A local gem in Carna, Connemara…A little powerhouse of flavor…

Don’t be fooled by this tiny building.  Its a powerhouse of flavor.  The finest takeaway in Connemara or perhaps even in Ireland, this tiny building offers outstanding fresh-caught seafood, fish and chips and many other items.  See menu below.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 

“The most popular sport in Ireland is Gaelic football, followed by
Hurling. Both sports are native to Ireland. Collectively – along with Gaelic
handball, rounders, and others – the sports are known as the Gaelic games, under
the aegis of the Gaelic Athletic Association.”

________________________________________



When I had fresh-caught hake ready to cook for dinner, Tom decided he’d like to return to O’Flaherty’s Takeaway in Carna for fish and chips.  I’d prefer not to cook this dish for him since it requires a deep fryer and lots of vegetable oil which we don’t use or have on hand.  Plus, it’s messy.

Located at the Carna edge of town, this spot offers an extensive menu with fantastic flavors, cooked to order.

We left the house at 1545 hours, 3:45 pm, to make the 20-minute drive to the small town of Carna.  The fantastic little takeaway restaurant opens at 1300 hours, 1:00 pm and later on other days.  It’s a great idea to check online to see if O’Flaherty’s is opened since opening hours may vary and they close during the winter months with less tourist.

The tinfoil packet contains non-breaded calamari for me.  This thriving business, owned by Theresa and John O’Flaherty, (John, the fish guy) is a must-visit when in the Connemara area. 

But, believe me, it’s worth the effort, the 30 seconds it takes to check online or call to confirm they are open, especially as the summer season ends.  They can be reached at 087 316 2444.

Freshly prepped ingredients may be added to certain menu options.  Theresa makes the tangiest, best-tasting tartar sauce I’ve ever had.

Please see this map for easy directions to O’Flaherty’s from anywhere in Connemara.  With all the excellent reviews they’ve had, many tourists are inspired to make the drive, regardless of how far away they’re located.

Although the cooking area is small, it’s kept meticulously clean.

We knew John, as our weekly “fish guy” who stops by the house weekly with his truck filled and chilled with the fresh local daily catch.  There are many options and I’ve never had a problem deciding on what to purchase. 

John’s visits have inspired me to try types of fish I’ve never tried in the past and have added to our Irish experience.  See this post here when we included a photo of John and his weekly visits.

The daily menu changes based on the availability of fresh fish John’s brought in for the day.

As mentioned in the past, Tom’s not a huge fish enthusiast. But he can’t get enough of fish and chips, especially those from O’Flaherty’s.  He’s often ordered this meal in many locations we’ve visited throughout the world but only O’Flaherty’s and at Namale, Tony Robbins Resort and Spa in Fiji in 2015, are memorable.  See this link here for that meal.

There are plenty of delicious non-fish items for those who accompany a fish lover that longs to try the seafood options.

I was literally drooling on the ride back to our holiday home as he ate the sizeable portion of chips (fries) from a sturdy cardboard cone container.  He enjoyed them so much, he had to go out to the rental car this morning to wash the steering wheel. But, I never tasted one, nor have I eaten a single chip in almost eight years.  It’s best not to.

Tom always orders the fish and chips.  He can choose the type of fish he’d like as shown on the daily menu.  The fish is at the bottom of this sturdy cardboard container.
Theresa, John’s lovely wife was friendly and welcoming. We chatted about the restaurant, our travels and raved about John for the good service he’s provided since we arrived in Glinsce on May 11th.  We gave her a business card suggesting she check out our site later today after we’ve uploaded this story.

Tom’s fish and chips.  I gave him my chips which he ate in the car on the ride back to the house.  Piglet.

The restaurant was ultra-clean, the ingredients and fish fresh and ready for the day’s requested items and the location conveniently located at the southeastern edge of the town of Carna.

My grilled calamari and hake sauteed in garlic, olive oil, and butter.  Delicious!!!

Once back at home with the hot food, we prepared our plates.  Earlier in the day, I’d made a new favorite vegetable side, sauteed shredded cabbage with onions and garlic.  Since we’re grocery shopping today, we were out of green vegetables, which surely would have made my plate more pleasing to the eye.

Theresa and John have five or six friendly, adorable dogs hanging out in the backyard.

But the taste?  Over the top…wonderful!  I can’t wait to return a time or two before we depart on August 8th, a mere 20 days from today.


O’Flaherty’s Restaurant is a special spot,  big on charm, local history and some of the finest food in the land…add the two warm and friendly hosts and it’s absolutely irresistible.  These types of experiences leave us with memories emblazoned in our minds forever.

We not only got a “food-fix” but also a “puppy fix” while visiting.

Have an enriching day and evening.

___________________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, July 19, 2018:
The gestation period for African zebras is typically 13 months.  For more zebra photos on Zebra Day, please click here.

An evening in a traditional Irish pub…Will this be our standard Saturday night dining experience?…Tomorrow, Part 2*…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…

On the way to the pub, we stopped for a photo of this which I believe is some type of pheasant.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”St.
Patrick’s Day is celebrated grandly in Ireland. People eat traditional Irish food
which includes beer, pink bacon, and savory chicken.



*Part 2…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…will continue in tomorrow’s post.  


Today, in order to break up the seriousness of Irish history, we are excited to share our first night in a traditional Irish pub with excellent meals options. The atmosphere is delightful, the staff friendly and helpful and the ambiance of patrons stopping in for an ale and a chat depicts the image I had in mind.

