Tagged with "irish country living Archives - Wise Words"
May 4 2015

The Gaiety Antique and Vintage Store in Galway – showcasing Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Posted by     12 Comments    in Reviews

Winner selected – please scroll to the bottom to see who won!

Ordinarily, I get invited to one or two events per week. Sometimes the events are food related; sometimes they are to an art showing, or a theatre production. I know….I know… I am a lucky gal.

MOST of the time, 80% of said events are in Dublin. Because, you know, everything cool happens in Dublin.


Living in Galway, it is clear that there is no end to the creativity displayed by the folks living in our beautiful little city by the sea. I am always tickled pink to get an invite to an evening of messy fun in my hometown and this one was just the best craic!

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 17.40.47

The Gaiety (Westport) Islandeady, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland, E: info@thegaiety.ie, T: +353 (098) 56799                                                                                  The Gaiety (Galway) 3 St Frances St, Galway, Ireland, E: info@thegaiety.ie T: +353 91564966

A few weeks ago, I got a quirky little invite from a lady named Laura over at The Gaiety Antique and Vintage Shop. She asked if we might be interested in popping in to their Galway shop on a Thursday evening for an Annie Sloan chalk paint workshop. Himself, who is the handiest of handymen when it comes to doing stuff around the house, was intrigued because he is a devout ‘strip it, sand it, paint it’ kinda guy and any paint that claims you don’t need to do all that work (in his humble opinion) is just a waste of money.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 17.41.22

I on the other hand, am much more of a ‘it needs painting so just paint the fecking thing’ kinda gal. See, this is why they say opposites attract. I usually just wait for him to be at work, then go ahead and pretend I stripped the paint, sanded it and painted it … all while he was at work … only for my lies to be revealed a few weeks later when the new paint all starts a-peeling and a-chipping off.

The look of disdain, him glowering in my general direction, it’s, well, telling.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 17.40.02

Yep – I was all over that.

We arrived a wee bit late, and Clodagh O’Conner (who co-owns The Gaiety with her husband), had already started the class! The traffic heading in to town on a Thursday night of a Bank holiday weekend – pure and utter mayhem and we only live 4 miles out the road!

On a side note, it is entirely worth your while signing up to their mailing list at info@thegaiety.ie because they have the loveliest stuff in their shop and loads of fun workshops planned for this summer!


Aprons on and paintbrushes ready to go we sat around a table with a few other local Annie Sloan chalk paint artists-in-the-making and dove right in to an evening of creativity and craic.

Things were about to get messy.

Once we got the hang of it though, we caught on fast. The paint, which dries to the touch in 45 minutes, goes on thick; like mayonnaise.


What’s really important with this chalk paint, is texture.

So ‘stippling’ and ‘layering’ were two techniques we were taught how to do right off the bat.


All the attendees got to choose their own colours and little by little, ended up getting the paint all over the table (which was cool) and all over our hands, and our jeans. Yep, made a holy show of myself.


Once you get the hang of it, you realise that because of its chalky nature, this paint is unlike anything else you have ever worked with. First of all, it is like, eh, chalk. If you get it on your hands, it just feels like a nice dry powder. It kinda rubs away after a bit and you don’t have the urge to run and wash your hands or the need to use mineral spirits to get rid of it.


Once we had our colours on the boards, we had to help the drying process along, or there would not be any time for a tea break!

So we shared our hairdryers and got that done then tooled about the upper level of the shop for a while, and then downstairs for a slice of carrot cake and lashings and lashings of lovely tea. I’m going to stop back in there next week just for the tea!

I know you think I’m crazy, but really and truly guys n’ dolls, the art of serving tea and really excellent cakes is dying out in Ireland. It is symbolic of times gone by, like my grannies day, and I treasure the moments when someone goes the extra mile to present the table in a beautiful manner for a quick tea break.


Anyway, back to work! Clodagh cracked the whip and marched us right back up the stairs to educate us on finishing techniques like distressing (ha, all the tea was gone!), dark waxing, colour washing and high gloss wax finishing (my favourite).


Although I was ever the attentive student, my mind kept wandering back around the corner to another side of the shop where I had left a gorgeous kitchen sideboard behind. I am still pining for it and have not yet figured out where it would fit in my kitchen ….


Clodagh snapped me back to reality when she started to chat about staining fabric in this paint. She passed around a few pieces of material to show us, that yes indeed, the paint will stain fabric beautifully, just make sure to hang it outdoors to dry (and not in your tumble dryer!) and only do it during the summer months when we are not really guaranteed a bit of fine weather. Curtains she did this with. Honestly, her talent knows no end.


It was this beautiful tin (above) of clear finishing wax I fell in love with. It was kind like coconut oil. So soft and beautiful to work with. I dabbed my rag in the tin and buffed my Duck Egg Blue painted patch to a brilliant shine. I’m a-gonna have a can of this on hand for all my Annie Sloan chalk paint projects henceforth.


As if she had not shown and shared enough of her talent, Clodagh wrapped up her workshop by showing us how to paint wrapping paper using a roller. She did this last year for all her Christmas presents using brown wrapping paper and tied gorgeous red ribbons on them. Now, I feel horribly inadequate ….. and I must prepare for next Christmas!


As we slipped away into the night, Clodagh said she hoped we had enjoyed the evening and that we would stop back in for a cup of tea soon.

Laura Lydon, her trusty side-kick, expert tea-maker and paint brush washer, insisted we do pop back in for a cuppa … well you don’t have to ask me twice!

So …. anyone want to go to the next Annie Sloan chalk paint workshop? If you do, then I wanna know the answers to two questions (in the comment section below)

1. What it is you need to paint? Is it a chair, a wardrobe, a wall?

2. Why you would like to be chosen for this worksop?

I’ll be picking a winner on Sunday evening May 10th, 2015. As is customary on my WiseWords blog, you must be a registered reader and you can sign up via email for that right here.

The dates of the next few workshops at The Gaiety in Galway are as follows:

Saturday, May 9th, 2015. 10:30am     –     Chalk paint essentials     –     €65 pp

(This is what every young couple should sign up for. It would make an excellent wedding gift, or be something fun to do with your bridesmaids. I have also asked them to consider doing a summer workshop for the kids. Watch this space).

