Stars and Sparkles — and More Great Food — on the Edge of Ireland

August 9, 2013. Killarny, Ireland – Kinsale was another foody stop. Less than 20 miles away from Cork in distance but much more than that in look and feel,

Harbor, Baltimore, Ireland

                                                     Harbor, Baltimore, Ireland

Kinsale is an attractive town on the water with lots of tourist shops and boats in the harbor.

We were there only long enough to have lunch at the popular Fishy-Fishy Restaurant, run by celebrity chef Martin Shanahan. After a dozen very crisp and fresh oysters, Martin offered us his interpretation of the roots of the new Irish cuisine — young men and women with palates shaped by their travels in Europe, North America, and Asia returning to Ireland during the boom years of the Irish economy. Add in the high quality ingredients available just a few miles away, especially on the coasts, and you have the new Irish cuisine.

Whatever the reasons, the results are apparent and very tasty. Just to give you an idea how seriously Martin and others take the idea of locally sourced ingredients, one of the first things you see when you enter the restaurant are black and white photos of the weather beaten faces of the local fishermen and oystermen who supply the restaurant.

If you decide to visit Kinsale, which is worth a longer visit than ours, check out the Trident, a modern hotel right on the water.

After lunch we headed to Baltimore on the southwestern tip of the country. By now I was getting used to driving on the left on the narrow roads. The key is driving a car with automatic transmission and taking your time. Unlike Los Angeles, no one will honk their horn, flip you the bird or shoot you for driving too slow.

Baltimore has a colorful history, mostly involving 17th century pirates. It also has a stunning location on the water. I’m still trying to find out the connection, if any, between Baltimore, Ireland and the US city of the same name. Maybe it’s steamed crabs.

Still feeling the effects of our huge Irish breakfast and late lunch, we passed up dinner at Casey’s of Baltimore, our comfortable, homey hotel with an award winning restaurant, and walked the half mile or so into town for a beer, langostinos and chips at an outdoor picnic table at La Jolie Brise overlooking the bay.

The highpoint of the day was still ahead. At about 9 pm, Jim Kennedy from Atlantic Sea Kayaking picked us up for a nighttime kayak on Lough Hyne. I’ve kayaked a fair amount but have never done anything like this. For two hours we leisurely paddled and drifted around the lake listening to the sounds of the night and looking at the darkening sky. The stars above were matched by the bioluminescent stirred up by our paddles below.

Stars, sparkles and the hush of the Irish countryside. So ended our first full day in the Emerald Isle.