Archive for July, 2008

Double Rainbow

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

 

Today I sold at the Kilrush Market. It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve been there, as I was on the road. There’s 3 new vendors and it felt like the season, depite another rainy day, has finally kicked in. 2 of the vendors are from Dingle, the Dingle Pie Company whom I met at the Milltown, Kerry market and Paddy Mahoney and Martin Kennedy were selling fresh fish. Of course, they know my cousin James Curran very well, Martin was in James class and Paddy bought a cookbook and said he’s coming up to Lisdoon for the craic in September (matchmaking festival!) There was a great turnout, I sold a good number of books and caught up with everyone. Cora thinks that Coming Home To Cook must be the best selling book in Ireland because it’s in so many locations (now 134!). I got a lot of information on who to contact for local press and talked to the organizers about doing a food demo. I’m planning my demo for August 9th at the Doolin Market, a little cooking, a lot of tasting and “healthy eating information.” If you’re reading this and want to attend contact me so we’ll have an idea of the numbers. On the way back I checked the books in Milltown Malbay where it’s for sale at An Ghiolla Finn on Main St. Maureen runs a lovely ittle shop and I bought a new apron to wear at the demos. On to Lahinch and the sun started peeking through the clouds. It was high tide and the surfers were out in full force. Lahinch always feels like a summery town. The cookbook is in 3 locations – the Lahinch Bookshop, Kenny’s Woolen Shop and Lahinch Failte. By the time I got to the Liscannor Rock Shop the sun was shining and it was getting hot. This is a beautiful big shop filled with all kinds of rocks and crystals from around the world. The tearooms has the signed cookbook right on the front counter and they’re selling well. The manager said someone came in the other day and proudly said “I know the woman who wrote this book!” Brilliant! The drive up the coast road to Doolin is magnificent. If you’re driving in that direction get off at the sign for the Clare Jam Shop and follow that (very carefully) down to Fischer St. There’s a spectacular view of the Aran Islands and today every fiels had that amazing sparkling green fresh look to it. I caught a glimpse of horses on both sides of the road running together, a beautiful sight. The meaowsweet is in full bloom and the air in the Burren smells sweet. It gives new meaning to stopping to smell the flowers when you can experience these little pleasures while you’re working! Doolin is busy because it’s a bank holiday weekend and construction workers holidays for these 2 weeks. I stoped in at the Magnetic Music Cafe. Petr and Mary have a beautiful music venue, indoor/outdoor cafe with a big selection of Traditional Irish Music CD’s and great coffee. Later on, as I was prepping for the Ennis Market tomorrow, I looked out the window and saw a full rainbow. I grabbed the camera and saw that it was a full double rainbow that was not only clear but it’s colors were probably the most vibrant I’ve ever seen. As it’s the eve of the new moon I can only take this as a good omen – it’s the night to wish for new things and tomorrow is the first day of Autumn. Bring on that pot of gold!

