Posts Tagged ‘Birr’

It’s on the bucket list.  In fact it has been on the bucket list for way too long.

I want to go up in a hot air balloon.  That is all.

I stood in awe for hours a couple of weeks ago as the Irish Hot Air Balloon Championships were held in Birr.  I was fascinated watching the weather along with them, waiting to hear if it was going to be a ‘Fly’ or ‘No Fly’ decision.  It was all quite technical but fascinating at the same time.

We were lucky that Monday evening was a beautiful evening, the winds were right, so it was a ‘FLY’ decision. We dropped everything and raced into Birr.

Aren’t they just magical?

There was a very enthusiastic chap who jumped out and parachuted back down!

And then I was lucky enough to be able to capture them on an early morning flight rom our kitchen.

Early morning flight over Tipperary countryside.


Early morning flight in the mist.

Someday that bucket list ‘tick’ will be marked.

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I was in Birr today, and popped into Purcell Auctioneers…. oh my the laugh, when I saw these.  This salt and pepper set is coming up in their auction next week.   Yes, Irish people will get this the best… Joe Dolan, salt and pepper pots!  For those not familiar, Joe Dolan was a musical show band legend here in Ireland, for years and years!

Joe Dolan salt and pepper set

Joe Dolan salt and pepper set

Oh, and yes, you can bid on line… and items can be shipped!!!

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Wouldn’t you just love to have this river run at the end of your back garden?

Birr Riverside Walk

Birr Riverside Walk

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I’ve said it before…. we like to cook here.  All very well really, except it sometimes spoils the eating out experience!

We’ve got so bad, that even when we are doing a delivery run, we bring lunch with us.  OK, this is partially due to my wheat intolerance.  BUT it is also to do with the incredibly horrible stuff that is dished up in so many places.  When we are doing deliveries, time is of the essence, so we generally don’t have time to go and have a nice sit down lunch.

Both of us have had such bad experiences of the grab a quick sandwich or salad thing, we’ve now taken to bringing our lunch!

AND it even goes further than that.

The choice of good places to eat around us is very poor! Over the years we’ve tried many places…. and lord, the standard is atrocious!

Portumna (our closest town) has one place we would consider ‘decent’ and that’s an Indian restaurant.

Roscrea has nowhere.

Nenagh has one, or two, but it is a bit of a drive.

Our favourite restaurant, is Brocka on the Water, but that is in the price range of ‘special occasion’ and not somewhere you would go to regularly, or at the drop of a hat.

My Dad was staying with us last week (he would be a regular eating out person at home in Malahide), so he asked if we could go out to dinner over the weekend.

Well, where to go?  Dad really wouldn’t go for Indian, so Portumna was out.

We opted instead to head to Birr, or more precisely, Riverstown on the outskirts of Birr.

The Riverbank Restaurant is set in a beautiful location – as the name suggests right on the river bank of the Little Brosna.  It is a small restaurant run by Declan Leonard.

The atmosphere there is always lovely, with a warm welcome on arrival, no matter how long it has been since your last visit.

The menu changes regularly. You won’t encounter any foams or frills here, no stars or stripes either, just good food cooked simply.

Declan tries out new wines for his list and is happy to recommend new ones that he has discovered.

The food is consistently good.  We’ve never had a bad meal there and last Friday was no exception.  Despite the obvious cut back on staff numbers and who can blame any restaurant in this climate trying to keep overheads to a minimum, our experience was a very pleasant one.

Duck terrine with salad

My duck terrine was lovely.

kangaroo starter

The Kangaroo Starter was also a big hit.

Medallion of Bison and Venison steak

The Medallion of Bison & Venison Steak was delicious.

Strawberry & Cream dessert

And Dad’s highlight was the home-made Strawberry & Cream dessert made on the premises and of which I tried a spoonful or two, and can verify it was very nice indeed!

So if you’re in the Birr area… make sure to stop by the Riverbank Restaurant.

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I know this is just such an American thing to do – write the annual letter to send to friends and relatives throughout the world with the Christmas card.  I hadn’t done so in many years and definitely had not planned to do so this year, but as time is rapidly running out and I still haven’t all the cards sent I thought this might be a solution and would also be more eco-friendly!

I cannot believe how disorganized I am for Christmas this year.  Normally with a week to go I would at least have my cards sent!  This year, I not only do not have them all sent, but I haven’t even got the cards yet!  Ordered, but not yet delivered!

Today we went to at least buy the Christmas Trees, and cannot believe it but no Christmas Trees on sale in Birr today.  Farmer Alfie is suggesting that the trees are all sold out, but I am presuming that they are perhaps only being sold at the weekend.  I am remaining optimistic that we will get trees at the weekend!  I refuse point blank to go the artificial route…

To update on this year…. it has been a rather mixed year.  Worked dried up for Alfie, so he changed careers and became Farmer Alfie – happy out with his pigs.  And then of course, there were the hens, turkeys and goats – there are more details of the antics with them throughout the blog.

I moved jobs to Nenagh and worked with Tipperary North County Enterprise Board until the end of August, and have been looking at various options since then.

The highlights of the year here at Oldfarm – we finally got our ‘stoop’ done.  The name varies from verandah to porch but I rather like the American ‘stoop’.  It started in June and now looks really well.  We’ve even put Christmas lights and a tree out there, so it is looking really well. Unfortunately, it was September before it was finished so we really haven’t got a chance to enjoy it that much.

