Inside information & tips on what to see, do, eat, & special places to stay; Ireland, London & beyond!
Vibrant Ireland

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Kove Restaurant has views over Lough Erne

Kove Restaurant has views over Lough Erne
(Kove’s pic; the rest are mine)

Killyhevlin’s newest restaurant Kove had the unenviable task of having me, a US-expat, as a guest for (a normal) dinner on Thanksgiving.

Was Kove restaurant up to the challenge?

You may know that Thanksgiving is a very important day in the US calendar when Americans eat a rather specific and much loved set of foods. These are hotly anticipated, and in many ways this meal is even more important than the Christmas dinner. Americans’ mouths water with just the thought of the home cooked fare from recipes reverently handed down from great-grannies and grannies filling up the dinner table. How on Earth would Kove restaurant compete with my nostalgia-laced memories of delicious dinners past? I’d been invited up North by Fermanagh Lakelands tourism during a time when my memories of home could scupper things…would they?

My review of Kove Restaurant

Kove is one of two restaurants at the Killyhevlin Hotel, (the other is the Boathouse Grill) and is making a name for itself in the Enniskillen food scene. Kove has an interesting selection of dishes on their a la carte menu, but probably because of my memories of Thanksgiving I went for something I normally wouldn’t choose; set menu’s chicken. Again, I was probably setting Kove a very hard task– the reason I don’t normally go for chicken isn’t due to anything esoteric, I just don’t really like chicken! I know, I know, choosing it seems to make no sense– but it was stuffed chicken, the closest thing to Thanksgiving Turkey! 😀

Kove restaurant goats cheese & sundried tomato stuffed chicken wrapped in Fermanagh black bacon

Kove restaurant goats cheese & sundried tomato stuffed chicken wrapped in Fermanagh black bacon

Seriously though, I chose the Kove’s chicken because the description sounded delicious:  Sun-dried tomato and goat cheese stuffed supreme of chicken wrapped in Fermanagh black bacon. 

Kove Starters

But wait, I am ahead of myself; I must mention the starters. I had the salmon and prawn salad with greens and Marie Rose sauce. Prawn salad with Marie Rose is making a comeback after being an abhorred cliche that most ‘good’ restaurants wouldn’t dare serve. But Marie Rose sauce is making a comeback because when made well with quality ingredients it is fabulous with prawns– and the salmon. Yes indeed, it was very tasty. I couldn’t help myself; I ate every little bit, which for me is a mistake as I get full quickly. I had behaved myself not eating too much of Kove’s tasty bread beforehand, but I fell at the hurdle of the starter!

Salmon and prawn salad at Kove restaurant in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

Salmon and prawn salad at Kove restaurant in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

I was interested in several starter items on the Kove restaurant menu; for example the roast scallop with cauliflower puree, black pudding, and cumin oil on the a la carte menu caught my attention. Kove is a member of Good Food Northern Ireland, and likes to source what they can locally; I see that their scallops are sourced from Donegal. As a fish lover it was good to see a nice selection of seafood as well as the more traditional items like chicken, lamb, and steak. We have so much edible bounty from our island and waters; no wonder 2016 is going to be the Year of Food in Northern Ireland.

Local Specialty Mains

Fermanagh black bacon is a local specialty from pigs who live free range on Inishcorkish Island in Lough Erne. This bacon is scrumptious. Indeed, my mains of Kove’s stuffed chicken dish wrapped in O’Dougherty’s Fermanagh Black Bacon made this non chicken lover very happy. The chicken was flavorsome and moist, the slightly sweet, salty and zingy accompaniments bringing out the best in the meat. The bacon is like bacon you remember from years gone by; perhaps even better. Bursting with flavor, black bacon is hung for several months, and is neither over salted nor pumped full of water or fillers. It goes very nicely with the ingredients of the stuffed chicken. The locally sourced side vegetables were perfectly cooked, Kove’s portion sizes were generous, and I was sorry that my partner was not with me to help finish this delicious dish!

Digging in to Kove restaurant's stuffed chicken and black bacon

Digging in to Kove restaurant’s stuffed chicken and black bacon

I gazed at my leftover portion of black bacon wrapped stuffed chicken and mourned. I knew that if I ate another bite of it there would be no attempting the desert. Surely that would be a sin– no dessert!?

Beautifully Presented Dessert

In order to report as fully as possible to you, I had a dessert. (Ahem.) I did choose what I figured was the lightest dessert on offer, the citrussy mousse. Look how beautiful it is! The lovely citrus zing was there, not too overpowering but not off simpering in the distance as can be the case in some other restaurants. It wasn’t heavy, but sadly I was too full for more than two or three bites. To be fair, the staff at Kove were attentive and helpful, and certainly would have set me up with a doggy bag for my leftovers, but with my travel plans I wouldn’t have been able to keep it cold and fresh. *Sniffle*

Desert at Kove restaurant, Enniskillen

Desert at Kove restaurant, Enniskillen

Dining Room Setting

Kove’s dining room looks out over Lough Erne, with Cuilcagh Mountain in the distance; the setting is lovely. I didn’t take photos of the dining room at dinner out of courtesy to the other diners, but I’ve one from the morning, below. I quite liked the blue lights; a splash of modern zing. It is obviously much brighter at breakfast, but Kove was well lit at dinner; you could see your food no bother. I imagine Kove is a popular restaurant with Enniskillen locals looking for a nice meal out, as well as being a good choice for dining hotel guests like myself.

As for wine or a cocktail, I didn’t indulge. The reason I didn’t has to do with my stay at Killyhevin Hotel– which I will reveal when I review it for you soon! I’d happily eat at the Kove restaurant again; the meal well pleased me even though I was in a nostalgic state of mind, and I think you will enjoy dining here, too. Keep your eye out for those wonderful local ingredients like Fermanagh Black Bacon, and save room for dessert 🙂 

See more, and download a sample menu and a wine list here at Kove Restaurant.

Killyhevlin Hotel also has some good special offers that include a dinner at Kove



Transparency: I was invited up by Fermanagh Lakelands Tourism, and was a guest at Killyhevlin and Kove, having a dinner and night’s stay with breakfast.  As always, opinions are my own.

Ennis, Ireland cheerful shopfronts

Even on a wet grey November day, Ennis is cheerful outside and in!

Ennis deserves its accolade as Ireland’s friendliest town.

I spent 3 days based in Ennis at the Rowan Tree hostel, & was curious to see if the hype was true.

I may have been a bit cynical about Ennis’ title- but any cynicism soon vanished. People called out greetings to each other on the street. I was cheerily greeted in shops. I had a lovely chat with the manager of the Clare Museum (which will feature in my Museum Isle column of spring’s Isle Magazine,) and the folks at Rowan Tree hostel & Cafe Bar were lovely as well.

Rowan Tree Hostel, Ennis, Ireland. Room and view

The view from the balcony of one of the family rooms, Rowan Tree Hostel, Ennis

Rowan Tree is one of those wonderful hostels where things are run with care & pride; there are amenities like free wi-fi, bike & surfboard storage, self-service laundry, elevator, fully equipped kitchen use, and free light breakfast. I found everything to be scrupulously clean.

The hostel is next to Rowan Tree Cafe Bar, and I ended up eating here 2 nights as I so enjoyed the first. The dining room shows off the wonderful features of the Georgian house- large sash windows, high ceilings and an airy feel– but cozy by the fireplace. I popped in for an elevenses coffee and found it hard to pull myself away from my table by the fire. Ok, well.. it might have been eating so many of their fresh pastries that was weighting me down!

