Tuesday, 29 June 2010



Made a very enjoyable visit today to the Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens (and Farm Shop). Arches of traditional varieties of apple, with a few hens and cocks resting and scratching, lead you on the way.
Highlights for me were the Herb Garden and the Herbaceous Border. Other gardens are the vegetable garden, the fantastic Maze (planted in 1996) and the Pleasure Garden (with trees, bigger shrubs and a pond with fountain).
There are over 70 varieties of herbs in the garden, laid out in a formal parterre edged with box hedges. Plenty of fresh herbs then for Ballymaloe House and Cafe but it was an old-timer Sage that caught my eye. This knurled specimen (photo) must have been over twenty years old.
The herbaceous Border is almost worth the €6.50 entrance fee on its own. Planted in 1996, it has thrived here, though not without a great deal of care and attention. Here, deep borders of fabulous perennials and grasses make it one of the very best of its type.
At the end of the border is the Shell House, with shell decoration by artist Blott Kerr-Wilson. Unfortunately, the door was bolted and I had to take my picture through the glass. Still, you get some idea of the intricacy of her work. I forgot to ask on the way out about the closure (temporary or permanent).
Did call to the shop and picked up a few of Darina's products. Disappointingly, while the gardens belong to the famous cooking school, there is no cafe in this location, that being a mile or two away alongside Ballymaloe House.
The entrance to the gardens is via the road opposite the church in Shanagarry. All the details at www.cookingisfun.ie

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Fota Wildlife Park is always worth a visit as it invariably throws up something different. Take the Siamang Gibbons for instance. To-day, they put on a noisy display (twice a day, I was told by one of the helpful assistants (green tops)).
I’ve usually seen and hear them in noisy action around noon in summertime but never as close-up as to-day. Usually, the gang put on their display high up in the trees. But today, they were right in front of me, just across a little channel of water.
The female took the lead, puffing up and letting out her cacophony. Every now and then she encouraged the alpha male to do likewise and he obliged, slowly taking in the air and then taking the lead when ready, usually getting to his feet so the audience knew who the real boss was.

One of the young males was a bit put out and discreetly stayed at the back of the “stage” but the baby, a few months old, was enjoying the show and right in the thick of it (see photo). Spectators gathered, including a school tour who were fascinated by the spectacle.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Just a reminder that fin Costello’s Pictures in Rock continues at the Cork Vision centre, North Main Street, until 28th July.
If you are in town, or anywhere near it, this photo exhibition of well known figures in the music business, is well worth a visit. There are some great images (mostly “action” shots)  there of Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott, Mick Jagger, Freddy Mercury, Robert Plant and many more.
A Cork City native, fin Costello has photographed the world of Rock and Roll over the past forty years. The exhibition also includes images from personal projects ranging from grape harvesting in Andalucía to the deep sea fishermen of West Cork.
While a couple of the portraits cost a €1,000 each, most are within the 250-300 range. The Rory Gallagher shots would be among my favourites but there is also a great shot of Phil Lynott and a grainy one of a long haired Freddie Mercury.
Picture: Mercury statue in Montreux

Monday, 21 June 2010


There are many ways of going from Cork to France but I have always taken the direct route: Ringaskiddy to Roscof with Brittany Ferries.
Not strictly correct, as I’m pretty sure my “maiden” village (about 1980) was made not from Ringaskiddy but from Tivoli.
It is a pleasant trip out, on deck and checking out the sights in Cork Harbour before adjourning to one of the restaurants on board and then perhaps some on-board shopping or a glass in one of the bars.
Another advantage is that you arrive early on a Sunday morning. Roscoff is a pretty small place. You have the roads to yourself, time and space to get used to driving on the “wrong” side before you hit the autoroutes.

The service on board has always been excellent and I can't remember any unpleasant experiences involving the staff. I have also been lucky with the weather and never came across any really bad stuff. Way to go!

Indeed my appreciation of the ferry staff has risen as a result of its handing of a small incident on recent trip from Cork to Roscoff (May 15th). I had a meal on board, checked the amount and paid for it with my card. Unfortunately, the amount was in sterling rather than euro. Didn't know this of course but the staff later spotted it and contacted me to arrange a refund before I left the ship in the morning. Thanks and well done to them.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


upcoming exhibition

June 30th - July 21st
CASe '10
This year's annual CASe exhibition will open at the Lavit Gallery on Tuesday June 29th at 8.00p.m. This is an important exhibition in the calendar of the gallery, with both floors being given over to the show. 
For this exhibition, 16 artists have been invited to exhibit up to three pieces each. The exhibition will include painting, sculpture and printmaking from some of the most sought after names in contemporary Irish Art as well as some emerging young artists.  
The exhibiting artists this year are Patrick Cashin, Tom Climent, Aidan Crotty, Joe Dunne, Mike Fizharris, Leo Higgins, Petr Holecek, Mary Lohan, Horace Lysaght, Eilis O' Connell, Jennifer O' Connor, Jacqueline O' Driscoll, Marc Reilly, Maria Simonds Gooding, Brian Smyth and Sarah Walker.
The exhibition promises to be an interesting mix of styles, with sharp realism, abstract landscapes, still lives and portraiture among the genres on show.
The exhibition will be officially opened by Cllr John Buttimer, Cork City Council and Chair of the Arts Committee, and will run until July 21st.