's Street where there now stands a colourful dedication to the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic with the proclamation printed underneath in five different languages.

Across the road from here stands arguably Dublin's most well-known pub, The George.  It's regarded as the lynch-pin of the Dublin gay scene having been in operation for nearly 30 years. 

George's Street also hosts the vibrant George's Street Arcade.  It is Ireland's first purpose built shopping centre and one of Europe's oldest.  The high interior ceiling beautifully complements the exquisite red brick Victorian exterior and this topped off by the unique offering of the shops inside.

If George's Street Arcade doesn't satisfy that inner hipster in you, then head south to Richmond Street to The Bernard Shaw pub.  Bordered by eclectic street art and leftover ruined walls of a once neighbouring building, The Bernard Shaw is hard to describe.  But it certainly is more than just a pub, it's an experience.

Dublin City's attractions go well beyond those listed on any tourist guide, the city is littered with unique street art and charms if you are just willing to explore.

 

Here are our Top Attraction Recommendations in Dublin.

 

Kilmainham Gaol

Opened at the end of the 18th century and closed 130 years afterwards (1796-1924), Kilmainham Gaol Museum has been one of the most famous European prisons. Now a museum, this old jail is an unusual and curious place to visit. The tour guides here are excellent and bring the whole experience to life. Here you will learn about the 1916 Rising, which brought about Ireland's independence and the associated tragedies and execution of the ringleaders and leaders of the Rising. Very highly recommended. It's a good idea to book your tickets in advance especially in high season.

A picture of the Kilmainham Gaol, probably the most famous Irish Jail now a museum 

The Little Museum of Dublin

The Little Museum has been awarded the coveted title of most popular museum by TripAdvisor visitors to the capital. This is a very highly recommended visit; its quirky layout and zany tour guides make for a memorable experience following your Fresh Eire Adventure trip in Ireland. The museum explains everything from the visit of Queen Victoria to the global success of U2 and almost everything in between.

This is a picture of the National Museum of Ireland

 

 

National Museum of Ireland

The prestigious National Museum of Ireland is an enlightening place to observe Irish history. The Museum offers an interesting global view of the national archaeology, the decorative arts & history, country life and natural history. Perhaps the most fascinating exhibits are those of the bogs - you will be visiting bogs on your bike tour so here is a golden opportunity to see some of the fascinating finds.

 

 

 

Dublin Writers Museum

Located in Parnell Square, 5 minutes from the city centre, the Dublin Writers Museum is an unmissable classic of Irish literature. It opened in 1991 but is part of an 18th century house. It’s a really charming place where you can learn about Irish writers old and new; from Wilde to Yeats, Synge to Stoker. Writing workshops are frequently held here - advance booking is required. In the basement you'll find one of Dublin's top restaurants, the literary themed Chapter One - treat yourself to a fabulous lunch or perhaps even a pre-theater dinner before or after your visit. 

 

Guinness Brewery

Founded in 1759 and located at St James’s Gate on the river Liffey close to Hueston Station, the Guinness Brewery is probably the most ubiquitous attraction in the country. The Guinness storehouse, which extends over 7 floors, is a marvel of 21st century design. For a complete visit, spend an afternoon at the Brewery, and you will understand how the beer is made from the growth of the finest barley and hops, to the ideal roasting temperatures of the grains. At the end of your visit you will be offered a "dirty pint" of porter in the Gravity Bar from which you can admire the 360-degree view of Dublin. Even the Queen and her husband were tempted to try the Pint o'plain - but they managed to resist.

This is a photo of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in front of a Guinness beer in the Guinness Store

Science Gallery

The Science Gallery is a scientific museum that offers interactive, visual and exciting experiences. Opened in 2008, this global science gallery network was pioneered by Trinity College of Dublin. Contrary to the majority of science centres, this unusual Science Gallery doesn’t have a permanent collection but rather around five temporary exhibitions each year.