Southwest Cork

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

I arrived at Liam and joan’s in Carriganima on Monday night to a flurry of activity. They are clearing one of the upper hills for grazing land which involves a lot of extra help that are always fed.  Joan was busy getting supper ready and Karen was finishing up milking the cows while Liam and Steven and more Sheehan cousins were up on the hills working. Lots of talking, eating, a beautiful sunset in the Lee Valley.                                                                                                                       On Tuesday morning I headed out to Skibbereen to restock. Patsy at Ying Yang Health Foods has the books right on the front counter. She suggested I go up to the Heritage Centre gift shop.  I left a copy for the vacationing manager to look at. Last September I had come to Skib, as that is where my mother’s family, the Driscolls are from. The most common name in Cape Clear, Baltimore and Skibbereen is Driscoll. Unlike the Sheehan side of the family, we don’t know much about their history (next project!)   Skibereen is known to be one of the hardest hit areas during the famine.  I think The Heitage Ctr. has the best famine museum in the country. It is small but striking. Last year, after I visited the ctr., I went to the famine graveyard which is a short drive from there. It is humbling, to say the least.  5,000 residents of the area who died of starvation and the diseases that result from it are  buried in a mass grave in which is now a small green plot and there is a beautiful monument to them.                                                  Leaving Skib with it’s busy streets and lush green countryside I headed for Ballydehob to restock at Hudson’s Health Foods. I set up a new account at Chapter One  on Main St. , Schull. Great Bookshop in a friendly, very pretty little village. www.chapterone.ie.  I had enough time to take the road across the peninsula to Bantry and I was glad I did. Brilliant red fuschia bushes line the entire mountain road. It was something out of a postcard. Low clouds hung over the mountain, the red of the fuschia, the sheep on the hillside, the old ruins of houses and sheds turned picturesque with colorful rose bushes and vines clinging to them.  In Bantry I restocked at Bantry Books on Marino St. and chatted about the “new Ireland” with the owner, Margaret o’Neill.  Margaret thinks that if you take the cars out of Ireland it would look like it did 30 years ago!                    I set up a new account at Bantry Whole Foods. Simon was great craic. He has an adorable little Jack Russell named Lola. His shop sits in a little lane and is stocked with fresh, local produce and health food items. We talked about a lot of things , he liked the book and I know he’ll promote it and it will sell well there.  The drive from Bantry to Macroom is another spectacular road in southwest Cork and if you’ve never been to this part of Ireland, you have to see it to believe it.   Canyon walls of rock covered with moss and shrubs open up to the beautiful Lee Valley. This is also a historic road as many ambushes  took place in these narrow mountain passes  during the civil war.                                                                                                

Waterford to Cork

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

 

Dungarvan is a beautiful coastal town with a serene feel to it. It’s very bright and cheery, lots of wind boxes with fresh flowers on old brick buildings which have been neatly restored. Catherine O’Donnell owns Readers Choice on Lower Main St. She took a supply of books and was very warm and friendly. Blasta Health Foods on Main St. is owned by Rob and Anne Whinnett and Rob was very helpful with suggestions on marketing the book and took a supply. I took a copy of the summer issue of Naturally- the Irish Health Stores Magazine, www.naturallygoodhealth.ie. Where Blasta is featured in the “local stores” column.

I drove out of Waterford satisfied at my progress in the past week. I left Lisdoon a week ago and have distributed the book in 30 shops in 6 counties, met fantastic people who love my book, been offered wonderful opportunities to promote it, spent some good down time at the beach in great company and the weather has been terrific!

Smiling I headed into the home county of Cork – the People’s Republic.

All of the Sheehans, Driscolls, McCarthys, Duggans, Murrays that are my ancestors are from Cork. The names are everywhere, in every town on numerous shop fronts. The villages I pass seem familiar as they are in my grandfathers family history.

First stop is Youghal, in East Cork. Noelle at Horan’s health Food on North Main St. took a supply. The Horan’s in Listowel and Tralee are also selling Coming Home To Cook. Youghal has an appealing wide expanse of sandy beach. Ok, keep driving!

On to Midleton where I stopped at Well and Good owned by Jill Bell on Broderick St. Jill was very nice, as was her assistant, Wendy. We chatted about the book, other shops I’ve been to where Jill knows the owners. She was very helpful and took the books with great pleasure. She stocks a wide of foods, supplements, essential oils, and local products made with organic ingredients. It was a pleasure just being in the shop in their company.

Midleton Books on Main St. is owned by Ronan McCarthy. It’s a big shop with a welcoming feeling, which is neatly laid out and he was also very helpful and took a supply.

Marian at Healthy Say in Carrigaline loved the book and is going to feature a recipe from it in her weekly recipe handout. Her shop is in the Supervalue Shopping Centre and is filled with lots of colorful and healthy items. Marian talked about how she lived in South Africa and owned a restaurant there. We talked about the road trip I’m on and how you just gotta get out there, life is too short! I passed the Carrigaline Book Shop where they have not sold out yet but have a copy in the window. It’s a thrill seeing that! My little book in shop windows in Ireland.

I ended the day at the Quay Food Company in Kinsale where I had left a supply of books in June. They were sold out, from the front counter , so I restocked. Thanks, David and Laura!

