Category Archives: Ireland

Dingle and its Peninsula

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If you’re ever going to Ireland for a week or more, you should absolutely rent a car and tour its coast. I was lucky enough to visit Dingle and its surroundings for three lovely days.

Dingle is a special town. The centre is small enough to walk through in under an hour, but it has a feel of a larger town. This small fishing town, hosts more than 50 pubs, colourful boutiques, some of the best fish restaurants in Ireland and a famous dolphin that you can see most days from the shore line.

The pubs in Dingle are unlike any I’ve been to before. Some of them double as hardware, clothing or leather shops. I think the idea originally began as the 2-in-1 store, but throughout the years with the tourist industry booming, the ‘shops’ in the pubs are little more than a novelty, but quite an interesting one at that. However, you are more than welcome to purchase whatever the pubs are selling.

Here are a few good pubs to check out while in Dingle:
Dick Mack’s  – Is a lively pub which used to be a leather shop, an aspect that is still apparent once inside. Here you can find live music, a good crowd and maybe a celebrity. They have seen a slew of famous people and there is a small walk of fame outside their front doors. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Foxy John’s –  This large pub doubles as a hardware store and also rents out bikes for the day. This is a great way to explore the Dingle Peninsula. When I visited there, I did not see anyone come in to buy tools, but I believe you could if you wanted to.

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J. Curran – Right across the street from Foxy John’s, this half clothing store half pub is where I found the cheapest pint in Dingle. The barman was friendly and the pints of Guinness were flowing. You can buy dress shirts and hats here, but you might give away that you are not local.

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O’Flaherty’s Pub – A large open spaced pub that hosts some great musical talent. I was lucky enough to hear the John Byrne Band who travelled all the way from the US, along with a following of 50 Americans. They graced the audience with some traditional Irish celtic and folk songs as well as some of their originals. 

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O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub – This pub, much like O’Flaherty’s was packed and had awesome live music. I had such a great night the night before with the John Byrne band, that when I heard they were making another appearance at O’Sullivan’s I just had to go. This was a livelier scene and everyone seemed to be having a fabulous time. The band that followed John Byrne and his band was stellar as well. It was a violinist and a guitar duo, that every once in a while would call upon some amazing vocal talent from the audience. I met the owners of the pub, and they were beyond friendly. It was clear they enjoyed being part of such a wonderful scene and made myself and others feel more than welcome. This was a highlight for sure!

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As I mentioned before, because of Dingle’s fishing culture, they have some of the best fish restaurants in Ireland (or so I heard). I travel on a bit of a shoestring budget, so without trying the restaurants I opted for the next best thing…Fish ‘n chips!

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Reel Dingle Fish- Is popular with the locals and serves up amazing fresh fried fish…try saying that five times fast! It has a good selection of fish to choose from and you can tell the owner is very passionate about the quality and taste of his food.

The Dingle peninsula is magical. You won’t ever regret taking the 47km journey around the mountains and the coastline. You can do the trek by car or bike. Be careful of the small, winding roads next to the cliffside. Don’t be too intimidated, there are guard-rails and if you go slowly around the bends you should be fine. Prepare to make several stops along the way to take in the breathtaking views of the sea at the cliff’s edge. On part of the route you will have snow capped mountains that almost touch the sky, with green, gold and brown grass leading down in to the valley before lining several small, blue lakes all this and the sea in the background. The view is unreal. You will more than likely see mountain sheep as well.

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So if you ever find the time to visit Dingle, get out and explore, meet the locals, see the inspiring Dingle peninsula, eat some fish and why not try a local Crean’s lager, brewed right in Dingle.

Safe travels,

Red

 

 

 

 

10 Things To Do In Clonakilty, Ireland

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Clonakilty is a wonderful, small town. The sense of community is very strong and apparent. After a few days, the town and its locals will find a way into your heart.  It won’t be long before you feel like a local yourself!

Here is my top 10 list of things to do while in Clonakilty:

1. Take in some live music –Basically every night you can find a music session going on in at least one of the pubs. Music worth mentioning is the traditional Irish session at De Barra’s every Monday night at 10pm.  De Barra’s also hosts livelier music later in the week in the back section, which can be a bit hidden but can house hundreds of people. Thanks to Noel Redding, bass player for the Jimi Hendrix experience who frequented De Barra’s for 20 years some of the greats have performed here. As a result, Noel and the pub owners has put this pub on the map!

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Live music in the back of De Barra’s

2. Do a Pub Crawl – There are lots of pubs to choose from so have fun with it! Some of the best are: De Barra’s, Scanells, Shanleys, Con&Maura’s and Fiddler’s Green. If you don’t dare trying pints at all the pubs, opt for a glass, which is half a pint. Local beer in Cork County is Beamish or Murphy’s.

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A pint of delicious stout!

3. Drive or get a ride to Drombeg Stone circle – One of Ireland’s most famous stone circles and most visited megalithic sites. Drombeg is about a 15-20 minute drive outside of Clonakilty.

