Fourteen members of Kilkenny RTA headed off to East Cork on Sunday, 8th March for a 3 night stay in beautiful Garryvoe. We car pooled and in my car (Marian) we decided to head off early and stop for lunch en route.
We decided to stop in Kilmacthomas on the Waterford Greenway and had a lovely home cooked lunch in “Kiersey’s” tea rooms. Definitely to be recommended if you are down that direction.
We arrived safely to our hotel – there was no single supplement and we were all surprised by the size of our rooms. All areas of the hotel were very spacious and there was a fine 25 mt. pool and spa with a hot tub which some of us enjoyed. We had dinner booked for 6.30 p.m. and the food was delicious with very pleasant waiting staff. The house wine was lovely too!!

The weather on Monday was disappointing with rain all day but we found some places to visit. The’ Stephen Pearce Pottery ‘ in Shanagarry and the  Kilkenny Shop and cafe nearby. Some people braved the weather and walked by the sea and others retreated to the hotel and played “Scrabble”or went for a soak in the hot tub.
Next day was much nicer weather and we had a busy day starting with a stretching/yoga/pilates class in the hotel. We then went to visit the Ballymaloe Gardens attached to the famous cookery school. It was a super garden to visit and even though lots of the plants are only starting their growing season it was great to see the layout and how they plan the year.
There are different areas -The Ornamental Fruit Garden, the Herb Garden, the Soft Fruit Garden, Vegetable Garden, Pleasure Garden, A Celtic Maze and Glasshouses. There is also a magnificent Shell House -a folly-which was built in 1995 to mark Darina and Tim’s Silver Wedding Anniversary.
 All the plants are organically grown and used in their cookery school and hotel. We visited the shop where they were selling organic vegetables, Breads and Chutneys etc.
We then went to Ballycotton stopping for light lunch in a brand new cafe and event space called “Sea Church”. It is an old church converted with new cafe added on. It had only opened the previous Thursday and the food was delicious.
Some of the group went walking on the Ballycotton Cliff walk, a challenging, long walk and others took it a bit easier.
Dinner each evening was very relaxed with great service and we adjourned to the Library for more chat and yarns. We did lots of laughing and remembering, talking about our college days, teaching days and life in general.
It was indeed a great trip and aren’t we lucky now to have it to look back on as we are confined to our homes.
Some VITAMIN SEA images taken on a short walk enjoyed on Garryvoe Beach which is 5km long with beautiful views of Ballycotton Beach and its Lighthouse.

The Ballymaloe Gardens date back to the early 1800’s. Darina Allen and her husband Tim began restoring the Gardens in 1983 and has developed into the Gardens we see today .

Some images from our walk though The Herb Garden, Lydia’s Garden and The Old Pleasure Garden.

The Shell House

The interior design was begun by Blot Kerr-Wilson in July 1995 and completed on 26th October – day before Darina and Tim Allen’s 25th Wedding Anniversary.

Blot worked out the pattern in her head before sketching the concept onto the wall with chalk. the shells were then cemented on.
Darina had her own collection of shells and the scallops and mussel shells came from the Ballymaloe House / Cookery School.
Blot herself brought some shells whilst others were given as gifts as the project progressed.
The  Ballycotton Cliff Walk stretches  from Ballycotton Village to Ballyandreen along a Cliff Track extending over 5 miles on a foot worn track along the Cliff face , with stunning views including the Ballycotton lighthouse and the more recent addition of the shipwreck.
Many thanks to Marian and Pauline for the account of the trip and to 
Pauline for the beautiful photographs.