Rebecca Creighton and Fionnán Ó Conaola, friends who’ve run vegan potlucks in Galway, opened pop-up café Bláth na Gréine (Irish for sunflower) in An Baile Thiar, Inisheer earlier in 2018. We decided to pay a visit. Truthfully, no excuse required! Inisheer, the nicest of the three islands, is also the most accessible from our location. Promise of good vegan/organic food is icing on the cake. Travelling from Doolin on the west coast of Clare via a very fast, stable ferry took around 25 minutes, €10 each way, dogs and bikes free.
The weather wasn’t great, drizzly till about 2:00 pm. With good friends and a decent walk, it doesn’t matter much. Besides, Rebecca allowed us to sit in during the worst rain, even before officially opening for the day.
Of our group of five, four got a hearty breakfast of tofu scramble (mixed with garlic powder, turmeric and black salt), two sausages (one Dee’s and the other Linda McCartney’s), two slices of ‘facon’ from Moodley Manor, baked beans, yummy spinach, two hash browns, grilled tomatoes, all served up with bread and ‘butter’. Book your breakfast in advance. The cafetière coffee was very good, approaching as good as mine, which is actually very high praise!
Then off for a walk, the direction chosen at random. You really need two days: one to explore without the worry of getting back for the return sailing, the next to explore what you missed the day before. Both days, to try out everything Rebecca offers.
At the highest point of the island is the ruined but well-preserved O’Brien’s Castle, one room having the stone roof intact.
You’re not far from anywhere on Inisheer. Wherever you walk, you’ll come back to the village, pretty much circumnavigating the island with good footwear. Look up Google maps, in satellite view – you’ll see what I mean.
Over centuries, residents have turned the stupendous number of stones into walls and built up soil using seaweed and farmed animals’ manure. These walls protect crops from the worst winds and some sea spray. They also capture sun heat, keeping temperatures up at night.
There’s a lovely clean beach near the town. You can hire bicycles by the day or bring your own. There’s also minibus and horse-drawn carriage tours of the island.
Thomas Walsh, from Dublin, wrote an extremely popular tune after a visit to the island.
We returned to Bláth na Gréine for refreshments. Below is the menu and photos of what we had. You can practice Gaeilge on Rebecca and Fionnán – both are excellent speakers. The café is attached to a craft shop which features woollen products but that’s unfortunately what customers expect.
Look up Bláth na Gréine on happycow.net and tripadvisor.com and give Rebecca a first-class review.
Post 0021, 03/09/2018