Archive for April, 2009

Kinsale by way of Paris

Since we have friends who are going to Paris for the first time, I thought I’d take detour from Cork to Kinsale by way of Paris and environs. It’s not that much of a stretch as you will see when I get to my discussion of the “wine geese” in Kinsale. We’ve been twice and love Paris almost as much as Ireland. Our last trip was over the Christmas holidays and I heartily recommend that time of year. We stayed at the Hotel Trouchet,  which is conveniently located near the Métro Havre-Caumartin.  Next door is a delightful glove store. Some places we have enjoyed include:

  • E. Dehillerin cookware store – We found this great source of cookware while wandering around les Halles. You’ll find all sorts of knives, pots from butter warmers to ones that would fit a couple of missionaries, and everything in between. You’ll see students with their supply lists selecting what they need for school. After you look around you approach a salesperson who will take your order and then deliver it to the business office. I knew I’d love this place when I saw a photo of Julia Child in a niche in the business office (She really did shop there).
  • Boutique Maille mustard store – Near the Hotel Tronchet is the Maille mustard store at Place de la Madeleine. Look around and then stand in line. You can buy individual jars of mustard or they will pour mustard out into a crock from the tap.
  • Bateaux Mouches boat trip up the Seine – These open air boats are a great way to see the city from the river.
  • Braserie le Coupole – One of the old fashioned grand brasseries. We got the big seafood thing. Bus to Versailles – They advertise these bus trips all over Paris to find one and go. Read Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser before you go. OMG was this place over the top!
  • Restaurant L’Esturgeon in Poissy – We got  into Paris on the TGV from Dijon tired and hungry and found our way to this restaurant in Poissy on the subway. They greeted us, took our bags, sat us down and pointed out the heron hanging out on a log on the Seine. After ordering wine we started to relax and watch the swan swim down the river.  Get the Poissy cocktail (champagne, orange juice and Poissy liquor). They also have the best crepes Suzette I’ve every had.
  • Hotel Scribe – My father, Jack, asked me if I was going to stay at the Hotel Scribe in Paris. I said I’d never seen it and didn’t until my last trip. Jack visited the Hotel Scribe after being liberated from a German prisoner of war camp, hitchhiking into Paris and staying at the R and R hotel. He had lots of excellent adventures, mostly featuring meeting pretty French women and hanging out with reporters in the bar.  When we were there over Christmas I shoved some kids out of the way to view the animated puppet show in the windows of the Galleries Lafayette department store. Coming back I walked under scaffolding to see the Hotel Scribe. It’s now a luxury hotel. I walked through to the back and found the bar. Perched on the bar was a large tub full of ice and about 18 bottles of champagne. I was in French heaven. I got a glass of the bartender’s favorite champagne and told him the story of Jack and this very bar. He gave me an ash tray which I sent to Jack after I got back.

April 20, 2009 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

Pogue’s ancestral home

After Robert played a round of golf we headed towards Cork. But first we had to stop at Knappogue Castle. Besides being my ancestral home (not!) it now serves up Medieval buffets. And, there’s a whiskey named after it.

Knocking on the door

Knocking on the door

Collecting admission

Collecting admission

Many bedroom and all mod cons

Many bedrooms and all mod cons

After visiting the old home we walked around Bunratty and had lunch in what looked like a real pub, and not just a tourist trap – Durty Nellie’s. Then it was on to Cork. Cork reminded me of Baltimore; it combines the old and new, college and gritty industrial. It’s hard to find your way since streets are not always marked, there are lots of roundabouts, and, as we heard, students keep changing the signs. On one roundabout a driver in another car eve shouted out his disfavor with another  driver who yelled at Robert. After much driving around lost we finally made it to Hayfield Manor where we were taken on a tour by a fellow in a top hat and tails and the deposited in our room just as the bellman was putting down our luggage.  Hayfield Manor was an oasis of calm in the middle of the city, close to the university. The grounds were lovely and the breakfast was one of the best we’ve had. We spent a day in Cork taking the bus tour, visiting the English Market and lots of churches, and topping off our days at a pub. Next, Kinsale and Fishy Fishy.

April 10, 2009 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

Dromoland and the Cliffs of Moher

The next morning after a hearty Irish breakfast (I had the fish of the day!) since the weather was lovely we thought we’d go north to the Aran Islands. When we passed the Cliffs of Moher on our way to Doolin, we impulsively decided to stop since the last time we were there we didn’t get to see much since it was raining cats and dogs (and I don’t mean kittens and puppies but really fat, aggressive cats and dogs). We also wanted to see the new visitors center which replaced a nondescript concrete building in the parking lot. The new visitors center is an earth covered building with a tea shop, exhibit and shop. We took a walk on the newly refurbished walkways and then decided to make our way to Doolin to catch the ferry. Unfortunately, we weren’t there in the high season so the ferry didn’t run as often. We had missed the boat! Fortunately there was another boat that sailed to the Cliffs of Moher and we were in time to catch it. It was worth every Euro. We took lots of photos from the boat and when we disembarked one of the crew asked us if we had seen many “bards,” which I was then able to translate to birds, as there is a rookery island near the cliffs.

After driving around the Burren we headed back to Dromoland and treated ourselves to dinner in the main castle restaurant. After dinner we visited the bar, adorned with Staffordshire dogs on shelves on the wall.


The new visitors center

The new visitors center


April 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

Thinking back and Dromoland

It’s been almost a year since Robert and I got back from our last trip to Ireland in April. This time we stayed 2 nights in Co. Clare at Dromoland Castle, 3 nights in Cork, and 4 nights in Dublin. We usually go to Ireland in the fall, but since we took this trip after I graduated from library school we went in the spring. Spring was beautiful this year in Ireland and we were delighted with the sunny weather. Robert even got a bit of a sunburn. We tried the new direct flight on Aer Lingus from Dulles to Dublin and then took a short flight to Shannon.

I made the mistake of getting a map from Shannon to Dromoland on Google Maps, which indicated Dromoland in a place it could not be. But, we asked at the car rental office and they steered us to the right place, which is about a half an hour from Shannon near scenic Newmarket-on-Fergus. The public rooms seem to go on and on forever, but you are rewarded with pleasant dining rooms and a clubby bar. Robert played an excellent game of golf in the challenging course. If you stay there make sure you avoid running over the ducks in the driveway.



April 10, 2009 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment