Barbara’s Best: Ireland

Barbara's Best

This week explore Barbara’s best spots in southern and eastern Ireland.  Our travelers experienced many of these locales on the July 2017 trip “Carleton Varney’s Ireland: Private Places, Friendly Faces.”  You can start in Dublin and work your way to County Cork, or start in Cork like our travelers and work your way to Dublin!   Barbara's Best: Ireland Map

1. WHAT TO DO: Ballymaloe Cookery School – County Cork

Nestled in off the shores of Ireland about a 40 minutes drive from Cork is the charming Ballymaloe Cookery School.  This school has been run by the Allen family for generations, has won multiple awards, and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning.  Classes revolve around food from their very own 100-acre organic farm and provide you with quality hands-on experience for chefs of all levels.  To round out your experience, stay right down the road at Ballymaloe House in the picturesque countryside and catch a concert at The Grainstore.

2. WHERE TO STAY: Longueville House – County Cork

Fully immerse yourself in Irish country living at Longueville House, a majestic Georgian Country House less than 20 miles north of Cork city.  Experience elegance and relaxation at this 450-acre estate from excellent dining on site to fly fishing, falconry, biking, hiking, and more.  Longueville is even home to Longueville House Cider and Longueville House Apple Brandy which are made from apple orchards on site.


3. WHAT TO DO: George Stacpoole Antiques – County Limerick

Stop in the quaint village of Adare to admire the stone houses with thatched roofs and visit the shop of George and Michelina Stacpoole.  The store has a little something for everyone featuring antiques from dealer and President of the Irish Antique Dealers Association (IADA), George Stacpoole, and knitwear by his wife, designer Michelina Stacpoole.

4. WHAT TO DO: Knockpatrick Gardens – County Limerick

Continue northeast of Adare to Foynes for a continuation of Irish country charm.  Stop at Knockpatrick Gardens, a 100 year old garden owned by Tim and Helen O’Brien.  Be sure to call or email ahead in order to get the full experience with a tour from the owners themselves.

5. WHAT TO DO: Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum – County Limerick

Just a 5-minute drive from Knockpatrick Gardens, Foynes Flying Boat Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to the “pioneering days of aviation and passenger travel across the north Atlantic.”  The museum has something for everyone from a full size replica of a Boeing B314 Flying Boat to a collection of memorabilia from the Irish actress and singer Maureen O’Hara. O’ Hara was a patron of the museum who had strong ties to Foynes through her husband Captain Charles Blair who is featured heavily in the museum.  Finally, have an Irish coffee in the Irish Coffee Centre where the drink was first invented.

6. WHERE TO STAY: Ballyfin – County Laois

Escape to Ballyfin, a 200-year old neoclassical house that has been restored to it’s original, resplendent condition. Designed by the great Irish architects, Sir Richard and William Morrison in the 1820s, Ballyfin is admired as the most lavish Regency mansion in Ireland. This 5-star hotel has just 20 rooms and is only open to hotel guests. Each room is opulently furnished and decorated with Irish art and antiques from around the world. Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, with stone walls enclosing the parkland, the landscape is among the finest examples in Ireland of the natural style of gardening. Highlights include ancient woods, walled gardens, follies, and grottoes.  To learn more about Ballyfin, watch the documentary Ballyfin: Portrait of an Irish Country House, currently available on Amazon.

7. WHERE TO EAT: Café Carleton at Newbridge Silverware – County Kildare

En route to Dublin, stop in at Café Carleton at Newbridge Silverware and Museum of Style Icons, designed by  Carleton Varney, the President of Dorothy Draper.  Carleton Varney’s design philosophy stresses bright colors and the rejection of all that is impractical, uncomfortable, and drab. He continues the tradition of Dorothy Draper with his imaginative use of vibrant colors, floral patterns, and bold contrasts, which is immediately apparent upon entering this delightful café.

8. WHERE TO STAY: The Westbury – County Dublin

Finish your journey in the heart of Ireland’s capital and largest city, Dublin.  Experience luxury and superb service at The Westbury in an ideal location in the heart of Grafton Street’s shopping district, just steps from Dublin’s Trinity College and St. Stephen’s Green.

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