My Tips for Rowan Tree Cafe:

  • They’ve a nice selection of wines; I loved the  Mount Vernon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc- available by the glass.
  • The Early Bird/Set menus are good value for good food; 2 courses €16.95, 3 courses €19.95. On Sunday to Thursday the offer is on all night; 5-10 pm, whilst on Friday & Saturday it is is on from 5-7 pm.
  • The Seafood Tagliatelle was very good, but isn’t on the Early Bird/Set menu. Worth a splurge if you’d like!
  • There is also a child’s menu with mains under € 5.
Rowan tree cafe, ennis, ireland

Lovely morning light comes in through the riverside windows at Rowan tree Cafe, Ennis

Ennis is an excellent base for exploring both the city of Limerick and enjoying the wildness of the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, and beyond. (While I was there I went to Doolin Cave, home to the largest stalactite you’ll ever see. What a ‘wild’ cave! I recommend it.) You can get your fill of bustling city vibe or soak up the great spaces of sea, rock, and hills and then return to the welcoming cheer of Ennis town. That combination is exactly what I did on my trip. I will definitely return!

There’s more to explore of Ennis, and they’ve some brilliant festivals; Trad Music, Book Fest, Street Fest, Food. I will certainly stay again at Rowan Tree Hostel- it is a budget traveler’s gem.


My Rowan Tree Hostel Tips

  • Rowan Tree is only 20 minutes from Shannon Airport. If you’re renting a car, but are nervous about driving on the left, picking somewhere easier to drive to on your first day is an excellent way to ‘ease in.’ It certainly is less nerve racking than trying to negotiate Dublin or Limerick for 1st timers.
  • There isn’t any on-site parking, but there are (pay-for) car parks nearby.
  • To make your money go even further, do take advantage of the free breakfast of cereal/toast/juice/coffee/tea which is on everyday until 9.30 am. You can also cook your own food in the large, clean kitchen.
  • Rooms start from €30, hostel dorm beds from €15. There are also family rooms- all very good prices. Like many hostels (all to my dismay,) female-only hostel beds cost a few euros more.
  • The beds are quite firm. I stayed in the 6 person family room (1 double bed & two bunks,) and they were all firm. Also, I found Rowan Tree to be very quiet, but I always recommend earplugs when you stay somewhere- hotel, b&b or hostel. Better to have & not need that need & not have! I swear by the soft silicon ones that you kind of mould for your ear.
  • The people working at Rowan Tree are friendly & helpful. Do ask them for any suggestions on what to see, do, eat and so on. Enjoy your stay 🙂

These photos are all from my Instagram account. Each Thursday, the hashtag #IGtravelthursday shows photos from peoples’ travels all around the world- local travels and far flung. Use the hashtag & join in! If you are a blogger, you can also join in with a blog featuring one of your trips/visits and your Instagram photos from it. Read the ins & outs of that here on SkimbacoLifestyle.
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I was a guest of Rowan Tree Hostel, and had a gift certificate for 1 free meal in the Cafe. Be assured being a guest doesn’t affect the honesty of my writing. I liked the hostel & the cafe; in fact enjoyed them so much, I went back for another dinner myself, and added a 3rd day to my stay.


Yeats statue Words detail, Sligo Town

Yeats statue detail, Sligo Town

Sligo! Who knew?

Yep, that’s one of Sligo’s hashtags, and it’s true– Sligo and Sligo town are full of delights, but they’re lesser known to folk who stick to the main tourist trails.

This colourful town will win you over– Sligo’s a perfect visit for lovers of outdoor beauty, adventure, arts, eats, culture, and craic! Located along the NorthWest section of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Sligo resounds with the natural magic that inspired Yeats as well as an eclectic buzz in Sligo Town.

Over a series of posts I’ll give you a few tasters so you can see for yourself why you should visit Sligo. In this post I’ll give you 3 tidbits about where to stay, eat, &  what to do in Sligo Town

The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo town, Ireland

The Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo town is pretty cool! Top left: view from my room & the swans, top right in the bar upstairs, under that is moi & the Glasshouse behind me. The groovy turquoise is in the lobby; the rest are of my room

1. Get Groovy in the Glasshouse Hotel!

Located right on the river in Sligo town, the Glasshouse has really fun decor, an award winning restaurant, and 2 bars. The rooms are in vibrant oranges or greens, and zingy colours are used throughout the modern building. I do see how an orange themed room could be a love-hate affair, but I’m firmly on the side of love!

I also enjoyed watching the numerous swans float along the river as I sat by my window. The wi-fi was strong, the slick telly had plenty of channels, and the bed was comfy. Happy days! No complaints at breakfast either, and I really enjoyed the fruit smoothie. The only slightly off thing was the little-bit-dim underground carpark– really handy, but creeped me out a wee bit. It’s probably just me being freaky, though!

I’d happily stay at the Glasshouse again, and in particular, their midweek Special Offer sounds good to me:

Midweek – 3 nights B&B and 1 Evening meal

Why not treat yourself to 3 Nights Bed & Breakfast and one Evening Meal in our Kitchen Restaurant on the night of your choice.
Min Stay: 3
From: €125 per person sharing

Having dinner at the Glasshouse would be nice, I believe, as Chef Alan Fitzmaurice seems on fire for good food. (I only had their So Sligo party tapas, but those made a dinner seem promising.) Sligo has plenty of tasty places to eat, so filling your tummy the other nights would be no problem!

Hargadon's traditional pub, Sligo Town, Ireland

Hargadon’s traditional pub is cozy, and even has a few snugs- you’d get your pint thru the wee opening as you conducted your ‘secret’ conversations. Try the Irish Stew, it’s ace!

2. Fill up with Fab Food!

In fact, Sligo has a whole festival based around food (which is why I was there,) and taking a look at what goes on will whet your appetite for Sligo and 2015’s So Sligo festival (which will incorporate Yeats Day-his 150th birthday!) Check out the Savory, and Sweet, tapas trails So Sligo ran! That’ll give you ideas for where you might want to eat.
Uh oh… looking at the listings again I realize I defo need to go eat more places in Sligo town… I’m totally dreaming of that Glasshouse Midweek Offer so I can check out the tasty places I missed. Writing this blog post is dangerous! 😀

Tip: Check out Osta cafe & wine bar, on the other side of the bridge from the Glasshouse. I sampled a few dishes and they were delish. (Osta stops serving at 7pm early week & 8pm later in the week, so just be mindful of that.) The whole area by Osta is rather lovely; sitting out having a glass of wine along the river would be quite romantic, and with the Glasshouse Hotel just across the way…

3. Suss Out Sligo Town!

Sligo Town collage, Yeats & more

Pub ‘Shoot The Crows’ was so called due to the gun shop across the street. To test a gun before buying, folk went outside & shot the crows hanging out on the pub roof!

Sligo town is an interesting place, and it’s not all due to Yeats. There’s the Dracula connection, modern film shoots, and lots more– the free guided tour will tell you all the best bits! When we did a truncated version the tour as we only had an hour free, but the tour is great like that– you can drop in & drop out as it suits you. The tour leaves Mon-Sat, 11am from in front of the Discover Ireland Tourist office, O’Connell St. The full tour’s 2 hours long, and believe me the time will fly by because you’ll be finding out so many interesting things.

