Around the world and back again

Posted on: 10th February, 2014

Category: Food & Wine

Contributor: Sheila Mullins

To the relief of many foodies, Bantry’s Willie Pa’s reopened just before Christmas under the new ownership of Patrick Kiely of O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant fame. Known for its hearty meals and warm, unfussy welcome, Willie Pa’s retains these qualities under new head chef Sinead Desmond, who has returned home to put her stamp on one of West Cork’s favourite restaurants.

Remarkably, for someone who grew up in West Cork, Bantry native Sinead was exposed to flavours from around the world at her mother Veronica’s kitchen table, a legacy from her parents’ days at sea early in their marriage.

Sinead Desmond

Sinead Desmond

Most Bantry locals will be familiar with the name Jerry Desmond, harbourmaster in Bantry for many years and Sinead’s father. Jerry started his career at sea working on international ships, bringing his new bride Veronica along for the trip. Bored with life above deck, Veronica spent much of her time in the galley with the mostly Indian chefs, where she became acquainted with spices and flavours unheard of back in West Cork. “Back in Ireland, mum passed her love of food onto me and is my biggest inspiration,” says Sinead today.

As a 16-year-old Sinead got her first job in the now closed Sheehan’s Café as a pot scrubber. The buzz of the kitchen convinced her to pursue a career as a chef and she embarked on a hotel catering course in the College of Commerce before honing her skills at Ballymaloe Cookery School in the late 90s.

Having served an apprenticeship in the Crawford Café, Sinead decided to travel to broaden her culinary horizons and stints in Belgium and Thailand amongst other places followed. She returned to spend the next 10 years at The Quay Coop in Cork, where she learned “how to create a vegetarian dish for a menu that is more than just an afterthought.”

After a decade in the Quay Coop, Sinead was ready for new adventures and spent three months on the high seas as a personal chef on The Starry Night, an 82’ yacht, before returning again to Cork, as a chef in Gallagher’s on McCurtain Street.

“After a life spent learning and travelling, I was ready to return home to West Cork,” says Sinead, “both to be closer to my family and to get the chance to work with 100 per cent West Cork produce. We are lucky to live in ‘Produce Heaven’, where the meat and vegetables are so good we don’t have to overdress it, in fact we want the flavours to come through. For example, right now I’m so excited to be ordering pork chops in the market which will be specially smoked for us.”

Restaurant manager Pat Murnane is as passionate as Sinead about putting a spotlight on West Cork produce and she is grateful for his support in putting together a menu that showcases the best quality meat that the region has to offer.

Willie Pa’s is open for food Wednesday – Sunday, 12.30pm – 9pm. Tel: 027 50392  Mobile: 087 7887565.

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13th April, 2018  ·  

An evening on the 'Balance of Feeling Good' by Clonakilty Gaa Club Health and Wellbeing Committee followed by Guest Speaker, Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy.

Paddy Duggan, former Principal of Clonakilty Community College, will be MC on the night, facilitating a discussion on getting the balance of feeling good.
Contributors on the night are Colm Sheehy, Conor Murray, David Lowney, Denis Murphy, Eoghan Deasy, Sean McEvoy, Thomas Clancy and Treasa O'Brien.
Topics covered will range from awareness and responsibility to yourself and others to the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
The evening is suitable for everyone aged 16 and over from players, members of the community, parents of young and adolescent children, etc.

This is a public event, free of charge and everyone is invited and very welcome to attend.
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12th April, 2018  ·  

The Cast of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ are on their way to the All-Ireland finals, having won 26 awards, including five best of Festivals, at the Amateur Drama League of Ireland annual three act festivals. The play ‘No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize Winning Author is directed by Jennifer Williams.

One last opportunity to view this multi award winning play at Skibbereen Town Hall, on Saturday 14th of April, before the finals.

Having met by chance in a pub, two aging writers continue a long night of drinking and reminiscing in a stately London home. As the night wears on, their conversation wanders through memories long forgotten or invented. Is their encounter real or a delusion? Are they strangers or do they share a past history? When unexpected guests intrude upon an increasingly surreal evening, the atmosphere quickly changes from friendly to threatening, and the encounter becomes a game of survival.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing

For more information please contact
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