Dave and I were in Dingle in Kerry for a few days with friends last week and on our last night we went to the Blue Zone for dinner. It’s a jazz, wine bar that predominantly serves pizza. The first thing I’ll say is it really doesn’t look like much from the outside but when we googled places for pizza in Dingle, it was the first to pop up. The place itself had a nice relaxed vibe. There was some jazz music playing in the background. I’d love to know if they ever have live jazz playing. That would really add to the atmosphere. We got there around 9.30pm and ordered a drink and some food. The two negative things I have to say about the place were both about the drinks. The first was that the prosecco on sale was really not very nice. That’s not a complaint though, just a matter of taste. The second negative was that the bottle of red wine ordered cost €27 and we had bought it in another pub the day before for €15.

That being said, the pizza was one of the best I’ve ever had. I ordered the Hangover Cure pizza which was pretty much every type of meat imaginable – beef, chicken, pork, ham and Italian sausage. The base was thin but not too thin and it was lovely and crispy. It had a kind of yellow colour to it so they may use polenta to make it. Dave got the Oriental Mood pizza which had duck, lemongrass and red peppers. We also got a side of garlic potato wedges and they were delicious. Molly got the Spicy Chicken Salad and it was huge and the presentation was brilliant. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend this place for a relaxing night with some enjoyable food. 


Dave & I are in Kerry for a few days with some friends and yesterday we decided to do the Dingle Distillery tour. Dingle make whiskey, gin & vodka so there was something for everybody. 


The tour costs €15 and probably takes about an hour in full. It starts off with a very detailed description of distilling, where it probably started, how it works in Ireland and how long we’ve been doing it. He also gave us a brief history of Dingle Distillery before bringing us up to see where the magic happens. I learned that in Ireland we triple distill whiskey (or maybe vodka & gin too, I’m not 100% sure on that) and in Scotland, they double distill. We also got to see the alcohol in the large barrels (correct me if anyone knows their official name!) at the different stages. The tour wasn’t very long but it was quite detailed and the tour guide was so good and knowledgeable on the area he was talking about that it almost felt like the guy who owns the place took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to show you around. It was very relaxed and didn’t feel rehearsed at all. 


Now it was on to the fun part. Tasting time!! The guide brought us to a seating area with long benches and there was lots of bottles of tonic water and ginger ale. He gave us each a measure of Dingle Whiskey in a lovely little glass, along with a shot of a paler coloured liquid which is the whiskey before it has matured. First he gets you to smell the liquid and rub it in your hands and smell it again. After that he told us to taste it. I won’t lie, whiskey is not for me at any stage so after trying a tiny bit, I couldn’t bring myself to drink what was in my actual glass. Those who did drink it, really enjoyed it. 


After the whiskey tasting, he asked us if we wanted to try the gin or vodka. 4 of them went with gin, while the other two of us opted for vodka. I had to taste a tiny bit of it straight and I was surprised at how much smoother it was than some of the more commonly drank, but cheaper, vodka brands. I would normally drink my vodka with soda water and a good dash of lime cordial (I’m not a connoisseur by any means!!) so I wasn’t sure if I could manage it with tonic water because I really don’t like it. I gave it a go anyway and squeezed some fresh lime in too. I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it and I could see where gin drinkers come from when they say how refreshing the tonic water is.

As part of the tour you get to keep the glass, which costs €5 to buy in their shop so all in all, the tour is a bargain and I would definitely recommend it if you happen to visit Dingle in Kerry anytime soon! 

Fish Shack Cafe

The sun was out at the weekend so Dave and I went took a trip out to Malahide. First we went to Malahide Castle for a stroll and then we went into the seaside village. We were going to go and have a drink somewhere before heading home but instead came across Fish Shack Cafe. We are both big seafood fans and although there was only beer or wine on the menu, we decided to forgo the drink in favour of some food. I was glad we did. 

Galway Mussels in white wine sauce

We ordered Shrimp Nachos and Steamed Mussels, to share, from the ‘Fish Snacks’ section of the menu. The nachos came with Boston shrimp, chorizo, cheese and tabasco sauce. The mussels were fresh Galway mussels steamed with white wine, shallots and garlic. They came with some bread and we also ordered a side of chips to share. It was a huge bowl of mussels and they were really tasty. The nachos came with lots of shrimp and chorizo and although I’m unsure what the cheese was, it was so good. All of that and a Diet Coke came to less than €25. The entire thing was delicious, we got to enjoy it in the sunshine and we left absolutely nothing on our plates. We’ll definitely be going back. 