The Model Arts Centre & Gallery is an grand place for all ages. As well as showing exciting contemporary art exhibitions, they also have Jack Yeats’ paintings, a myriad of events (not just ‘artsy;’ there’s a regular vintage flea market too!) and a cafe. The Model is a combination of an 1846 period building (built as a Model School,) and modern extensions. It is quite beautiful inside; light and airy. I certainly want to spend more time in here, and I bet many of you will too.

Right!– see you in Sligo, so! 😀

Check out my other posts on So Sligo Festival here and here.

AND, don’t miss another super Sligo festival- Tread Softly, on 27 July- 8 August 2014!

Dee of and Val of have also written about Sligo & So Sligo; have a read:

Ecotourism: 10 Fun Things You Can Do In Sligo – GreensideUp      Celebrating WB Yeats In Sligo – GreensideUp 

Só Sligo – so much fun (Part 2) – MagnumLady         Só Sligo – so much fun!!! – Part One – MagnumLady

Find out more about visiting Sligo &  driving the Wild Atlantic Way 

Transparency: I was kindly included on a 2 night So Sligo tour for bloggers, thanks to sponsorship by Connacht Gold butter. Of course, all my opinions are genuine as always, and certainly Connacht Gold didn’t influence me to eat more butter, because, c’mon, we all know how FAB Irish butter is, right? You can just have a look at my roundy frame & see I’ve been eating loads of Irish butter for YEARS. 😀 

Butter is good for you! Connacht Gold butter at breakfast Glasshouse Hotel Sligo town

Butter is good for you! Connacht Gold butter at breakfast, Glasshouse Hotel

Happily, butter is actually GOOD for you! OonaghEats has the scoop, and taste tasted some of the variations.

These phoinstagram-travel-linky-rulestos are almost all Instagram photos, and I’m sharing them as part of #IGTravelThursday. You can join in,too! See the rules to the left, and find out more on this post from Skimbaco.

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Farnham Estate pillows & bed

Ahhh, and relax! Snuggle up in comfort at Farnham Estate

Do you ever treat yourself to a stress-relief break?

Relaxation seeking or not, one of the best hotels I’ve been to in Ireland is Farnham Estate in Cavan.

 treatment room, Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

One of the treatment rooms, pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan.

Maybe you’re feeling good but want a treat, or perhaps your body has aches & pains, your mind feels frazzled, or your emotions have been a bit raw. I know when I went for an overnight at Farnham Estate I was less than rosy! I’ll use my achy & slightly frazzled self to illustrate in this review why I reckon you’ll enjoy Farnham Estate.

I wasn’t sure if visiting the spa would much benefit  my spine & shoulder pain, though I sure felt in need of a soothing break. But, YAY! The overnight spa break eased the pain and refreshed me greatly. I was on a tight budget and only availed of the indoor/outdoor infinity pool & the thermal suite, yet even without any hands-on spa treatments I felt better for days. Here are some reasons why you’ll enjoy Farnham Estate, too:

The stairway to bliss; ie Thermal Suites & Infinity Pool at Farnham Estate in Cavan, Ireland

The stairway to bliss; ie Thermal Suites & Infinity Pool, Farnham Estate, Cavan.

Total relaxation and comfort.

It’s not just the spa that makes you feel the cares of the world lifting, it’s the peaceful country estate surroundings, elegant historic building, and the friendly, capable professional staff. Yes, Farnham Estate is a beautiful, safe place to bliss out and rejuvenate. And sometimes we just need that!

“Going to a spa is a way of getting taken care of that is psychologically and culturally acceptable — and we can carry that feeling of being cared for with us for a period of time, and very often that can help us cope better with stress,” says NYU professor of psychiatry Virginia Sadock, MD via

Of course, you needn’t go with total relaxation in mind, you may want use the 4 star Farnham Estate as your base to explore and visit the Cavan area. (Do visit the Cavan Burren!) But let me warn you, once you get to Farnham Estate you may find it hard to part from it 😀

AHHH…Thermal Suite and Spa

Fancy a treatment? There’s a wide array, and the treatment areas looked fantastic. You can also have lunch in the spa, chillin’ in your robe. I didn’t do either of these as I was completely broke. (Same for why I didn’t eat dinner at Farnham’s main restaurant, Botanica. But the menu sounded bril, & they’ve won awards.) I did do all the free spa stuff though- it was ace! It made a nice difference to my aches and pains. Do try all the thermal suites!

Sunlight streams in through the sash windows in the Jr suite in the historic house part of Farnham Estate, cavan, ireland

Sunlight streams in through the sash windows. Jr suite in the historic house part of Farnham Estate

In the thermal suites there are several hot and cold therapies. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the more extreme ones, but I SO did. On the warm side there is the Reflexology Foot Basin, the Aroma Steam Bath, the Amethyst & Salt Room, the Laconium, and the warmest, the Finnish Sauna. In between rooms you can refresh yourself in the Snail Showers; I adored the Fresh minty one, gently zingy! On the colder side of things you can have a cool/cold rain Snail Shower, step through the Kneipp Walk which alternates temperatures, and coldest of all, the Ice Fountain. I was so surprised by the Ice Fountain; I totally enjoyed it! Perfect after the Finnish Sauna (which I also thought I mightn’t enjoy, but did! If you’ve not done a sauna, do try!)

Ice Fountain 

This is an ideal contrast to the heat treatments (sauna, steam bath)
The crushed ice stimulates the circulation and boosts the lymphatic and immune systems. The continuous falling ice and the refrigeration give a powerful and uplifting feeling, which is why ice fountains are used in medical spas to treat anxiety, stress and depression.
How to get the best results?
Take handfuls of ice flakes from the Ice Fountain and rub them vigorously all over the body, this contracts the pores of the skin rapidly, forcing out impurities. via

YOU GUYS, THIS WAS FAB! I did the rounds several times, and went back again next morning. It was then that I had a very special experience:

The Infinity Pool: a mist-ical experience!

Farnham Estate’s indoor/outdoor infinity pool can be used year-round as it is heated. It’s quite nice to paddle, water exercise, or swim, but for me the magic happened in the morning, in the pool’s outdoor section.

Outdoor section at night; Infinity Pool. Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

Outdoor section at night; Infinity Pool. Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

It was early Spring when I visited Cavan, so the mornings were still quite cool. When I went to the pool only a handful of folk were about, and none had gone through to the section outside. There, steam from the heated pool rose up to meet the mist and fog that had settled upon Ireland overnight. I lowered myself into the pool and headed to the divider between inside and out.

The cool fresh air rushed forward to greet me as I slid back the clear panel and it shut behind me. Suddenly I was enveloped in fresh mist. It was wonderful! As a robin sang out from the hedgerow, I turned onto my back and floated… just me, the caressing mist, the warm supportive water, and springtime birdsong. All I could feel and see was softness, infinity. No edges; not to the pool, not to the world around me. Bliss.


misty morning, Farnham Estate, Cavan, Ireland

The morning mist,, Farnham Estate

Will you be lucky enough to experience the same? Have a morning or evening swim– who knows when the mystical Irish mist may descend 😀  The Farnham Estate Spa is open daily from 8am to 9pm. Find out more about the Spa and the treatments available here.

Tip: If you are staying at Farnham, change into your swimsuit and (provided) robe & slippers in your room; the spa changing rooms are for day-spa guests. I wasn’t too sure it was okay to walk from my room in the historic part of the hotel and cross the lobby to the spa in my robe, but the receptionist reassured me that is exactly right. You know, sometimes in very nice hotels I get a little intimidated, and it is lovely when staff are warm & genuine when you ask (perhaps ‘obvious’) questions like that. You could think a place is gorgeous, but if you feel unwelcome, of course you’ll never go back. I felt very welcome.

