Ireland Day 3: Jameson, Ballymaloe and Cork

We begin our last morning by waking up and eating breakfast at 7:00am. When load up the motor coach and make our way three hours over to the Middleton Jameson Distillery. On the way, Doris is so kind and gives us details on famous irish writers and even reads us a beautiful short story from Oscar Wild – The Nightengale and the Rose.

Our first stop today is at 11:30am a tour of the Jameson Distillery. This was a gorgeous tour of the original distillery which is right next to the current distillery, which distributes all of the Jameson spirits that exist all over the world today. We enjoyed a unique tasting in which we compared the Jameson Whiskey to an American whiskey and scotch whiskey. We also get one free drink with our tour so I chose a whiskey ginger and lime drink which was far too delicious and we sip up before buying last minute treasures in the gift shop. Another unique factor of the Jameson whiskey is that you are even able to bottle your own whiskey and have the bottle engraved to take home for yourself or as a personalized gift.

We drive 20-minutes away in route to Ballymaloe House for a group lunch. On the way, we pass luscious, thick, green pastures with sheep and clean, white dairy cows grazing. We see local farmers picking wild berries alongside the road, accompanied by a little jack russel terrier.

Ballymaloe House is a family run country house hotel and restaurant on 300 acres of farmland located in beautiful East Cork countryside, Southern Ireland. Internationally recognised as the birthplace of modern Irish cuisine.

At Ballymaloe House, we enjoy a splendid lunch of east ferry chicken with tarragan cream, garlic cabbage, ballycotton potatoes, and carrots vichy. Paired with a good glass of wine, we finish our meal with a sampling of desserts, fresh fruit, mousse, cake, and tea/coffee. With a beautiful and quiet back terrace, we leisurely enjoy the rest of our drinks or shop in the gift shop, before heading 20-minutes down the street to Ballymaloe Cooking School and Gardens.

At the school, we are lead by one of the families children – Toby Allen, on a private tour of the grounds. Here we learn that all the food grown on the property is organic, with 7 full-time people there maintaining the gardens. At the school, they teach approximately 62 students per course, with one teacher for every 6 students. In the classes, they will see 8 dishes demonstrated and will have to pick two of them to cook on their own. Very unique experience!

We visit the chicken coup in which 600 hens roam the premises, producing around 450 eggs each day, all of which get used at the cooking school.

Next is the herb garden in which small beds of every type of herb, leaf, and edible flower is grown, surrounded by a beautifully designed box hedge. We taste one of the flowers used in salads there at the school before making our way over to The Shell House.

The family wanted to design their own ‘shell house’ after taking inspiration after Spain’s Alhambra Palace. Gazing upwards to the ceiling, one notices how scallops and mussels are laid in multi-coloured layers, increasing in size to give the illusion of more light. Every shell used in the roof once encased a mussel or scallop that was consumed at Ballymaloe House or at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Next, we walk back to The Glasshouses. Here we witness a tidy and vast array of vegetables, ranging from tomatoes, lettuce, kale, pumpkins hanging from vines, cucumbers and so much more! Toby lets us pick cucumbers and tomatoes right off the vine to eat and they are packed with flavor and nutrients!

We walk back towards the school, and are met by two pigs around the back of the house who happily help eat up all the compost and unwanted items leftover from the gardens.

We drive 45-minutes to the town of Cork, in which we are to stay the following two nights. We check into our hotel and six of us walk across the river to a restaurant – Cask. Here we enjoy a delightful evening out on the patio, where a cool breeze, jazz music and warm heaters over our table give us a relaxing ambiance to eat a light dinner. Tonight, we feast on lamb meatballs, brazed pork and ribs.

Tomorrow we venture to the famous Blarney Castle to kiss the blarney stone!

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