Archive for March, 2008

West Cork Garden Trail for 2008 is launched

March 28, 2008

The West Cork Garden Trail is always a favourite with our guests each year. The nearest gardens to Kilbrogan House is Lisselan. Designed in the 1800s this is a beautiful sculptured garden set on the banks of the Argideen River. The garden features everything from a rockery to rustic bridges, flagstone pathways and many unusual plants. Lisselan’s fuchsia garden officially opened in 2007 and is a must see for fuchsia lovers.

Glebe Gardens in Baltimore and Bantry House in Bantry are two other gardens featuring in the programme that are work a visit Both are also members of West Cork Calling

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Arts and Crafts Courses near Bandon, Cork

March 25, 2008

There are three members of the West Cork Calling network that offer craft courses within a short drive of Bandon, namely Crackpots and Kinsale Pottery in Kinsale and Rossmore pottery in Clonakilty.  Some of these courses might interested guests at Kilbrogan House Bed and Breakfast or Self Catering.

Kinsale Pottery runs a host of different classes for all ages including pottery, drawing and painting, glass fusing, bronze casting, jewellery making, sculpture, silk painting and mosaic making. The facility accommodates up to 20 people in one class or 40 as part of a group.

Crackpots is located in the heart of Kinsale and the pottery workshops are held on the premises. Their workshops concentrate on various pottery techniques and have recently included working with red terracotta clay using sawdust firing.

 Jim Turner and Etain Hickey at Rossmore Pottery have been working away at their pottery for over 20 years and have a shop in the centre of Clonakilty. Their pottery courses take place in a farmhouse just 15 minutes from Clonakilty. They offer everything from Raku to Kiln building as well as master courses for more experienced potters.

West Cork Calling Tourism Group launches blog and revamped website

March 24, 2008

Kilbrogan House is part of West Cork Calling, a co-operative network of businesses spread across West Cork that offers a wide range of courses, activities and accommodation.  The group has been set up by the members themselves who were part of a Mergo initiative put together by Failte Ireland, the Irish Tourist Board.  The West Cork Calling network should enable the participants to market their products directly to the customer without sizeable individual advertising costs and/or costs associated with marketing via a third party.

Many local networks exist within towns in the region.  This group felt that a diverse network spread throughout the region would complement the local networks.  The ultimate aim of the group is to get members to work together to offer packages.

The network allows small and large businesses to participate together as the barrier to entry in terms of financial outlay is low and there is no exit barrier.  All the participants strive to achieve a common goal of attracting tourist to the region and at the same time offering first class products.  It is anticipated that the network will double in size over the next 12 months giving the customer an even wider choice of products and services.

For anybody interested the contact details are as follows:

http://www.westcorkcalling.com  and email: westcorkcalling@gmail.com

Kilbrogan House welcomes guests from Malta

March 23, 2008

Last year a group of six Canadian doctors spent three days with us. During the previous year they had spent their holidays at a self catering property on Gozo, an island off the coast of Malta. They highly recommended their holiday in Gozo so we made a careful note of this tip.

Yesterday we were fortunate to have Jacques and Melanie to stay. They both live in Luxemburg. Jacques is from Gozo so we were thrilled to hear first hand from a local about where and when to visit. His recommendation is to go in April when it is not too hot and when there aren’t too many tourists around.

We asked Jacques about Mintoff and he was most surprised that anybody here would even remember this former prime minister of Malta. Mintoff is still alive and is 91.

Jacques and Melanie went to Cork for the evening and ended up eating at Wagamama which they said was very good. (I didn’t even know that there was a ‘Wag’ in Cork)

Jacques has been using a tom tom gps to navigate his way around the Irish countryside.  He had downloaded irish software for the trip so that the mapping would be up-to-date.  However,  the tom tom let him down around Glencar in Kerry and they had a very tough time finding the way to their accommodation.  Luckily Bandon did feature on the tom tom!!

Bandon’s St Patricks Day Parade

March 22, 2008

Full marks go to the organizers of the Bandon St Patricks Day parade as it gets better and better every year.  We did miss a pipe band and some Irish dancers so perhaps we could aim to include those next year.  All the groups and individuals that paraded from the scouts to the farmers on their classic tractors and the classic cars were great as was the performance by the Fanzini Brothers before and after the parade itself.

