Top 10 Taverns You Must Visit in Ireland

October 16th, 2014
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The Irish like their drink. They wouldn’t contest this. Since humans could lift a glass and pour a pint, the Irish have done just that. And where do they do this drinking? Down the pub of course.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like the UK, Irish pubs are in peril. Over the past twenty-or-so years, 1,000s of boozers have closed their doors, lay slain by the cheap liquor on sale in offies and supermarkets across the Emerald Isle. To top it off – and contrary to belief – the beer served in Irish pubs is crap, steering many-a-thirsty Paddy into the alcohol aisle of the nearest convenience store.

Thanks to a surge in microbreweries supplying pubs with better beer, the future of Ireland’s taverns looks bright. But where should you go to sample the craic on a trip across the Irish Sea? Here’s a shortlist of taverns you should – nay, must – visit during your holiday in Ireland.

Matt Malloys, Westport, Co. Mayo

Matt Malloy's – Via Flickr

Matt Malloy’s – Via Flickr

Owned by Chieftain flutist Matt Malloy, this intimate Westport boozer hosts traditional live music seven nights a week. The ale poured in this Mayo inn are as authentic as the tunes, and the welcome as a warm as the punters squeezing in to listen to them. Visit as soon as possible.

O’Loclainn’s, Ballyvaughn, Co. Clare

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Down an unassuming alley in Ballyvaughn is O’Loclainn’s, perhaps the best pub in Ireland. With the feel of someone’s stove-lit front room and an overwhelming whisky selection, this tavern will warm your cockles on a bracing winter’s night. Musicians often set up shop within, so it can be a pleasantly tight squeeze.

Geoff’s, Waterford, Co. Waterford

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Whoever Geoff is, he’s the proprietor of a bloomin’ good pub. Reading reviews of the place, you’d think it was a classy joint; all speak of the atmosphere, the delicious food, the tasty stout and the good-natured cliental, but in reality, Geoff’s is a down-to-earth pub that’s the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon.

Sin é, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sin é, Irish for “That’s it”, refers to the funeral parlour next door. As macabre as this sounds, there’s nothing otherworldly about this Cork public house. Candlelit and convivial, Sin e’ is the home of traditional Irish music in Cork city, and has kept dry patrons in drink for over 50 years.

The Corner House, Ardara, Co. Donegal

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

There are several reasons you should endure the long drive to Co. Donegal, and The Corner House is one of them. Tiny, cosy, and family run, The Corner House features an open fire that’s stoked during the winter months. Plus there’s regular live music. See you there.

Hargadon Bros, Sligo, Co. Sligo

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Old pub, modern grub. That about sums up Hargadon Bros, a gem of a boozer in Sligo town. Did I mention their wine cellar, packed to the rafters with speciality vinos? Or their excellent range of local and international ales? Or their staff, who are described as “friendly” more times than I can count on Tripadvisor? No? Must have missed those bits.

The Dame Tavern, Dublin, Co. Dublin

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Fancy a sing-along in a proper pub with proper pints? Get yourself down to The Dame Tavern, a Dublin watering hole whose clientele are welcoming to tourists. Located on a historic byway where Google Street View couldn’t tread, you’ll feel at the heart of the Irish capital in this atmospheric wee pub.

Morrisey’s Pub, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

Morrisey’s Pub is essentially a museum. From the ancient bric-a-brac to the aged clientele, you feel you owe an admission fee before entering the saloon. For the cost of a pint, you can sit and drink amid years of Irish heritage and tradition – what could be better than that?

The Crane Bar, Galway, Co. Galway

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Crane Bar: a foot-stomping, violin thrashing, joy of an establishment. From the moment you set foot in this rustic alehouse, you’re encouraged to join in the craic. With top beer, two floors and a good local to tourist ratio, it won’t take long to get in the swing of things.

The Mutton Lane Inn, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sheep used to sleep in this pub. And, JFK and Johnny Cash drank here. Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this admired Cork public house. Candles stuffed in wine necks, torn upholstery, and dire loos add to the charm of this lovable dive. Ask for Sky Sports and you’ll likely find yourself on the pavement.

Has this list left you thirsty or muttering “you feckin’ idiots”? Which pubs would you choose? Let us know your favourite Irish boozer on Twitter or Facebook.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

A Whirlwind Tour of the Irish Coast

October 15th, 2014
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Today we’ll be taking you on a whistle-stop tour of the Irish Coast, from Donegal in the north down to County Cork in the south, stopping off in some of our favourite places along the way.  We’ve taken it upon ourselves to list some of the best spots of the Irish coastline with awards going to our favourite beach, seaside town and, of course, the best spot to soak up some scenery. As you can imagine, this was no mean feat; after all, the Irish coast is one of the most spectacular going.

