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Earlier this month The Irish Times published a great little guide to Sligo, in collaboration with Failte Ireland. Lots of times you read this type of thing and, as a local, don’t recognise the place you live, for good or bad reasons. This one was different though, Not only did I recognise the place they were describing, but it covered nearly all the best bits of Sligo that I include when I’m in my own tour guide mode with visiting pals. Lots of my Top 10 things to do in Sligo made an appearance, in one guise or another, but I see the Magic Road alluded them once again, it must be the magic….
The supplement, which you can download via the link below, or by clicking on the image up top, is a great reference guide, and would make an excellent pocket guide for any type of traveller. I was particularly thrilled to see so much culture and lifestyle entries; great foodie recommendations, culture summaries and a special focus on Sligo Music, which is in abundance in all forms in Sligo town and county, as a quick glance at sligomusic.ie will usually show you.
I think the publication was the first time, or one of the first times, that the new Sligo brand was used;“Sligo, Set your Spirit Free”. It’s a brand I really like, and I’m usually very critical of visual identities, especially the tag line. This one however, also seems to concur with the Sligo I know, a place that can set your spirit free in lots of ways; surfing, golfing, eating, listening to music, walking, visiting arts and culture events, or ancient historic sites, or just contemplating the landscape. The actual coloured text took me a few minutes to settle into, but it’s really grown on me. For some reason it immediately reminded me of Dakar’s photos of Sliglow (a project for Culture Night Sligo 2010), something in the free-flowing, yet painterly aspect of the font. It could reference anything from cave painting to street art and all that came in between, while still looking very natural and “of nature”. When I looked up the official line it said; “The brushstrokes are inspired by the paintings of Jack B Yeats, the vertical limestone features of the landscape and the crashing Atlantic waves.” which is even better; Sligo’s three big selling points; landscape. culture and water all rolled into one. Well done Zero G
Download the pdf: Sligo – Irish Times 6th July 2011
If you’re heading to Galway for the Arts Festival, or the Races, or any of the myriad of things Galway seems to have going all year long, you might be in need of good late night grub beyond the usual fast food selections that ireland seems to be limited to post 10pm. I was in the city of the tribes last night (to see Enda Walshe’s Misterman with Cillian Murphy, which is precisely as good as everyone says it is. What a production. Dearly hope Landmark manage to bring it to some other cities) and was badly in need of some late night sustenance that elevated itself beyond room service or a burger and chips.
We tried a few places before reaching Rouge (above), Bar 8, who lots of listings say serve till 11pm but apparently they don’t. Hard to tell as they don’t have a working website and their facebook page doesn’t list opening hours. Arriving to them at 10.30pm we must have just missed last orders as there were a few diners tucking into their main courses. So then we thought we’d try Kai, the new venture for Bar 8′s original chef Jess Murphy, but despite having a lovely site, they also don’t list their opening/serving hours. We tried the wonderful Ard Bia at Nimmo’s next, and despite being too late for them, the lovely lady there suggested Rouge to us – a new opening on Lwr Dominick Street that she thought served till late. And hallelujah, it does!
Rouge has apparently only been open for a fortnight, and the staff did look pretty knackered, but they were smiling through it and despite a full restaurant were able to seat and serve us to the wine bar end of things. The interior is very french “cave” style – exposed brick walls, low lighting, leather couches, and even a piano player (who actually played piano man) but one that played at a nice volume. They have a great wine list, as you’d expect, and we both had to try the Cote du Rhone being as it was just €3.80 a glass. Actual french prices! is this the cheapest glass of great wine in Ireland? It was wonderful too, really warm and tasty. There’s a limited main menu; entrecote steak, fish of the day or veggie of the day with a selection of mini starters and I think a desert too for just €15. We figured it was too late for a full meal so opted for the cheese and charcuterie plates (which come in two sizes) and a side salad, all of which was delicious and really nicely presented, and served with loads of fresh bread. The water’s we ordered came with a side bowl of sliced lemon rather than automatically adding it, which is a nice touch, and all in all we had a lovely meal.
The search for decent late night grub is the curse of the habitual festival/theatre/gig goer, and it’s amazing to me that there aren’t more places that serve after 10.30pm. The Grapevine in Kilkenny is a recent favourite, discovered while on the late night food hunt after a Cat Laughs gig last year. Anyone know of any others?
I’ve been hanging out in the ‘burbs a lot of late- the south county dubin burbs that is- and have come across two lovely little cafe’s that deserve stranded mentions; newbie arty Urbun in Cabinteely and new-ish crafty Winnie’s in Booterstown.
Urbun is a an aptly named urban cake cafe, set up by two bright young things in Cabinteely village. It’s right next door to Hargedon’s Wine shop- a sister shop to my favourite Sligo pub/wine shop- and is one of a few new additions which has made Cabinteely a nice little spot for dining and drinking, but I digress. I first sampled the Urbun ladies delights at the Point Village Market back in the winter, when I fairly wolfed down one of their famous cherry chocolate brownies. A few months later and they’re up and operating in a whole cafe, with the same brownies very much in evidence.
The cafe menu seems to be along the gruel/tower records cafe style- a small but perfectly formed menu with just one or two sandwiches, soups, salads and pies on offer, depending on the ingredients available that day. On the day I visited we had delicious sweet potato and coconut soup, and a lovely simple roast chicken and garlic mayo sandwich – with the chicken roasted on the premises- on home baked bread, followed by those famous brownies and some very nice coffee. The room is very contemporary- almost gallery like- with some interesting art on the walls and the facility to project some installation pieces/films too by the looks of things. Most of the tables are share style and they have plenty of room. Taking the edge off the contemporary/industrial look are sweet patterned plates and coffee mugs and an intriguing used of tea sack (I think) fabric on the benches. Being bright young things you can follow them on twitter, and I’m sure they have lots of events and goodies up their sleeves for the summer.
Then just today I discovered Winnie’s Craft Cafe which is hidden in a residential estate just off The Rock Road, near Booterstown Dart Station. I had read about Winnie and her wool wagon a year or so ago, but never clicked that the cafe was so close to where I stay in Dublin, so I was delighted to be reminded of it and to find myself there today. Winnie started life as a super cute wool wagon (pictured above right) that pitched up at local markets and events in Dublin, and has now spread into a divine wool shop and cafe. The brainchild of ex accountant Marina Hand it’s a wonderful idea, and really showcases the positives of good design. The van livery and logo/identity were created by those clever clogs at Red and Grey Design and they evoke a perfect homey, nostalgic yet vintage cool mood for the business.
The shop is such a treat, it makes me want to take up knitting just so I can shop there! It’s a riot of colour and texture and offers knitting classes and knitting circles on the premises. You walk through the shop to reach the cafe which is a lovely bright, light filled space. Someone’s done a wonderful job on the room architecture, with one wall comprised of a full wall of glass flooding the space with natural light. I only had time to sample a scone (cranberry and walnut! unusual and yum) and a coffee but the sandwiches, salads and savory bits looked fresh and yummy. The place was rammed and is obviously a popular lunch spot in the locale. It taps in to that nice sense of community and feels like a much loved location. I’ll definitely be back for more.