Tuesday, April 28, 2009

For Culture Vultures in Fingal

The Skerries Traditional Music Weekend will take place from 15 to 17 May 2009. This is a very good weekend in Skerries with lots of musical events in pubs, clubs, and other venues.The weekend will include music sessions, workshops, dancing and general craic. So come along for a really good time in this lovely Fingal seaside town.

Also ramping up its summer programme is the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre in Naul. This renowned venue has an excellent programme of events, including the Bluegrass Patriots, Mick Hanly, Kieran Gos and many more.

Away From It All In Virginia

Virginia Park Hotel
Virginia Park Hotel

My wife and I spent a lovely relaxing weekend staying at the Virginia Park Hotel in Co. Cavan. The hotel is in the small town of Virginia and is less than 90 minutes from our home in north Dublin.

We arrived early on Friday evening and were immediately impressed by the beautiful grounds, which are situated on the shores of Lough Ramor. The hotel is a restored 18th century manor house, originally owned by the Marquis of Headfort, a member of the Taylor family. This family also owned Ardgillan Castle, overlooking Skerries Bay in Fingal, north Dublin.

The hotel itself is pleasingly “old world” and I loved the creaky floors; magnificent high-ceilinged rooms; interesting paintings, sculpture and furniture; narrow warren-like corridors, and quaint bedrooms. Our room had a beautiful view overlooking the lawn, Virginia Golf Club and Lough Ramor. The bedroom, although small, was very comfortable and really warm. The bathroom was very well appointed and had a fantastic shower.

Bective Court
Bective Court

We ate in the Marquis dining room on Friday night and our meal was delicious. The wife had pork fillet while I went for the lamb shank. Both were very well prepared, although I probably would not have chosen the tomato dressing with the lamb in hindsight. On Saturday, we just ate in the bar and that was very nice too. Breakfast was as expected – we both went for the “full Irish.”

The staff were very friendly and efficient and we enjoyed talking to the barman, Terry, each evening. He had a very quick, dry wit and entertained us greatly.

Although the weather was not great, we had a lovely relaxing time and managed to avoid most of the rain. We enjoyed pleasant walks along the shore of the lake and in the beautiful wood, which was carpeted with masses of bluebells. It was a delight.

Carpet of bluebells in Ramor Forest
Carpet of bluebells in Ramor Forest

We were interested to learn that the hotel is owned by Baltimore International College and is the Irish Campus for their School of Culinary Arts. They send students over to Virginia to learn the culinary arts and we had the pleasure of meeting some of them during our stay.

Although not far from Dublin, this is a lovely place to escape to and we will definitely return.