Our American guests from Chicago loved the old tractors.  They were expecting our river to be green like in Chicago but aside from that, they loved the small intimate feel of our parade compared with their massive parade.  They had a great lunch afterwards at The Poachers Inn

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A walk past Charles Fort in Kinsale

March 21, 2008

We highly recommend the walk that starts from the small car park at the far side of Charles Fort near Summercove, Kinsale.  The walk takes you along by the sea to the Kinsale boat yard.  You can watch the boats coming in and out of the harbour and you also get a tremendous view of Charles Fort.  Check out the photo below and take yourself down to the fort.  Afterwards we often stop for tea at the Blue Haven cafe in Kinsale – in my opinion the best cafe in Kinsale!

Charles Fort Kinsale

A visit to Italistro, an authentic Italian restaurant in Bandon

March 21, 2008

Last week two of us visited Daniele Quatrana’s new Italian restaurant in Bandon called Italistro. Daniele is the owner and is from Italy though has lived here for over 30 years. He told us that nearly all the fixtures and fittings have come from Italy and it certainly has that feeling.

The surroundings really work. Daniele has chosen clean pastel colours and a very modern decor. The restaurant is also cleverly laid out so that there is ample room between the tables and there is a feeling of privacy yet a buzz around the place.

I chose a spicy hot pizza and had the choice of three different sizes with a thick or thin base all at different prices. What I really like about this menu is that you can have just a pasta or pizza or if you feel a bit more peckish, you can choose a steak or other meats, ie he has catered for everybody at all price brackets. Our bill was less than euro 30 per head for a pizza and a couple of glasses of white wine which I thought was very reasonable. Incidentally, the pizza was the best that I have eaten in a long time and so far all my guests from Kilbrogan House who have visited the restaurant have been favourably impressed. Daniele, we have been waiting for such a restaurant in Bandon for a long time so well done!!

Lunch at the Capella in Castlemartyr

March 21, 2008

We had two American guests to stay here at Kilbrogan House. They had lunch at The Capella on their way to us and raved about it. They were, perhaps, a bit biased as one works for the company that owns the hotel. In any case, I had the good fortune to be invited to lunch at the hotel last Saturday so was able to check out if their recommendation was credible.

I thought the experience was tremendous and great value at euro 40 a head for two courses. The lunch itself was superb. There were at least five choices for each of the courses and between us we sampled most of what was on offer. There was nothing but praise from our group. The dining room looks out at the ruins of the castle and a recently created garden. We were a group of six and our table was somewhat hidden away at the end of the dining room – almost like a private room so we didn’t disturb any of the other diners.

What was so special about our Capella lunch was the entire experience – The ambiance, the stately lounge with a fabulously ornate ceiling. Go early and take a tea before lunch as you won’t be disappointed. We walked around the garden afterwards and took a peak into the spa which looks wonderful. The living accommodation has been neatly tucked away at the side of the old historic house. This project must have cost millions to develop and every last detail has been carefully worked out.

Tom Doorley wrote a very favourable review of the lunch here and we concur with his findings! Take a trip their yourself for a special occasion. This hotel is light years ahead of places like the new Carlton in Kinsale. It has a magical, special ambiance. It’s a shame that the Capella don’t make more of the history of this magical place as it is such an integral part of the entire experience.

A visit to Lismore Castle and Gardens

March 21, 2008

Last weekend we had the good fortune to take part in a cream tea in Lismore Castle itself in aid of the Lismore Travel Writers Festival. It is a rare treat for the public to gain admission to the grand medieval style pugin banqueting hall. The original castle was built in 1185 so is steeped in history. It was acquired by the current owners, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, in 1753 and was then remodelled in gothic style using cut stone shipped in from Derbyshire near their residence, Chatsworth House.

Lismore Castle

60 of us sat down to an old fashioned style cream tea and were warmly welcomed by Lord and Lady Burlington. Lord Burlington is the son of the present Duke of Devonshire. After tea, we were taken on a very informative tour of the garden by the head gardener. Dozens of camellias and all kinds of varieties of magnolias were in full bloom as were a sea of daffodils. The gardens and Lismore Art Gallery which is housed in a once derelict west wing of the castle are open to the public.

We would highly recommend a visit to Lismore Castle Gardens. The many herbaceous borders are a sight to behold in the summer months.

We wish the Lismore Travel Writers event every success and congratulate the Burlingtons for their kind sponsorship.

Incidentally Kilbrogan House was built by the Duke of Devonshire in 1818 but was sold off in the late 1800s.

Lismore Castle Gardens

The Fanzini Brothers visit Kilbrogan House

March 14, 2008

Yesterday  at Kilbrogan House we were fortunate to have a visit from the Fanzini Brothers who were performing at the Bandon St Patricks Day parade. I highly recommend their show to anybody who is looking for a couple of multi talented entertainers. They have been performing for years and easily adapt to all age groups. These two hail from the gaeltacht hence are multi lingual.

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