Back in August 2013 team Irish Design Shop decided to head west for a bit of an adventure. After a quick trip to Westport to try out the infamous Greenway route on our bikes, we headed north to Co. Sligo.
It was in Strandhill where we set down to visit the lovely folk at Shell’s café. Facing the amazing beach, which is the perfect haven for surfing enthusiasts, Shells not only serves up the most delicious food all day long, but also houses a small gift shop selling everything from homemade brown bread to hand-made jewellery and homewares.
Jane and Myles opened Shells back in March 2010 having travelled the world to find the ideal spot to settle down, with the goal to create a special place for people to come and eat simple hearty food after a long day on the waves. On arrival to Strandhill you may also pass their beautiful home which is an extended old cottage, with concrete floor and countertops, the kitchen is really at the centre of this small but perfectly formed home. We were lucky enough to be invited to a small barbeque with a wonderfully diverse guest list. It was there that we met the owners of Voya Seaweed baths.
The highlight of the trip was a hike up Knocknarea mountain to see the burial mound of the legendary Queen Maeve. For those of you who don’t know the the story behind this celtic queen allow me to give you a brief outline:
There is the mythological Queen Maeve and a real counterpart whose stories appear to overlap. The real-life Meave was a very ambitious woman, born in Rathcroghan Co. Roscommon, daughter of the King of Connacht. When her father died and her sister Clothra was named Queen she murder her pregnant sister in order to take the throne by force. Maeve married several times, most famously to Conor, King of Ulster, and apparently lived to 120 when she was eventually murdered by her sister’s son. Her legend was used to inspire warriors through the ages, when women were allowed to partake in battles.
When we visited the cairn up on Knocknarea a creepy dense mist came in from the sea (the ghost of Queen Maeve perhaps?!)
The final morning of our trip we paid a visit to the aforementioned Voya seaweed baths to rid our bodies of all of the alcohol related toxins we had forced upon ourselves. Not knowing what to expect from it at all, I was totally amazed, and really can't recommend it enough!
On the route home we dropped in to visit Elizabeth who makes the amazing “Salt of the Earth” plywood jewellery we sell in store. She is currently “minding” in her (architect) uncle’s incredible home just outside Strandhill, with the most amazing views of the beach. You couldnt choose a more inspiring spot to create from.
One more stop before the long journey back to Dublin. We called in to Matt Jones, woodturner in the sleepy village of Riverstown, to have a nose around and pick up an order of twig pots. Matt has his home and workshop just behind the local parish hall. The workshop is kitted out with a variety of wood-turning lathes and chisels that we spent the afternoon coveting. Here he creates the most incredible hand turned bowls and vessels.
Our highlights and tips for a trip West:
- A cycle along the Greenway (we went from Mulranny to Achill)
- A hike up Knocknarea to see Queen Maeve’s tomb.
- Visit Dolly’s cottage (a 200 yr old preserved thatched cottage)
- Dinner or Brunch in Shell’s café (we tried both).
- Take a seaweed bath at Voya
- Surfing in Strandhill of course!