 
The patio at Tigh Mheaic.  We commented that we doubt diners would sit outdoors in such cool weather even when the weather warms up by a few degrees during the slightly warmer summer months. 

The last time we were in a traditional Irish pub was while on a cruise from Harwich, England to Boston, Massachusetts (USA) which had a few ports of call in Ireland along the way.


At that time in September 2014, we’d met several couples onboard and eight of us took a van from the ship to the town to check out a few pubs and shops.  For photos on this port of call visit, please click here.  It was on that cruise that we visited the Blarney Castle.  


Tom had previously kissed the “Blarney Stone” during his two previous visits to Ireland before we met, once with a girlfriend at the time and the second time with his dear mom, Mary Lyman who passed away in 2008, months from her 99th birthday.  When we were there in 2014 we didn’t kiss the stone when we’d read that mischief-makers peed on it after dark.  

Note the vines growing on the outside of their building.  Quite impressive.

Tom took his all of his accrued vacation time, 28 days, to take his mother to the Vatican to see the Pope, tour Italy to end up touring Ireland based on their strong Irish history.  It was this story that made me fall in love with him.  


I figured any son who’d use his entire year’s vacation to take his mother (just prior to her going totally blind) to fulfill her dreams was definitely my kind of man.  He humbly told me this story on our first date in June 1991, when I’d invited him to my home for dinner. 


He hated the food I’d made but he didn’t complain at the time: grilled Cajun swordfish, grilled baby asparagus, and couscous…none of which he eats. He didn’t care for the Cabernet Sauvignon I served since he’s not a wine drinker.  He did enjoy the Creme Brulee I’d made for dessert.

Hummm…we’ve seen this sign at locations throughout the world.

But, I was entrenched in the story of taking his mother to see the Pope and visit Ireland.  I realize I’ve told this story in a previous post.  However, after 2,479 posts as of today, it’s easy for me to tell a story I’ve told in the past.  

When I do retell a story in a post, I’m always aware its a repeated story but I also realize we always have a flow of new readers from all over the world that may not have seen the previous story.

Last night’s drinks and dinner at Fáilte go Tigh Mheaic, which the locals shorten to Tigh Mheaic.  The pronunciation of this name is tricky. Next time, we’ll ask for clarification.  The Irish language is exceedingly difficult for us foreigners to grasp including pronunciation and meanings.

The design and decor of the bar depict exactly what one would envision for a small town pub in Ireland.

As I am writing today’s post with Irish news on the TV in the background, a news story that unfolded was how the audience for the traditional Irish pub is going by the wayside.  These pubs used to be packed with heavy drinkers and loads of merriment and conversation, on occasion rowdy behavior.


The young generation of today has little interest in hanging out in a bar.  Instead, they spend time in more sophisticated nightclubs packed with people their own age.  


Us, old timers, easily recall years of great times we had hanging out in a bar, meeting people and at times, developing romantic relationships, as was the case with Tom and I…we met in a bar in Bloomington, Minnesota, 28 years ago.

Eventually, we moved into the dining room to dine.

For the locals, there may still be a few diehards, who stop at a pub after work or in the evening but they are definitely not as prevalent as they were in the past.
My vision of dozens of people clamoring at the bar, engaged in lively chatter, may not be a reality after all, especially in this low population area.


The huge entire area of Connemara only has a total population of 32,000.  Carna, where the bar/restaurant has a population of only.  From this site: “There are currently 178 people living in Carna Village but there are 1,786 people living in the townlands around Carna and the Iorras Aithneach area. The population dramatically dropped from the previous average of 8000 before the Great Famine.”


With this low population and the risk of causing injury or death on the narrow winding roads to oneself and to others, excessive drinking makes no sense at all in this area or any area for that matter.  Surely, this fact, over the years has added to the lack of interest by the locals and tourists in “barhopping” or in “hanging out” at one location.

This taxidermy which we’re not fond of in general reminded us of the antelope heads at Jabula Lodge, our favorite restaurant in Marloth Park.

Speaking of drinking, last night for the first time in 3½ months I had two glasses of an excellent Malbec.  Of course, after not drinking for so long, I felt a little tipsy but I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious wine.


Nonetheless, we had a lovely evening. After a while, we left the bar to enter the adjacent dining room to order our dinner. The food was fresh and filled with local flavor.  We both had grilled scallops, Tom’s with salad, chips (fries) and mine with veg and salad.  Tom gave me his salad as he often does.


The bill was much higher than we’re used to after living in South Africa for 15 months.  Our bill before the tip was Euro 89.03, US 99.73.  Had I not ordered the entire bottle of wine, the bill would have been about Euro 78, US 87.41, by ordering just the two glasses separately.  I won’t do this again.  Plus, Tom left a cash tip of Euro 15, US $16.81, making our total for the evening Euro 104.50, US $117.06. We aren’t thrilled paying this much to dine out once a week.

We thought there’s be entertainment at this small stage but none started while we were there.  A handcrafted sailboat replica occupies the space between stage performances.

We brought home the remainder of the bottle with more than half remaining.  According to this site, a typical bottle of wine contains five glasses at 150 ml, 5 ounces each.  For my first wine since the cardiac bypass surgery, I wanted to make sure I controlled the size of my servings which in some locations, they pour too much, more than I’d want.


Today, cool and cloudy, we’ll stay put, make a nice Sunday dinner and settle back doing a “bunch of nothing” which, from time to time, is quite enjoyable.


May you do the same today.

  _________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2018:

The view from the restaurant, aptly named, Aamazing River View located in Marloth Park.  For more photos, please click here.