Saturday, May 16th, 2015. 10:30am   –     Lampshade workshop     –     €45 pp

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 – 2:30pm-  Annie Sloan chalk paint demo –   FREE

This is open to the public and I cannot recommend it enough. And shur if nothing else, pop in for the tea!

So – what are you waiting for? Hop on over to their Facebook page  and keep an eye on the events at their shop. I missed their Christmas Tea last December because I was having surgery at the time … and my friends are still raving on about it.

Comments are free but you gotta be a regular reader and all subscribed via email to WiseWords (right here) to be a winner!

Best of luck to you.


AND The Winner is:

Congrats Margaret! See you in Galway soon.

Margaret Fleming - winner Annie Sloan workshop at Gaiety

Apr 11 2015

The Magic of the (Irish) Midlands and a giveaway!

Posted by     30 Comments    in Reviews

I don’t even know where to start.

We have just returned from a whirlwind tour of the midlands (mostly in Offaly and Tipperary) and my head is just spinning.

Several weeks ago my friend Margaret, over at OldFarm in Tipperary, sent out an email to a few Irish Bloggers to see if any of us were interested in seeing what the midlands had to offer a tourist by way of food, gardens, historic buildings and outdoor excursions etc.

Margaret and her partner Alfie (who have a guest house on their 7 acre farm in the midlands) had come up with this idea to help promote their region, with the help of Mid-Ireland Tourism, and assured us there are hundreds of reasons for tourists to stop and smell the roses in the midlands.

With her impeccable hosting and planning skills, Margaret managed to pull off one of the best bloggers ‘mini-breaks’ I have ever experienced.

Should you find a little time to tour these areas, then make sure you plan to spend a night with her and Alfie at their guest house; I can promise you the ‘best’ sleep ever.

Ok – so let’s get down to business then shall we?

We hit the road around 8:25am Saturday morning leaving Galway in our dust and headed east towards Tipperary. By 10:00am we were seated in the (purpose-built in 1889) theatre in Birr, Co. Offaly. Scones and tea were offered as we listened to the team speak with excited passion about the upcoming shows and how vital the theatre is to the community.

Stop Motion

We poked our heads into the main hall, treading tenderly on the original Maple wood floors only to find the room full of school kids all piled in there learning how to make short animated films using Lego, their iPads, and an app called StopMotion. The class was taught by a crew from a company called Brick Flicks (out of Dublin). If you have kids, make a note of this website and keep an eye on their schedule because they are doing classes all over the island. Very – VERY – cool stuff.

Angela Jupe - Anemones '1st sign of spring'

Anemones displaying one of the first signs of spring’ at Bellefield Gardens.

Our next stop was a quick hop over the hill to the home of renowned landscape gardener Angela Jupe. While the pictures above and below display a glimpse of Angela’s passion and talent for salvaging and restoring an old home and derelict garden to its finest glory, it was she, Angela, who we wanted to while  away the afternoon with. Such stories she could tell about her projects, I’m sure.

Angela Jupe Sky tower

Angela greeted us at the gates to her gardens and charmed us with snippets of tales from her last ten years ‘work in progress’ at Bellefield House and Gardens.

Angela Jupe Glass house and pond

The weather cooperated while we were touring the gardens, and we all took time to lose ourselves for a few minutes in the reflectiveness of her water feature, one of the newest additions to the gardens.

We then meandered back indoors and had a peek at her self-catering rental cottages. Such luxury. In off-peak season, you can rent one of these cottages for €250 per week (sleeps 4 adults and possibly a kid or two.

Angela Jupe - Guest House

My only regret from this part of the tour is that we did not have enough time to sit and chat more with Angela, who had tea and cakes on offer. I am hoping she will take a rain-check on this offer because I can’t wait to go back.

Fancroft Mill exterior

Next on our tour of the mid-lands was the beautifully restored Fancroft Mill and Gardens, owned by Marcus and Irene Sweeney. This dynamic duo have spent the last ten years pouring passion and love into the restoration of the mill. Needless to say, this was Ron’s favourite part of the tour.

Fancroft Mill - panoramic interior

As we climbed higher and higher up to the top of the mill, originally built in 1780, you could feel the history of this building oozing out of each crack and crevice. Irene, sharp as a whistle, moved us through the paces without missing a beat and ensured we stuck to our schedule, even though we arrived a wee bit tardy.

Fancroft Mill - Tower of Teddies

As we wrapped up the tour we traipsed through the extensive gardens, created mostly in the 1990’s by previous owner Angela Jupe, we encountered the above tower, which is filled with teddy bears on the top floor to keep the younger visitors to Fancroft Mill and Gardens entertained.

It was easy to leave the stress of the week behind. Meeting people that have poured their time, money and passion into projects like these restores a gals faith in humanity.

Leap Castle - door knocker

Our next stop was at Leap Castle … one of Irelands most haunted homes.

A turbulent and bloody history, used as a fortress, home and tomb.  Leap Castle is home to many fascinating and sometimes horrific spirits. Built in the early 1500′s under the supervision of the powerful and warring O’Carroll clan, Leap Castle has been the centre of much bloodshed and brutal  atrocities. The castle is currently owned by Sean Ryan and his family. He is right out of a storybook is Mr. Ryan. Taking up a seat by the stove and his stories whirling around the room, we were all eager to experience everything the castle had to offer. Strangely enough, you can feel the depth of death that has occurred inside these walls.



While there was plenty of prettiness to peruse around the inside and outside of the castle, I would say the ‘spirits’ as Sean called them, have a lot of unfinished business and I can see why this place attracts a lot of ghost seekers on an annual basis.


Needless to say, I was still well able to find the prettiness and solace in the nooks and castle crannies …


Well – at this stage we had worked up a thirst and our batteries needed recharging …

Lough Boora - Bloggers lunch


For real …this is what a bloggers lunch really looks like. Phones and camera batteries all lined up waiting their turn for a boost while we were treated to a delicious Chicken Caesar salad at Lough Boora Park. Now if you have not been to the midlands in a while, this (especially with kids) NEEDS to be on your list of places to go – even on a day trip. Dotted with picnic tables and plenty of bikes-for-hire and over 50 km of trails, there is acres ad acres for you to explore. Although there is a brand new café onsite for you to enjoy a snack if hunger takes over, you can also pack a nice picnic basket and make a day of it.

