Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Tuesday June 15th. This was the day I was spending with Ted Murphy, author of 'A Kingdom Of Wine' and his wife Garry. What a day it was, however I will write about the actual day itself later as I simply cannot launch straight into that without introducing you to this wonderful man.

Rewind back a few months to Dallas, Texas, where I now live. I was having lunch with the 'First Lady' of the American Ireland Fund, Netta Blanchard. I call her that! She is a force to be reckoned with and a networker unlike any I have known. Netta, spoke to me of this famous Cork Man. It wasn't until I was having a conversation with my Uncle that I discovered Ted was one of his oldest and closest friends ! These 2 had played many a rugby match together for Cork Constitution Rugby Club and were on the same team when they won the cup in 1967. So, needless to say when I discovered this about Ted Murphy, it made meeting this author even more exciting.

Ted Murphy is a dying breed in my opinion. Remember though , my opinion and a bus ticket won't get you very far at times, but nonetheless it is still my opinion ! His enthusiasm is contagious. When listening to his stories, they will carry you away and you can't help but want to hear more. He is the Honorary Chairman of The WineGeese Society of The Ireland Funds and founder of the Order of the Winegeese.


This labor of love was awarded 'Best in The World Wine History Book' by The Gourmand Awards in China in 2006. This book is a treat with a treasure trove of information that will stagger you. This is a must read and is available on www.amazon.com
I traveled with Ted and his wife Garry for 2 days and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I laughed when he told me of his visit with to Maureen O'Hara;s home, not because of the visit but how his wife tripped on the steps up to her home and he cried "Mind The Wine". After all it was extremely good wine he was bringing to his host ! Garry's broken hand did eventually mend. Ted is a gentleman. Dressed every day in a sport coat and tie. An elegant Irish Gentleman. I am proud that he is an Irishman, A Cork Man and more importantly a friend.

Monday, August 16, 2010


It had been a while since I had been home so I was to say the least just a little excited. I boarded American Airlines from Chicago to Dublin and the flight was short and enjoyable. Arriving in Dublin Airport , I awaited my flight to Cork to start my adventure. The Ryan Air Flight to Cork was extremely short, 45 minutes to be precise but I have to warn you, be really careful with your baggage. It is not cheap. Would you believe it cost me almost 200 Euro in excess baggage ! Cheaper to send it cargo next time ! I find it hard to fly transatlantic to a country for 10 days with only hand luggage or a small carry on. This was my first negative experience. The staff were unfortunately extremely rude and I began to wonder if this was the new and REAL IRELAND. Thankfully, this was my only bad experience . Taking the train back to Dublin solved that problem really quickly !

Upon arriving in Cork, I was extremely jet lagged and after greeting my parents, having the all important cup of 'Barry's Tea' it was off to bed for a couple hours sleep. It was a beautiful evening. Quite literally the sun was shining and the birds were signing...crows I believe, but still birds !

It seemed only fitting on such a lovely evening to go out to eat and what better than to eat by the Atlantic Ocean. We drove a short 12 miles to my old haunt, Myrtleville. I spent many a day and indeed evening here in my teen years. This is a mere 15 miles from the City and what an oasis it is. It's so true that when you live somewhere you tend to take things for granted. Even the drive to Myrtleville made me realise this. The narrow roads were adorned with ferns, hostas and fuschias. Living in Texas,taking care of hostas can be hard work and to see them in their abundance,so lush and green made me feel so alive.

As we parked our car, I felt the urge to run to the sea like I did as a child. I hated having to get our things out of the car,find a spot on the beach,wait for my suncream to be slathered on (yes, even then my mum insisted on this!)
This time, I simply walked straight to the water. Local teenagers were milling around. The girls were hiding behind the rocks, holding towels around each other for privacy ! I remembered this well, especially clenching the towel between my teeth whilst I wrestled with my togs (swimsuit)! 22 years on and it was still the same.

The smell of the salt water just draws you in. I spotted driftwood which I longed to take back to my home in Dallas but knew customs would not be as easy as years gone by. My brother, as usual, found a dog on the beach and this was his new best friend. The familiar seaweed and rock pools reminded me of our many expeditions on the rocks looking for sea urchins,periwinkles and anything else we could lay our hands on. These were all day excursions and leaving was always sad. This day too was no different. After all we had come to Myrtleville to have dinner in the infamous 'BUNNYCONNELLANS'.Again, I did not want to leave but was hungry and so were my family.

Bunny Connellans was built in 1824. This is a well known establishment among native Corkonians. My mum told us of how she and her friends used to come to Fountainstown for the weekend and go to 'BUNNYCONNELLANS' for the music and dancing. It has stayed in the O'Brien family for quite some time now. Since being there last,I noticed they had renovated it quite extensivley but oh so tastefully.
We sat outside on the patio, perched high up on the rocks over looking the majestic Atlantic Ocean. I sat just gazing out, my family chatting away. Even now, I feel tearful writing this as I miss the simplicity and beauty of this spot. The meal was all that I could ask for and more. Simple,white, clean plates of food adorned our table. For the next 10 days I was going to eat as much seafood as I could, afterall this was the best place in the world to eat fish. BUNNYCONNELLANS did not disappoint.
I ate Pan Roasted Cod with Roasted Rosemary, presented on Spring Onion Mash with Red Onion Marmalade & Chablis Cream. A nice chilled bottle of sparklling water went nicely with this summer fare.

Sitting in this perfect silence (besides the family chatter!)I noticed there was so much going on. It was busy. Isn't this an oxymoron? Peace and serenity, yet life was happening all around. Far away in the distance was the ever watchful 'Roches Point Lighthouse' , teenagers swimming in the sea below, people walking their dogs, men canooeing , cutlery chinking on the plates and all seemed just perfect. This had been a great first day. BunnyConnellans was still the same, just new and improved. I wondered what else would be the same as I traveled through the counties including Belfast over the next 10 days.................

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Yes, its been a while since I've written but I have good reason. I decided to go back to my roots, literally go back to my roots and visit my homeland. This was an easy trip to plan with the help of the internet and an extremely useful site. WWW.DISCOVERIRELAND.COM
This is a very well thought out site with many hidden gems. I urge you to peruse.
You know, I think we assume (on both sides of the pond !) that because we speak the same language that things will somehow be the same. WWW.DISCOVERIRELAND.COM explains everything from customs,smoking bans,pets and climate. These all help to make your vacation a great vacation.
There is a tab on this site 'PLAN YOUR VISIT'. Here is where you can plan your adventure. If you go deeper into the site, you will discover
GOLDEN TREKKER . Now here is one of those hidden gems I mentioned above. If you are over 66, wait for it.......you are entitled to free travel across the Island of Ireland on mainline and commuter trains until December 31st 2010. Yes, you read correctly, FREE TRAVEL. You can also avail of the Northern Ireland Golden Trekker until September 30th 2010. I traveled by train and will chat about that later as I write about my two week adventure.
I flew from Dallas to Chicago and from Chicago to Dublin with American Airlines.
Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland but unfortunately there arent any direct flights from Dallas to Ireland.
And so began my journey. Sunday June 13th I set out to quite literally rediscover Ireland and what an adventure I had...........So come join me on my visit to Ireland and hopefully it will inspire you to visit, reconnect or simply learn some things you never even knew about my REAL IRELAND.