Best day out
WINNER: The Burren Perfumery
Ralph Doyle escaped the world of IT to enjoy the summer of 1995 and ended up renting a cottage in the Burren in Co Clare. His landlady was Sadie Chowen, an Englishwoman and a perfumer then working for the Burren Perfumery. In a set-up worthy of a Jilly Cooper novel the couple fell for each other after Chowen fell off a horse and Doyle nursed her through her recuperation.
The Burren Perfumery had been going since 1972. Chowen took it over in 2001, selling her cottage to raise the funds. Together, the couple set about building it into a thriving, and divinely scented destination.
Eddie Shanahan was as much impressed by the staff's patience when dealing with garrulous customers as he was with the gorgeous, well-explained range, and the herb and flower garden outside. Everything is made onsite, using local ingredients such as meadowsweet, a native creamy white flower that says summer in Ireland. You can explore the garden, chat with the staff and, until the end of September, take time out in the tearooms where they serve delicious lunches and cakes.
While the tearoom is unstaffed from October onwards there is a kettle left for visitors to warm themselves up with a hot drop. A tray of homemade scones or biscuits is often left to accompany the tea break. The perfumery is all about engagement, says Shanahan. "A visit here will enrich your day."
The Burren Perfumery, Fahee North, Carron, Co Clare; 065 708 9102; burrenperfumery.com
Tinahely Farm Shop, Coolruss, Tinahely, Co Wicklow, tel: 087-816 8457, tinahelyfarmshop.com
Donkeys, miniature ponies, pot belly pigs, goats, Kerry cows, Dorset Horn sheep, chickens and a llama all add to the authentic nature of Tinahely Farm Shop. There's a tearoom serving homemade delights, an activity barn, essential for rainy day visits and even basket-making classes.