Youghal that glitters….
A Sunny, Seaside Staycation at Aherne’s Townhouse in Youghal, Co. Cork.
April in Ireland can be a tricky month to plan for. We’re as likely to experience snow as we are to see temperatures rise above 20 degrees, and almost as likely again to have both phenomena occur within the same week…
Driving towards Youghal, however, I was feeling cautiously optimistic. The sun was beating down on the car, the sky a vivid blue against the lush green of the surrounding countryside. Given the heat within the car, we could easily have tricked ourselves into believing it was mid-summer. As we moved further south, however, an unwelcome scattering of clouds began to punctuate the expanse of blue, eventually becoming a thick, grey blanket. As we arrived into the seaside town of Youghal and parked the car outside Aherne’s Townhouse, the first spots of rain began to appear on my windscreen, which all too quickly turned into a downpour, forcing us to bow our heads and make a quick dash for the hotel.
However, Aherne’s turned out to be the perfect retreat from such weather, and if I’m honest, once inside, sitting up at the bar, sipping on a pint of Guinness and listening to the rain coming down outside, I couldn’t make myself feel all that disappointed that our exploration of the town would have to wait.
One gets the feeling, upon entering, that the heart and soul of Aherne’s lies within the bar. The room itself is warm and inviting, decorated with dark wood and rich blue upholstery, with memorabilia adorning the walls. That day the bar was filled with a combination of locals and tourists like ourselves, the relaxed chatter lending a friendly and convivial atmosphere. David Fitzgibbon, the owner, greeted both guests and regulars warmly by name. It doesn’t take long to feel at home at Aherne’s
That evening, we had dinner in the main restaurant of the hotel. Beautifully decorated and with gentle music playing in the background, it felt like stepping back in time to a more elegant era. Soft, homemade bread was brought out as we looked through the menu, and it took all of my willpower not to eat the entire basket. Sumptuous starters of warm goats cheese and crispy fish cakes came next, with hake as the main event, served in a creamy prawn bisque. The fish was perfectly cooked and flaked apart beautifully. To finish, a truly decadent lemon cheesecake was placed in front of us. Despite both of us being full to the point of discomfort, not a crumb was left on the plate.
After dinner, despite the lure of the bar, we retreated to our comfortable room on the first floor. The room was airy and spacious and the bed one of the softest I’ve ever slept in. Each room at Aherne’s is individually decorated, in different colours, and with hand-picked furniture, making it feel less like a hotel and more like we were staying in somebody’s stylish home. The whole room retained an old-style sophistication while at the same time, catering for every modern comfort.
The next morning we woke to glorious (and miraculous) sunshine. Realising this was an opportunity that should be seized with both hands, we headed down to breakfast early in order to get outside and make the most of the fine weather. The breakfast was delicious - cereals and fresh fruit were available to self-serve, while hot options such as smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, and the fresh fish of the day could be ordered separately. We didn’t labour over breakfast, but still made sure we got a taste of everything before heading out into the sunshine
If visiting the medieval town of Youghal there are two things that should be top of your list. One is the Collegiate Church of St. Mary and its surrounds, and the other is the local beach.
First; the church. The building itself is around 800 years old - one of the oldest in Ireland, and is surrounded by a peaceful graveyard with a winding trail allowing for exploration. The entrance to the church is at the back of the building and inside are many monuments and tombs to be discovered. Outside again, at the rear of the grounds, it’s possible to climb and walk along a small portion of the 13th-century town walls. From the top, you can see almost the whole town and the beach and ocean beyond.
The beach is a short distance outside the main part of the town and easily accessed by either walking or by car. As we strolled along the boardwalk, taking in the scent of the fresh sea air and the sound of the gently breaking waves, I blessed our good fortune that we were there on such a beautiful day. The sun shone on the water making it sparkle and there was barely a cloud in the sky. It was bliss.
We were sorry to leave Youghal and the sunshine behind as we departed for Dublin. As we said our goodbyes at Aherne’s, David pressed a loaf of freshly baked bread into my hands to take with us. It’s small touches like this that really make a trip like this just a bit more special
Until the next time, Youghal, we will surely be back.
Aherne’s Townhouse and Seafood Restaurant
+353 (0) 24 92424