Oh, and There’s Golf.

Tee hee (I’ll get my coat!..); what I mean is there is actually plenty at Farnham I didn’t experience. Golf is a big thing for many people, and Farnham Estate is big on golf.

Relax in grand style! The historic house lounge at Farnham Estate

Relax in grand style! The historic house lounge at Farnham Estate

Jeff Howe designed their course and that seems to be a good thing – LOL- I’m completely golf ignorant, but by the standard of what Farnham does elsewhere I reckon the golf is class!

You can also rent a bike for €15 a day, and there are 7 km of walking trails on the Estate. Or go fishing on their lakes- you can hire tackle for €15 at reception. They’ve a gym in the spa, too,  for fitness fans like my hubby Terry.

Time to Cocoon; Lovely Rooms

In both their modern and historic wings, Farnham Estate has very appealing rooms. I had a wonderful upgrade to a junior suite in the 400 year old Farnham Estate House. So lovely! I’m a huge fan of period properties, and the elegant, airy proportions of the Georgian era just seem to say: be at ease here.

The junior suite bathroom at Farnham is my favorite of any hotel I’ve stayed in so far; it just felt lush. The toiletries were divine; you’ll feel so pampered! A soak in the big beautiful tub, as well as a splash under the fantastic rain shower is a must.

The bed was enormous, sheets so smooth and soft; you’ll sleep like a log, especially after all your spa-ing! Of course, I say always bring earplugs (I find the squidgy silicon ones best) to any hotel. Especially in period properties where preservation doesn’t allow for elaborate sound proofing; you never know how noisy the other guests may be even if the general surroundings are quiet.

Standard room, Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan, ireland

The standard rooms in the modern section of Farnham Estate are lovely, too! Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

Everything you’d expect from a fine 4-star hotel is at Farnham Estate, and the suites have Nespresso machines; fantastic. I dearly wish other hotels in Ireland would follow suit; it is disappointing (and fairly yuk!) that many only have instant coffee. (So far the other hotel where I’ve found Nespresso is the affordable-fab executive room in Belmore Court in Enniskillen. Others have ground coffee & supply a French press, which is good, too.)

Delicious Food, Local Ingredients

Farnham Estate’s breakfast buffet will tempt you to eat yourself to bursting! There is a plethora of delicious options and locally sourced ingredients; plenty to make both veggies and dedicated carnivores happy. This breakfast impressed me, and in my brekkie experience is second only to the 5 star Hayfield Manor in Cork. That is high praise!

Hot breakfast items, Farnham estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland

Hot breakfast buffet looking and tasting good! Farnham Estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland

The dinner menu at Farnham’s AA Rosette winning  restaurant Botanica is mouth-watering, and the Wine Goose Cellar Bar seems a cozy place for a drink, but as mentioned I hadn’t the funds this stay to do either. Have you been? Tell us! I had a few folk via Twitter tell me that they love the Sunday Lunch there. You can find out more about dining at Farnham Estate here.

Special Offers

Special offers are the business! Certainly I can’t afford to stay 4 star without them, and Farnham Estate has good ones. They also have competitions, so sign up for their newsletter & follow their Facebook to stay in the know. (This is a good tip in regards to many hotels.) Farnham is also part of the Radisson Blu network, so I think if you a person who has Points, you get deals too; sadly on the subject of Points I’m as clueless as I am on golf!

One thing I do know, though, is I like the sound of this (current at time of writing) Special Offer:

Dine and Stay Two Nights

This package includes:

  • Two Nights accommodation
  • Super Breakfast Buffet each morning
  • Set Dinner in the Botanica Restaurant on an evening of choice
  • Unlimited use of the Health Spa’s Indoor/Outdoor Infinity Pool, Watermint Thermal Suite, Gym, Relaxation Rooms and 7Km of Walking Trails through the Ancient Woodlands
  • VAT and applicable taxes included

Midweek Rates from: €149.00 per person sharing
Rates are valid for Sunday – Thursday and are subject to availability

Weekend Rates from: €207.50 per person sharing
Rates are valid for Friday or Saturday and are subject to availability

So keep your eye out for special offers, and consider treating yourself to a break at Farnham Estate. It’s actually good for you 😀

So you know: I negotiated a special price and upgrade with Farnham Estate. I think it is always a good idea to go to individual hotel websites directly, and/or to talk/email to the hotel if you’re looking for their specials or are having an occasion such as a birthday or anniversary. Big booking engines usually can’t get you the same special deals in nice rooms. Worth a shot!

Photo gallery, Farnham Estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland:

Jump In! 

frosty Lusty Beg Christmas, Fermanagh; boat on lake by frosty trees and cottage

A frosty Lusty Beg Christmas, Fermanagh

Ok, it’s time to stop freezing up and ignoring the C-word.

I mean, really, we can’t keep postponing sitting down & dealing with it; as I write this it is 6 weeks til Christmas. You may have a party to plan. You want everyone to enjoy it, women and men both. Well, I have a brilliant tip for you– I got a bit Lusty a few months ago and I totally recommend it for both sexes– Lusty Beg Christmas!

You see, sometimes when you head to a secluded, special resort like Lusty Beg, the gals are loving the gentle massages &  relaxation they can receive in the spa, the lakeside walks and the hot tub & pool, but the guys can be, well, a bit bored. The fellas want a bit more action; 4×4 off roading, boating, clay pigeon shooting and such. And you know what? At Lusty Beg, they get it! 😀 Now, I’m just being a bit silly here, because truthfully when I visited Lusty Beg we women enjoyed just as much action as the men, and I don’t think the men hated the relaxation aspects either. My point is, on this ace island in the Fermanagh Lakelands there is indeed something for everyone.

archery at Lusty Beg in Fermanagh; woman archer

Robin Hood has nothing on this fabulous Maid Marion! Archery at Lusty Beg in Fermanagh!

The food, wine, and cocktails we had were delicious, our room lovely and comfortable, the staff super helpful and friendly. (See my photo of our twin room below) I was quite impressed. I had driven up to the ferry that brings you to Lusty Beg (5 minutes crossing) when I had a visit to Fermanagh in March, and I was quite curious about Lusty. So, when I was invited as part of a press trip in September to spend a night & 2 days trying out what Lusty Beg had to offer, I went with my friend Dee. I’ll be writing an article about our spa experience & more next week, but I’ve just received information on Lusty’s Christmas Party packages & I’d like to pass it on. Having been myself, I think that it is really great value for what you get. Have a look:

It’s that time of year again…time to start racking your brains for a venue for the annual Christmas party.  But this year why not take the hassle out of the Christmas bash and give your guests what they really want – their own island paradise, for one night only, on Co Fermanagh’s fabulous Lusty Beg Island.

Lusty Beg is Ireland’s best kept secret venue, a luxurious island resort nestled in the heart of scenic Northern Ireland.  Famed for its incredible natural beauty, mouth-watering food, indulgent spa and the non-stop craic in our cosy Thatch Bar, it’s the perfect place to get away from it all and let your hair down in the run-up to the hectic festive season.