Lough Boora Cafe view


Needless to say, after the batteries were all charged, we were raring to go and jumped back into the tourbus ready for the next slice of Mid-Ireland tourism pie.

Birr Castle - entrance

We were not disappointed! While Birr Castle Gardens (and ah-mazing kids playground to boot) are open to the public, tours of the castle (interior) are not so easy to achieve. Thankfully, as it was the start of the season, the gates were open and we were given a tour of the castle. Dripping in artefacts and, eh, art, the interior of the castle was quite something to behold. But a warning was given at the gate … no photos please …. sigh.

No photo's allowed

And with respect to the family who calls this castle their home, they graciously opened their doors to us for a private viewing and allowed us to tour and traipse in and out of all the secret entrances and exits of their libraries and music rooms …. the memory of this little visit will suffice.

Oldefarm BnB

Relaxing by the fire with one of the Oldefarm pups .. Winnie, who made sure I had warm feet.

The end of the touring for our first day had arrived so we all headed back to our respective guesthouses to relax for a few hours before heading back into Birr for dinner where the food was delicious but it was the beer that stole our hearts.

Bo Bristle


Right before we retired for bed, I asked Margaret, our wonderful hostess, to leave out her French Press and box of coffee for me. Being an early riser, I wanted to make sure I could (quietly) make myself a cup of java and enjoy the sunrise in solace while the rest slept on.

I never saw the sunrise …

Oldefarm Coffee

I was awoken by the enticing scent of coffee wafting under the bedroom door at 9:00am … yes. 9:00am. I don’t think I have slept past 9am in the morning since my honeymoon – almost 15 years ago.

What.A.Treat. If you just need to sleep … and for a steal at only €35 per night bed & delicious breakfast … book a night away for yourself. Trust me … you will not regret it.

Oldefarm Honey

A quick lesson in Bee keeping and honey making from our host Alfie before we loaded up on their fabulous Oldfarm classic breakfast of sausages, bacon, eggs and sourdough toast, we hit the road again for another day of touring around the magical midlands.

Memory Lane Antiques

First stop of the day was at Memory Lane Antiques and let me tell you, this was the icing on both mine and Ron’s cakes. Holy wow.

First of all, the owner (Breda) had put on a breakfast tea that just outshines any ‘high or afternoon tea’ I have had in Ireland; And I have had some teas. The quality of the baking (all made by Breda and her team) was outstanding and I was only too delighted to hear that they might host a few more ‘Teas’ later in the year. I will be signing up for these and toting along my girls and Mum for sure.

Memory Lane Antiques treats

The wonderful thing about this place, aside from the appropriately priced antiques on offer, is the fact that it has an auction house connected to it which is owned by Breda’s husband Conor.

Purcell Auctions Jameson Nighttender

Well, to say himself and myself were in heaven …. was an understatement. We had to be dragged outta there and  both can’t wait to go back for their next auction which is scheduled for Saturday April 25th (10am) and you can even bid-online right here from anywhere in the world!

Purcell Auctions - Hoosier Cabinet (€65)

This gorgeous Hoosier Cabinet sold for €50 at their last auction. Sigh ..

Our very last stop on the #MagicalMidlands tour was a perfect way to round out the weekend of fun and frolics for us bloggers.

Silver Line Cruisers - 3 lovely lassies

We were treated to a cruise along the river Shannon with Silverline Cruisers and and delicious lunch catered by Le Bouchon, Portumna.

Silver Line Cruisers yacht

While the weather did not necessarily make for a ‘sunning yourself on the deck’ kind of day, we had a lot of fun and plenty of time to just relax and soak it all in.

Killeen Cheese Farm) for our lunch …” rel=”lightbox9013″ alt=”Silver Line Cruisers Onion Tart” width=”300″ height=”300″ srcset=”http://www.wisewords.ie/wp-content/uploads/Silver-Line-Cruisers-Onion-Tart-300×300.jpg 300w, http://www.wisewords.ie/wp-content/uploads/Silver-Line-Cruisers-Onion-Tart-150×150.jpg 150w, http://www.wisewords.ie/wp-content/uploads/Silver-Line-Cruisers-Onion-Tart-1024×1024.jpg 1024w, http://www.wisewords.ie/wp-content/uploads/Silver-Line-Cruisers-Onion-Tart-90×90.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” />

Red onion and goat cheese (from Killeen Cheese Farm) for our lunch …

One of the bloggers, the lovely and talented Regula from Belgium and otherwise well known as MissFoodWise on her gorgeous blog, was celebrating her birthday. Unbeknown to her, Margaret-the-hostess-with-the-mostest who had planned everything to perfection, had asked Ron to bake a special cake to help celebrate her birthday in true mid-Ireland fashion.

Silver Line Cruisers - Regula

The lovely Regula ‘MissFoodWise’ delighted with her surprise birthday cake!

Since that weekend, I have been buried alive in domestic chores around the homestead here at Chez Wise and have really enjoyed reading recaps from all the bloggers who attended the #MagicalMidlands weekend away.

You can find a list of all the bloggers who participated right here.


Lunch at OldFarm B&B … they charge a little extra for evening meals and trust me when I tell you – it is worth every cent ….

So, if you are wondering how to while a way a few hours, days or weeks during the summer months – there is no reason not to include a few of these places in your plans.

Jack napping OLDEFARM

The fresh country air and food makes afternoon napping an ‘essential’ …

A huge thanks to Margaret and Alfie at OldFarm B&B for hosting us. We enjoyed our visit so much we went back over yesterday with the kids for a bit more relaxing and the kids can’t wait to go back for a week’s holiday later in the summer! Right Alfie?


Nothing nicer than a sleeping ‘almost’ teen in the back seat of the van on the way back home to Galway …

Ok – now that you have made it this far … here are the details of the giveaway!

The County Arms Hotel has given us a 2-night (weekend or mid-week) giveaway for two including dinner for two on one of those evenings.

