deescallan

Walks in the September Sunshine

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Thank heavens for warm Septembers – makes it easier to say goodbye to summer. Mind you I have a friend or two counting down the days to Christmas, and looking forward to drawing the curtains early to sit before a cosy fire. The very thought gives me the shivers. I’m not a huge sun worshipper, but I dread the loss of light that comes with October and November. It’s just dark now at half past eight, and not a minute earlier will my curtains close!
I must admit though that I love the changing colours of the autumn. It’s such a great time to get out in the fresh air. There’s still time to do so in the evenings, especially for those who must toil during the day.
Somebody recommended a walk to me recently which I so enjoyed that I thought it was worth sharing. The walk takes you from the Avon Rí Hotel, near Blessington, Co. Wicklow, to Russborough House, also in Co. Wicklow.DSC00618You will walk it in about 70 minutes, each way that is. If you start at the Avon Rí, then you could stop for lunch, or a coffee, at the restaurant in Russborough – or take time to browse, in their lovely gift shop. Or you could start at Russborough and have a break at the Avon Rí, where you can enjoy beautiful views over the lake, from their bar/restaurant. I have done it both ways, and so enjoyed it.

DSC00629Enjoy a cuppa with a friend!

The path is very dry at the moment. I’m told that when the weather’s wet it’s best to wear hiking boots or shoes, as some spots near the lakeshore can get rather squelchy.
So, on with the directions then.

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View from the Hotel

Starting from the Avon Rí, go through the gate behind the tennis courts. Continue straight ahead. Do not take any turns to the left. As you walk the lake will always be on your left.
After about 10 minutes or so, you will see a gate ahead.  Just before that you will see green railings on your left, go through the opening there. Continue on, until you come to the main road. You will have been walking for about 25 minutes by now.
Turn left when you come to the road, and follow the footpath for about 100 metres. Take the first turn left. This road will soon become a gravel path. When you come to a gate walk through the gap to the left of it, and then just continue until you come to a T shaped junction on the path. Go right. You will soon see the lake ahead of you. The path will take you close to the lake shore again.

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When you come to a minor road, cross it and continue on the path. You are now about two thirds of the way there.
Keep walking, until you come to a car park. Keep right, and you will soon see the main road ahead of you. Go straight through the crossroads and continue on. The house is less than 10 minutes away. The entrance to the driveway will be on your left. Enjoy!

(Please note: if visiting the lakes in Blessington, do not go in the water. They are extremely dangerous.)

Russborough House

 

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Dublin Peace Festival

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Congrats to all involved in organising this festival. I attended the Peace Concert on Friday night last, held under the giant umbrellas of Meeting House Square. It’s a great venue, situated in the heart of Temple Bar, yet once inside the confines of the square you could be a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the city.

According to Tony Cullen, one of the concert organisers, a whole team of volunteers worked hard to make the event a success. And indeed, a success it was. The styles of music were many and varied, from pop and folk to indie/jazz, trad., opera, Brazilian and percussion. The audience were treated to a great night’s entertainment, some sitting watching, others dancing in the aisles, or swaying to the beat.
The artists involved were ( in order of appearance)
The Lung Ying Academy
Bairbre Anne
The Young Folk
Choro Hy Brazil
Donal Lunny and Paddy Glackin
Sive and her Band
The Omagh Youth Choir
This was a great showcase of the wealth of talent that there is out there.
International Peace Day will be in September. Watch out for more activities around that time.

Dingle is………….Dingle!

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Evening sky over Dingle Bay

Just spent a fabulous two weeks in the Dingle area. We were lucky with the weather, but what is it about the place that keeps drawing you back?

Could it be the scenery of Slea Head, or the strand at nearby Inch?

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 The cove at Cumeenol, or the views out to the Blaskets?

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 The historic sites, both prehistoric and more recent?

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 The great pubs and restaurants, or the Other Voices festival?

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 The Boatyard Restaurant

The boat trips out to see Fungi, or out to the islands?

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 Is it the people themselves, the craic and the banter?

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  It’s all of these things, plus that extra ‘something’ – that ‘je ne sais quoi’- or should I say ‘níl fhios an domhain agam!’

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Sunshine in Courtmacsherry

Just back a few days from the county of Cork, where we spent a lovely sunny break in Courtmacsherry.

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It’s a beautiful village, nestling on a wooded hillside, overlooking Courtmacsherry bay. It was quiet at the end of May, but I’m told, by holiday-makers who go there regularly, that there is a host of water sports available during the summer. There are beautiful walks too – along the coast, through the woods, on the country roads and down ‘the fuchsia walk’. The neighbouring village of Timoleague is a lovely 45-60 minute walk away, along the coast. Local people and business people there were only too willing to point out the different places to us.