The Thatch pub Lusty Beg, Fermanagh. thatched cottage

We got cozy in the Thatch pub Lusty Beg, Fermanagh

Our Christmas party package includes a delicious four course meal, live music from Paddy Shannon, one night’s accommodation and a hearty Irish breakfast to set you right the next morning.  With tasty roast beef, festive turkey and exotic red snapper on the menu, you’re bound to find something to tickle your fancy.  Prices start at just £40 per person sharing, or £50 for single occupancy.

Only on Lusty Beg Island can you blow away the cobwebs the morning after the night before with onsite activities such as clay pigeon shooting, archery or off-roading, or just enjoy a scenic stroll around the island and take in the sights.  If rest and relaxation are more your thing why not spend the day recuperating in the Island Spa, availing of our wide variety of treatments including seaweed baths, luxury facials and massages?

We hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you to Lusty Beg during the festive season. To book, call 028686 33300 or email

Here are a few more photos from our stay at Lusty Beg; our twin room was a perfect size, and we both slept like logs. (Double room & couples spa bath pics courtesy Lusty Beg.) Let me know if YOU have a Lusty Beg Christmas 😀

If you’d like to check out Lusty Beg yourself, head over to their website, and if you’d like to see more about Fermanagh’s Enniskillen Castle, and a place to stay in Enniskillen Town, I’ve an article in that link. 

Royale de Luxe Limerick City of Culture. Photo,Tom Swift

Royale de Luxe Limerick City of Culture. Photo,Tom Swift via


Limerick is full of excitement this year as City of Culture, and now Royal de Luxe Limerick Giants are coming!

A new video was launched today, specially created to highlight the flagship event of this year’s Limerick City of Culture programme, ‘The Giant’s Journey’. The event, presented by renowned French street theatre company Royal de Luxe, will take place over 3 days and 3 nights in Limerick this September. It promises to be a wonderful spectacle, and I reckon you’ll want to be there! (See link to map of the Limerick Giant’s path at the bottom of this post)


One Pery Square, boutique hotel Limerick city

SO relaxing! One Pery Square boutique hotel, Limerick city

If you are staying overnight in Limerick City (and you should, there’s lots to see & do!) I so recommend the gorgeous boutique hotel One Pery Square in Limerick’s historic Georgian Quarter. This has been the 3rd year in a row that we’ve stayed at One Pery to celebrate my birthday, and we love it. Ace rooms, food, wine & cocktails, super staff, Spa; it has the whole delicious package. Even if you aren’t overnighting in Limerick, check out their Brasserie One for Dinner or Sunday Brunch; or maybe Afternoon Tea. You can even combine Afternoon Tea with a visit to the Spa’s Thermal Suite. Heaven! (I could stay forever in that beautiful Spa..)

Anyhow, this is our favourite Special Offer at One Pery Square. It is a terrific deal, so much included! (See other Specials here)


2 Nights Wine & Dine Escape

Description : Enjoy 2 nights B&B, seasonal a la carte dinner in Brasserie One on one night with a bottle of wine to the value of €30.00.  An hour in the Spa’s Thermal Suite. Package also includes tea & scones on arrival and car parking.
A selection of sample dinner menus can be viewed on

Min Stay : 2 nights
From : €169.00 per night

So, Limerick Giants! A 60-second film has just been released featuring the giant, elaborate marionettes of Royal de Luxe winding through the streets of Nantes, in France – giving people a flavour of what to expect when this dramatic pageant comes here this autumn.

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Limerick%20Giants%20Royal%20de%20Luxe”]

Limerick is Ireland’s first-ever City of Culture  – and now the spectacular street theatre of Royal de Luxe is another wonderful opportunity to increase awareness of one of our favorite Irish cities as a cultural and historic destination.

Limerick has such a great vibe about it the past few years, and it keeps getting better. Particularly exciting is the Draw Out group and the fantastic street art that has been created around Limerick City by international giants in the scene, and by local artists and school kids. There are pieces gigantic and small all over Limerick. Check them out on Draw Out’s map here. Note: it doesn’t seem to show on mobile, at least not on my phone.

Excellent new street art is being added all the time, and Draw Out aims to keep the map updated fairly frequently. August 16-20 sees more artists arriving, so keep your eyes peeled! Limerick City street art

Draw Out’s Culture Night Tour

This is probably the most complete tour we have. This is an amazing option for those who want to cover as much ground as possible in one day, experiencing all of the urban Art in the city and getting an insight into the process of delivery for each piece.

September 20, 2.30pm

For a taste of Historic Limerick, try a Medieval, Georgian, or Angela’s Ashes walking tour with Declan, The Limerick Guide. Terry & I have done the Georgian walk with him, and though Terry pretty much went along to humour me, he ended up loving it. Declan doesn’t give you dry old facts, he shares interesting stories, and is a humourous, friendly guide. Another Limerick ‘giant’ of hospitality 😀  Declan’s website is here:

Speaking of taste, for a really tasty Asian dinner at a brilliant price, try Aroi on Limerick’s O’Connell Street. It is open at noon until 10.30pm, and we’ve found it delish, friendly & scrupulously clean both times we ate there.

street art on Limericks Paint Parade

Aroi is not far from the street art on Limericks ‘Paint Parade, by Bank place

TIP: Do note that if you’ve an egg allergy, you’ll need to ask for no egg in your fried rice dish, as they include egg as standard but this is not (yet) noted on the menu.


Aroi is associated with the eating experience in Asia. Pronounced (Aroy) means delicious or tasty.

Aroi is a casual dining venue which offers a single course dining experience and service with the minimum of fuss.

Our ethos is to serve market fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Our healthy cuisine avoids the obscure chemicals and additives so common in our food today.

Aroi sources authentic herbs and spices and we do not use M.S.G. in any of our preparation.

Have a look at the Menu at Aroi, Limerick

If I were you, I’d mark my calendar & get booking a place to stay for September 5-7 when those Giants will be in town 🙂

 Limerick Giants! Royal de Luxe

The world renowned company will unleash the Giant Saga on the unsuspecting Irish public – an original tale, developed and specially scripted for the city of Limerick. Limerick will be transformed as the massive Giant rambles through the streets, transfixing audiences for 72 hours of free entertainmentYoung and old will rub shoulders as they follow the Giant’s progress on its epic three day journey.

Already more than 18 million spectators have been moved by the universal sagas of the Giant’s stories and the ‘Limerick Story’ will soon be part of this international saga and make a mark on the collective memory of the city for future generations.

This project is partnering with local cultural organisations, local artists, technical crews and other Irish suppliers & supporters to realise this inspiring vision of Royal De Luxe.

Find out more at and the MAP of the Giant Granny’s path is here.

The first time we stayed at One Pery Square 3 years ago, I wrote this post. I’ll have one from our 2014 stay soon.

See what’s on at Limerick City of Culture 2014 

 Have fun in Limerick City!


Pimms at Afternoon Tea, one Pery Square

Pimms at Afternoon Tea, One Pery Square

stay in a stone cottage in Kilkenny IrelandFancy staying in a stone cottage on your Kilkenny visit?


Enjoy a charming slice of country life during Kilkenny Arts Festival, or beyond!

You can rent the cottage by the day, week, or longer. I know the person renting it out, and though I don’t usually post places to stay if I’ve not been there myself, when I saw she was renting it I said I’d let you all know about it;  it seems a fab place to stay if you’re visiting Kilkenny during the Arts Festival–it’s located just a short drive from Kilkenny City. The cottage is located on the grounds of her home, too, so you won’t be totally isolated, but you will of course have your privacy.