All you have to do is first, make sure you are a subscribed reader of this blog – do that right here, then leave a comment in the box below stating why you need a two-night getaway with your loved one!

I will pick a winner on Sunday April 19th, 2015, (in the evening) giving you lots of time to plan your weekend get-a-way!

If you have any other recommendations of places to go and see in the midlands … let me know!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.


AND …. the winner is: June Molloy Vladička who has her own story to tell right here! Huge congrats June. Perhaps we can arrange to meet up for a visit at OldFarm when you are in town?

 Thanks for participating in the giveaway  – all winners are chosen at random using the PlugIn ‘And the Winner is‘.

June Malloy Magic Midlands Giveaway! 2015

May 5 2014

{Event} Blue Teapot Theatre Company

Posted by     12 Comments    in The Snug

imageThe Blue Teapot  Theatre Company

Silkes, Munster Avenue


(091) 520 – 977



Girls smiling


Just around the corner from Kai café sits the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. The two lassies in the above photos are not only neighbours, they are friends and have joined forces to raise some money for the next drama production the Blue Teapot Theatre will produce for the Galway Arts Festival – it’s called ‘ID’.

From July 16, 2014 to July 26, 2014
Blue Teapot Theatre, Munster Avenue, Galway city

iD: identity                 iD: intellectual Disability

‘Who do you think I am’.

iD experiences the world as seen through the eyes of people with intellectual disability and also questions our perceptions of identity along the way.

The world premiere of iD will be unveiled in the Galway Arts Festival this year. This innovative and entertaining new work is conceived & presented by the actors in collaboration with Director, Scott Williams and Dramaturg, Gavin Kostick.




Jess Murphy, always wearing her generous heart on her sleeve, heard that Petal (the director of the Blue Teapot Theatre) had just launched a Fundit campaign to raise the necessary funds for their new show and she jumped in with both feet. How about a pop-up dinner at the theatre?

The folks at the theatre were only too delighted to get a bit of help, and even a bit shocked, because no one has ever proposed such a thing before and the Blue Teapot Theatre has been around since 1996.

Photo: by Reg Gordon

Photo: by Reg Gordon

So first things first folks …  ask yourself ‘do you have a few extra pennies, dimes, dollars, euros or pounds to spare?’ If so then please help support this FundIt campaign – especially those of you living so far away you can’t make it to the pop-up supper on Friday May 16th 2014.


If you want to be part of the fun and attend the pop-up dinner on Friday May 16th, 2014 then have a look at the long list of people who are only too happy to donate their time and their food and wine. We are most fortunate to live in a city (and country) that is bursting with generosity. If this does not whet the appetite I am not sure what will.

All goods – save but a few tiny items like plates and linens – will be donated for the evening and Jess hopes to raise close to €6,000 for the Blue Teapot Theatre company.

Helping Jess out in the kitchen for the evening is Enda McEvoy – Galway’s first and only Michelin star chef. Enda was kind enough to jump in (also with both feet) even though he is in the throes of gearing up to open his own place slap bang in the heart of the city – LOAM. Stay tuned on this one, it is sure to be delicious.

You can watch a little video chat with him and Jess right here.

Also lending Jess a hand is Louise Bannon of NOMA (listed again recently as the best restaurant in the world) .. she is in town for the Ballymaloe Literary fest and is making a little time to dish up a few tasty plates with her mates. These chefs are quite the force guys. They get.shit.done.

louise bannon

Louise Bannon – NOMA restaurant

Aran McMahon from Café Rua will start of the evening by serving Rhubarb Belinis to the crowd and  Kevin Powell – noisemaker at Gruel Guerrilla and famous for his pop ups in Dublin with News of the Curd – too is donating a helping hand with service for the evening.

Although killing himself on the campaign trail, Seámus Sheridan also took a few minutes to join in the fun and is lining up the wines for the night with Enrico Fantasia from Grape Circus. This is always the fun part!

Eric Morton

There will, of course be bread – which Morton’s of Galway are only too happy to donate …

Ron Wise - Morton's of Galway

Cuinneog are donating important ingredients like cream, butter and sour cream …… Tony Garraha from Lough Boora Farm is donating all the fabulous greens and floral edibles needed for the menu – which is going to resemble a midsummers night meal .. There is talk of a beautiful beetroot salad, a fresh fish ceviche and of course Brady’s butcher in Athenry has donated all the meat.

I can only imagine ….. it all sounds …… delectable.

Urban Grind - header café sign exterior (1 of 1)

Padraig from Urban Grind (also in the neighbourhood and eager to meet y’all) is donating the exquisite (3fe) coffee …. I could use a cup right now … and incase that does not sound like enough … didn’t Seámus Sheridan come back and offer to donate the cheese to wrap up the evening …

The evening will be captured by one of my favourite photographers Reg Gordon and if you are able to attend this event, make sure you find him and say hi – aside from being incredibly talented, he is one heck of a nice guy to donate his time and talent to this event.

So there you have it … a list of people all offering to donate their time, money and food in the hopes that you will come and fill your bellies with a fabulous five-course (with wine) dinner on Friday May 16th, 2014.

Click here to donate or pick up the phone and call (091) 520-977 to book your place for the pop-up kitchen at Blue Teapot Theatre.

Thanks folks … t’is not often I ask for your help and as usual we have something to sweeten the pot … Ron and I cannot attend this event as we are tied up with a work thing already that evening but we are happy to donate our two tickets (worth €150) to a lucky reader.

Here is the kicker … you have to be subscribed to our WiseWords blog (sign up here) and because this is a time sensitive event and fundraiser, we are asking that you donate at least a few euros to the FundIT campaign. We will pick a winner on Tuesday evening (May 13th) giving you plenty of time to organise a babysitter or a taxi .. because I am sure this is going to be a fabulous night out in Galway.

Just leave me a comment down below letting me know you have already made a small donation and I will throw your name in the hat and we will join you for the cheese course!

That’s all for now folks … thanks for tuning in.




Feb 17 2014

{Giveaway} Belleek Castle, County Mayo

Posted by     105 Comments    in Reviews

Belleek Castle

(096) 22 4 00

A few weeks ago … right after I had finished my Winter exams at college, we were invited down to Belleek Castle for a night of fabulous food, wine and companionship.

