If you’ve been following #TrailsofIreland, you’ll know how I’ve loved Clonmel so far; it’s been entertaining (sometimes a bit too much for me to handle!), it’s been informative and it’s definitely been a new experience for me! Everything in town is literally a stone’s throw away from wherever you are.
There’s something interesting about Clonmel that I realised very quickly after getting there; the town is full of hairdressers and barbershops, clothing stores, pubs and solicitors. While that might not seem like a big deal, imagine walking down a main street of your town and almost every other shop is a hairdressers! You can literally get your hair done, get some new clothes, go to the pub and then get your solicitor to get you out of whatever trouble you got into in the pub!
After having a lovely lunch in Hickey’s, I went back to my hotel to check out and switch hotels (Hearns was fully booked). The walk through town was full of the sounds of music and laughter as the busking festival was in full swing. There were all sorts of bands and genres of music as well as buskers of all ages belting out both original songs and covers! The Main Guard was definitely the place to be with rock bands and choirs in full voice and song as the huge crowds were enraptured in the music and pomp of the day!
My hotel for the night was Brighton house on Upper Gladstone Street, a lovely old townhouse with lots of history in the walls (more on that later). Back to town and I made my way to the medieval pop up village near the West Gate alongside Rita from the night before and Sean who was very snap happy as the photographer for the festival. Along the way, there was more music from buskers and the atmosphere truly was electric.
Walking into the village was a surreal experience. The team behind the festival had transformed what is normally a car park into a medieval town. There were lots of stalls manned by people dressed up in medieval clothing talking about things like bows and arrows, chain mail, and sheep shearing. The whole place is surrounded by the centuries old town walls and it really made it feel like we were back in time.
There was a boy who couldn’t have been older than twelve or thirteen who knew so much about smithing and was so good at explaining all the little techniques and processes that you almost forgot you were talking to a pre-teen! The main attraction of the village however was the battle arena! Six heavily armoured men fought to the death (not really) for our entertainment and I have to say it was absolutely brilliant!
Feeling a little (very) hungry after all that fun, I took a walk down O’Connell Street to find a place to get some grub. A quick twitter query brought me to Catalpa where I enjoyed a fabulous Italian dinner; I was told it is genuinely the best in town. Catalpa is a gorgeous spot and is just down a flight of stairs beside the Main Guard. As you walk in you almost feel like you walk into somewhere in the Mediterranean. Everything from the style of the paint to the music softly floating around; the posters and pictures on the wall to the décor; and let’s not forget the food, it was absolutely divine! Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Clonmel!
The following morning I really got to appreciate the Brighton House for what it is. Built in the 1820s, the owners have kept a lot of the original fittings and fixtures and it feels less of a hotel and more of a home than anything else. I got to talk to Pat for a bit who is immensely proud of what himself and his wife are doing with Brighton House. The place is run by the couple and is very clean, very tidy and very quiet (a marked change from the night before (which was just a bit louder!) I took a walk around the guesthouse and noticed just how lush the carpets are and how old some of the decorations are; it was truly beautiful. Breakfast was brilliant and listening to Pat chat to other guests brought a smile to my face! “Now this is customer service” I whispered to myself…
Leaving Brighton House, I took a long walk outside the town itself as it was an absolutely beautiful day. I walked past lots of hairdressers (of course), hurling matches, laughing kids and beautiful houses and eventually got to Clonmel Park Hotel where I met Laura for copious amounts of tea and delicious high tea.
I ended up chatting away to Laura for over an hour; we talked about family, community, food, social media and of course Clonmel. Her warmth and enthusiasm were a perfect mirror of the hotel itself. The entire team here are so helpful and friendly and they genuinely seemed to love what they do! Laura is also heavily involved with the town and community as so many people in Clonmel seem to be and to be honest I can’t wait to come back to partake in one of her events! Laura took me on a walk around the grounds of the gorgeous and very busy hotel. I met a very friendly Neil in the bar and ‘one time Rose of Tralee winner (just for a few minutes) Rebecca who were all smiles and very helpful indeed! Did I mention they have an excellent spa? Well now you have to visit don’t you!?
With my trip in Clonmel coming to an end and my bus approaching fast, I headed back to the town centre where I popped into Fozzy’s bar for a drink (just one of course!) Fozzy’s was full of people watching the hurling and soccer simultaneously and everyone seemed in good spirits. As I left the bar, a lady chased after me from inside and shouted a very hearty hello! I couldn’t believe it was Cllr Catherine Carey from the pub crawl on Friday night! She was having a drink in her uncle’s pub watching the hurling. She brought me back in and showed me around the pub; even showing me her old Honda bike that was up in a crevice (oh yeah she rides a Harley).
Nowhere have I been quite like Clonmel. It has its own special energy and character and everyone seems to be so involved. The people are nice, the food is great and it is a great place to visit at the weekend!
Until next time on #TrailsofIreland, see you soon!