Best Beach

via Flickr

via Flickr

We decided to jump in at the deep end and pick our favourite beach first. Now you should know there’s over 1,000 miles of Irish coastline and a whopping 76 blue flag beaches, so this was never going to be an easy choice. However, we decided on a beautiful spot on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Dingle itself was once labelled as the most beautiful place on Earth by National Geographic, so it must have something going for it. This becomes apparent when you head to Inch Beach, a three mile stretch of golden sand perfect for a stroll in the sun, some surfing or even a touch of sunbathing. A worthy winner of Ireland’s best beach!

Best Scenery

via Flickr

via Flickr

For the best spot to enjoy scenery on the Irish coast, we’re heading towards the northernmost tip of Ireland. Up there you’ll find the cliffs of Sliabh Liag, some of the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe. They tower 600 meters above the sea making them almost twice the height of the Eiffel Tower and around three times that of their famous rival, the Cliffs of Moher. With picnic areas at the summit, walking paths all around and of course the various companies running boat trips around the base of cliffs, there’s so much to do, although you’ll probably prefer to just sit and enjoy the view!

Best Coastal Town

via Flickr

via Flickr

Now this really was a tough one. There are so many delightful seaside towns dotted around the Irish coast, but in the end, we plumbed for Kinsale in County Cork as our favourite. One of the jewels of the southern Irish coastline, well known for its winding streets, colourful shops and countless little cafés, you can see why Kinsale is popular with tourists. There’s a multitude of things to do there with an annual Gourmet festival, numerous art galleries and of course the marina where you can hire a boat for the day.

Well hopefully you agree with our choices, but if you’ve got any suggestions of other spots that deserve a mention let us know, either on Facebook or on Twitter! And hopefully reading this blog has got you in the mood for a trip over to Ireland. If so, we’ve got just the thing for you: a page full of Irish coastal cottages, so have a look and see if you can find your dream holiday home.

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Sykes’ Spotlight on New Irish Cottages

October 14th, 2014
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Our portfolio of properties is constantly expanding not only here in the UK but across the sea in Ireland too. As we frequently blog about our recently acquired UK cottages, we thought it’s about time we highlighted some of our new Irish holiday homes. From stylish modern properties to cottages filled with character, and idyllic coastal getaways to cosy country retreats, our new cottages offer something to suit all tastes.

Cherrymount Farm

Cherrymount Farm | Youghal, County Cork | Ref:  914203

Cherrymount Farm | Youghal, County Cork | Ref: 914203

Cherrymount Farm is the perfect example of a modern Irish cottage, offering WiFi, underfloor central heating and solar panels. This immaculately presented five bedroom property is located on the border between Waterford and Cork so it’s ideal for exploring both counties and making the most of your holiday.

Coachman’s House

Coachman's House | Lorrha, County Tipperary | Ref: 915464

Coachman’s House | Lorrha, County Tipperary | Ref: 915464

Packed full of character, Coachman’s House in County Tipperary provides everything you need for a traditional Irish break. This stunning stone cottage offers homely accommodation which is ideal for a cosy family holiday or a romantic getaway with an open fire, large grounds and convenient local amenities all adding to its charm.

Watch House Cottage

Watch House Cottage | Valentia Island, County Kerry | Ref: 915397

Watch House Cottage | Valentia Island, County Kerry | Ref: 915397

If you’re looking to explore the Irish coastline in style then this adorable coastal cottage on Valentia Island is the property for you. Step out the front door of Watch House Cottage to find the vibrant Knightstown harbour with its pier and a range of water activities perfect for children or a family dog who just loves the water!

Ard Boula

Ard Boula | Tulla, County Clare | Ref: 912160

Ard Boula | Tulla, County Clare | Ref: 912160

Nestled in the Irish countryside, Ard Boula’s tranquil surroundings and rural setting is sure to encourage lots of rest and relaxation on your next Irish getaway. This property offers plenty of space to accommodate eight people and two well-behaved pets with four bedrooms, two sitting areas and large gardens one of which includes a plot where seasonal produce is grown.

