Suc­cu­lent sand­wiches and cof­fee by the sea

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - Aoife McEl­wain

Since mov­ing to Dublin 15 years ago, I have become in­creas­ingly aware of an amaz­ing re­source that I was miss­ing out on – the sea. This sum­mer, I dove in, and I have since become at­tached to the adrenalin that comes with tak­ing a dip in the cold waters of Dublin Bay, even with a thick wet­suit for in­su­la­tion.

I’m part of a What’sApp group of sea-swim­ming pals where we share tales of tides and al­lay each other’s fears of jel­ly­fish. Just two weeks ago, one of our swim­mers shared a pic­ture of a ship­ping con­tainer that had ap­peared, as if overnight, on Dol­ly­mount Strand. “New lit­tle cof­fee hut on the is­land,” she wrote. “I can re­port the cof­fee is good.”

It has been the sum­mer of the ship­ping con­tainer. Join­ing the ranks of re­pur­posed trans­porta­tion units along­side Eat­yard and Con­tainer Cof­fee is Happy Out, a project by food en­thu­si­ast Karl McCul­lagh. The struc­ture sits about halfway down Dol­ly­mount Strand, and now that it’s here, it seems so ob­vi­ous that it’s what the strand has been miss­ing.

McCul­lagh, who lives in Ra­heny, has a back­ground in fi­nan­cial ser­vices, but he was also the pre­vi­ous owner of the ex­cel­lent Bak­ery on Es­sex Street West , and last year he re­leased a golf book, The Lit­tle White Ball, with his golf­ing pal Colin Byrne. Happy Out has been a pas­sion project of McCul­lagh’s, in the mak­ing for the last two years.

I’d been in­spired by ship­ping con­tainer projects I’d seen in Aus­tralia and the UK, and I wanted to bring it to Dublin. I al­ways had Dol­ly­mount beach in the back of my mind,” says McCul­lagh. “What a per­fect com­bi­na­tion . . . the ship­ping con­tainer down on the strand with the ships go­ing past full of ship­ping con­tain­ers.”

McCul­lagh sourced the two con­tain­ers from Rush Fleet down in the docks and he drew up the de­sign him­self. They worked with out­side sup­pli­ers such as Ex­tra Space So­lu­tions, Airtech en­gi­neer­ing and Door­fix to cre­ate a spaces­mart and se­cure con­tainer.

After a Satur­day swim, friends and I hud­dle up to Happy Out to get a taste of their sand­wiches. There are cur­rently four on of­fer and it’s not your bog-stan­dard fare. Most im­pres­sive is a veg­e­tar­ian toastie named As­paragor­geous (¤6), which is ooz­ing with yummy cheese, roasted red pep­pers, mush­rooms and crunchy vi­brant tops of as­par­gus. A Cluck­ing Un­be­liev­able (¤6) sambo is a ba­con, chicken and av­o­cado de­light. McCul­lagh gives his nephew and busi­ness part­ner Brian Han­ratty the credit for com­ing up with those in­ven­tive sam­bos.

A ham and cheese sand­wich (¤5) is a lit­tle av­er­age by com­par­i­son but McCul­lagh has a wide range of cus­tomers to cater for here, from kids to grannies, so a good old fuss-free ham and cheese seems ap­pro­pri­ate. The bread is sourced from Bread Nat­u­rally in Ra­heny and Tar­tine Or­ganic Bak­ery in Grange Abbey, Co Dublin. There are cook­ies and cakes supplied by the out­stand­ing Camerino Bak­ery on Capel Street. I can also re­port that cof­fee (¤2.30 for an Amer­i­cano), made with Roasted Brown beans, is in­deed very good.

Plans for the fu­ture in­clude cre­at­ing an in­door seat­ing area in one of the con­tain­ers for 20 peo­ple, wind­breaks around the deck­ing, and soups on the menu to make it a year-round des­ti­na­tion.

And what’s with the name? “It cap­tures why ev­ery­one would come down to this lo­ca­tion,” says McCul­lagh. “For the beach, the swim­ming, and the fresh air.”

Happy Out, Bull Wall, Bull Is­land, Dol­ly­mount Strand, Co Dublin. hap­py­

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