It would have been nice to have it for the visit of friends, Valerie and Chris in April. Valerie and Chris were home on holiday from Australia and travelled for their first visit to Redwood with another friend Mary.  After a lovely dinner, and quite a few drinks, it seemed like a good idea to go and watch the stars from the very incomplete stoop.  So the outdoor heaters were fired up and we all wrapped up in layers of jackets and rugs and sat outside – I know the neighbours thought we were quite mad!

Other visitors this year included Siobhra and Olivier with their baby, Marc.  Then we had Bernadette and Philip visit.

All the family were here for Easter which was fun.  Our Easter Egg tree obliged with lots of Easter Eggs, and we even had an Easter Egg hunt this year.

I will give complete accounts of all these happenings and events as they happen throughout 2010.

To those who I haven’t sent Christmas Cards to – our apologies.  We are thinking of everyone, and wish you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful new year.

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Known to Gardai!

As I was trying to remember where I’d put something this morning, and pulling the place apart looking for it… I was reminded of the very first week we were here, and for some reason we had to go and sign some form or other at the local Garda Station.  As you all are probably aware, rural Garda Stations are seriously under threat – in fact, we now no longer have our own Garda Station in Lorrha. However, back then in 2003 we did have a part-time Garda Station.  In all the time I lived in Dublin, other than the Gardai I knew through diving, I can honestly say I never knew my local Garda, even when you consider the years that I was the key-holder for Clark’s house, and the number of late night/early morning alarm calls I answered.

Anyway, that first week as you can imagine we were busy unpacking boxes when I suddenly remembered that we needed to sign this form.  At the time the station was only open for a couple of hours on certain days of the week.  And, of course, it was 5 minutes to closing time when I remembered we had this job to do.  We both ran out and jumped into car.  (I will admit we were rather scruffy looking!)  Get to Garda Station and explain the reason for our visit…. we were asked for identification and verification of who we were… and then received a lecture for not having a driving licence with us as “it is an offence to drive a vehicle without having your licence”!  However, it was OK for us to get back into car, drive the 2 miles back to the house and come back with the said licence!  On our return… we were once again quizzed…. Alfie was behind me as we were quizzed, I was afraid to turn around at look at his face.  One of the questions was “you both live in the same house and yet your surnames are different!”  For those of you who know Alfie you can imagine what his face must have been like!  We managed to sign the form, and left the poor Garda to work out how you can live in a house with two different surnames!

A couple of months later, I had to renew the tax on my car, and pulled the house apart to find the tax book.  At this stage I think we still had boxes that weren’t unpacked.  I know there were boxes not unpacked coz we still have boxes of books that haven’t been unpacked!  Despite the fact that I had diligently labelled all boxes as to what their contents were, no matter where I looked I could not find the tax book.  So being the good person I am I completed the form for the renewal, wrote a nice letter explaining the situation to the car tax people telling them that I had lost my tax book in a house move.  Seems perfectly plausible!  BUT you have to get the form and letter stamped at a Garda Station!  So this time, I thought I’d go to the Garda Station in Birr which would be like the HQ for Lorrha.  Guess who was the Garda on duty – yes, my old friend!  I decided to keep it simple and just ask him to stamp the form.  Oh no, he had to read through everything and then started on at me that I couldn’t put on the form that my tax book was lost in a house move!  I am standing there looking at this guy, and wondering is he going to give me an idea as to what I should say….  No, he just kept arguing that I couldn’t say this!  Thankfully, for somewhere in the depths of the Garda Station (I couldn’t see who was even speaking) a voice boomed out “for God’s sake sign the form for the woman – it’s easily known you’ve never moved house! Hasn’t the woman been through enough!”  It turned out to be the Sergeant who had moved house and knew the chaos that that involves!

Since those first few months we have had 2 different local Garda based in the village and have gotten to know them.  Only last year, when we were going visiting to Cadamstown on a dark, wet, winter’s evening, we came upon a Garda Checkpoint and were greeted with “Hi there Alfie and Margaret” – even though we couldn’t see the Garda’s face….

Does all this now mean we ‘are known to Gardai’.  I wonder every time I hear those news reports!!!!

BTW thank you to all who’ve left such nice comments…. it is great to get them – keep them coming, please!

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The Beginning

As I have started this, I suppose I shouldn’t presume that only those who know us will be reading this blog!  Perhaps there will be complete strangers reading and will wonder what it is all about!

For those who don’t know the story….

In June 2003, we were running a rather successful business in Dublin, but then out of the blue the landlord pulled the plug on our lease and we had to move out of the premises rather promptly.  Unfortunately, try as we might we had grown the business to such an extent that it was not possible to operate from home, and at that stage rents and the infamous ‘key money’ to relocate were way out of our bracket.

So what do you do??

Well, looking back perhaps we were mad.  However, we didn’t fancy starting to work for someone else… start commuting into Dublin city centre.  So, rather than sit at home and cry, we decided to relocate!  We literally took a pen and piece of string and drew a circle of a 2 hour journey from Dublin and started to search for a new home. Each of us, of course, had different ‘must haves’ in the search for our new home, and of course, compromises, eventually had to be made! 

We started in Cavan, and almost literally followed the Shannon down through the country.  Every Monday (which was our day off at the time) we took off and looked at new properties and different counties.  It was at the end of a long, tiring Monday house-hunting that we stopped in Birr – had a row – and stormed off in different directions each heading to different estate agents.  It was Alfie who stopped at the agent, that had this property for sale.  We came and visited the house over the next few days.  

It is amazing how the minute we both walked into this house we knew this was the one.  Naturally there were certain things that we didn’t like, but it had such a nice ‘feel’ these things were soon overcome.

More later…

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