Waterford’s Deise delights

IrelandBy Paddy Murray
Waterford’s Deise delights

THE TEMPTATION to holiday in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, came after a great holiday in Wexford! That time, we went to Ardmore for the day and enjoyed it immensely.

And so it was inevitable that we would eventually take a house there, which we did through Ardmore Holiday Homes.

It was almost on the beach in a little complex of about 25 houses, most of which are now privately owned.

It was the perfect location, the beach metres away, the village a short stroll and an excellent restaurant and a top-class chipper within walking distance.

Of course, if you’re holidaying at home good weather helps. And bar the first day of our week-long stay, the weather was blissful. Blue skies, scorching heat, balmy evenings.

But even if the sun doesn’t shine on you, there is plenty to do in or around Ardmore.

Waterford is, in my mind, a kind of orphan county.

You will hear people – rightly – go on and on about how wonderful Wexford is and how beautiful Cork and Kerry and Clare are and how much fun Galway is and how stunning Mayo is and how Sligo is sporty and cultural and Donegal is, well, Donegal. People love the beaches of
Wicklow and Louth and Dublin has so much going for it as our capital city.

But when people talk about our coast, few mention Waterford – with the exception of the odd mention of Ardmore.

Dungarvan is beginning to buzz again after our recession. The waterfront has some really nice pubs and eating spots. The castle is there and right beside it, the splendid memorial to Waterford’s fallen in World War I.

Shops in the town are back to life, there is an abundance of restaurants, with The Tannery taking pride of place and nearby Merry’s Bar and Restaurant a very, very close second.

Just a little east of Dungarvan is the splendid Clonea Beach, one of many magnificent beaches along the Waterford coastline. From Dunmore East and Tramore all the way to Youghal there are beaches, many of them all but empty even in blazing sunshine.

We enjoyed Ardmore beach (the bit furthest from the village allows dogs) to the extent that we barbecued there one night and stayed relaxing until 10pm (before cleaning up).

But you could go to the superb Curragh beach which is off the Dungarvan Road, or any of Garrus, Kilfarrasy, Annestown, Boatstrand, Bonmahon, Stradbally,
Whiting Bay or Goat Island.

A day trip to Lismore is also worthwhile, and a visit to the Castle Gardens and gallery (the castle itself is a private residence) is a must.

But back to Ardmore.

We did indulge with a Michelin-starred meal in the splendid Cliff House Hotel. It is a performance and a meal with a view to die for. And the kiddies meal was, Charlotte told us, the best she ever tasted.

But in the village itself, the White Horses Restaurant justifies its reputation with excellent food in a wonderful atmosphere and great value.

The recently opened Shipmates chipper is also a fantastic place to eat, not least for breakfast. All-day queues (which are dealt with quickly and efficiently) are testament to how good it is.

By the way, you may get a smell of hormones in Ardmore in the summer! There seem to be endless little groups of teenage girls walking around, relatively closely followed by endless little groups of teenage boys. David Attenborough could make a fascinating documentary here.

There are two pubs in the village. But we chose to have a nice glass of wine most nights in the Brigid Shelly art gallery.

It’s a popular spot. There’s a really nice outdoor space to enjoy a glass of wine, a pavilion if it’s cooler and a clever open fire in an old washing machine drum. And you also have the art to admire and really
innovative souvenirs.

The Ardmore Pottery and Gallery is another lovely place to visit and there is art, craft, books and all sorts in this shop, one of those nominated for Shop of the Year.

Waterford is dripping with history… Ardmore itself was home to St Declan, who preached Christianity even before St Patrick arrived. Yet we don’t hear as much about him. Maybe he was modest, like Waterford itself! But there are many reminders of the Saint, not least his hermitage and well and probable burial place.

Ardmore also has a famous round tower and you could spend many hours just looking at the ancient gravestones which surround it, though one of my little group just wanted to hit the beach again.

There are summer camps all over for the kids, physical activities like kayaking, snorkelling, swimming and whatnot.

And while many people rent or own homes, there are caravan and camper van parks aplenty.

And of course the Round Tower Hotel is right in the village, catering for tourists in the traditional way.

A terrific place. We will be back.

And that’s not something we say every time.