Into the Blue…

In this series on Ireland’s colourful buildings, we started off with purple and pink and proceeded through the colour wheel to the oranges and yellows and now we have arrived back on the cool side of the spectrum – the blues and greens. The Diva Cafe in Ballinspittle (above) has black trim that does nothing to tone down its exuberance, and it marries beautifully with the purple and pinks beside it, which were highlighted in our first post on this series.

We left off the last post with a couple of lime greens, so here’s another, from Kinsale (above) to get us back in the swing of things.

A bright green and a blue green are a great combination beside the sea – this house is at Dunmanus, on The Mizen

Blues and greens are the colours of the sky and the fields, so they don’t pop as much as the pinks and the oranges. In fact they can be quite subtle, when used in tones that blend in with their surroundings.

I love these two farmhouses, the first near Mount Kidd and the second near Coppeen

But in village streets, and especially when combined with the other colours of the streetscape, they can be as cheerful and arresting as the stronger hues around them.

Eyeries (top) and Kenmare (bottom)

There are shades of blue and green that people argue over – one will call it blue and another green.

The fabulous Bridge House in Skibbereen – blue or green?

Those are the teals, ceruleans and turquoises, and St Patrick’s Blue, which is the colour of the Aer Lingus uniforms.

Finn’s Table in Kinsale, La Jolie Brise in Baltimore and a lovely brick and teal combo in North Cork

O’Sullivan’s butcher shop in Ballydehob has been closed for years, but it still retails its welcoming colours and graphics

True blues vary from the strong dark ultramarines and navy blues through the denims, duck eggs, periwinkles, sky blues and on to the paler shades and baby blues.

The first house is in Baltimore, the one underneath it was glimpsed somewhere on our travels

Blue matches well with other colours and is often used in combination. Some of the nicest buildings we’ve seen use blue with another colour to great effect.

Three wonderful buildings that use blue in combination with orange tones – a bank in Youghal, a hardware store in Bantry and our own Budd’s Restaurant in Ballydehob (with Rosies pub for good measure)

Yellow trim is a tried and true favourite
It might be one of the smallest houses I’ve seen, but it stands out when painted in blue
Blues and greens in Kilbrittain 
This one near Castle Donovan uses a strong blue cleverly as both a main and a trim colour

I’ve decided to end this series with this photograph of two side-by-side buildings in Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula.  The juxtaposition of the strong green and the vivid pink proves that when it comes to colour, anything can work!

Body and Soul

The Beara Peninsula

The Beara Peninsula

Last week I promised you an account of our time on the Beara Peninsula – it’s the third of the West Cork Peninsulas (shared with County Kerry) and the most remote. To the north is the Iveragh Peninsula, better known as the Ring of Kerry, and to the south is the Sheep’s Head.

OK, so it does rain occasionally

OK, so it does rain occasionally

Readers have teased me in the past about doctoring my photographs or carefully choosing only those that show blue sky. After all, everyone knows that it rains all the time in Ireland. While I haven’t done any doctoring, or over-careful selecting (honest!) – even I have to admit that yes, it does rain in Ireland and the first day of our trip was pretty much a washout. (In fairness, like, we have devoted much bandwidth to talk of the variable weather we encounter here – cast an eye back over here, here and here.)

Manning's Emporium - the counter

Manning’s Emporium – the counter

Despite the weather, we managed to have a truly marvellous first day on our mini-break: it was a delight for the body and for the soul. First the body part – a stop in the famous Manning’s Emporium in Ballylickey. In the Manning family for 70 years and under the guidance of Val Manning, this little shop turned from a post office and grocery store into a mecca for food lovers, with wines, cheeses, meats and baked goods to die for. Val’s niece and her husband, Laura and Andrew Heath, have joined the business, introduced a new hot menu and expanded the range of foodie items. I’ve never yet left empty handed and, after a cappuccino and scone, we browsed the shelves and chose some excellent aged cheddar, a jar of their own chutney, and some locally made and heavenly-scented soap. The place was heaving, and Val himself was chatting sociably with everyone – always a bonus to enjoy a laugh with him.

Now for the soul! We had booked two tickets for that afternoon to the Ahabeg Vista Concert Series, on the advice of a friend. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but what we experienced took our breath away. David Syme, a Juilliard-trained and internationally acclaimed American concert pianist has made his home on the Beara, between Adrigole and Castletownbere, and every Sunday afternoon in the summer he gives a concert in his living room.

David Syme

David Syme

With Bantry Bay as the backdrop (except we couldn’t see it on this occasion), he played first a long and complex piece, Schumann’s Carnaval. Although I am no pianist even I could see the technical prowess demanded by the 22 short movements. David explained it to us, and even identified some of the motifs as he was playing. He took requests from the audience (ours was Clair de Lune) and played pieces by Beethoven, Liszt, Gershwin and Ravel. But then he delighted us with Carolan’s Concerto, Elton John’s Candle in the Wind and finally Danny Boy, in honour of Maureen O’Hara. We learned that Maureen, a long-time resident of Glengarriff, is to be honoured with a special Oscar next year – so watch out for that next February 22nd! David’s wife, Suzanne, puts on an amazing spread during the interval. To get a sense of what we encountered, watch the RTE Nationwide program devoted to this concert series.

This was only our first day and we encountered fog and drizzle everywhere. But it didn’t matter – when you find such nourishment for the body and the soul, who cares about the weather! I will write more about the Beara in a future post: meanwhile, check out Robert’s account of an unexpected discovery in Eyries.