It’s fair to say that I’m a city person.
I spent the first 21 years of life in suburban Atlanta, and since then I’ve lived in the cities of San Francisco, New York, Denver and now Philadelphia. It’s no surprise that I immediately felt comfortable in Ireland’s capital city, but it was a real treat to get out of Dublin for a day trip to the Boyne Valley. It was a full day with a visit at UNESCO World Heritage site Newgrange, a gourmet lunch at Ghan House, a walk through the medieval Village of Carlingford and a tour of the Carlingford Oyster Company.
We left Dublin bright and early for Newgrange, an ancient temple older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Although I’m not the most spiritual person, I was surprisingly moved by the 5,000 year old neolithic structure, especially when our knowledgeable tour guide simulated winter solstice in the heart of the passage tomb. I got chills from the experience, and I’ll be thinking about Newgrange while I celebrate the winter solstice in Philadelphia next month.
Gourmet Lunch at Ghan House
After a bonus stop at the 10th century Monasterboice, we headed to lunch at the family run Ghan House. We were warmly greeted by owner Paul Carroll who shared his family’s 20 year history at the inn whose name is said to translate to a little strand by the sea. The 18th century Georgian inn has won numerous accolades and has been recognized by the British Automotive Association, the Restaurant Association of Ireland and the Bridgestone Guide.
I assumed that we would have a quick lunch as part of the busy day trip, but instead we were treated to a leisurely three-course meal. The menu offered various culinary options like lamb, duck and steak, but I chose to go local. When in Rome, or Carlingford, as they say. The food was delicious, enhanced by the inn’s charming atmosphere, good conversation and flowing Chilean Merlot.
I was tempted by the sweet desserts, but I instead opted for the cheese plate. I wish I had saved more room for the generous pieces of Cashel Blue, Smoked Gubbeen and Guinness Cheddar. Note to self – Ireland has damned good cheeses.
We got a chance to check out the inn’s 12 rooms between courses. Each unique room has been modernized for maximum comfort, but there are elements of the past like clawfoot tubs and antique furniture. Ghan House reminds me of the bed and breakfast where we stayed in Chaudenay, France and is worthy of a visit on my next Ireland trip, hopefully with Daryl in tow.
Calingford is just an hour from Dublin, but it’s a world away from the city’s hubbub. The town is a gem with centuries of history, views of the Irish Sea and good pubs.
After a too-quick tour of the medieval town with an expedited Irish Coffee demonstration, we made our last stop of the day at the Carlingford Oyster Company. In a nutshell, or oyster shell, it’s fair to say that I was about to have the best oysters of my life. Stay tuned for my synopsis of the oyster farm experience in my next post.
Disclosure: The day trip and lunch were provided by Fáilte Ireland as part of my participation at the TBEX Europe conference. As always, all opinions expressed are completely my own.