Leaving Wexford

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Monday

I reluctantly left Cullenstown Strand as it was another sunny day and I could have spent another day on the beach. I headed back down to Waterford, this time taking the ferry across from Ballyhack, a great alternative to sitting in New Ross traffic. I stopped in at Kilo’s on Michael Street and Brett McGrath was a good way to start the day, he took 6 copies in to his great shop packed with bulk bags of whole grains and ethnic foods. Full of Beans owned by Barry and Frances Coffey in George’s Court took a supply for themselves and their shop in Ardkeen.

I worked my way down to Abbeyside, a hamlet before crossing the bridge

into Dungarvan. Jurgen Denzinger owns Remedies Health Store on Sexton St.

www.remedieshealthstore.ie Nice shop, good craic.

Wexford and Enniscorthy

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Saturday

Another sunny day in Wexford and I was off for a quick trip to Wexford town and Enniscorthy. Wexford is a big town with lots of winding, narrow lanes. There are many brightly colored houses and store fronts, many with front gardens and 2 majestic cathedrals overlooking the town and the quay. Most towns in Westford have a monument to the 1798 rebellion and the one in this town square is impressive.

Only Natural has 2 locations and they are both large and well stocked with a variety of health foods, supplements, therapy needs and gifts. Gerald is the owner and he happily took Coming Home To Cook for both shops. Mag at The Book Centre on South Main St. took a supply. Now 3 of the 4 Book Centre’s, Ireland’s own version of a Barnes and Noble (Yank talk) has my book. Rainbow Whole Foods is a bright and cheery shop owned by John Linden, who took a supply.

On to Enniscorthy where I met Matt Ronan who with his wife Nuala owns Evolve a lovely big shop dedicated to health/beauty/life.

www.evolv.ie.There’s always some kind of magic that happens to me on these trips. Matt graciously suggested I contact the local radio and newspaper and gave me their contact information. Then, he asked if I would like to come back in the fall and give a workshop on healthy eating. Then, he took 10 books .

Awesome! I have a wealth of information to share and it will be fun to get to know the local people who are interested in some different recipe ideas.

Beach days

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I’m sitting up in the loft at Judy’s beach house which has 2 windows overlooking the Irish Sea. The sun is shining on the white caps and the horizon is getting that pinkish hue to it. I’m going to make this quick so I can take a nice walk on the beach before sunset, which here is about 10:30!    After spending a glorious day off yesterday, doing nothing but relaxing and feeling so grateful that I have Judy as a friend,  we headed off this morning to Waterford. It’s a city with a great old feeling. First stop was The Book Centre in John Roberts Square. This is a big beautiful Irish owned Bookstore that has branches in Naas, Wexford and Kilkenny. It’s in a restored  movie theater and is very much like a Barnes and Noble, with a cafe and comfortable chairs for reading. John, the manager was happy to take Coming Home To Cook.  The owners of the 2 health food shops in town were out so we had lunch and traveled on to New Ross. This is the town that JFK’s ancestors were from so there’s lots of memorabilia about the Kennedy’s and his visit there in the 1960’s. Being of Irish Catholic Massachusetts heritage I always find this interesting.  It’s a very pretty old town with colorful shop fronts, many interesting cafes and a majestic cathedral up on the hill. Paul Brennan at Nolan’s on South St. took the book and was delightful.                                                                        On to the highlight of the day which was Kate’s Farm Shop on the Wexford- Duncannon Road. www.goodfoodireland.ie. I would love to own a shop like this. There’s lots of gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables out front, and room after room of everything you’d want or need in a fresh food market. The shelves ae packed with fresh breads, cheeses, grains, nuts, fruits, crackers, grains, you name it, they’ve got it. Owners Kate and Ollie were real pros, very friendly, efficient and good craic.  It took only a few minutes to look at the book and a chat about terms to decide they defintely wanted to sell it.  All of the ingredients in the book can be bought at this little shop. And, it’s the ONLY BOOK in the shop. So, if you’re in the Wexford area, this is the place to go. Slan.

