AN FEAR GORTA TEA AND GARDEN ROOMS

by Ciaran Burke

THE VIEW TO THE ATLANTIC

It is not unusual for a public garden to have a good coffee shop or restaurant, less usual is for a restaurant to have a good public garden. An Fear Gorta (The Hungry Man) Tea and Garden Rooms in the Atlantic coast town of Ballyvaughan in Co. Clare is one such exception. Located right on the harbour, the picturesque building not only offers a great selection of cakes but it has a delightful cottage style garden in which to enjoy your food when the weather is good, or just to admire from the warm room or conservatory on a wet day.

AN FEAR GORTA - TEA ROOMS ENTRANCE

Katherine O’Donoghue started the business in 1981,  the property had had a complete refurbishment. It was once a Coast Guard’s building and dates back to the 1790’s. Today it is a cosy and welcoming tea rooms which are run by her daughter Jane. Katherine has retired and last year she started a course in garden design, I was her tutor on the RHS course which I held for The Garden School. On the last day of the course she reminded me that I must drop in to see her garden and visit the Tea Rooms if ever I was in the area. The area, Ballyvaughan, is in County Clare and is situated in the Burren, an area of scientific interest and well known to geologists, botanists, gardeners and lovers of nature. The Burren features large areas of limestone pavements and is home to plant species otherwise found in Arctic and Eruropean Alpine habitats. Side by side Dryas octopetela and Geranium sanguineum grow and flower in early summer, accompanied by orchids and other interesting flora.

LIMESTONE PAVEMENT, BURREN, CO. CLARE

My trip to the Burren with my wife Hanna, was not to admire the wild flowers but to visit a private garden, Caher Bridge Garden in Fanore. Ballyvaughan is about two hours drive from our home in Co. Mayo, the perfect distance for a coffee or tea break. We left our garden in lovely sunshine only to see the cloud increasing as we travelled south. As we passed galway the rain started to bucket down and when we arrived at the tea rooms it was lashing rain. We ran quickly inside and we were welcomed by the smiling staff and Katherine’s daughter Jane. There was also a roaring fire in the stove, such are Irish summers, fires are often needed. We ordered our drinks and our eyes hungrily tasted each of the cakes as a young lady explained about each one, we both went for the damson and almond cake.

RANGE OF CAKES

AN FEAR GORTA TEA ROOMS -INTERIOR

We sat on the comfortable sofa and admired the tastefully decorated premises, full of character and charm. We finished our cake and looked out at the garden from the conservatory, the rain had eased a little. Katherine was not there but she had left instructions with jane to show us where to go and we went for a walk in the rain and admired her gardening work. A large vegetable patch with bright orange calendula flowers that beamed with warmth even beneath the grey wet skies was evidence that Katherine has been far from idle in her retirement.  White daisies of feverfew mingled with the vegetables growing in raised beds made from local stone. Clematis flowers dripped in the rain as we admired the garden, charmed by the atmosphere.

CALENDULA OFFICINALIS FLOWER

The rain started heavy again, we returned to the dry refuge of the conservatory, from here we could admire the view of the garden and dream of a dry day in which we could sip a drink, nibble a cake and soak in the prettiness of the cottage garden instead of the rain.Above our heads a pink passion flower bloomed, pots of plants along by the windows were further evidence of katherine’s gardening obsession. In these days of mulit-store franchises it is refreshing to find an establishment with personality, individuality, warmth and charm. Not to mention a pretty garden, delicious cakes and friendly people. We will return, rain or shine.

VIEW FROM CONSERVATORY OF BACK GARDEN SEATING AREA

 

The rain started heavy again, we returned to the dry refuge of the conservatory, from here we could admire the view of the garden and dream of a dry day in which we could sip a drink, nibble a cake and soak in the prettiness of the cottage garden instead of the rain.Above our heads a pink passion flower bloomed, pots of plants along by the windows were further evidence of katherine’s gardening obsession. In these days of mulit-store franchises it is refreshing to find an establishment with personality, individuality, warmth and charm. Not to mention a pretty garden, delicious cakes and friendly people. We will return, rain or shine.

An Fear Gorta (Tea & Garden Rooms)
Ballyvaughan Co Clare
Tel:+353 (0)65 707 7157

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One Comment to “AN FEAR GORTA TEA AND GARDEN ROOMS”

  1. You’ve just made me want to visit the Burren even more than I already did. Such a weird landscape and unique flora, but I didn’t realise there was damson and almond cake too!

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