Their chef, Stephen Lenehan, whom we had met at a Slow Food Mayo event previously,  has been the executive chef of Belleek Castle for more than 20 years. If you ever find yourself in Ballina, County Mayo, you really have to put this place on your list. There is no shortage of things to see and do in Mayo.

Belleek CAstle

There is a growing trend in us stumbling upon Chefs in Ireland who like to grow their own food and feed it to their customers. A few years ago, Stepehen had a mighty sized polytunnel installed right outside his kitchen window and he is still shocked at the volume of vegetables he is now producing from this invenstment. Last summer, he actually ended up giving away some of their produce.

The Castle, lets call it a Boutique Castle as it only has a few rooms to offer, is situated in the heart of Ballina town and is deffinelty the best kept secret we have stumbled upon.

Belleek Castle Polytunnel P13_1336

Greens from the tunnel are offered on most plates not just as a garnish, but as a comfortable portion, so you don’t feel like all you are getting is meat and potatoes.

In saying that make sure you order the Fillet steak – the presentation is unique and fabulous – think flames and Jameson – tableside.  This style of presentationt works excellently well because of the venue. The steak was cooked to perfection and make sure you insist on trying their side dish of potato gratin with a mashed carrot and parsnip mixture sandwiched in the middle … then roasted in the oven. I have had dreams about this dish. So filled with flavours and textures.

Belleek Castle Food P13_8342 CHEF

Our favourite dish, was so simple – but so memorable –  Cashel Blue cheese caviar using tapioca. It was excellent and so unique, perfectly executed and shows imagination. We LOVED this dish.

Belleek Castle Food P13_8370


The portions throughout were perfect size and thankfully not too much at all. This can be a concern when you see tasting menus offered and I always steer clear of them because its just too much food. These guys have a great grasp on balance-on-the-plate, with plenty of choices for even those with the most discerning of tastes.

Belleek Castle Food P13_8705 whisky

Paul Doran, the owner of the castle, has shown true taste when assembling the wine list. His educated palate spills out over the Belleek Castle wine list which encompasses a wonderful array of wines ranging from quaffable to sophisticated. The wines we chose (a Pinto Noir from Russian River Valley) and also the Kracher dessert wine, were both outstanding and priced accordinlgly; refreshing to see these days. I highly recommend you stay up to date on the Wine event dinners they have at Belleek throughout the year. You can click on this link here to connect with them on Facebook. They are also the most perfect venue for a wedding … incase you are looking for that very romantic spot.

Belleek Castle Food P13_7951 hand

The service over all – front of the house and in the dining room – was excellent and a credit to whomever runs the training program at Belleek Castle.

As we overnighted, I was a little hesitant to accept an invite to join Stephen and his wife Lily (who is also a chef and works alongside her husband in the kitchens at Belleek Castle) for breakfast because, let’s face it, there are very few hotels that do breakfast well. Imagine, me sitting there fussing because my eggs are overcooked. These guys don’t mess around. They have a breakfast chef who comes in every morning just to take care of the residents at Belleek. First class breakfast and not the boring old Irish breakfast in a buffet set up either.

The scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and selection of brown bread was wonderful. The omelette was nice and light, plenty of flavour and to my surprise and delight the coffee was excellent too. I could tell there were coffee lovers in the house.

 Belleek CAstle blue

The folks at Belleek have given us treat for our readers here at WiseWords. How would you like to get away for a night and enjoy dinner for two, plus bed and breakfast in the beautiful boutique Belleek Castle?

I know we do giveaways on here, and you always think, ‘man, I never win anything’ but this one is different.

I am picking the winner myself instead of using the random selector app.

I want you to leave a comment below, in your most poetic tone, telling me why you want or need this (very romantic) night away at Belleek Castle in County Mayo.

Same rules apply, you must be a WiseWords subscriber in order to be eligble for this giveaway. You can sign up right here.

Best of luck. I’ll be picking the winner on Friday 28th of February, 2014.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


PS – and incase you were wondering .. all of the images used in this post were taken by Paul Doran, the castle owner. I would normally only use my own photos but we were there in the depth of dreary winter and the camera did not capture what I wished to convey.

AND THE WINNER IS …. well desired too I am sure.

Enjoy the break!

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 10.08.58

Nov 9 2013

{Christmas Countdown – 7 Weeks to go} McCambridges of Galway

Posted by     No Comments    in Kitchen


38-39 Shop Street, Galway City, Ireland

Email :   retail@mccambridges.com

Phone :  091 562259   (International +35391 562259)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McCambridges

Twitter :    www.twitter.com/McCambridges38


McCambridges sunnyext

I was trolling through my photos from McCambridges and noticed that several of them were (coincidentially) of Beer & Wine. So I sent a quick email to Natalie MCCambridge, one of the owners, and asked her to shuttle me on a few of hers. Just to add to the variety of what they offered.

She sent me the following few images ..

McCambridges Wine

McCambridges Irish beer fridge

McCambridges Wine 2

So, as you can see … these guys rock in the Beer & Wine department. But here is something you may not know. In addition to offering fabulous fare (for lunch) from the deli counter downstairs and an excellent selection of teas and coffees to boot, they have, in the last year, expanded to now serve lunch in their beautifully designed space above the store. They are also serving dinner (up until 9pm from mid-December) for a few weeks over the festive season. Go there – eat lots. Shop till you drop.

Great care was made in sourcing much of the reclaimed materials used in the renovations and let me tell you, with the expert design eye of local arthitect Stephen Walton (who also brings his design beauty to Kai Cafe) ‘Upstairs @ MCCambridges’ is where it is at ladies and gentlemen.

McCambridges upstairs nice light

McCambridge’s of Galway is a family owned Deli and Fine Foods Shop and Restaurant located in the heart of Galway city centre. On any given day you will find this shop a-buzzing with people zipping in and out to get a few bits and pieces. They are notably famous for the way they treat their customers. If you are already on their mailing list, then you know what I am talking about. Their annual Christmas party invite should be arriving in the post any day now. A fantastic evening with the McCambridge family celebrating with their vendors (who bring the food and wine) and customers, (who drink all the food and wine) with all proceeds go to a most deserving charity.