Here are the cottage details:

Newly refurbed stone cottage
Located 8km from Kilkenny down a country lane, bordered on either side by Stud farms
Private Garden and secure parking

Studio Apartment with Mezzanine double bedroom
Ground floor with living area, solid fuel stove flat screen TV
Small kitchen, opening into a dining area for four people
New large shower and WC


Arts Week / August Rates

Daily rental €75 per night
Weekly rental €400
Monthly rental €1000

Kilkenny cottage you can rentThe stone cottage is an ideal place to retreat and get away from it all and still be close to beautiful city of Kilkenny. It’d also suit a mature student moving to Kilkenny for NUI Maynooth (St. Kierans College Campus) on a September start. If right tennant found a special term time rate could be arranged for the academic year.

If you are interested in staying in the cottage, email Anne Marie:  info (AT)

Seaweeds in a strainer & Guide to Edible Seaweeds by Prannie Rhatigan

Seriously, this stuff is fantastic!

Pepper dulse is like a delicious seaweed garlic. You can nibble it straight from your seaweed foraging as a snack! Also, Terry’s created a tasty recipe for you.

dog reads Irish Seaweed Kitchen cookbook

Petal considers reading Irish Seaweed Kitchen recipes

Inspired by So Sligo Festival and the beautiful book Irish Seaweed Kitchen by Prannie Rhatigan, on the sunny Summer Solstice Terry & I drove to the seaside in Wexford to forage seaweed.

As well as seaweed, we got seaside photos from both Wexford & Sligo for you to enjoy, even if you remain unconvinced about the seaweed 😉

Summer Solstice was a stunner of a day, hardly a cloud in Ireland’s skies. To tell the truth, this foraging seaweed lark was a bit of an adventure for us– we’d never even tried cooking with seaweed, much less hunting for it!

Doing so was all down to Prannie’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and tasty samples during the seaweed excursion she led at So Sligo. She had passed her excitement on to me, so I got her book, showed it to Terry, and he got the seaweed bug as well.

If YOU are curious about seaweeds, and fancy a special weekend on the Wild Atlantic Way in Sligo, I’ve cool trip info to pass on to you in a minute.

blue sky & beach grasses  co Wexford Ireland

Blue sky & beach grasses, Summer Solstice. co Wexford, Ireland

Sea Spaghetti and Pepper Dulse (the garlic seaweed) were top of our seaweed foraging list. Both are tasty nibbled straight from the sea, the sea spaghetti nutty/salty/crunchy; its long strands fun to eat. I was armed to hunt with my laminated font of knowledge: Prannie’s identification Guide To Edible Seaweeds, a handy beachside companion to the Irish Seaweed Kitchen.

Forage for seaweed at low tide, as many interesting varieties are to be found at the farthest receding of the sea. Always be aware of when the tide will turn, aware of your surroundings, and go with a friend. Never forage alone with your back to the sea; freak waves are not unknown, so always have someone with you facing out towards the sea. Don’t go too far out that you can’t easily get back in– tides can come in quickly! Find out the quirks of the area you are foraging.

You can get phone apps that track the tides, and have a look around online (and talk to locals!) for tide times & local sea / beach information before you go.


The ‘spring tides’ are ace times to forage for seaweed; the sea goes out farthest then.

Never pick the whole plant of any seaweed. A good general rule is to only snip off the top third. This ensures it can continue to grow sustainably.

Only take what you’ll use. Legally, removing things from the seaside in Ireland is prohibited.

Many seaweeds need gentle handling. They can become unrooted by human clumsiness & tugs.

Avoid places where you can see lots of bright green seaweed & seepage/runoff from land, as there could be pollution here. Same for marinas & ports.

Don’t forget your plastic bag to carry your seaweeds, and boots or a towel to dry you bare feet. (Yes, when we went the water was warm enough for a very enjoyable wade!)

Pepper Dulse & other seaweeds

Pepper Dulse is the golden one here. The strands are Sea Spaghetti, and the discs are the beginnings of Sea Spaghetti

In the crevices of rocks at Baginbun, Wexford we found our gold– the Pepper Dulse! When it is not growing at the lowest reaches of the shore it is quite tiny, so you must be careful to only snip off the tips of this flavoursome seaweed. The easiest way to harvest most any seaweed is just go armed with scissors & snip, but with these tiny Pepper Dulse I found fingertips easiest– next time I’ll also bring quite small scissors.

Our seaweed harvest had a pleasing variety, but we only found a tiny bit of sea spaghetti. Terry could see some more farther out; maybe we’ll look up the date of the next Spring Tide & try again then.

I really want to find some because in the Irish Seaweed Kitchen there’s a yummy recipe for Sea Spaghetti & Cheese Straws. I sampled them on the So Sligo seaweed walk. Apparently kids love ’em, but any kids around that day missed out cuz us (supposed) adults gobbled the straws all up!

Irish Seaweed Kitchen cookbookby Prannie Rhatigan

Irish Seaweed Kitchen cookbook by Prannie Rhatigan. Beautiful to look at, tempting to read, and a helpful bookmark too!

Prannie Rhatigan’s cookbook is fantastic, and the descriptions & photos will make you want to try some recipes. These are of a great variety, and plenty that aren’t seaweed based; you won’t feel like you’ve a mouthful of ocean 😉 The thing about seaweeds is that they have so many healthful nutrients, so adding just a touch here in there can be beneficial.

Terry loves to use cookbooks as a jumping-off point to create something himself. What he did with the garlic-y Pepper Dillisk was to bring it into a summery bean salad:

Easy Seaside Summer Bean Salad

tin of sweetcorn, drained
tin of chickpeas, drained
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot
hot sauce, to taste (Terry likes Franks Original Hot sauce for this recipe)
juice of 1/2 lime
tablespoon or more of shredded Pepper Dulse, to taste
chopped/ snipped sea spaghetti (we had about  2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon of Shoyu sauce, OR 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
black pepper, to taste

Peel your carrot, using the peeler to make wide ribbons of carrot. Chop them roughly. Into a good sized bowl add all of your ingredients, stirring well to mix them up. Let it settle and serve. A tasty source of protein as well as part of your 5-a-day veg, with the bonus of seaweed nutrients!

It’s delish, do try it! I even shared it on Twitter’s #SundayCookoff. It got a good response from the Cookoff Chef 

Another interesting thing you can do with Pepper Dulse is to dry it in the sun & then grind it up to use as a seasoning, like pepper. This was a traditional way of using it. I’m curious as to whether it will lose some of its garlic flavour when dried. I will try this and let you know!

If you’ve been tempted to learn more about foraging and cooking with seaweeds with Prannie Rhatigan and you’d like to enjoy a fantastic weekend on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in county Sligo, this weekend break may fit the bill!

Sligo Seaweed Days 30th and 31st July, 2014

Day 1:  You will enjoy brunch at Lang’s Bar before joining us on a seaweed identification walk on Streedagh beach. A dolphin spotting trip around Sligo/Donegal Bay will be followed by an aperitif and dinner at Eithna’s By the Sea.

Day 2:  You will begin with a visit to Creevykeel court cairn with local archaeologist. Then a cookery demo and hands on workshop with Prannie rounded off with a leisurely lunch at Eithna’s.

Full details and to book, here.

