Rita and Simon, May 28th 2011

 
We hope that you have some time before or after the wedding to see some more of Ireland.  On this page are some recommendations about places to visit, stay and eat.

Of course there is too much to see in Cork and beyond for us to be able to describe it all here!  If you have a question about any aspect of your plans (no matter how small or large!) then please use the contact page to write to us and we will be happy to give you more personal advice and opinions. Rita particularly enjoys being the 'local travel guide' for those who visit Ireland and would love to share her knowledge of Ireland with you! We will be regularly updating these pages so please do check back often as you begin to make your plans.

There are several online resources for planning your trip that we find useful:
  • We recommend Georgina Campbell's guide when looking for places to stay and eat in any part of Ireland.
  • The Blue Book is a list of high-end country houses and hotels for those of you looking for a special stay.
  • The Irish Farmhouse Holiday Assocation has a listing of farmhouses that offer bed and breakfast.
  • The Bridgestone Guide is another guide to restaurants, places to stay, and food producers in Ireland that we often use.  While a taste of what you'll get in the guides is provided on the website, if you would like more detailed listing (by county) of a food-centered vacation! then it is best to try and pick one of these up. Two recent editions (The Irish Food Guide 2010 and The 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland 2010) are available on both the Bridgestone website and through Amazon. There is even a fitting description of our wedding chef at Longueville House on this site along with a "Who's Who" listing of those making their mark on the Irish food scene today.
  • menupages.ie is a comprehensive listing of places to eat in Ireland, with menus and reviews.
  • DiscoverIreland is the website of Fáilte Ireland, the official tourist information agency for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • GoIreland is another tourist website that has listings of accommodation and things to do across Ireland.


Picture
The English Market in Cork
CORK CITY

Places to see
The centre of Cork is quite compact and less than 1 mile from the Honan Chapel, where the wedding ceremony will be held.
  • The English Market is a wonderful indoor food market that started in 1788 and has some of the best food vendors in Ireland.  It also has the Farm Gate Café, run by Kay Harte, which the Bridgestone Guide hails as "uniquely bespoke variations on Ireland's traditional dishes."  The English Market is open from 8:30am to 5pm Monday through Saturday. 
  • The wedding church, Honan Chapel, is on the campus of University College Cork.  As well as the chapel, the old Main Quad of the university is worth seeing.  There is also the Glucksman Gallery on campus, which is free.  A map of the UCC campus that shows the Chapel, Main Quad and Gallery is here.
Places to eat
  • Ivory Tower: While it has been about ten years since Rita and her family first went here when she was at University College Cork, this Cork institution has attracted adventurous diners for years with Seamus O'Connell's eclectic and passionately created dishes. This one really shows that Irish food can push the boundaries of its gastronomic domain. Definitely worth a visit for a one-of-a-kind food experience!
  • Café Paradiso: While we are not vegetarians per se, Denis Cotter is renowned throughout Ireland for his restaurant which gives glorious seasonal Irish vegetables the focus they deserve in this unique Cork city establishment. His restaurant is consistently ranked as one of the best in Ireland.  We recommend early booking.  Phone 021 427 7939 (011 353 21 427 7939 from the US, 00353 21 427 7937 from the UK).
  • Georgina Campbell's listing for Cork city places to eat.

Places to Stay
Garnish House. Phone 021 427 5111 (or 011 353 21 427 5111 from the US, 00353 21 427 5111 from the UK).  This bed and breakfast is clean and modern and is only 200 yards from Honan Chapel.  The rate is about €55/US$70 per person per night.

Other information about Cork City



Picture
Dunmanus Bay, West Cork. Taken by Simon, May 2010.

WEST CORK AND KERRY

If you have only a few days before or after the wedding to see something of Ireland then we recommend going to West Cork and Kerry.  These are about a 1 1/2 hour drive from the wedding reception area and are some of the most beautiful areas of Ireland.  It is a 2 to 3 hour drive back to Shannon airport, for those of you who are returning to North America from there. As well as scenery, there are historical sights, outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and horseriding, wonderful pubs and good food!





Highlights
  • Killarney Lakes are beautiful and the nearby town of Killarney is the biggest in the area with many places to stay, stores, etc.  Ireland's highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, can be accessed from Killarney, as can Killarney National Park.
  • The Dingle peninsula is near to Killarney, has fantastic scenery and makes for a wonderful day trip from Killarney.
  • The Ring of Kerry is the next peninsula south from Dingle and is equally beautiful!  It is possible to take a day trip by coach around the Ring from Killarney if you do not want to face driving on the narrow roads on the peninsula.  Just off the westernmost part of the peninsula is Skellig Michael, a 7th century monastic complex on an isolated island and a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • The town of Kenmare is 1 hour south of Killarney. This is a smaller town than Killarney but we think it is nicer.  It is also convenient for the Ring of Kerry. It has two very good hotels (Sheen Falls Lodge and Park Hotel) as well as many other small hotels and bed & breakfast houses.  There is a good selection of shops for woolen goods in Kenmare.
  • Further south again, we really like the town of Bantry. It is well located for many beautiful areas of West Cork, such as the Sheep's Head and Mizen peninsulas, both of which make for a beautiful drive.
  • Along the southern coast of West Cork are some very quaint villages and small towns: Crookhaven, Schull, Ballydehob and Baltimore. Schull has a farmers' market on a Sunday morning that is worth going to. Beyond Crookhaven is Mizen Head, the most southwesterly point of Ireland.   The next land west is America!