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Drombeg stone circle

 

4. Go to the weekly Market– Every Friday in the O’Donovans hotel plaza, vendors sell an array of fresh foods ranging from a variety of olives, organic produce, fresh caught fish from Union Hall, fresh baked goods and breads, prepared meals and lots more all at fairly reasonable prices.

Ron’s oven makes great thin crust pizzas, which are cooked in a wood burning portable oven…a must try!

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Ron’s Oven pizza from the Market

5. Inchydoney Beach- Walk, bike or drive to Inchydoney beach, which is about  five kilometres from the city centre. After you’ve seen some of the beautiful coast head to the Inchydoney lodge and finish off with a beverage. All drinks can be delivered upstairs to the residents lounge, which is full of the coziest chairs and couches, books, a piano, a small bar and a few board games. Sit and enjoy!

Walking down to Inchydoney beach

Walking down to Inchydoney beach

The Residents Lounge at the Inchydoney Lodge

The Residents Lounge at the Inchydoney Lodge

6. Browse the shops – Walk along the main street and check out the many boutiques and shops. The street houses a variety of shops which sell sweets, clothing, flowers and meat. There are also lots of cafes and restaurants along this street.

Take a turn down Rossa Street, which turns in to Connolly Street and check out The Lettercollum Kitchen Project located at 22 Connolly Street, for great coffee, home cooked meals, baked goods, gourmet ingredients, specialty wines and cooking classes. Don’t leave the Lettercollum without a bar of Clonakilty Chocolate made from 100% fair trade ingredients. This delicious, not too sweet bar will surely keep you coming back for more.

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So many flavours! Mmm. Photo Credit: clonakiltychocolate.com

7. Take in a yoga class – Jessica Hatchett teaches yoga classes at the Emmet Hotel several times a week. Check her website for drop in classes. Thursday mornings are pay by donation classes, which tend to fill up, so get there early!

8.Try some of the take-out eateries – Eating out can be pricey for the budget traveler, however, there are some delicious take-away options for less that are definitely worth mentioning.
Fastnet Catch – 1 Western Road. For local, lightly battered fish served alongside a generous portion of airy thick cut chips (french fries) this place is not to be missed if fish and chips are your thing! Daily specials for 7.50E which can be shared by two people. Open in the evenings, closed Monday and Tuesday.
Sadaf Pizza Bar53 Pearse Street. Right next to De Barra’s. Don’t be fooled by their name, Sadaf, isn’t only a pizza bar, it also makes succulent kebabs, wraped in their own ‘made to order’ naan bread. Watch as they roll out the dough and cook it fresh in their pizza oven, the same in which they do for their pizzas. Both options are sure to please your palette, the tricky part is making a final decision.
Rossa Grill8 Rossa Street. For late night eats this is the only place that will be open until at least 1am.  Nothing to write home about but does a decent ‘fast food’ burger and chips.
SuperValu–  Wolfe Tone Street, at the end near the roundabout. If you want a cheap hot meal, SuperValu has great hot food selections in the back. Try the pot pies, chicken wings or other hot dinners.

9. Take a day trip or stay overnight in Kinsale – Kinsale is a fishing village, which is apparent when heading to the pier. Several boats of all kinds bob up and down with the sea and are quite the sight. The pier itself is worth a walk around and so is the town which hosts colourful shops, restaurants and cafes to suit every budget. Only a 45 minute drive from Clonakilty.

Kinsale

10. Pop in to see the Church of the Immaculate Conception – As the biggest church in Clonakilty this is worth a quick visit to see the grand interior. The exterior is nothing to scoff at either.

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The Church of the Immaculate Conception

 

Safe travels,

Red

 

A Small Town in Ireland

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Hey friends,

For the past week I have been residing in a small town in Ireland called Clonakilty. So far it is a wonderful, small town with lots to do. There are about 12 pubs, three of which I frequent often, several quaint shops, two churches, a weekly market and great views of the sea. The city is a melting pot for live music in which a music session happens nightly in at least one of the pubs. So far my favourite music experience is the Irish Traditional session which happens in a cozy bar called De Barra every Monday night. Some classics are ‘The Northwest Passage’, ‘Rolling down to old Maui’  and instrumental jigs. Needless to say it’s a relaxing evening sitting with a fresh pint next to the warm fire.

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The locals are a pleasure as well. They are kind, generous and sociable, and always eager to strike up conversations with my partner and I once they hear our lack of an accent. So far we have had drinks bought for us, we have been invited to spend a night at a couple’s home in a small fishing village nearby and have met other lovely travellers who we are looking forward to meeting in the future. I can’t explain with words how their warmth and friendliness has made us feel. We have been welcomed and feel a part of this town already. We are very much enjoying every minute of our experience here. This is a much different feeling than how we felt two years ago in Nice, France, but I digress.

If you ever get a chance to visit Ireland, you absolutely should! Don’t forget to check out small towns as well, Kilkenny was also great!

Safe travels,

Little Red