Our friend Tim McDonnell visited Ireland in October. This is the second half of his guest post about the visit. Part 1 is here. MH
Contrary to popularly held beliefs, the food in Ireland was excellent and dramatically exceeded our expectations. Fresh fish, lamb, the mixed grill, full Irish breakfast, brown bread and seafood chowder, fresh scones – all as good as you’ll taste anywhere in the world. But – beyond the more native dishes, there is a very global and diverse range on offer, like any good culinary hub. It was not just the high end restaurants, although we went to several – like O’Grady’s in Barna, the Lodge in Doonbeg, Market Lane in Cork City – heck, we even ate in Stormont’s royal dining hall called “The Long Gallery.” It was also family restaurants like O’Loughlin’s in Miltown Malbay (Clare), Kate McCormack’s in Westport (Mayo), Paddy’s Barn in Downpatrick (Down), and our B&B’s in Doonbeg and Cork City – and the homemade variety with family and good friends in Dublin and Crosshaven (Cork). There’s nothing like local hosts and guides – but if you don’t have family over there or any Irish friends to help personalize your trip, not to worry. Just stop in for a pint at a pub anywhere on the road and lighten up for a laugh – one of the easiest things you can do is befriend an Irishman.
The Self-Deprecating Celebrity
My cousin from Galway, Edelle O’Meara, is dating Ireland’s best horse-racer Davy Russell – and we got to spend some time with the man himself while we were over. Horse racing is one of Ireland’s favorite past times, and everywhere we went, the Irish people knew Davy. As recognizable there perhaps as Evan Longoria might be for the average person walking in downtown Tampa. Davy generously provided tickets for Edelle, my wife and I, along with Amber’s parents, to watch him compete at the Limerick Races in Limerick City. He placed us in a suite along with the University of Limerick racing society – and came up to the suite before the races started to give the students betting advice on the 5 races that he was set to compete in. As Americans, we thought he would be explaining why he expected to win all 5 races – but he went in a much different direction with it. It sounded something like, “Ah Jeannie Mac, that horse there could fall over twice and still beat my horse to the line in this race.” And, “Ah sure, you see now, if I were a betting man – I would wager that my horse in this race will end up in that man’s yard right over there.” Belly laughs all around. Entertaining, endearing, and easy friends – like most everyone on the island, God Bless it. I think we may have even made a couple Euro betting against his advice.