By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
I have to be honest, it didn’t start well, but that was my own fault. I booked a cottage near Cork and told Mrs TLE and two other couple’s to book flights to Cork. Job done, now back to work (AKA the pub).
Two days before the trip, I contacted the landlord Mark and told him we would be getting a taxi from the airport. We were getting in late Friday night and there was no way one of us wasn’t going to drink, so a hire car was out of the question.
However, there was a snag, the cottage was quite a way from the airport, over an hour as Mark informed me. However, no fear he would find me a driver for the weekend. I doubted that would be possible at such short notice, and mentally prepared for the telling off I would get from Mrs TLE not to mention the others. As it turned out, I shouldn’t have doubted the abundant hospitality of Mark (and of the Irish folk generally that we encountered throughout the weekend).
Low and behold a couple of minutes later, I received an e-mail to call Declan, a local driver who Mark had arranged to drive us not only to and from the airport but to take us where we wanted all weekend! The luck of the Irish? Maybe! Either way a drink was in order to celebrate.
We arrived at the cottage really late, as the flight was delayed and one of Declan’s drivers had to put up with our really quite annoying singing (The Poges, Fairytale of New York, inevitably).
‘and the boys from the NYPD choir’… Sorry..
Lough Cluhir Cottage was remote and it was fantastic, just what five professionals (and I) needed to get away from London. It had an open fire, huge open plan kitchen/living room, large bedrooms and numerous games/puzzles/X box/music to keep the kids (us) entertained.
When we woke up the following morning, we were quite shocked to discover the cottage was actually beside a lake (Lough), we should have known from the name of the cottage to be fair. We decided to walk to the beach for a swim, en-route we pulled over a car (as you do) and asked where the beach was.
The very friendly driver told us where it was and said if you walk up the hill you can find a church from 14th century with a druid Pyramid structure in the graveyard.. We took his advice and he was right, we discovered the most amazing church overlooking the wild Atlantic ocean.
Then we headed back to the beach for a swim (four out of six got in, not bad for November) where the word “feck” was used more times than in the entire Father Ted series. We squelched back to the cottage, followed all the way home by a local dog, even the canines are friendly in West Cork.
We were starving by this point (note of caution, no car equals no food) we “feasted” on nine Potato croquettes that we found in freezer. With “full” bellies we called Declan, he arrived within 20 minutes and took us to the Drombeg Stone Circle, Cork’s version of Stonehenge.
After that spiritual experience we needed a drink and headed to near-by Hayes Bar in Glandore. It has a fantastic view overlooking the bay, very friendly staff and even a waterfall on the way to the outside toilet. Before you ask, it’s not just an open drain, it’s actually a waterfall.
If I’m honest by his time we were drunk again (and singing, yep you guessed it the Poges) and Declan drove us into Rosscarbery. We popped into traditional Irish pub Nolans for a quick pint (and even watched Ireland beat Australia at Rugby) before a meal at an exquisite fish restaurant next door called O’callaghan Walshe.
Even though it was literally two yards away, we were late (mine or alcohols fault; you decide) and the reception from customers and staff was unbelievable, and the food was even better. They even held the table back an extra 15 minutes for us to finish our desserts and gave us an onion to take home to cook.
On the way out we met the people whose table we had hijacked and they shook our hands and shared a joke with us, not something I suspect would happen in a London restaurant. As ever, Declan arrived promptly and took us back to the cottage (as ever singing the Poges again) and we continued to drink and be merry for a few more hours.
Early the next morning Declan was there bang on time to drive us to the airport. Even after only a day and half I was sad to leave, and my companions agreed. Our only regret? that we couldn’t have stayed for longer.
I would fully recommend (at any time of the year) the cottage, the area, and the food/drink on offer in this part of the world. And if you and your friends are borderline alcoholics like us, and you don’t hire a car; don’t worry, Declan will be on call, “to be sure” as the Irish say.
We booked through http://www.sykescottages.co.uk/
The landlord is Mark Wearen
We drank at Nolans in Rosscarbery & Hayes Bar in Glandore
We ate at O’Callaghan Walshe in Rosscarbery – 023-8848125
Our driver was Declan – 00 353 86 606 7037