We have attended Sunday brunches, weekday lunches, book launches, cheese tastings, wine tastings and have sat upstairs for a host of other reasons … sometimes to duck out of the rain and have a glass of wine by the window watching the world stroll by.


Sometimes we stop in for a slice of cake and a cup of coffee with friends .. and we always hope to see their talented Chef Heather … who is always only too delighted to let you know which cake to take a stab at. She’d know, because she makes every one of them. earlier this year, at a book launch I think, she made this little appetiser of Polenta cubes topped with mushrooms and truffle oil. I can still taste it. A damn shame it is not on the menu.


For future reference .. the Malt Cake .. is like a bag of Maltesers (Malted Milk Balls for y’all stateside).


There are not that many places in Galway that leave  a lasting impression on me when I go out to eat, or do my grocery shopping. I guess I am hard to please. I want to be able to find the product I am looking for with ease and if  I can’t find it, trust that the employees will be only too happy to help me.

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes chatting (on the radio) with Sean O’Rourke, the presenter of RTE Radio 1 ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ show. He wanted an update on the Food Scene in Galway and if you listen in, you will hear that McCambridges was one of the places I talked about because of the variety of Galway products they showcase.

 One of my favourite places to shop for foodie presents for Christmas.



Stay tuned …… up next The Malt House.


Aug 11 2013

Buy Irish . . . especially this product

Posted by     12 Comments    in The Snug



Knitting yarn



Dear Readers,

I know there is always the possibility that I might bore you to tears with my ramblings.

I realise your times is precious, and I swear, because my time is precious too, that when I sit down to write, I first make a pledge to both of us that I will not be wasting anyone’s time with my WiseWords.

I want you to start your Christmas/holiday shopping now – as in today.

If I can’t convince you to do a bit of shopping for the festive season then perhaps you have been invited to a wedding and you are plagued wondering what to get the bride and groom?

Look.no.further. This is the gift that keeps on giving.

Sample blanket


A few months ago, the chef and I paid a visit to the incredibly beautiful farm and home of Suzanna Crampton.

Suzanna Tweets for the @ZwartblesIE account. She is (aside from an amazing photographer and writer) a sheep farmer. She blogs about that here.

But not just any old sheep – they are Zwartbles.

For months I had been conversing over morning coffee and tweets with Suzannah as we are both naturally early risers. I would take my daily walk while she would tend to her sheep. Her mornings have a breath of calm and meditativeness about them; I felt like I really knew her  and asked if we could pop in for a cup of tea next time we were in her neighbourhood. She graciously opened her heart and home to us.

See, it was these big brown eyes and soft brown wooly beasts that hooked me.


It was love at first sight. I wanted to take them all home with me but the Chef said no. Not until we get a bit more land. Then I can have my own.

In the meantime … we just had to make do with a stroll around Suzanna’s beautiful home and farm.

Comfortable toilet seat

I know this might seem strange, as we are not in the business of selling toilet seats, but the Chef thinks y’all should know this is the most comfortable toilet seat he has ever sat on. Every home should have one.

Back to the tour of the farm …

Toasty cat

A gorgeous home where cats sleep on Aga’s and …

Dogs watch your every move just incase you make off with one of their charges …….  as if I would!

Boss man

A place where trees grow in the perfectly trained way that they should ….

Pear Tree

And where feeding time is full of fun and flourish as the ladies natter and chatter with their mouths full.

Chow times 

A place where twists and turns take you down paths that might lead to nowhere new ……

Leading us down to the garden gate

or to a place where you make a new friend  . . .


In the past, all the wool from the Zwartbles, a rich chocolate brown un-dyeable wool, was gathered and spun into knitting yarn.

Now, and thanks to the machinery at Cushendale Woolen Mills (one of Ireland’s few remaining woollen mills) the wool is spun into beautiful (heirloom) woollen blankets; made from the finest of Irish wool.

The blanket

Move over Hudson Bay

The cooler weather is coming and I know that these blankets will be keeping us warm for years to come.

Now, more than ever, we need to support local businesses. We need to buy Irish.

And we especially need to support this wonderful fabulous enterprising creative sheep-herding woman.

A limited amount of blankets were made this year – don’t dally too long on deciding.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


Jun 28 2013

{When in Galway} Morans on the Weir

Posted by     38 Comments    in Reviews

Morans on the Weir

Kilcolgan, Galway

(091) 796 113





Ok. Stop everything that you are doing right now and get your butts to Moran’s on the Weir if you have never been.

That is all.



Alright … I might manage to eek out a few more words then. How many restaurants have several tables reserved by 11:30am on a bank holiday Monday? Anthony Bourdain taught us something to live by a few years ago, when he penned one of our favourite foodoirs Kitchen Confidential, where he advises customers to never order fish at a restaurant on a Monday because it won’t be fresh.

I have broken that rule only once; It was on a Monday a few months back. I regret my decision greatly and have sworn never to sway again. Unless of course I am eating at Morans on the Weir, where the fish are always fresh … hell, sometimes even still alive!

We have eaten here countless times, and more frequently in the last few months due to a massive surge of friends coming to visit us from abroad. This is one of our favourite places to hide-out, away from the hustle and bustle of Galway city. Morans on the Weir is very much a step back in time, and I for one hope it stays planted firmly right where it is.

If it ain’t broke … don’t fix it.



Dating back more than 300 years, Moran’s of the Weir is now run by Catherine Moran – the 7th generation of the Moran family to get stuck in and manage this iconic restaurant-by-the-sea.

Her brother Michael, holds the crown for both the International and World Oyster Opening Championships, taking the phrase fastest gun in the west to a whole new level. His father has held both of these titles too. In addition to being talented and this place exceeding all our (high) expectations when it comes to the customer service and food offered – this is one of the hardest working hands-on family in the restaurant business in Ireland today.

I want them to get an award for this alone!



Bold splashes of colour painted on doors, windows, walls and stairs greet you as you meander through all the nooks and crannies in the restaurant. Guinness pours perfectly – as it should – and it is the best place to hide out alone, just the two of you, or reserve a massive table for you and your friends, in the back room, and stay all night.



You might arrive hungry, but after dining on their exquisite (mostly) fish menu, you will be well sated when you leave.



