Suzanne Rowan Kelleher answered your questions about Ireland June 29, 2004
Ireland is one of the most beautiful and richly textured destinations, from the melancholy landscape of Connemara to the limestone plate that is the Burren to the "40 shades of green" fields, to the buzz of Dublin, Galway, and Cork. Moreover, Ireland presents a familiar face. The language is the same, if more lyrical, the faces and surnames seem familiar, the food is recognizable, the stout legendary, and the hospitality genuine. And indeed for many Irish Americans, a trip to Ireland is experienced as a kind of homecoming. It takes a while for this superficial reverie to wear off. And when it does, a less sentimental, truer face of Ireland shows itself. And this is when the country becomes truly exciting.
>Fewer than four million people live in Ireland, and yet this small nation has a huge identity. When John F. Kennedy spoke in Dublin 40 years ago, he waxed lyrically about Ireland's place in history. "No larger nation did more to keep Christianity and Western culture alive in their darkest centuries. No larger nation did more to spark the cause of independence in America, indeed, around the world. And no larger nation has ever provided the world with more literary and artistic genius. This is an extraordinary country."
Suzanne will be answered your questions Tuesday, June 29, at noon EST.
Suzanne Rowan Kelleher has spent a part of nearly every year since 1986 in Ireland. Over the years, she's traveled the length and breadth of the island, staying in countless B&Bs and guesthouses, and also farmhouses, lighthouses, historic homes and majestic castles. She's downed oysters in Clarenbridge (home of a famous Oyster Festival each summer), taken Gaelic courses in Donegal, spied the herd of deer in Dublin's Phoenix Park, sat in on traditional music sessions in Clare, and watched the sunset from Dun Aengus, a prehistoric fort perched on the cliffs of Inis Mor.
Suzanne is the former Europe Editor of Travel Holiday magazine. Her travel and travel-related writings have appeared in American Baby, Budget Travel, Esquire, Cigar Aficionado, Forbes.com, Four Seasons, Newsweek, and Parents. She has written books on Paris and Ireland, including Frommer's Ireland. She has lived for the past four years in a seaside village north of Dublin and is married with three children under age 6.
Suzanne Rowan Kelleher: Hi everyone. I'm here a few minutes early and looking forward to your questions, so ask away.
Tacoma, WA: My family (2 adults, 2 teens) will be visiting Ireland in August. I read your excellent article in Budget Travel magazine on how to eat like a local in Dublin. We plan to spend only a day in Dublin (having spent a week there last year) and were planning instead on touring other parts of the country. What restaurants in other parts of Ireland would you consider not-to-be-missed?
Suzanne Rowan Kelleher: If eating out and finding great restaurants is a big priority during your stay, you should definitely head for Cork--both the city and the county. It is the culinary hotbed of Ireland and has more excellent restaurants per capita than Dublin.
It also has some of the most stunning scenery--I'd particularly smitten with the darling villages that dot the intricate coastline of West Cork-a-nd you could easily spend a week or two touring just County Cork and leave feeling that you'' experienced something very special indeed. Here are some of my favorite places to eat. Each is worth a special trip:
In Cork City: *The Ivory Tower, The Exchange Buildings, Princes St. Tel 021/427-4665. For the adventurous. The chef is an American, Seamus O'C'nnell, who is a wild man in the kitchen. Known for his highly original pairings of ingredients, which can seem impossible when you read them on the menu, yet somehow his dishes all work wonderfully and your taste buds are left bedazzled (and very happy). *Jacob's'on the Mall, 30a South Mall. Tel 021/425-1530. Foodies love this place for the very creative, yet subtle, cooking. Fantastic fish and salads, never a bad meal. *Café Paradiso, 16 Lancaster Quay. Tel 021/427-7939. Calling it the country's'best vegetarian restaurant doesn't'do it justice. It's'one of the best restaurants, period. *Jacques, Phoenix St. Tel 021/427-7387. Never mind the uninspired décor; the cooking here is out of this world. Classic continental fare, done better than just about everywhere else.
In West Cork: *Good Things Café, Ahakista Road, Durrus. Tel 027/61426. Tiny place using West Cork's 'abulous produce-ch--ese, veggies, meat, fish-an-- transforming it into amazing meals. Has become a "must" on foodie lists practically overnight. *O'Ca'laghan-Walshe, The Square, Rosscarbery. Tel 023/48125. Amazing wild fish dishes. Don't 'iss the mashed spuds-gu--ranteed to be the best you've'ever had in your life. *Otto's Creative Catering, Bandon. Tel 023/40461. Dreams up original dishes like lasagne made with sea spinach and goat's 'heese-an-- makes them work magnificently. A real foodie's 'estination. *Mary Ann's,'Castletownshend. Tel. 028/36146. This adorable little pub on the steep main drag of Castletownshend gets my vote for best pub grub in all of Ireland. Seafood salads, West Cork cheese plates, scallops meunière, sirloin steak with garlic butter, deep-fried prawns. Yum.
In East Cork: *Grapefruit Moon, Main St., Ballycotton. Tel 021/464-6646. Lovely room, superb classic cooking, with just enough flair ingredients to make things interesting. *Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry. Tel 021/465-2531. Pretty much single-handedly responsible for the rebirth of Irish country house cooking, which is now copied so ubiquitously. They still set the standard, though. Fabulous meals, using the best local produce. *Aherne's, '63 N. Main St., Youghal (pronounced Yawl). Tel 024/92424. They do wonderful things with fresh seafood. Classic stuff, expertly executed.Also, in Dingle, County Kerry: *The Chart House, The Mall, Dingle. Tel 066/915-2255. One of the "It""re"taurants on the west coast. Terrific modern Irish cooking. I have sent so many people here and nobody has ever been disappointed. In fact, the comment I hear most is that dinner in the Chart House was the best meal of the entire trip.
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