To the sunny southeast

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Before leaving Dublin, I dropped a lot of books off at Cultivate on Essex St. West. www.cultivate.ie.  I have to admire a retail shop with a mission. As the website states it’s purpose is  to respond to climate change by giving the public the knowledge and tools to cultivate sustainable lifestyles. Mark, the shop manager was very friendly and professional. There’s a gorgeous garden in a courtyard in the back and the shop is light filled and airy, you could spend a lot of time and euros in there! It feels good to have the book in so many wonderful places.        I headed north to Malahide for a quick stop at the health food store, Revitalise where Regina took books for that shop and the one in Maynooth. www.revitalise.ie.  I headed south around Dublin on the infamous M50 and landed in Dalkey. What beautiful little village. I remember stopping here a few years ago when I visited my nephew Patrick who was working at the Glencree Reconciliation Centre.   Oliver at Select store on Railway Road www.selectstores.ie took Coming Home To Cook and I promised I would send him a press release and a point of sale leaflet. He has a packed health food shop with a fantastic lunch counter, interesting menu and juice bar.  Over to The Exchange Bookshop  on Castle St.owned by Michael Simmons. Michael was very impressed with the book, and it is being sold on the front counter! While there, I met David Knight a Photographer who has a Design and Publishing Company. He creates Irish made greeting cards www.willowireland.com  He has a great catalog and the cards are spectacular with all kinds of themes. My favorites were the greeting cards with the illustrations taken from Trinity College Libraries’ rare and unique book collection. We exchanged products and had a great chat about how to help each other in our networking efforts. More magic in Ireland, everywhere I go, I meet creative, generous people.   Down to Bray, another lovely coastal town to Littlebray Books owned by David Cassidy who also owns Frascati in Blackrock.  Sean Egan, a retired professor and writer took my books for the front counter and placed one in the window.  Good craic there! Sean was another beautiful Irish character!         Last stop of the day was in Wicklow Town to Health and Healing, a big shop filled with all kinds of good healthy foods, and crafts. Hillary who owns the very large and well stocked Bridge St. Books took a supply for the front counter! Wicklow is a very historic old town with a real character to it. It has a beautiful monument in the square to those who fought in the 1798 rebellion.  I drove the coast road from Wicklow to Arklow. The Irish Sea is very different from the wild Atlantic of West Clare, but beautiful in it’s on way. I got a real “beachy” feeling as I worked my way down to Wexford to Judy’s cottage in Cullenstown Strand, the sunny southeast.

Liam, Fidel and Nelson

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

What a glorious day to be hoofing it around Dublin. It was sunny and warm with a light breeze. Keeping our fingers crossed this continues for my little break at the beach! I met good friend and former Dub Judy B. who was toting her little suitcase on wheels. We filled it full of books and headed out. After visiting many bookshops and food shops where the owners/managers were out we finally hit on a live one.   Jack Irwin at Down to Earth Health Foods on George’s St. was engaging and fun and even though they don’t really sell books he took 10 and promised to promote them.  The next stop was Connolly Books on East Essex St. As their business card says this is “Ireland’s Oldest Radical Bookshop.”  They sell books on Irish History, Politics and Culture. So, being an Old Radical myself, I figured, why not? Sean was happy to take Coming Home to Cook athough I think it’s the only cookbook in the shop! I assured him that it was certainly political as my grandfather, Diarmuid O’Siochain,  was arrested in Kenmare, of sedition for passing out anti-conscription leaflets to young Irishmen in 1905. For those of you who need a brief Irish history lesson, the Crown was coercing Irishmen to fight in their foreign wars. Obviously, as Ireland was still a British occupied country there was a huge movement against this.  But, being a Sheehan and living up to the meaning of our name – O’Siochain means Peace- my grandfather decided to act and was arrested and put on trial in Tralee.     Ok, back to Connolly’s, in walks Harry, a 1st generation Dub (you’re a blow in anywhere in Ireland unless you’ve been in the county for 7 generations.) The craic began  when he heard the cover picture is cousin Laim Roche from Cork.    Or, as he says, “the Republic of Cork. There’s 2 Irelands – Cork and the rest of us. They still have real resentment towards Dublin for being the capital of the Republic.  We usurped it without even knowing it.” On and on, all in good fun. Sean put the book on the front shelf next to the new big hardcover books of Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela and Harry took a picture of me next to it. Diarmuid  would be proud!  We had lunch across the street at a little cafe and sat outside and soaked up the sun. Judy’s friend Joe joined us and we talked about Turin, Italy where we are hoping to go in October for the Slow Food Festival’s biannual Salon Gusto www.slowfood.com.    Over to Fallon & Byrne a wonderful gourmet food shop with a restaurant and wine bar that made me feel like I was back in NYC. www.fallonandbyrne.com.   Susan, the store manager, graciuosly took 25 copies! Up Dublin! She’s going to promote it, put it in the window, and I’m going to send her the press release and a point of sale flyer.   Across the charming Ha’Penny bridge to the Winding Stairs bookshop where Regan took the book to add to his wonderful bookshop that is a Dublin landmark  with a restaurant upstairs overlooking the river. www.windingstair.com                                                                                             I find Dublin to be a charming city but I was apprehensive as to the reception I would get. All I hear lately about Dublin is that it’s crowded, dirty, the traffic is terrible…..but it was good to me and as Judy says “It’s still Ireland” So, the generosity and warmth continues. The narrow cobblestone tree lined streets, the bridges, the monuments, statues and architecture is inspiring. I was glad that we passed  the Garden of Remembrance. There is  a magnificent sculpture beneath the Irish Flag, facing pools of water and colorful, lush flowers beds.  It is the official monument to “Those who Lost Their Lives For Ireland’s Freedom.”   