You will  be spoiled for choice with the menu options they offer and will not be able to choose one over the other. We have eaten ALL THEIR menu options. You can’t go wrong. Bring friends and share all the platters.



But make sure you do go … and especially try to get there during the summer months when you can sit outside on their benches right on the Weir. Or traipse over there early in September when the native Galway Oysters are plump and perfect. I have yet to meet a person who’s face does not light up when I ask them if they have ever eaten at Moran’s of the Weir.

Hell, even Seamus Heaney penned a poem about eating oysters at Morans and it is (handwritten) hanging on their wall!

Here’s the first (of five) stanza from the poem :


by Seamus Heaney

Our shells clacked on the plates.

My tongue was a filling estuary,

My palate hung with starlight:

As I tasted the salty Pleiades

Orion dipped his foot into the water.




If you can wrangle a few more lines from this poem and leave it in the comments section below you will be entered into a drawing to win one of two €50 gift certificates we have to offer our readers, to enjoy a bit of grub at Moran’s on the Weir. Remember, as with ALL giveaways on our blog, you must be a bona-fide regular reader-commenter of the blog and be signed up to receive our updates via email right here.

The lucky winner will be chosen at random on Thursday July 4th in the evening.

If you win, PLEASE invite me to join you for dinner!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.


AND (finally) the winners ARE :

Ladies – please contact me with your home postal address so I can pop these in the post to you.

Thanks and congrats to you!


Winners Morans on the WEir

Mar 4 2013

{When in Galway} The House Hotel – Easter break giveaway

Posted by     98 Comments    in When in Galway

The House Hotel

Galway’s City Centre Boutique Hotel
Lower Merchants Road
The Latin Quarter

+353 91 538900


This is a doozy folks. I know y’all are probably getting sick and tired of all these fabulous hotel giveaways but you know when we get the opportunity to share something fabulous with our readers … I can’t help myself. I could of course just use this myself … check in for a night or two with the Chef – take a break from the kids. .. enjoy the peace and quite of the hotel and then write up a quirky blog post about what a gorgeous place it is and how much fun I have had there … and what would you get out of that? Nothing really … maybe a bit annoyed that I got the nice experience and you got your nose rubbed in it?

Nope – not me. I like to share. I like it when people come to visit my home town and more than anything I love making sure that they have a great time. This hotel, and their carefully appointed crew, will make sure that you have that kind of experience when you come.

So now you have the chance to stay at The House Hotel in Galway. Up for grabs (details at the end of the post) is two nights bed & breakfast (for two people) and dinner on one of those nights. Arriving on (holy) Thursday March 28th and enjoying gorgeous Galway and the Galway Food festival for two days and two nights … .


A wee blurb on the hotel : 

The House Hotel is Galway’s leading city centre boutique hotel is home to the most popular of Cocktail Bars and trendiest Relax Lounge. With only 40 bedrooms this boutique hotel is warm, chic and prides itself on excellent customer service and a warm ‘Galway’ welcome. The rooms are chic, quiet, intimate and oozing in comfort, perfect for any visitor whether it be to enjoy Galway’s Festivals, for business meetings, or simply to relax in the City of the tribes.


suite 1 with tray


Perfect for those romantic weekends away, or a fun filled break with the girls, The House Hotel offers it’s guests the ultimate in relaxing surroundings midweek and is now renowned as the place to be seen on a Saturday night! If it’s cocktails is you’re looking for then there is no need to go any further. The House Hotel mixologists are among the best in Ireland – many representing their country last year in destinations such as New York and Paris.

House Hotel (Cocktails) Image 2

Sip on one of their fabulous Pink Champagne Mojitos, sit back and relaxing in the stunning lobby bounded by pieces of art that will take your breath away.

Located in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter everything is quite literally on your doorstep.



Lobby Pink


All that promotional jargon above is true. But the real reason you should WANT to stay here is simple and will come as no surprise to you. It is the people. From the minute you set foot inside the hotel you will be taken care of. The hotel is tiny so this affords the employees to remember who you are and what room you are staying in.

Over the last four years, whilst I have been toiling away at NUIG trying to get myself an education, I have sought refuge on their cosy couches and they know I like bottomless pots of black tea and free wifi. They also know how I like my dirty martinis when the Chef and I step out for a night on the town and they know that we like to sit by the window in the summer to people watch and by the radiator in the winter with glasses of hot port.

They don’t take notes and keep journals of all their guests likes and dislikes – they just do their job and offer the warmest of Irish hospitalities … the way it should be.

Ok – the nitty gritty.

Visit their page on FB please and say hi. This will double your chances of a win.

Leave me a comment finishing this sentence ….

I want to stay at The House Hotel in Galway over Easter because  ……..

Please note that many of you (already registered as avid readers and commenters here on WiseWords) are automatically entered to win as soon as you comment down below – but those of you that are not registered to receive updates via email are not … so make sure you register right here. It is free and relatively painless.

AND … it also ensures that you will be kept informed about all the cool stuff happening in the West .. and I know you do not want to be the last to know.

The lucky winner will be chosen randomly on Tuesday March 12th 2013, giving you plenty of time to plan your get-a-way to Galway!

OK – get cracking!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,




Jan 5 2013

{When in Galway} Lunares Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar

Posted by     21 Comments    in When in Galway


3 Daly’s Place, (near McSwiggans)

Woodquay, Galway, Ireland

Phone + 353 (0) 91 44 56 18 / + 353 (0) 91 44 57 34

eMail : LunaresRestaurant@Hotmail.com

Facebook : Lunares


Lunares Facade

It is no secret that the world of (food) blogging can be downright competitive. I would even go as far as to say that there have been plenty of occasions where bloggers, despite many insisting it is a ‘supportive’ community, get down right nasty.

I manage to steer clear of a lot of it because I live in a small city and to my knowledge there is only one other food blogger in my hometown … she can kick my ass with her words any day of the week.

As a matter of fact, I am sharing this restaurant review with you today because she beat me to the finish-line with her review of Lunares Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar in yesterday’s weekly issue of the Galway Advertiser.

Screen Shot 2013-01-05 at 18.44.25

I sent her a Tweet telling her that I could not have said it better myself.

