Where: County Waterford, Ireland
This 12th century tower was used by monks to escape Viking attacks. Not sure that would make me feel very secure.
Plate of food: We ate very well as we made our way through the loveliest of towns on the southeastern edge of Ireland: Waterford, Ardmore, Dungarvan, and Lismore. It was in Lismore, after touring the expansive castle gardens, that we wandered along Main Street searching for good grub and found O’Brien Chop House. A very small garden is concealed behind the building and this is where we were fortunate enough to find ourselves sitting.
The garden is slightly wild and overgrown with only a handful of tables nestled here and there, but it is exactly where you want to find yourself on a sunny Sunday in Ireland.
What with the sunshine and the charming village and the secret garden, I felt compelled to mark the occasion with a seasonal cocktail. (That’s normal, isn’t it?) The good people at O’Brien had anticipated this and had just the tonic for me: a rhubarb bellini. Rhubarb! Bellini! Fizzy, summery, celebratory. Yes, please.
I should really have a signature cocktail every Sunday…hmmm.
The menu was simple and rustic. The roast pork I ordered was flavorful, tender, and perfectly paired with a fresh apple sauce. Matt had fantastic roast beef with an enormous Yorkshire pudding (of which I ate half…or slightly more). It was as if lunch had been cooked by our Irish grandmother…who had taken some culinary courses over the winter months. What I mean to say is that it was traditional, comforting food, but with a delicate, discerning touch. Fabulous.
The best: The scenery in County Waterford. I think the County motto is “We will knock your socks off with our scenery”…or something like that.
We drove through vibrant green fields full of placid sheep and over rolling hills until – BAM – we would suddenly glimpse the bright blue sea and golden sandy beaches. Who knew they were hiding these beaches in Ireland? Sneaky devils.
The villages were composed of all the great things that rural Ireland has to offer: cheerily painted houses, cobblestones, friendly people, church spires, flowers in bloom, and pubs. (Not necessarily in that order!)
Imagine curling your toes into bright green seaweed on the rocks at low tide. Imagine the scent of velvety red roses in the castle gardens. Imagine the sound of fishing boats in small harbours gently tugging at their moorings. Those are all sensations that bring me right back to that warm June in Ireland.
You know what else takes me right back? Hearing any Disney Princess song, as we unfortunately had those on repeat in the car for our entire journey. Arguably, not County Waterford’s fault….
Story that needs to be told: This trip was full of surprises; the best of all was how extraordinary the area was. Ireland has so many secret delights and we felt smug that we had “discovered” one on this particular weekend. But there were other surprises.
- Surprise! Our son can sit. Not a big deal? I beg to differ. You take this for granted as you sit at your computer reading this, but when you are 7 months old and your head is the same size and weight as a bowling ball – sitting is HUGE. And he did it. Right there on one of those lovely Irish beaches.
- Surprise! Our holiday suddenly got all “Luxury”. We checked into our humble holiday cottage which was…adequate (that’s as generous as I can be). After looking around, bringing our bags in, and carbon dating the Formica in the kitchenette, I went to ask about a baby cot. Rather nonchalantly the woman behind the desk spun a key ring around her finger and asked if I would like to see a different cottage. At first I turned her down because I did not see the point in relocating. She spun the key ring one more time and said the magic words “It’s bigger and newer”. Done. Let me twist that key right off your finger. Our upgraded cottage was spacious (5 bedroom!), modern, and quiet. Now that’s how I like to start a holiday.
- Surprise! We’re moving to Brazil. Yup. There we were in our car with the kids strapped in and the Disney tunes cranked, ready to set off for a day of exploring, when Matt’s phone rang. We pulled into the car park of the hotel so he could take the call. I will never forget the tone of his voice that made me take notice, the morning sunshine glinting on the bay, and the giddy way I paced outside of the car until I could hear the official news: “We’re going to Rio!” Surprise. And the next adventure begins.
“Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.” – Irish Proverb