- En­joy a spot of is­land hop­ping in West Cork

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - CONTENTS -

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

Is­land ad­ven­tures

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

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