Cathy Jor­dan Singer

Hot Press - - My Ireland -

What’s your favourite thing about Ire­land? Apart from the mu­sic, it has to be the craic. Nowhere else in the world do you get so much quick wit, one-liner jokes and slag­ging, which is an art in it­self. I par­tic­u­larly like ru­ral Ir­ish char­ac­ters and their dry hu­mour. Like the farmer in Roscom­mon who was stopped by a tourist, who said, “Ex­cuse me sir – could you tell me where this road leads?” The farmer thought for a minute and said, “The last man I seen go­ing down that road ended up in Amer­ica.”

Your favourite Ir­ish town?

I re­ally love West­port. It has ev­ery­thing – lovely shops and restau­rants, and great bars like Matt Mol­loy’s. You al­ways seem to meet some­one you know in there, peo­ple who love Ir­ish mu­sic. I love to walk around the town across the river, up to the clock and down to the sea, all the while hav­ing Croagh Pa­trick’s peak in the background. Stun­ning.

Best view in Ire­land?

Maybe I’m bi­ased, but my very favourite view is from the top of Knocknarea, which is just out­side Sligo where I live. It’s an easy 20-minute hike to the top, and the panoramic view is in­cred­i­ble. You can see into ve coun­ties: Sligo, Done­gal, Leitrim, Roscom­mon and Mayo. On a clear day, you can see the sea all the way up from Bal­lisadare Bay to Sli­abh League in Done­gal. Queen Me­ab­hdh’s cairn is at the top of Knocknarea, and it’s aligned with the me­galithic tombs of Car­row­more and Car­rowkeel, also in Sligo. You should al­ways bring a stone from the bot­tom to add to Me­ab­hdh’s cairn, along with your hopes and dreams.

Your favourite restau­rant?

When I’m back in Sligo, I love to take a spin out to Shells (Shore Road, Seafront, Strand­hill, open 9am to 6pm) for the best cof­fee and food in the west. It’s run by a lovely cou­ple, Jane and Myles, who turned what was once just a greasy spoon into a fab­u­lous sea­side cafe, with lo­cally-sourced pro­duce. From the front win­dow, you can see dozens of hardy surfers riding the At­lantic waves in all kinds of rough weather. Just try Shells fresh sh and hand cut chips – yum.

Best bar in Ire­land?

For me it’s Shoot The Crows (3 Cas­tle St, Sligo). You will recog­nise it from its beau­ti­ful painted win­dows, which change ev­ery month and al­ways have some mytho­log­i­cal Celtic twist. Back nearly 30 years ago, the mem­bers of Dervish would play there ev­ery Thurs­day night in a weekly ses­sion. Al­though our tour­ing sched­ule can be hec­tic these days, when we’re home, you’re most likely to nd us there on a Tues­day night playing a few tunes.

Favourite week­end re­treat?

I re­ally love Kil­ro­nan Cas­tle (Bal­ly­farnon, Co Roscom­mon). The lo­ca­tion is stun­ning, with beau­ti­ful walks around the lake and a won­der­ful spa. It’s the per­fect place to re­lax and un­wind for a week­end.

Where do you pick up in­gre­di­ents for cook­ing?

If I’m just cook­ing for my­self, I tend to just pop down to the lo­cal Cen­tra. If I’m around at the week­end and up early enough, there’s a re­ally nice farmer’s mar­ket in Rath­cor­mac ev­ery Satur­day; and one in Strand­hill on Sun­day. You can pick up some great or­ganic veg, meat and sh, as well as cheese and herbs. Oth­er­wise, I head to Lidl to do ‘the big shop’.

Favourite Ir­ish build­ing? Strokestow­n Park House (Strokestow­n, Co Roscom­mon) is a lovely build­ing, It’s very close to where I grew up in Co Roscom­mon, and when I was a kid, I used to go there with my fam­ily to all the Strokestow­n agri­cul­tural shows. To­day the house is home to the Famine Mu­seum of Ire­land, and tours of the house and grounds are avail­able.

What do you rec­om­mend to tourists?

There are so many beau­ti­ful things to see in Sligo and Leitrim – I love show­ing them off. There’s a lot of great beaches: Strand­hill, Rosses Point, Lis­sadell, Streedagh and Mul­lagh­more. If you like walk­ing and hik­ing, there’s Knocknarea, Ben­bul­ben, Ladies Brae, the Ox and Dartry moun­tains, and Sligo

Way. You can’t pass through Sligo with­out stop­ping at WB Yeats’ nal rest­ing place at Drum­cliff ceme­tery, and while you’re there, it’s only a cou­ple of min­utes to Lis­sadell House, where WB would stay while vis­it­ing with the beau­ti­ful Gore-Booth sisters. The wa­ter­fall in Glen­car is also a sweet place to visit, and so is Parks Cas­tle, which looks across Lough Gill to the Lake Isle of In­n­is­free.

• Dervish’s new al­bum, The Great Ir­ish Song­book, features col­lab­o­ra­tions with Imelda May, Brendan Gleeson, Steve Earle, An­drea Corr, David Gray and more. It’s re­leased on April 12.

Strokestow­n House

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