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All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Not Getting It...


Back on Tuesday, The Irish Times reckoned it was the best disc of the last ten years.
So we went to see what the guys at Pitchfork reckoned, and they said it was the second best disc of the last decade.
So, we put on the copy of “Funeral” by Arcade Fire that a friend burnt for us a few years back and we listened once again.
And we don't get it. We just don't get it.

Eurotoque Awards

Eurotoque Awards

So many awards are given annually in every sector of society – especially the world of food and drink – that many have become all but worthless. But one gong is truly worth having, and that is the annual Eurotoque awards to specialist food producers.


Fintan O'Toole, Ship of Fools

Fintan O'Toole: Ship of Fools (Faber & Faber)

“Ship of Fools” is a polemic, and a good one. You could read it from cover to cover in one sitting, and you will emerge suffused with righteous anger, and disappointment.
The anger is on account of the persistent stupidity of the political class, and the persistent greed and perfidy of the bourgeois and banking class in Ireland.

Rua Xmas

Rua, Castlebar

As you will soon be able to read in the new Bridgestone Irish Food Guide, the McMahon family of Castlebar are building quite a food empire in the town, an empire that has taken a mighty step forward with the opening of RUA, the splendiferous deli and café overseen by Aran McMahon.


Alina Ibragimova: Bach; Sonatas & Partitas (Hyperion)

Alina Ibragimova: Bach; Sonatas & Partitas (Hyperion)
Sheer wonderment at how a woman in her early 20's can play Bach like this is the only critical response. Beyond belief, beyond time.

John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (Impulse!)
A date from 1963, half a dozen sings from the tenor player and the husky baritone, and pure gorgeous for every second of its too-short duration.

Kurt Elling: Dedicated To You (Concord)

An Empty Vessel

We are afraid of hunger, even though few of us have any experience of it whatsoever.
“The stomach contractions we experience at midday or in the evenings, often quite painful ones, which signal mealtimes and which we call ’hunger’, are strictly speaking nothing of the kind’ writes Margaret Visser, in her book, “The Rituals of Dinner”.
Well Margaret, if my tummy is rumbling and I haven’t eaten anything for several hours, and that isn’t hunger, then what is that rumbling and what are those pangs?

Feeding the little ones...

Six o’clock on Saturday evening, and the McKenna kids are sitting at the dinner table, so tired that they cannot even talk to one another. It’s the end of another long week, with five days of school complemented by swimming lessons, drama classes, sailing lessons, hanging out, you name it.

The News...

Ponaire Coffee

Ponaire, Tommy and Jennifer Ryan's splendid coffee company, is expanding into cyberspace. Find them at, and click on shop. See them also at the brilliant No1 Pery Square Xmas Market on Sunday...

On Thursday 26th Darina Allen will be signing copies of her new book at Nash 19 in Cork. Mulled wine will be waiting for you, and Claire and her team will be rolling out the Xmas hampers, with their superb plum puddings. It kicks off at 10.45am...

The Perfect Cure

Swine flu has garnered one so-far-unremarked achievement: we now know just how medieval citizens, living in walled towns, felt when the barbarians were at the gate.
The fear. The uncertainty. The dread. The waiting.
Just like our medieval counterparts, we wait for a solution, a saviour to come riding over the hill to rescue us. Vaccine? Tami flu? The correct way to blow your nose when in public? Hand-washing? Drinking a bottle of brandy?


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