Shrimp Nachos

You can check out the Fish Shack Cafe menu here and you can check out their two other locations too.


On our recent trip to Fethard on Sea in Wexford, we went to Loftus Hall to take the tour. I’ve been going down to Fethard at least once a years for the past 4 years and had never done the tour. 

Loftus Hall is a mansion on the Hook Peninsula in Co. Wexford. It is said to be the most haunted house in Ireland.

Dave is really interested in all things haunted so he wanted to see it. I was looking forward to it & love an interactive tour. He really doesn’t so I wasn’t holding out much hope, but we both really enjoyed it. It was interactive in a great way, not a cheesy way, and the tour guide we had was pretty funny. 


The tour lasts a little less than an hour and the guide shares the history of the house and shows you several rooms in the downstairs as well as a beautiful stair case, which is apparently one of only three of it’s kind. One of the other two sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on the Titanic and the other is in The Vatican.

For €10 for an adult, I would definitely recommend this tour if you find yourself in this tiny part of the world…

JFK Arboretum
Dave & I are in Fethard on Sea in Co.Wexford for a long weekend and decided to spend as much time as possible outside on Friday because the rest of the weekend is supposed to be pretty rainy & windy. 

JFK Arboretum
We decided to go to the John F. Kennedy Arboretum. This park filled with a collection of international plants and trees is dedicated to the memory of JFK. 

For anyone unfamiliar with President Kennedy’s connection to Co.Wexford, his grandfather lived there before emigrating to Boston in 1847. In June 1963, John F. Kennedy visited Ireland. He, along with his sisters, visited their Irish homestead in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford. He also visited Co. Galway where he received the freedom of the city. A life sized bronze statue of JFK can be found in New Ross, Co. Wexford.

If you ever visit the New Ross area of Wexford, I would definitely recommend a trip to the arboretum. I wouldn’t be a gardener, by any means, as in I have killed several cacti, but I would definitely recommend it for a walk. We brought our lunch with us and had that before heading off for a stroll with an ice-cream. I think we walked for almost 4km and we didn’t even see it all. The arboretum also includes a cafe, picnic area, playground, a miniature railway (open in July & August only) and a lake. I really enjoyed taking pictures of all of the different flowers and think it was definitely worth the €5 entrance fee per adult. To find out more about the JFK Arboretum, click here

JFK Arboretum
If anyone can identify these beautiful plants, please do so in the comments. 

The 2nd Saturday MarketLin Design
Lin Design

I was in town on Saturday doing some book shopping with my Dad when he noticed a sign for a Saturday market. I’m a sucker for markets so we went around to have a look. The market is called The 2nd Saturday Market and as you may have guessed, it’s on the second Saturday of every month. We were lucky that that was the day we happened to be in the city. It’s in The Chocolate Factory on King’s Inns Street in Dublin and it’s worth a visit if you are in the area. There are lots of lovely handmade, homemade and vintage things to buy including food, jewellery & art. 

I bought the beautiful necklace pictured above from Lin Design. It’s made of concrete and I thought it was really unusual. They had all sorts of concrete designs from candle holders to jewellery and even Darth Vader molds. I love the necklace and can definitely see myself going back for more. I’m already kind of raging I didn’t buy a second necklace I was eyeing up and 1 of the tea-light holders.

You can check out some of the beautiful things Lin Design make and sell, on Facebook here. The prices were good and they’d make lovely gifts for others as well as yourself. 

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Let me tell you, Irish people LOVE to give out about Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, I can complain about our government like the best of them, but I still love this country. I meet people all the time who complain about Ireland and say how much they hate it, yet they’re still here. I like to think of Ireland the same way I think of the people I love. It has flaws but it’s worth it because there’s so much to love. 

Warning: I’m about to boast about my country. 