on my way to the fair city

Monday, July 14th, 2008

I left Lisdoon in a misty, foggy blur. The weather that is, not me.  I”m excited about being out on the road again, on my way to Dublin and points beyond. I’ll be away for a week of book selling and some down time in the sunny southeast and I’m commited to writing in this blog every day.    First stop today was Neenagh, in County Tipperary. I shouldn’t be happy about this, as Tip beat Clare in the Munster finals match yesterday but here I am (oh,oh, I’m really Irish now!)  Neenagh is a big town with lots of nice shops. I stopped in at Healthy Me on Pearse St.  www.healthyme.ie  for shopping  online.  This is the kind of health food store I like, lots of homemade breads brimming with nuts and seeds on the counter, many gluten free. A little cafe in the back is where you can sit and have some good veggie food, fresh squeezed juices and coffee. Anne was delighted with the book and suggested it be placed on the front counter. Here we go again…this is what I hear everywhere…which is why the book is selling so well, the shop keepers are promoting it, it’s not just sitting on the shelf!                   John and Katherine Ryan own The Neenagh Bookshop on Friar St.,  a good size Independent bookshop with a nice selection of local and Irish history books. Katherine was impressed with the book, was sure it would find an audience in Tip and is going to display it in the front window.                                                       It’s a beautiful drive from  Tipperary into Laoise. I was now in the midlands, the sun was coming out and it was actually getting hot and humid. Maybe we will have a summer, after all. I stopped in Portlaoise, another big town with a lot of road construction going on and crowds of shoppers packing the streets.  I made my way to G&B Books at 4 Peppers Lane. Mary McManus owns a great old bookshop filled with new and used books. We had a good laugh about the million Mary’s that there must be in Ireland over the age of 40! Once again, book on the front counter.                                                                                                          The highlight of the day was my stop to Jim Tynan’s The Kitchen and Foodhall.  Jim owns a big full service cafe facing the courtyard and a beautiful gourmet take out shop around the side.  He writes a weekly food column for the Leinster Express. It’s a full color page with his writings about life and food with recipes. We talked about how much fun it is to write about food and how it touches people in different ways. (Yesterday I visited a really sweet woman I know from the Burren who spoke very thoughtfully about the memories of my mother I wrote about in the desserts section.)  Jim asked if he could use the book for the next column.  It’s a great acknowledgement from someone who has a solid reputation in the good food movement in Ireland. I’ll post it here when it comes out, friday week. And, he took 20 books and placed them on the front counter. Yeah! check out Jim’s website www.kitchenfoodhall.com.                                                    From Laois to Kildare the landscape opens up to rolling green fields. This is horse country. The world famous Irish Stud Farm is here and the horses are gorgeous! Many songs have been written about this area and it’s easy to see why, it’s absolutely beautiful. I stopped at Farrell’s Bookshop on Main St. in Newbridge, another big, bustling town.  Dermod and Anne were good craic and they are putting the book in the window of their very lovely book and gift shop.  My last stop of the day was Barker and Jones in Naas.  It’s a big Barnes and Noble like bookshop with a cafe upstairs that buys self published books. Jason, the manager,  was lovely and suggested I go to their other stores in Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny.  Ill be down in those counties late in the week, but right now I’m heading into Dublin.

