| Treasures of Ireland:
A Donnybrook of a Feast
Story and photos by Tom Weber
ago, in a small village along the high road just outside Dublin, a two-week-long
event took place annually in late August that captured the attention
of Ireland and beyond, but for all the wrong reasons.
Horse and livestock traders, fortune tellers,
wrestlers, bare-knuckle boxers, dancers, performers, musicians, magicians
and hawkers selling just about every kind of regional food, drink and
elixir, were drawn together for one of the rowdiest, noisiest festivals
in all the land: the Donnybrook Fair.
Noted primarily for its non-stop, high
decibel levels, it was the legendary, whiskey-fueled, after-dark brawls
involving sticks and fists that eventually signaled the demise of the
fair, leaving behind in its riotous wake a word that lives on to this
day in the English lexicon: donnybrook.
Under the cloak of darkness and sans shillelaghs
and bruised knuckles, the "band of merry media," 18 travel
writers and photographers invited by Insight
Vacations (Insight) to sample its Treasures of Ireland
journey, takes its place around the table to enjoy a riot of traditional
Irish fare at O'Connells in, you guessed it, Donnybrook.
"We're a respected, farm-to-fork restaurant,"
notes soft-spoken Tom O'Connell, owner of the family-friendly business
in the heart of the village-turned-suburb, "committed to the highest
quality Irish produce from around the Emerald Isle."
The bounty plated before us, around carafes
of red and white wine, is expertly prepared from recipes passed down
through the O'Connell clan since the late 1800s.
To start, a buffet of fresh salads, cheeses
including Irish mozzarella and smoked organic salmon pâté
are there for the taking at the Small Irish Food Producers counter.
Piping hot main dishes are aplenty as our
choices nearly stretch all the way to Co. Cork. There's roasted leg
of lamb, rib of beef, in a three-day gravy ladled out by Tom O'Connell
himself, charcoal oven-roasted breast of guinea fowl and, my fave, a
delicious fish pie.
And, to cap this epicurean donnybrook,
a hearty helping of Lil O'Connell's traditional sherry trifle dessert.
Mmm, mmm good!
For complete information on Insight's 100+
premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures
of Ireland itinerary where you'll never go hungry, just click HERE,
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
See you tomorrow morning, well after the
rooster crows first light, as we enjoy a "relaxed start" and
head south to Kilkenny and Killarney.
Oíche mhaith (Good night).
and the Book of Kells; Treasures
of Ireland: Prologue; Ashford
Castle: Regal Elegance Wrapped in Irish Charm; Our
Irish Dream Vacation; The
Long Good Bye to Ireland