I recently found out that the Gardens in Powerscourt were voted 3rd in ‘The Top 10 Gardens in the World’ by National Geographic. How freaking awesome is that? Even better news….they’re only about 45 minutes from where I live. I’d been to Powerscourt Waterfall but never the Gardens so Kiara and I decided to take Layla there for the day and bring a picnic. We had a lovely day out and I was pretty impressed with the Gardens. Unfortunately the photos aren’t the best because I didn’t have my SLR with me but they’ll do.

I’d recommend people add it to their list if they have a spare day in Ireland. Is there anywhere nice to visit near where you live?

 

If you want to find out more, go to the Powerscourt website

You can also check out the National Geographic’s Top 10 Gardens here

Stephen, Chris & Mam Mam, Hepsiba & I Guinness Brewers Taste test Dublin City Dublin Mountains

1) Stephen, Chris & Mam enjoying a pint  & watching the football,  2) Enjoying a drink with Mam & Hepsiba. I was pretty excited that Hepsiba loved Irish Cider,  3) Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease for St. James’ Gate Brewery,  4) I love that they haven’t tried to completely modernise the building on the inside,  5) The mini Guinness you receive for the taste test. I now know how to properly drink Guinness, I still hate how it tastes,  6) Dublin City,  7) The Dublin Mountains

I know I’m not the only one who feels like they could know more about their own city but because it’s so familiar you rarely get to really see it. Every now and then I get to do the tourist thing in Dublin. I must admit it’s mostly when we have family or friends visiting from other countries. Last week my second cousin Chris from Canada came to visit along with his Chilean fiancée Hepsiba. They stayed with us for a few days and mostly found their own way around Dublin while we all worked. On the Saturday we brought them to our local pub to watch the football and sample a few Irish drinks before going into the Guinness Storehouse. As I say, it’s rare I get to do the tourist thing but I’ve done the Guinness tour at least 5 times. It’s always enjoyable and I hadn’t been in a while so It was fun to go and remind myself of the story behind ‘the black stuff’. You get some information on how it’s made as well as the history of Guinness. A new to me section included learning how to properly taste a Guinness or any beer really. Unfortunately it still hasn’t converted me. The grand finale is the Gravity Bar on the top floor with a nice view of Dublin City where you can sample a free pint of Guinness.

It was great to show Chris and Hepsiba a bit of the village we live in as well as a bit of the history of Ireland. After all, the Guinness is the most important reason to visit. 

Sunny Ireland

(Photo courtesy of my brother Stephen McCann)

We’ve had a couple of weeks of really sunny weather here in Ireland lately. Unfortunately the rain showed itself yesterday evening and continued all through the night. It got me thinking about how the weather can really affect your mood. In my opinion  – and it’s likely that I’m completely biased and it’s definite that I don’t have all that much evidence – there’s no better place to be than Ireland when the sun is shining. It’s a rare thing because we’re lucky if we get a few weeks of sunshine each year. However, you’re almost guaranteed to find sun here the first week of June because the Leaving Cert exams (post primary state exams for anyone who’s not familiar with our system) are happening and the first week of September because the kids are just back in school. This might seem like a ridiculous theory but it proves itself as fact almost every year. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes…the effect the sun has. As a general rule, although a tiny country, Irish people have a pretty good reputation around the world for being friendly. However, I’m absolutely sure that if you visited Ireland in the sun and then again in the rain, you would really see a difference.  The sun brings out the absolute best in Irish people. Everyone is happier and friendlier. I met a woman once who moved to Ireland during a gorgeous Irish summer. She loved it so much and couldn’t wait to tell everyone at home how amazing Ireland and Irish people were. Once the autumn and winter came in she saw a massive change in the attitudes of people in Ireland. They were still nice but not as happy or friendly. So if you’re from outside Ireland and thinking of coming to visit, I’d suggest early June or early September.

 

walking in the Gap of Dunloe

My boots

I went to Killarney this weekend with my Mam and Aunty Lilly. We were having a girl’s weekend and it was great to relax and enjoy Killarney, which is a beautiful part of the country. Of course it rained most of the time, but in my experience it always seems to rain in Killarney.

We went for a lovely walk through the Gap of Dunloe, however we did get caught in the rain. Of course Mam forgot her runners so I had to lend her mine. This resulted in me wearing my boots. Safe to say those two wouldn’t make it into the U.S. Marines because they don’t believe in the ‘never leave a man behind’ philosophy.

XOXO