For food and drink we found the following establishments good:

The Lighthouse Inn – tasty pub food, good prices.

The Anchor Bar – great place for a chat and a pint.

Gourmet Fast-Food – served from a stall on the prom. Fast-food is probably a bit of a misnomer, as I am sure that lots of care and attention went into its preparation. But once ordered, it is served up in five minutes. We ordered a pork-filled wrap and baked salmon with couscous and veg. €7 each and mouth-wateringly good. This stall is open on Sunday afternoons, possibly more often during the summer months. It is run by Ireland’s MasterChef winner Diana Dodog. No wonder she won!

The Golden Pheasant café and craft shop.

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I had the tastiest home-made scones I have ever eaten. The coffee was good too. I know coffee does not need to be hot in the same way tea does, but too many coffee houses do not know how to use those fancy machines of theirs. Not so in the Golden Pheasant. It was perfect. The craft shop is small but has some nice stuff on offer – pottery, jewellery, toys, nice Irish-made greeting cards for all occasions.

The Golden Pheasant is so-called because of the Aviary there, with its beautifully coloured pheasants. On a sunny day you can enjoy your food outdoors on the veranda, looking onto their beautiful garden.

 

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The Courtmacsherry Hotel was closed during most of our stay, but I imagine it will be open by now for the summer season. It has a wonderful location overlooking the bay, and has its own lawns and outdoor seating area. (See picture at top).

In nearby Timoleague there are a number of sights worth a visit – the ruins of a 13th century Abbey and the Catholic Church are both beautifully – situated – the former overlooking the bay, the latter on a hill overlooking the town. The Church of Ireland is almost completely hidden from view by the surrounding trees, but do go see. The interior is beautiful, with its gorgeous wall mosaics. The key to the Church is available from Smith’s shop, just up the street.

Courtmac (as I heard some locals call it) is an ideal spot from which to tour the area – Kinsale, Clonakilty and Inchydoney strand, Baltimore and its nearby islands, to name but a few.

Last, but not least, is the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat service. I cannot overstate how much I admire these men and women, who put their lives at risk to save others.

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 So, if you’re going down to the water this summer, stay safe!

Walks in the Woodlands

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Have you ever discovered a place, not far from where you live, and wondered “How come I’ve never been here before?” Well that’s how it was with me recently, when I went for a walk in Killinthomas Woods, not far from Rathangan, in Co. Kildare. They’re not a million miles from where I live, yet I had never heard of them before, never mind been there! The bluebells were in full bloom, the birds were at full throttle, and the sun was sending its rays out among the trees. We walked for a little over an hour, but you could easily spend a couple of hours wandering along its pathways. It’s an ideal spot for families too, especially as there are picnic tables right beside the parking area.

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Healthy Pancakes

Before you use this recipe might I tell you that a cook I am not! But I love my pancakes, and these are both wholesome and tasty.

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ingredients
Handful of Organic Oats
3 egg whites and one egg yolk
A little milk (optional)
Coconut oil/olive oil

Whisk the eggs. Place the oats in a bowl and stir in the eggs gradually, using a wooden spoon. It ‘s at this stage that you decide whether or not you need milk, and how much you need. It all depends on your idea of a handful, and the size of your hand! And the size of the eggs of course. Use an electric whisk to blend, so that the oat flakes become nice and smooth.
Heat some oil on a pan. Pour some mixture in-according to taste. Do you like your pancakes thick or thin? Then cook as you would any pancake.
Enjoy them sweet or savoury. A little Manuka honey is good if you like them sweet. I like them with low fat natural yogurt and some berries.
NOTE If not on a low fat diet you could use two whole eggs and a little more milk.
These pancakes are low G.I as there is no white flour used. Neither is there sugar – well, not unless you add the honey. But whatever way you have them, do enjoy them.

Parnell-A Novel

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Just finished reading Parnell – A Novel, by Brian Cregan. What a fine book it is. I’ m no historian, but I enjoyed reading about this man and this period in Irish history. Parnell, The Uncrowned King of Ireland, comes to life between the pages, and you are swept along by his story, both personal and historical. From his early days as a hesitant speaker in the world of politics, to his commanding presence in the British Houses of Parliament, the author traces the story of a man who is, not only a great leader and formidable opponent, but also hugely protective of those closest to him. The latter account is never sentimental, nor does the writer seek to intimately portray Parnell’s personal life, but he does succeed in providing us with a very rounded picture of the stature of this man – vilified, though often respected, by his adversaries, loved and trusted by his friends and followers. Brian Cregan’s book paints a vivid picture of an immensely important period in Irish history, but does so in a way which also appeals to those of us who do not readily reach for a history book.

Do you know, I think this would make a great film.