Archive for the ‘food and drink’ Category

Bar Lunch at Ballynahinch Castle

February 14, 2009

Ballynahinch Castle never disappoints!  Not only is the location superb with fabulous views over the river and  mountains but the food in the bar is always good  (Sadly I can’t speak for the accommodation because I stay with family in the area).

Unlike many new hotels around the countryside that all seem alike (in fact, once in these hotels you could be anywhere in the world), this hotel has retained its original charm from decades ago.  Guests and local fishermen, gillies etc all mingle together in the cosy bar in front of a roaring fire.  There is nothing like a hearty soup and a plateful of sandwiches after a day’s activities in Connemara.  There are loads of fun walks nearby, either in the woods or along the beach at Dogs Bay near Roundstone.

Even if you don’t plan to stay here, drop by and have a drink and a snack at the bar.  You’ll love it!!


Breakfast on Irish Rail – Cork to Dublin

February 14, 2009

The celtic tiger has definitely forced us into complacency about what we eat!  Having spent the few days before my train trip savouring the delightful fresh crispy pain au chocolat at The Yew Tree Bakery in Oughterard, Co Galway, my breakfast on the Cork to Dublin train was a real let down.

For starters, forget being able to buy a cup of herb tea (Take note Irish Rail – Herb Tea Bags last a very long time and are not heavy to transport!).  All I got when I asked for this was a vacant stare from a seriously unenthusiastic chap who spoke very poor English  (Should I have told him that there are probably 100s in this country who would be more than happy for his job right now!).  So I settled for watery hot chocolate (or rather, as it said on the cup – a hot chocolate flavoured drink).  Avoid this, it’s terrible!  For euro 5.25 I bought the hot chocolate and a fruit danish in so much plastic that it felt like I was unwrapping a christmas present and destroying the planet in the process.  The list of additives on the packaging was beyond belief and I seriously wondered if I would survive the day.

There is no reason why food standards cannot be much higher on our public transport system.  Starbucks – Please come and help us out!   Tourists  – Be warned!  Bring a pack snack if travelling by rail here

A snack at the G Hotel in Galway

February 14, 2009

The G Hotel is located on the edge of a shopping complex on the outskirts of Galway.  It overlooks the bay so be sure to ask for a room with a view over the bay if you are staying  (The back looks over the likes of PC World etc – not a pretty sight!).

The decor certainly doesn’t disappoint – A glitzy purple theme with a certain wow factor.  The bar and dining room do look a bit ‘nightclubish’ during the day time so we chose to sit in the bright seated area next to the reception – This area has a great view over the bay and if you are lucky, you will be serenaded by a pianist like we were.

We tucked into scones, soup and burgers.  The food was disappointing aside from the crumbly plain and chocolate scones with a light dusting of icing sugar – These were delicious.  The soup was far too watery.  The burgers were way below average as were the tired looking chips.  In fact, the best part of that dish was the thin lid of crispy pastry used as a decoration.

Two of us had drinks but I tried to plump for hot chocolate to go with my scones – No luck.  There had obviously been a run on the hot chocolate as this drink wasn’t available which I considered poor for this class of hotel.  I settled for mint tea which was good but it came in the smallest tea pot I have ever seen and was barely enough to fill the cup.

Visit here for the view, the quirky purple decor and perhaps the chance to listen to the pianist in the background.  Stick to the scones and definitely avoid the soup and burgers.  Personally, I hate to see Pallas foods listed on the menu as one of the suppliers and this was the case at the G hotel.  What is wrong with the food in this country now is that we have become far too dependant on bulk suppliers such as Cuisine de France and Pallas Foods.  All chefs have to do is open the package and warm up the produce.  Perhaps now that the economy is in meltdown, we will see the re-emergence of the artisan bakers, cooks etc.  I really look forward to that as I am tired of seeing the same produce showing up in every outlet!

Boats Bistro in Graiguenamanagh

June 26, 2008

I nipped up to Graiguenamanagh for the opening of a new restaurant called Boats Bistro which is situated on the banks of the river Barrow.  The restaurant is in a superb location overlooking the river.  Graiguenamanagh is a magical town and well worth a visit if you happen to be visiting Kilkenny.  I love the restaurant that Georgina and Arnie have launched and I wish them every success.

DaVida’s in Bandon

June 24, 2008

For all those interested in Music in Bandon, DaVida’s have an interesting line up of gigs:

Friday, 27th June @ 9.30pm Tom Shaner (sings Ghost songs, waltzes & rock n roll)

Saturday, 28th June @ 9.30pm Vinyl Requiem (Righteous Rock)

Saturday, 5th July @ 9.30pm Emma (acoustic)

Wednesday, 16th July @ 9.30pm Polskadots (Gypsy and world music) Euro 15

Saturday, 26th July @ 9.30pm DJ Ash (Funk soul sensation)

Ballyvolane Country House

May 31, 2008

I had the good fortune to attend an informal lunch at Ballyvolane Country House in Castlelyons near Fermoy. What a magical place. The house was originally built in 1728 in the georgian country house style with three storeys. The top floor was removed in 1847 to create a two storey house with an extensive west end wing. The Greens have lived here since 1955 and run it as a successful country house guest house.

The gardens around the house include a mixture of deciduous trees, shrubs, both formal and informal areas and a large walled garden with copious amounts of vegetables all planted very neatly. Apparently it takes 9 hours to mow the lawn around the house and the croquet lawn looks absolutely perfect without a hump or bump in site. The garden at this time of year is a dream with bluebells throughout the woods and Rhododendrons, azaleas etc all in full bloom.

For anybody who feels like a quiet country break near the Blackwater, this is the place to stay.


April 29, 2008

An interesting article appeared in the papers this week about Starbucks. The share price has halved in the past year and the brand which has suffered from soaring commodity prices and the American downturn has been stumbling.

One young chap in New York commented that it’s too pricey, the coffee isn’t as good as it used to be and lastly it has become New York’s public rest rooms. Another chap pointed out that the only difference between a grande (medium) and a venti (large) coffee is the extra milk but no extra coffee.

I am a staunch advocate of the local cafe outlets so would not be overjoyed to see a Starbucks in Bandon. In this country we have come a long way from the watery instant coffee that used to be on offer to cafes that offer top class produce. Try The Early Bird, Urru and Seats in Bandon. You will certainly not be disappointed. Each of these cafes has a unique atmosphere and layout and each one offers great coffee. We don’t realize how lucky we are. We could have a high street full of chains all offering the same standard ‘school uniform like’ fair.

Many of our English guests here at Kilbrogan House have commented on how great it is to shop in a town like Bandon where there are so many independent stores. Lets keep it that way! Who wants to sample the same thing everywhere we go.

Innishannon Flower Festival

April 25, 2008

The launch of the Innishannon Flower Festival is this evening at 7pm. This is a joint venture between St Marys Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church Innishannon Church of Ireland and the funds will be split between their respective restoration projects. The cause is a worthy one and the entrance fee is only euro 10 which includes the admission to the festival in both churches and tea in the national school opposite St Marys Church.

Many Flower Clubs are taking part in this festival and the churches look truly amazing inside. Take yourself down to Innishannon over the next few days. You can even buy some plants at the plant sale in the tent at the back of Christ Church.

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:  and email:

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!!