Kenmare and Molise

Posted on: 10th September, 2015

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

Kinsale, the starting point or finishing line for the Wild Atlantic Way — depending on which way you are attempting it, and Kenmare, just a few kilometres over the West Cork border into Kerry are two of my favourite Irish towns. Both have stunning waterside settings and attractive town centres with more than their share of good restaurants, shops and pubs.

Both towns are also steeped in fascinating history.

I got to know Kenmare a bit better on a recent visit there for a birthday celebration. What tipped the balance in favour of Kenmare is that our favourite restaurant over recent years, Packie’s, is located right in the middle of the town on Henry Street. The menu has not changed much over the years — why should it when it is so good? I had the signature Roasted Cod in Lemon, which is divine. My dining companion had Dover Sole stuffed with Baby Prawns. Because it was a typical August night in Ireland, in other words wet and cool, red appealed more than white, and we chose a lovely reasonably priced Rioja Muriel, which actually went really well with the fish dishes, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your wine and food matching.

We stayed in Shelburne Lodge run by the former chef and current owner of Packie’s, Maura Foley, and her husband Tom. They make gracious hosts, the Lodge is well located and a great example of an old (Georgian) residence with modern facilities. The breakfast was exceptionally good. For an American, I was fascinated to learn that the building belonged to Lord Shelburne, Prime Minister of Great Britain for a short period and famous for negotiating the Treaty of Paris ending the American War of Independence. He was subsequently popular with the famous American independence leaders but less so with the British populace who promptly voted him out of office. The same Lord Shelburne commissioned the original design of modern-day Kenmare.

We couldn’t resist visiting The Park, one of Ireland’s most famous hotels while in the town. It is owned and run by the celebrity Brennan brothers.

We had drinks in the lovely piano bar and I enjoyed perusing the extensive (and expensive) wine list, stopping short of ordering the Chateau Petrus at around €3,000. Our night was made when Francis himself waltzed through the bar.

One more attraction Kenmare offers is a genuinely independent wine shop, Eugene’s, run by the friendly and extremely knowledgeable Alain Bras who selects all his wines, (mostly French) while engaged on his extensive wine travels. Alain recommended a gorgeous red from one of the least known of the twenty Italian wine regions. Molise is a small mountainous area well off the beaten tourist track and just south of the much more famous Montepulciano d’Abruzzo growing area. Lonely Planet describes Molise as ‘one of Italy’s forgotten regions’. However, aside from having the potential to be one of the up and coming wine regions, Molise boasts a wild national park complete with wolves and bears, a pretty seacoast town, Termoli, a small Albanian enclave of villages, and Saepinum, one of the best preserved Roman sites. Finally an important Palaeolithic site was only just discovered in 1978.

A final treat was the short drive back from Kerry to West Cork, travelling up through the famous Druid’s View in Bonane between the Ring of Kerry and the Beara Peninsula, a truly spectacular experience.

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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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9th April, 2018  ·  

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