 

IMMA

The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is housed in the Royal Hospital of Kilmainham, the finest 17th century monument in Ireland. IMMA offers an enjoyable experience of Irish contemporary art by altering its dynamic programme, and frequently including special temporary exhibitions from overseas artists. IMMA is considered as the house of the national collection of modern art.

 

Light House Cinema

Located in Smithfield Market Square, Dublin 7, the Light House Cinema is a perfect alternative to have a relaxing moment eating popcorn and savouring your drink during the time you will enjoy a new or old favourite movie. Spend the end of an afternoon to appreciate the original and new design atmosphere of the Cinema. All the seats are painted different colours, the décor is stunning and the general architecture is unusual. While their programme typically features independent and art house movies they frequently hold special events – check their programme.

On this picture we can the color sitting of the Light House Cinema

Project Arts Centre

Based in Temple Bar in front of the River Liffey, the Project Arts Centre is (as indicated by its name) a prestigious multidisciplinary arts centre dedicated to support artists through all forms of performing and visual arts. Opened in 1967, the Project Arts Centre its now able to offer diverse programme including all contemporary art forms: theatre, dance, live art, video, film, traditional, jazz, electronic, classical and popular music, painting, sculpture, photography, multidisciplinary installations and performance pieces.

 

Gallery of Photography

Inaugurated in 1978, the Gallery has become one of the best Irish photography venues. Located in Temple Bar in Dublin 2, this non-profit making Gallery founded by the Arts Council and Dublin Corporation aims to offer a wonderful, touching and original experience. We suggest you to take a look in the Gallery’s boutique; you could be interested by one or two of the numerous great books – “Exit By The Gift Store” as Banksy might say. 

 

Dublin - Classic Bike Tour: 3 star Hotels

Here are our Top 3 star Hotel Recommendations in Dublin, as prepared by intern Mathieu.

 

Kellys Hotel

Located in the creative and entertainment hub of Dublin's city centre, and formerly the old Jewish Quarter, Kelly's is a stylish and functional and very affordable 3 star hotel. While the rooms are mostly a little on the small side, Kelly's is an ideal choice for the intrepid traveller who intends to only sleep at their hotel. The rooms are clean and modern with excellent showers, white linens and breakfast in served in the attached Le Guelleton restaurant each morning. Bring earplugs with you however as the hotel is also attached to the No Name bar, an excellent place to rub shoulders with Dublin's thirtysomethings and fortysomethings as they enjoy a few afterwork pints and cocktails. There are so many excellent restaurants nearby; 777, The Market Bar and Fade Street Social are all within 100 feet of the front door.


Drury Court Hotel

Midway between Dublin Castle and St Stephen’s Green, and only 4 minutes walk from Grafton Street the Drury Court Hotel is ideally located in the Dublin city centre. The Drury was recently refurbished to offer more luxurious rooms to it’s guests and is rated the best 3 star Dublin hotel on TripAdvisor.


Buswells Hotel

Buswells 3 star Hotel welcomes you inside a historic and recently refurbished building. Opposite Leinster House, seat of the Irish Parliament (or "Dail"),
and other tourist attractions, this affordable hotel is a good way to visit the capital effectively. Relax yourself in the warm and cosy lounge of Buswells’s Hotel and earwig on some lively political debate.

 this picture shows you a beautiful bedroom in Drury 3 star hotel in Dublinthis image is a shoot in front of Buswells 3 star hotel in Dublin at night.this picture shows you one cosy bedroom in Kellys 3 star hotel

Dublin - Deluxe Bike Tour: 5 star Hotels

Here are our Top 5 star Hotel Recommendations in Dublin.

 

 

Merrion Hotel

Located beside the stunning Government Buildings on Merrion Square, The Merrion is simply the most luxurious hotel in the capital. Historically, this hotel was built by the gathering of four wonderful Georgian houses. The hotel has become a stunning high luxury destination and offers a private swimming pool, private gardens, two restaurants, two bars and lot of other high quality features for your comfort. The Merrion has never lost its charm of yesteryear while also offering up to date luxuries and a gastronomic Michelin star restaurant led by renowned chef Patrick Guilbaud.