Places to Eat

  • Good Things Café, Durrus, near Bantry. We ate here a couple of years ago and it's the best meal that we've had in West Cork!
  • Annie's in Ballydehob. Another good choice with lots of local produce.  You go to the pub across the street for an aperitif and they call you back when your food is ready!
  • Georgina Campbell's guide to Ireland has a list of recommended places to eat in Cork and Kerry.  This is our most trusted guide to places to eat and stay.


Places to Stay
  • Georgina Campbell's recommendations for places to stay in West Cork and Kerry.
  • Another excellent accommodation guide is the Blue Book to country houses and luxury hotels, several of which are in Cork and Kerry.
  • More coming soon!

Other Resources
  • DiscoverIreland webpages for Cork and Kerry, including information on accommodation, activities and events.
  • West Cork Food: "A Taste of West Cork" is a local co-operative that brings together many of the wonderful food producers in the area.  The website has a map showing the location of many of them.
  • Killarney National Park website, including information on places to visit within it.



Picture
The Front Square of Trinity College Dublin. Taken by Simon.
DUBLIN


We think Dublin is a great place to visit, but then we do live here!  More than any other place in Ireland, we are happy to give you advice if you have particular requests or queries.  Below is a very abbreviated list of places to see and things to do that we could recommend.










Places to see
The city centre is very compact and most of the major sights are within a mile of each other.
  • Trinity College Dublin was founded in 1592.  The campus has old squares and the library houses the Book of Kells.  If you're in Dublin before the wedding then let Simon know as he will give you a short tour of the book, or at least get you in for free!
  • The Guinness Storehouse: it's not a traditional brewery tour so don't expect to be shown the brewery itself, but the tour ends at the Gravity bar with a pint and a great view of the city.
  • Museums: the National Museum has many beautiful artifacts from Ireland's history and has 2 locations in Dublin: one for archaeology in the city centre and another for decorative arts about 1 mile from the centre.  Along with the National Gallery, entry is free.  The Gallery has a good cafeteria for lunch.
  • Two beautiful parks in the city are St. Stephen's Green and (Simon's favourite) Merrion Square.  In Merrion Square, look out for the Oscar Wilde statue in the northwest corner.
  • Christchurch and St. Patrick's Cathedrals are the city's oldest and largest cathedrals, located very close to each other.
  • The main shopping zone in the city is centred on Grafton Street and the neighbouring streets. For Irish goods and gifts, we like Kilkenny (on Nassau Street) and Avoca (on Suffolk Street) that are both close to Grafton Street.
  • Several companies offer daily tour bus tickets.  You buy a ticket that is valid for one day.  The bus does a circuit around the main tourist sights and you can get on and off as many times as you want.  You'll spot the bus stops at many locations around the city and you can buy the ticket on the bus.

Places to Eat
Dublin's restaurant scene is diverse.  While eating out is not cheap in Dublin, it has become cheaper in the last few years and most restaurants now offer pre-theatre or early-bird specials that are good value.  Below are some personal recommendations that are all in the city centre unless stated:
  • For a special evening out, it has to be Chapter One.  Simon has never been but Rita still raves about her visit years ago!  It is still receiving many awards.
  • Other places where we have dined on a special occasion and were impressed with are The Winding Stair, The Mermaid Café and the Pearl Brasserie.  All make extensive use of Irish ingredients.
  • For relatively cheap lunch and dinner in the city centre that make use of local ingredients, check out The Farm.  As well as being a great place to shop, Avoca on Suffolk Street has a great café for lunch (waiter service on the 2nd floor and self-service in the basement).  A more funky experience is to be found at Gruel, while a 10 minute walk south from St. Stephen's Green brings you to Green 19.
  • If you are looking for take away food for a picnic, in the city there are many places where produce and sandwiches can be bought but we would recommend Avoca on Suffolk Street, which has a deli in the basement, and Fallon & Byrne.  The best fish and chips may be found at Leo Burdocks but be warned that the portion sizes are large!

Places to Drink
Now to the most important aspect of your visit to Dublin.  There are many great pubs in Dublin, but there are also ones that were great and are not anymore, or have always been bad!  Below is our list of recommended pubs in the city centre.   All of the pubs below are in the city centre.  They are all old pubs with good Guinness. 
A note on ordering Guinness: properly pouring a pint of Guinness takes about 5 minutes, so patience is an important virtue in this situation.  The glass is filled about 2/3 of the way, then left to settle before the final third is poured and the pint given to you.  You should then resist the temptation to drink immediately, as it is important to wait until the froth on the head has settled completely.  Finally you may drink!  If you do not feel up to an entire pint, you can order a half-pint by asking for "a glass of Guinness".

  • The Palace Bar, 21 Fleet Street near the corner with Westmoreland Street. Phone (01) 671 7388. The first pub in Dublin that Simon drank in and still one of his favourites.  It's narrow and noisy but friendly and has lots of historical and literary links.
  • Kehoe's, 9 South Anne Street.  Phone (01) 677 8312.  One of the city's most well known bars.
  • McDaids, Harry Street.  Phone (01) 679 4395. 
  • Mulligans, 8 Poolbeg Street.  Phone (01) 677 5582.
  • Grogan's, 15 South William Street.  The decor is definitely in need of some care and attention but there is a great mix of clientele and lots of local art on the walls. A genuine Dublin experience!
  • Whelan's, 25 Wexford St.  Phone (01) 4780766.  The place where Rita and Simon first met!  It's a 15 minute walk from Grafton Street and consists of a pub and live music venue.  If you go to Green 19 to eat then it is very close so why not check it out?

Places to Stay