Wednesday, October 3, 2012

From Muggort's Bay to Mallow

We swung southeast from Waterford to Dungarvan, a town with a picturesque harbor and pleasant central square.  A few shuttered shops were sad reminders, however, of the economic difficulties Ireland faces with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.  People were uniformly pessimistic about the chances of the economy recovering any time in the foreseeable future.  Indeed, conditions could get worse before they get better as many businesses have been 'hanging on' in the hope of a recovery that has proven elusive.  Despite this situation, however, we found the people unflaggingly helpful and always willing to share a laugh. 

Farther down the coast, Ardmore is a maze of twisting, narrow streets that, if navigated carefully, or luckily, will lead one to the Cliff House hotel.  Poised high on a cliff side outside of town, the hotel has a stunning and expansive view of the Celtic Sea.  A glass-walled restaurant, and a spacious outside deck, allow a visitor to enjoy excellent lunch while taking in the panorama of towering cliffs, green fields, and a roiling, white capped sea. 

We travelled onward to Cork, then north to Mallow and the Longueville House, a traditional Irish country manor home that is operated by husband/wife third-generation owners who go out of the way to make guests feel like part of the family.  The bar and, particularly, the lounge are great places to enjoy a cocktail and relax and the food and beverage manager is as helpful as the owners in making guests feel comfortable.  On Sunday, as a featured course for brunch, the chef-owner roasted a pig in the fireplace lounge.  The aroma was intoxicating and we anticipated, justly, a great meal.  All in all, the meals at Longueville were spectacular, including the best lamb that either of us has ever tasted.


Sunrise out of our window

The conservatory turned into a fairy tail of lace and garlands

That's a piglet roasting in front of the fireplace

We took time to stroll a small part of the 400 acre property and enjoyed playing with the family dogs and watching a flock of sheep mill about.  Although we didn't try it, Longueville also boasts terrific salmon fishing.  A wedding took place on the property while we were there, and it is difficult to imagine a prettier or more tranquil setting for a couple to celebrate their nuptials.

Owner's kids and friends we're playing in the hay loft

The egg yolks were bright orange, this is why.

This is why the lamb was the BEST we'd ever tasted!

Ruins of the original Longueville Manor across the way

Mallow served as our base to explore the Kinsale area to the south and its beautiful harbor.  We enjoyed the variety of shopping in town and lunch at the Fishy Fish restaurant.  The meal was memorable, as all of the fresh product is locally sourced, a fact emphasized by framed photos on the wall of the fisherman who supply what the restaurant serves.  A short drive from Kinsale is Timoleague, which we visited to view the abandoned abbey ruins, sited on a hill with a view across an aged graveyard to the sea beyond.  A gripping, fitting view for us to remember as we prepared to head west to Killarney and the Ring of Kerry.

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