Prannie Rhatigan is a medical doctor with a lifetime experience of harvesting, cooking and gardening organically with sea vegetables. Born and raised in the North West of Ireland where she still lives, she has a lifelong interest in the connections between food and health. Hailed as “Ireland’s leading seaweed expert” in Food and Wine in June 2012  she has represented Ireland’s finest food abroad on many occasions and has given workshops and lectures on sea vegetables and cooking. Amongst other awards, in May 2012 she was awarded Special Acknowledgement for her Outstanding Contribution to Irish Food by Euro-Toques 2012.

I ate at Eithna’s By the Sea as part of my So Sligo visit, and certainly recommend it. De-lish! Amazingly fresh seafood and a charming, lovingly run restaurant. The harbour setting is lovely, too. I’ll tell you more about Eithna’s & how you can do some beach horseriding in the area in an upcoming post.

You can also learn plenty from Prannie’s the Guide to Edible Seaweeds, too. Each seaweed even has a QR code you can scan to watch a video with more information! You can purchase it, and/or the cookbook, from the Irish Seaweed Kitchen website, in bookshops or on Amazon.

When I was having a look around online to see if many other folk found Pepper Dulse garlic-y, I found this on Wikipedia:

Sligo beach

Sligo is special!  This is the beach where we seaweed walked with Prannie

“Osmundea pinnatifida is a species of red alga known by the common name Pepper Dulse.

It is a small seaweed widely found with the tidal zone of moderately sheltered rocky shores around Britain and Europe. Although technically a red seaweed, it can show a wide range of colouring from yellow-buff to a red so dark as to be almost black. Reference is made to its being harvested and dried in Scotland and in the Channel Islands for use as a curry-flavoured spice.”

Curry flavoured? Interesting! I’d love to hear what you all think Pepper Dulse tastes like! If you’ve had Pepper Dulse, let us know–what did it taste like to you? Or if you’ve had another unusual tasting seaweed, have a great recipe or other tip, let us know, too! I’d love for you to share. Leave your comment below, or tweet me at @VibrantIreland or tell me over on the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page.

Enjoy the Irish Seaweeds 😀

Cheeses Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland ; Sheridans CheeseCheese lovers, take note!

Irish cheeses are among the world’s best, and the best of the Irish have been announced at the Irish Cheese Awards 2014. 

The Irish Cheese Awards 2014, the most well-known and prestigious event in the Irish cheese industry calendar, has taken place at Bloom 2014. The only competition dedicated entirely to Irish cheese, cheese makers from all over Ireland were judged in 17 classes by a panel of experts including Adrian Boswell from Selfridges and Aoife Carrigy from the Irish Independent.

This year a special category, Cheese for Children, was judged by Hannah Cahill (10 years), Leon Cullen McLoughlin (seven years), Ryan Mooney (12 years) and Sarah Whalley (16 years) who awarded these cheeses their top medals (do you sense a chocolate theme?)

Cheese for Children

Gold: Coolea Young Matured, Coolea Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Soft Cheese with Chocolate, Green Pastures Donegal

Bronze: Cheddar with Chocolate, Old Irish Creamery


Kilkenny’s own Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheeses brought home 2 Golds. One for their Sheep’s Cheese Meadow Semi Hard, and another for the category of  Bloomy Rind, where their  Meadow Mini Soft won.

Reading all the different categories, I realize that even though I adore eating cheese I know little of the finer points. Bloomy Rind??– is it called that because the awards were judged at the Bloom festival, or is it something else? 😉 It actually kinda sounds like a plant disease, perhaps a strain of  powdery mildew… Tee hee,  just a bit of what Hubby calls horticultural humour- he gets to hear plenty of it when all us garden-y folk gather at Bloom & other flowery events! Bloom 2014 Diublin

Bloom runs until Monday, 2 June & is fun for garden lovers, foodies and those who enjoy a great family day out. It’s Ireland’s largest garden and food festival runs for five days over the June bank holiday weekend in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Kids are free, and you can get your tickets at the gate or online at 

Follow Bloom on or join the conversation on Twitter @Bloominthepark and #bloom

Next up on the garden &  flower- lovers’ calendar are the Dublin Garden Festival 13-15 June at beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, the World Flower Show at the RDS on June 19-22, and the Carlow Garden Festival 25 July-4 August. ( If you know of others let me know in the comment section below. Thanks!)


Here’s the full listing of the Irish Cheese Award Winners 2014; some beauties there & I know you cheese fiends want to know what to go out and try! Time to get sampling, I think 🙂

Supreme Champion 2014

Killeen Farmhouse Cheese for ‘Killeen Mature Goat’


Reserve Champion

Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese for ‘Humming Bark’


Class 1, Creamery Mild Cheddar


Bronze: Avonmore Red Cheddar, Glanbia

Class 2, Creamery Cheddar 6-9 months


Gold: Kilmeaden Mature White Cheddar, Glanbia

Silver: Wexford Medium Cheddar, Wexford Creamery


Class 3, Creamery Mature Cheddar


Gold: Kilmeaden Smooth & Mature, Glanbia

Silver: Wexford Mature Cheddar, Wexford Creamery

Bronze: Cheddar, DairyGold Co-Op

Class 4, Smoked Cheese


Gold: Wexford Vintage Cheddar, Wexford Creamery

Silver: Oak Smoked Cheddar, Old Irish Creamery

Bronze: Cahill’s Ballinwood Smoked Cheddar, Cahills Farm

Class 5, Fresh Cheese


Gold: Buffalo Ricotta, Toonsbridge Dairy

Silver: Buffalo Mozzarella, Toonsbridge Dairy


Class 6, Fresh Cheese Flavour Added


Gold: Goats Cheese with Garlic, Honey & Thyme, Bluebell Falls

Silver: Cashel Cream Cheese, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Bronze: Goats Cheese with Garlic & Black Pepper, Bluebell Falls

Class 7, New Cheese


Gold: Organic Mild, The Little Milk Company

Silver: Brewers Gold, The Little Milk Company

Bronze: Cais Na Tire, Cais na Tire

Class 8, Sheeps Milk Cheese


Gold: Knockdrinna Meadow Semi Hard, Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Crozier Blue, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Bronze: Cais Na Tire, Cais na Tire

Class 9, Flavour Added Cheese


Gold: Burren Gold Cumin, Aillwee Cave

Silver: Mossfield Mediterranean, Mossfield Organic Farm

Bronze: Mossfield Cumin Seed, Mossfield Organic Farm

Class 10, Hard Mature Cheese


Gold: Burren Gold Plain, Aillwee Cave

Silver: Coolea Mature, Coolea Farmhosue Cheese

Bronze: Organic Mild, The Little Milk Co

Class 11, Hard Cheese (under 6 months)


Gold: Killeen Goat, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Mossfield Farmhouse Cheese, Mossfield Organic Farm

Class 12, Bloomy Rind


Gold: Knockdrinna Meadow Mini Soft, Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Wicklow Bán, Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese

Class 13, Semi-Soft


Gold: Humming Bark, Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese


Class 14, Blue Cheese


Gold: Cashel Blue, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Silver: Young Buck, Mike’s Fancy Cheese

Bronze: Wicklow Blue, Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese

Class 15, Goats Milk Cheese (under 2 months)


Gold: St Tola Ash Log, Inagh Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: St Tola Log Plain Mature, Inagh Farmhouse Cheese

Bronze: Gortnamona, Cooleeney Farm

Class 16, Goats Milk (over 2 months)


Gold: Killeen Mature Goat, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese


Judging Panel

The other judges were as follows:
Adrian Boswell, Selfridges
Aoife Carrigy, Irish Independent
Barra McFeely, Tesco Ireland
Diarmuid Murphy, Dunnes Stores
Eddie O’Neill, Teagasc
Frances Douglas, FSAI
John Farrand, The Guild of Fine Food
Mary Kate Mageean, Musgraves
Michael Cleere, Cheddar Grader
Steward: Derek Cahill, Traditional Cheese Company

Hungry yet?? 😀

Enniskillen Castle, Ferma Northern Irelandnagh,

Enniskillen Castle stands proud at the riverside

Fermanagh’s Lake district is a wonderful area to explore.