Lunares wall sign 1

Lunares is what I like to call a ‘mom & pop’ shop. It is run by two sisters, Amaya & Virginia Fernandez (both chefs) with the help of Amaya’s husband, Lucho, and their son Alvaro, who handle the front of the house. The exterior is painted in a happy splash of yellow and red, livening up this nook of Galway. They have been open for over a year now and seem to be trucking along just nicely. Open daily from noon (or 1pm) onwards they have quite a decent range of menu items to choose from. With all we have eaten at Lunares I cannot imagine that anyone is complaining about their food, or their service, or their prices. There have only been a few reviews on Trip Advisor and so far – all looking good methinks.

Virginia and LuchoLucho and his sister-in-law Virginia taking a quick break

As much as the Chef & I enjoy dining alone when we get the chance, we very rarely actually eat a meal without our kids in tow. This restaurant is unique in the sense that it is a great date night place or equally suitable to bring the whole family. And so we did.

Ron & AmayaThe Chef making small talk with Amaya Fernandez regarding a few of the menu items we tasted today.

Here are a few photos from our last few visits. If you are not already hungry for your next meal then you will be when you get through looking at these.

Lunares house potatoes

One of their house specialities … Patatas Lunares …. lightly fried potatoes with serrano ham, topped with a perfectly poached egg. Note there are two eggs on this plate above because the Chef reckons they do the ‘best eggs’ in town.

Lunares soup

This is one of my favourites … Sopa Castellana … think egg drop soup with a chicken and tomato broth. I could dive in right now for another bowl for my supper and be very content for the evening. Note there are four small spoons sharing this massive bowl. No one complained about sharing and they are looking forward to their next Tapas adventure already.

Lunares croquettes

There may have been a few other little snacks for the kids …. like ham and cod croquettes. I have it on good authority that these were cooked perfectly but no-one offered to ‘share’ a bite of these nibblers.

Lunares Spicy prawns 

Prawns in a spicy tomato sauce … there is a secret ingredient in this one; you MUST try it.

Lunares Guitar

A bit of whimsy on the wall …

Lunares dining room

Window seats and soft cushions inviting us to linger longer at the table ….

Lunares whimsy chicken

A bit of kitsch to remind us not to take everything so seriously and just kick back and have a bit of fun ..

Lunares Wine bottle cozies

A reminder that it is two women running the kitchen … love this one.

but my personal favourite bit of décor from Lunares Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar is this ….there is love in their kitchen … and it is certainly evident in their food.

Lunares Wall sign Food Heart

Oh …. and the fact that lunch for seven starving people cost €53.00 … that was with two glasses of wine … hic!

Go to Lunares. Mark it on your calendar … make an evening out of it. I hear they have traditional Spanish music at the weekends too.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


The blogging authorities have stated, and rightly so, that bloggers must declare if they were, in any way, compensated for reviewing restaurants, products, books etc. In this particular instance, like 99% of my reviews, this was paid for in its entirety by us here at WiseWords; and worth every penny. If you have a restaurant or café or food product you would like us to review then please send us a link via email to MonaZWise@GMail.com or just share the link in the comments section down below. 

Oct 28 2012

Savour(ing) Kilkenny

Posted by     18 Comments    in Kitchen


Hi there and hello from gorgeous sunny Kilkenny.

We are here this weekend participating in the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival and wow – what a city!

We have eaten sumptuous suppers at Café Sol and, to wrap up our day, sampled fine (Irish) wines at with Susan Boyle and we have laid our weary heads to rest right here .

If you scroll down below all the photos you will find a link to all the recipes we showcased today at our Thanksgiving Feast celebration. Enjoy every bite!


Kilkenny has such an array of talented crafters and food producers!



Click on this image to be taken to all the recipes.



Clare Ann O’Keefe….was the Chef’s little helper today. If she wasn’t such a sweetheart I’d be jealous xx


Our MC and the Chef’s lovely assistant for today was the lovely and talented Clare Ann O’Keefe. I can’t wait for this chick to come to Galway.


Cornbread stuffing …. if you did not get to taste it then you should take the recipe and make it … now.



The best part of my day today was the people. This should come as no surprise to you. Sitting front and centre in the audience  and lined up out the door to eat the Chef’s Thanksgiving creations we had Lorna, Dee, Catherine, Imen, Suzannah, Julie, Lisa and probably a host of other friends I have forgotten (sorry). And incase you think it was all girls .. there were dashing husbands present too, my own included.

Looking out into the crowd of people who were hungry for the food and fun we brought to the Chef’s table today made me so proud to be participating in Savour Kilkenny.

This was our first time visiting the beautiful city of Kilkenny and when I asked the Chef this evening what he thought of the city he gave me the most wonderful answer.

He said ‘its just like Galway really. Great good, a beautiful walking city with incredibly friendly people’.

First timers to this event, we are honoured to have been invited and included in so many of the festivites and hope if you have time over the next two days (seeing as it is a bank holiday weekend!) you will take a little road trip to Kilkenny and join in the fabulous food festivities! Bring your appetite!

On a side note … a super super super shout out to a few places that you need to check out when you visit this beautiful medieval city. . . . The Left Bank Bar/Pub is one of the nicest bars I have ever been in. The food, the service, the decor, the bathrooms, and the very attentive management team. Go there. Eat and drink lots.

 And the madam behind the MD Media company. Miriam Donohue runs this business but what you do not realise is that it is really just one big happy family-run business. We met the whole family. They are all gorgeous and incredibly hard working. If you need a bit of help with PR for an upcoming event I cannot imagine that they would not be the right folks for the job.

Ok – that is it for this evening ..

WiseMóna x



About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
  • Contact Mona
Ron Wise About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.

From The Kitchen

Sound Bath
Taco's Taqueria Galway
Papa Rich
Galway Shopping Christmas
Cava Wine Galway Wine Trail Campo Viejo

Buy the Book

The Chef and I


Click Here to Purchase

Best Food & Wine Blog (2012) Best Photo Blog (2012) Best Blog of a Journalist (2012) and Best OVERALL Blog (2012)

blog awards ireland

Top Food Blog

Top Food Blogs


Sound Cloud