Tipperary North Riding

May 3, 2013 by

We all pondered the meaning of “North Riding” while driving into Nenagh on a lovely sunny Saturday morning. It is used in Yorkshire in England as well and we spent a good few minutes trying to guess the origin of it.  I only remembered to look it up now and apparently it is found in a lot of Commonwealth countries.  It originates from an old Norse word meaning “thirdings” as in a third of the county divided for administrative purposes. Thirdings eventually became corrupted to riding in everyday usage.

We were in Tipperary for my father’s eightieth birthday.  It is a beautiful county with fertile land.  It is also remarkable for not being as spoiled as other counties in Ireland by ribbon development and horrendous bungalows littering the landscape.  

We stopped off in Oldfarm en route for a quick visit and a cup of real tea.  Dad got to see all the pigs and being a real animal lover thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a shame we couldn’t stay a bit longer as you always get a great hospitality from Margaret and Alfie.

Lots of curious bonbhs at Oldfarm

We were staying in Cloughjordan House, a lovely old country house surrounded by high walls and big trees.  We got a great welcome here and all twelve of us felt right at home in that important “kick your shoes off way”.  The only word to describe the food was superb.  All locally sourced and prepared simply to let the raw ingredients shine.  To my mind the only way to present food.

Cloughjordan House 

The breakfasts were sublime. Homemade granola, fruit compotes, porridge, the most delicious breads and freshly laid eggs from the hens with superb bacon, sausage and pudding.  Oh and the mushrooms – what was done to the mushrooms was almost sinful! We probably drove them mad asking for pot after pot of real tea having indulged in lots of red wine the previous evening at dinner, but they humoured us.

The dinner the previous evening was excellent as well. The food was again superb. I was especially impressed with the selection of freshly baked bread. We had planned to head up to the pub after but we ended up relaxing in the sitting room in front of a big fire.

Our personalised menu

We eventually moved on on Saturday morning into Nenagh for lunch.  Yes, after that breakfast we planned to go to Country Choice for lunch.  It was packed and I soon realised why.  The smell in the deli area was like stepping into the best deli in Italy.  Except they stock mostly Irish charcuterie and cheese.  It is a paradise for food lovers.  Lunch was really good with a huge selection of platters of pâté, cheeses, charcuterie, sandwiches and soup as well as many hot dish selections.  The service was really great as well.

We pottered off around Nenagh which is a very fine town.  It was a lovely day and it was a shame that the castle was not yet open for a wander around.  Apparently they are doing some work on it.

My charcuterie board at Country Choice
Nenagh Castle

That evening we had booked dinner in Brocka on the Water. Set just up from the shores of Lough Derg in a cosy wooden chalet type building with big leather couches and an open fire to peruse the handwritten menu (which was impossible to read.)  Choices made, we repaired to the dining room admiring Prince the peacock peering haughtily in the window at us.  The table was beautifully prepared and they had made a big effort to make the evening special.

Colourful table display at Brocka

While I was underwhelmed with the food there is no doubting the ingredients are local, fresh and well prepared.  However, the presentation is amateurish, the cost anything but!  Why do restaurants outside Dublin persist in charging Celtic Tiger prices?

Birr Castle courtyard cafe

On Sunday on our way home we stopped for a coffee and a sandwich in the cafe in Birr Castle.  I have to say that Birr is easily one of the most beautiful towns in Ireland with some superb, unspoilt Georgian architecture.  The cafe is excellent sourcing all it’s ingredients locally (listed out on a blackboard.)  However, I think they may have been training the mostly young staff and it was a comedy of errors with the manager running around like a flapping chicken and complete and utter chaos mixing up orders.  There were seven of them running around and into eachother, making for car crash viewing.

All in all it was a great weekend and special thanks to Sarah, Peter, Holly, Julie and Sam for being such lovely hosts and making us feel so welcome. 

Tags: Tipperary  Tipperary North Riding  Weekend breaks Irish food Georgian architecture  Country Choice Nenagh  Cloughjordan House  Birr Castle

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  1. Ha you may regret that 😉

  2. You were all most welcome! You'll have to come again!

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