And an excellent base for doing so is Enniskillen– a town on a river island complete with castle!

Enniskillen Castle is 600 years old, and was built by Gaelic chieftains, the MaGuires. They had control from the 1400s until the 1700s, when the castle became an English Garrison. Military history throughout the ages is well represented here, and there is lots to see.

Military museum displays, Enniskillen Castle

Military museum displays, Enniskillen Castle

Even if you are not particularly interested in the military, some of the displays are moving, like the story and illustrations of Henry Lamb in the 1st World War. And if you are quite interested, you’ll be thrilled! I saw one older boy moving through the displays at a snails pace, enrapt.

Fermanagh County Museum is also on-site, and is full of natural history & history displays; very child friendly, too. At entry, kids get a booklet, and if they complete it they receive a prize!

The castle, later buildings, & military equipment in the castle yard make for interesting photos. I took a rake of photos of cannons & guns even though they aren’t my thing at all!

Mon 2 – 5 &  Tues – Fri 10 – 5

Sat (Apr – Oct) 2 – 5 & Sun (Jul & Aug) 2 – 5

Bank holidays; see website. 4£ adult, kid 3£ 

Fermanagh Museum Enniskillen castle

The Fermanagh Museum at Enniskillen castle

Home is your castle, whether it is an actual castle, a cave a la the Fermanagh Museum, or a temporary home–your hotel. When you are busy exploring an area, afterwards you want to go ‘home’ and relax, sleep like a log, and then head off to explore anew. I spent 4 days discovering the Fermanagh Lakelands and I still didn’t see all I wanted to. I want to go back, and yes, I’d return to the hotel where I stayed: Belmore Court. [note: Belmore Court is a hotel in Enniskillen, not the Castle itself. I think a few commenters just skimmed this post and were confused. ]

If you’re like me and love good value but also want special comforts, Belmore Court is the place to stay in Enniskillen!

Below these photos of the castle’s, cave’s, & hotel’s views, is a my review of Belmore Court and my tips:

Belmore Court Executive room, Enniskillen

Belmore Court Executive room, Enniskillen

The value! I stayed in an Executive room, and it was quite smart. Yet prices can start from just 68£ on special offer. Belmore Court has a wide range of rooms, all affordable. There is also the 50’s retro Motel section which has mini kitchens and family apartments.

The Special Offers! I always look for the special offers on hotel websites, and you should too. Belmore Court has plenty of offers all of the time.

The Executive room. Calming, spacious, good looking, had a nice flat screen TV with a pretty wide choice of channels, a great bunch of brochures & info on the area, a big comfy bed with wonderful, smooth & soft  sheets and–>

Nespresso!! LOVED this touch in the executive room. Many other 4 star hotels in Ireland & Northern Ireland still don’t have Nespresso.

The Wi-Fi. It was strong!

The bathroom. Spotless, good shower, great hot water for the bath, and the room was never chilly.

Birdsong. There was birdsong in a nearby hedge in the mornings, and the view from my room over the town to Cuilcaigh Mountain was nice. Some Executive rooms have a balcony.

The friendliness! Everyone in all staff areas was friendly and helpful, and Belmore Court has just won The Reception Staff Of The Year Award in Northern Ireland. I know why!

The cleanliness. This should go without saying, but some accommodations aren’t as tip top. Belmore Court was spotless.

Green Policy. I really like that Belmore not only has a Green Policy, but constantly renews it. They’ve also got an Electric Car charge point in their car park!

Car park. Plenty of spaces, on site & free. And for seeing all the Fermanagh Lakelands has to offer, you do want a car. So much to discover! Do visit the website above- there are lots of brochures you can download, and apps, too. 

Breakfast Belmore Court

Breakfast Belmore Court

Location. Just a wee walk to Ardhowen Theatre to see a show, Tesco to get some ready-to-eat grub for those of us on a tight, no-eating-out budget (moi!)  Also only a 20 min walk to the lovely Castle Coole House & grounds, and the same walking time to Enniskillen Castle. You’ll be in the very centre of town with lots of restaurants in about a 10 minute walk.

Here’s Belmore Court’s Website.

Other bits of info & tips:

The Belmore Court breakfast buffet is mainly cereals, fruits, breads (scones, croissants, bagels, toasts,etc) and yogurts and so on.There is a good selection of these things most of the morning, but if you get there quite late on busy morning as I mention in the photo, some yummies like the chocolate croissants may be gone. Handily, Belmore has breakfast busy-ness times & days posted around the place to help you plan 🙂 There are also hot sausages & bacon, but they weren’t anything to write home about.  The breakfast foods are quite handy for grab & go if you are in a rush– I put together a cream cheese bagel & take away coffee one rushed morning. BUT, please note below:

Coffee lovers may struggle in Enniskillen, and I also struggled in a lot of the Lakelands area, too. I couldn’t find a good coffee anywhere. I really tried. Part of me wonders is it the limey water building up in machines? The only really enjoyable coffees I had were the Nespressos in my room at Belmore Court. They are not at the breakfast buffet, so coffee-up before you go down to breakfast if you’ve a Nespresso room. And if you don’t, if you are a coffee lover, I’d skip coffee at the buffet. I tried both the pour & the machine & didn’t like.

enniskillen castle museum animals

Castle museum animals watching out like hawk for good coffee 😉

(Can you help? What do others think of Enniskillen coffees? Am I just a total coffee snob now? I’d be happy to hear if the coffee improves in the Belmore breakfast buffet, and in Enniskillen in general. What coffee places do you readers recommend in the Lakelands area? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!)

I ALWAYS suggest silicon earplugs. No matter where you stay, there may be noise. Better to be looking at ’em than for ’em is my motto. You won’t always need them, but you don’t want to be without them. Belmore Court is in a good sized town, and is by roads. I wouldn’t say the road was particularly noisy, and I never heard noise from any other rooms, but silicon (not foam) earplugs will really muffle any sounds you are not used to. (Except if you are in a room with no soundproofing directly over a live band in a pub. Needless to say I won’t ever be recommending that place!) If you aren’t sure what silicon earplugs are, here’s a link to the ones I get in Boots.

I had no idea how much there is to see & do Fermanagh before I went, and I totally recommend at least a few days’ visit there. Also,to be perfectly transparent, I want to tell you that I was a guest at Belmore Court so that I could afford to stay and explore the area over more than one day. This does not change my opinions, and as you know if there things I don’t like I will write honestly about that, as I did in my Paddywagon post.

I hope you enjoyed the photos as well as the info; they are my Instagram photos! Each Thursday, the hashtags #IGtravelthursday (& #IGTT on Twitter) show photos from peoples’ travels all around the world- local travels and far flung. Use the hashtag & join in! If you are a blogger, you can also join in with a blog featuring one of your trips/visits and your Instagram photos from it (like in Satu’s Italy post), or how you use Instagram to plan travels. Read the rules of joining in here on SkimbacoLifestyle.
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