Mayo

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Passing the magnificent Kylemore Abbey, traveling over the bog roads out of “Connie” I thought of my trip last September with my friend Judy B from NJ. We were working our way up to Donegal and traveled this route.  We spent a wonderful few hours at the Abbey and were impressed by the walled garden which was recently uncovered -literally – it was completely overgrown and is now being restored  with original Victorian plants.  Definetly worth a visit if you’re in this part of the world.  I passed the Fjord in Leenane where the landscape opens up to gentle meadows full of grazing sheep. It seems that around every corner in Ireland there’s different scenery. From the wild landscape of Connemara the road took me  to the majestic mountains of Mayo and the very civilized “tidy town” of Westport. I visited here last year on my way to the National Museum of Rural Life in Castlebar which is the only national museum outside of Dublin. Another must see as it covers every aspect of the harsh Irish rural life from 1850-1950 housed in a  mansion overlooking the beautiful Turlough Lake.                                                                              Westport is a pretty town on Clew Bay with a canal running through the streets, lots of flowers in the town square and a busy feel to it.  I stopped in at the Harvest Moon Health Store on Bridge St.   As I was speaking with the owner, Angela, a customer from Listowel, Kerry asked to look at the book and then asked if she could buy it. Michelle O’Donnell and her family are on vacation in Mayo and we had a nice chat about Kerry (I directed her to my Grandparents love story, which I included in the book, and which started in Dingle,Kerry) and I let her know that the book is for sale in Listowel at Horan’s Health Foods and Wolfe’s Bookshop. Harvest Moon is a well stocked shop and Angela took a supply of Coming Home To Cook. Ylang Ylang www.ylangylanghealthstore.com  where you can shop online, is on James St. and Anne Marie O’Malley was happy to take a supply of books and once again I heard, “what a beautiful book.”  Over to Seamus Duffy’s Bookshop on Bridge St. This is a big shop with a friendly staff and Seamus bought a supply of books outright. Dymphna at McLoughlin’s Bookshop on Shop St. took the books and directed me to their other store in Castlebar. So, off I went.    The sun was still shining as I arrived in Castlebar. Suddenly it felt like summer. Hot and sunny with a light breeze. Perfect! McLoughlin’s on Hopkin’s Road is a huge bookstore that was packed with parents and kids buying next year’s school books and summer reading. I met Blatnaid McLoughlin, who owns the shops with her husband who’s family is from Clare. We had a nice chat about the Burren and she happily took the books. Katherine Brennan at Castle Bookshop on Castle St. took 10 books and congratulated me for “a beautiful book and a job well done.” Thank you, Katherine.  As it was getting late I decided Ballina would be the last stop before heading to Sligo.  Ballina is a small village and I knew from my directory of health food stores that Harvest Thyme at Molloys was my destination. In Ireland, there are many pharmacies that also have a health food section. I was greeted by Sue and Nikki who were gracious and efficient in their blue uniforms. They loved the book, suggested it be sold rom the front counter (!) and directed me to their other stores in Mayo and Roscommon. I strolled down the street to Keohane’s and met Kathleen Keohane who directed me to their other store in Sligo where her husband, Michael would buy the book. She was curious as to my traveling around with the book, we talked for a while and she was apologetic that she couldn’t put me up for the night but she was going to be out playing bridge. Now, that’s Irish hospitality!  Up Mayo!