This is just a small selection of the fabulous Irish Cottages we have on offer. If you’re planning a holiday to Ireland then please visit our Irish Cottages page or contact our team for more information.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Walk of the Month: Doonbeg Loop, Co. Clare

October 13th, 2014
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The village of Doonbeg in West County Clare lies on Ireland’s Atlantic Seaboard, just metres from the steely waters of the ocean. Dramatic though this sounds, the village is one of Ireland’s most peaceful spots, perfect for a romantic retreat or – as we’re about to demonstrate – an invigorating walking break.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Beautiful bogs beckon on the Doonbeg Loop, an 8km circuit traversing the emerald wetlands that flank the village. The loop is a great way to get to grips with the local area, and showcases the village’s key landmarks including Doonbeg Bridge and Castle. You’ll need the route map on hand before starting the walk so you know where to begin, which you can download here.

The Walk

Though moderately long, this 8km walk features easy terrain with minimum ascents. Trekking shoes or hiking boots are advisable as bog roadways can be slippery. Raingear is also advised – after all, this is the Emerald Isle!

The Route

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Beginning at Doonbeg’s unusual church of ascension, walk west, passing the pastel coloured houses typical of West Ireland. On this street are two pubs; store these in your memory for liquid refreshment on your return to the village.

At the junction with a minor roadway, turn left. On the map, the way is highlighted by a green line, so pay close attention to this when approaching junctions to ensure you’re still on track. Follow this minor road for 1km until you’re deep in the emerald grasslands which envelop the village. Here you will come to a T-junction where you should turn left and then immediately right.

Follow the bog road for over 1km until you come to a sharp bend. After another three quarters of a kilometre, you’ll reach another T-junction, where you should turn left. Continue along this road, crossing Doonbeg River on your way back to the village.

Turn left into the village and continue on this street until you reach Doonbeg Bridge, a picturesque stone bridge at the mouth of Doonbeg Lough. From here, you can see Doonbeg Castle, a 16th century structure with a bloody history. The village is said to have ‘grown up’ around this imposing castle, though not much remains today. Continue on this street until you’re back at the church; oh and don’t forget those pubs, where a roaring fire and a pint of Irish stout are sure to warm your extremities.

Download the comprehensive map and route for this walk here.

Rent a cottage in Doonbeg for a walking holiday

If you’re interested in an Irish walking break, take a look at our self-catering cottages to rent in and around Doonbeg. This picturesque village on Ireland’s dramatic west coast offers the best of coast and country, so why not take a peek at our Doonbeg cottages today.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Hot Chocolate Recipes for a Lazy Sunday

October 12th, 2014
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As the nights draw in and the temperatures begin to dip, one of my favourite Sunday evening activities is to curl up on the sofa with a hot beverage and a film. Normally, I’d go for a classic brew but when the weather takes a turn for the worse, there’s nothing better than an indulgent hot chocolate to warm you up! So in honour of these chocolatey delights, we’ve found some of the most unusual and mouth-watering hot chocolate recipes out there to feature on today’s blog. Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (serves one)

Recipe via Nigella.com

Salted caramel hot chocolate

Via Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp salted caramel sauce (see here for recipe)
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 50g finely chopped dark chocolate
  • Squirty cream to serve

Method:

  1. Pour milk, chocolate and salted caramel sauce into a saucepan and cook over medium heat.
  2. Stir until chocolate is melted and the liquid is rich.
  3. Pour into mug. Top with squirty cream and drizzle salted caramel sauce over the top.

 

Baileys Hot Chocolate (serves one)

Baileys Hot Chocolate

Via Flickr

Recipe via Londoncocktailscholars.co.uk

Ingredients:

  • 300ml milk
  • 50ml Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1 heaped tbsp hot chocolate powder

Method:

  1. Pour the milk and hot chocolate powder into a pan and leave on medium-high heat.
  2. Stir continuously for 3-4 minutes until there are no lumps and the mixture has started to thicken. Do not let the mixture boil.
  3. Take off the heat and stir for 15 seconds.
  4. Pour the Baileys into a glass, then add the hot chocolate mixture and give it a stir.
  5. Top with cocoa powder or flaked chocolate.
  6. You can also try this recipe with flavoured Baileys – how about trying with Baileys Orange Truffle?

 

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate (serves one)

Recipe via Agirlcalledjack.com

Peanut butter hot chocolate

Via Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 150ml milk
  • 50ml water
  • 3 squares of either milk or dark chocolate
  • 1 heaped tbsp of smooth peanut butter

Method:

  1. Pour water, chocolate squares and peanut butter into a pan on medium heat.
  2. Stir well until chocolate and peanut butter have melted and formed a sticky paste.
  3. Add a splash of milk and stir in. Repeat with a larger splash. Then add the rest.
  4. Serve in mug.

If you do try out one of these recipes then let us know how you get on; we’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have any other delicious hot chocolate recipes that you’d like to share with us then please get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.