This is a picture of a room in the Merrion Hotel

Shelbourne Hotel

This fabulous 5 star hotel located in the heart of Dublin and close to the National Museum of Ireland, and overlooks St Stephens Green.  Thi is a perfect place to spend a night or two. You will appreciate the atypical and luxurious décor, directly inspired by the Renaissance Golden Age. The Shelboune is steeped in history and it's Horseshoe Bar is one of the most stylish places in which you can enjoy an afternoon cocktail or glass of champagne and oysters.

This is a picture of the Shelbourne Hotel

Fitzwilliam Hotel

Located in the city centre of Dublin, on St Stephens Green, The Fitzwilliam is a sensational 5 star hotel where you can luxuriate in the heart of the city. After a morning shopping and perhaps a light lunch in nearby Etto, treat yourself to a late Afternoon Tea, served from 2pm to 6pm, every day in the popular Green Bar of the hotel - pinkies out!

This is a picture of the fitzwilliam hotel

 

Marker Hotel

The Marker is one of our highly recommended 5 star hotels to spend a night in Dublin. This 5 star hotel located Grand Canal Square in the Docklands, just a few minutes walk to Pearse Square Park and in front of Bord Gais Energy Theatre has only one motto: “The Marker Equilibrium, it’s all about me”. The hotel has its own restaurant the “Market Brasserie” which prepares refined meals based on Irish local products; a perfect pre-theatre destination. Furthermore, you will have the pleasure to relax in the Marker Spa & Wellness Center, offering a 23m long infinity pool, spacious Jacuzzi and all the comfort that you need. Don’t forget to enjoy a delicious cocktail in the Marker Bar, which has been recently redecorated in a fresh, modern and luxurious way.

 

Dylan Hotel

Located in the South of Grand Canal Square on an exclusive Victorian Street in Dublin 4, this excellent 5 star boutique hotel is close to Dublin city centre and offers you an ideal oasis in which to regain energy from your day. The Dylan hotel offers a large range of luxurious services for your comfort. You will be impressed by the quality of the Bar & Terrace’s crafted cocktails and enjoy the classic & deluxe menus of the Tavern Restaurant. Using seasonal ingredients is essential for the Tavern to offer an incomparable quality of meals.

Recipe - LEEK & POTATO SOUP

LEEK & POTATO SOUP

Try this delicious, warming, winter soup recipe. We've been loving the homemade soups prepared by Padraic every day during our internship at Fresh Eire Adventures. There's nothing better than a hot soup in the middle of a winters day. Leek & Potato soup is a staple on Irish menus so you're bound to see it on any one of your Ireland bike trips with Fresh Eire Adventures.

 

Ingredients : (for 4)

♣  5 medium potatoes                                                  plat terminé
♣  1 Red Onion   
♣  Half bulb of garlic
♣  1 large leek
♣  4 celery stalks
♣  200g Butter
♣  Large bunch of parsley
♣  1L of water

 

 

Recipe :

- To begin, wash and slice the leeks, garlic, onions and celery. Make sure all your ingredients are perfectly clean.

- Wash and peel potatoes, cut into pieces. Then, par-boil your potatoes for 20 minutes.

- Put the potatoes into another container, let them rest. Wash your pan, you will need it for the vegetables.

- Into the pan, melt butter and when the butter starts to bubble add the leeks, onions, garlic and celery and begin to sweat them.

- Add your remaining ingredients into the pan, simmer for 5 minutes and then add water to ensure a smooth blend.

- Mix them all, cover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Using a hand blender mix all ingredients into a smooth velvety texture.

- Let stand and, just before serving, add chopped parsley.

- Serve, and perhaps consider a light drizzle of Truffle-infused olive oil for a final touch.

- Enjoy!

 

 

I really appreciate discovering a vegetarian cuisine during this work experience. Usually, I don’t eat too much soup, but here with Padraic’s help I was truly surprised savouring this leek and potato soup in particular. We hope you will enjoy it.

 

moi

fresheire
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