- Enjoy a spot of island hopping in West Cork
The Irish Restaurant Awards highlighted the area’s top restaurants late last year, and they are a great indication of what makes the area a foodie haven. In Cork, Midleton’s Sage took top spot, pointing to head chef Kevin Aherne’s dedication to local produce in his ever changing menu as a particular strength. In Waterford, Paul Flynn’s The Tannery took top spot. Renowned for his simple approach to making food taste good, a trip to The Tannery should be on every Irish tourist’s bucket list.
The Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna was top of the list for honest food served to a Michelin standard in a relaxing and homely atmosphere. A fine dining restaurant in a Gothic Tipperary church, Chez Hans remains one of Cashel’s best kept secrets and in Limerick Wade Murphy’s 1826 Adare was celebrated for its attention to detail (top tip – the value menu is an exceptional €29.99 for two courses).
Finally, in Kerry, Idás Restaurant is leading the pack in terms of showcasing food at its most local – much of the menu is foraged or wild.
The great outdoors
Munster is rich with landscape that is begging to be explored. Check out our picks for the best day trips around the province
Heir, Bere, Sherkin, Cape Clear, Whiddy, Dursey, Long, and Garnish islands in West Cork offer fantastic activities and intriguing histories. Bere Island’s Martello towers date from the Napoleonic wars and several American ships based there during World War I met their fate at Pearl Harbour.
Killer whales, basking shark and bottle-nosed dolphins are all regular visitors to the island, making it a haven for divers. The cookery school on Heir Island is one of the most lauded ones in the country, and the Firehouse bakery on the island regularly runs
courses on perfecting your bread game.
Ten minutes off the coast of Baltimore, Sherkin Island is a melting pot of art and creativity. A swim on Silver Strand with the Atlantic stretching out in front of you, and a view across to Cape Clare is one of the true pleasures of a visit to Sherkin. Garnish Island is home to spectacular gardens, which showcase an incredible richness of plant form and colour.
These world-renowned gardens change with the seasons; they are brightly coloured with rhododendrons and azaleas in May and June, climbing plants and herbaceous perennials in midsummer, and awash with autumnal hues, in the months of September and October. www.westcorkislands.com On the bucket list
There are a few things in Munster that quite simply cannot be missed.
Night kayaking on Lough Hyne in West Cork is one of the most unique ways to spend an evening. The lake is both a marine lake and a marine nature reserve and is home to plants and marine life that cannot be found anywhere else in Ireland. With the moon and the stars above, watch as your oars stir up the phytoplankton in the water to create a luminescent milky way in the waters. www.atlanticseakayaking. com
Standing at the Cliffs Of Moher feels like being at the edge of the world. On a clear day, the horizon seems to go on forever, and as waves lick the bottom of these majestic cliffs, it is easy to see why people travel from all over the country to bask in their glory. Bring a picnic, set it well back from the edge and stick around to enjoy the spectacular sunset over the cliffs – it’s an unforgettable experience.
Cycle or drive the Ring of Kerry and experience the cinematic beauty of our countryside. This truly is one of the most spectacular routes in the world, and with plenty of twists and turns and hills and byways, the ever-changing landscape along the way ensures rapt attention at all times. Take your time, plan your stops and immerse yourself in the lakes, valleys and mountains of this incredible area.
Glengarriff, Co. Cork
The River Lee, Cork city
Connor Pass, Co. Kerry