We are in love with Clonakilty, or "Clon" as the locals refer to it. The village is only a few minutes drive from the house where we are staying, so we find ourselves there often running errands or relaxing in a cafe or pub. The village is bustling, a nice change of pace from Cruzy, which was too small for comfort sometimes. Here are a few of our favorite places in Clon.
Church of the Immaculate Conception
The steeple tower of this charming little church was like a welcome beacon into Clonakilty. Public parking is available most days of the week on the grounds, conveniently located to explore downtown via Spiller’s Lane or Pearse Street. The Church is a beauty, an Irish village icon in greenish granite with shamrock rosettes and pointed arches. The landscaping is better on the North elevation, but from the South in the Winter you see the windows glittery bronze in the sun. I have more photos of this building than any other in town, just trying to get the perfect shot.
Across the way like a trailing kid brother is the Clonakilty Post Office, charmingly housed in the old church building. Kitty corner at the intersection is Emmets Square, boasting a handsome collection of row houses and a small garden square. Also on that intersection is the statue commemorating Michael Collins, one of the instigators in Irish Independence. If you are more interested in pop culture than history, however, you might be pleased to know the statue was unveiled in that spot by Irish born Liam Neeson (who also played Michael Collins in the movie of the same name).
Just left of the Post Office from the Church is the opening to Spiller’s Lane. You can also access Spiller’s Lane from the parking available off of Kent Street, if you prefer. Spiller’s Lane houses a baller, several shops and our favorite cafe.
Tea on the Lane
This Tea Shop located in Spiller's Lane is full of girly high tea decor. The style is not usually our cup of tea (teehee), but the overall effect is so well done and fun that we find excuses, er... errands to run that take us in the vicinity for a pot of tea or a cappuccino. The proprietress is also a treat, a pretty and vivacious woman with colorful fashion choices that fit right in at the shop. Also cool is the way the shop spans the alley, with the counter in the main door on the North side of the lane, and additional seating, complete with kids toy corner, just across the narrow lane.
Whole Foods Shop
Also on Spiller’s Lane, this shop had everything from the elderberry extract to the Mudge’s favorite Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea. I bought the best vinegars here, as well as specialty items like date syrup, dried haricots blanc, and local Irish seaweed salt. Ever the health-minded gourmet, I found myself popping in as a bit of comfort to remind me of home.
Village Market and Pearse Street Area
An alley connects the parking off of Kent Street to busy Pearse Street, the most prominent street in town. Every Friday the alley causeway is filled with a farmer’s market until 2:00 pm or so. It is small, with only maybe a dozen stalls, but locally produced meats feature heavily and there are food vendors selling everything from falafel to grass-fed lamb burgers. There is also a Mexican food stand with burritos that rival ones we have had in the U.S.
De Barra’s Pub
Clonakilty has no shortage of great pubs, but we still found ourselves coming back to De Barra’s over and over. At first it looks like any other pub as you walk in, but as you go further toward the back you find the venue can expand into a much larger space to accommodate weekend crowds, and there is live music nearly every night. Even on a Monday the crowd is lively, with patrons often singing right along. Scott made friends with some of the musicians, and was always invited to sit up front.
Pete’s Antique Shop
Turn off Pearse Street to McCurtain and you will find Pete’s Antique Shop on the right. Even if you don’t have room for furniture when you leave, take a look. Everything is kind of thrown about, but think of it like a bit of a treasure hunt. While I was there, I looked longingly on some carved wooden chairs, and took some DIY ideas from a pair of hammered copper end tables. Some smaller items scattered about are worth a look too, and are more likely to fit in your suitcase. I scouted out a small vintage advertisement print I’m thinking of going back to swoop up.
Kilgarriffe Church of Ireland
After you leave the Antique Shop, cross the street and continue North on McCurtain Hill. On your left you will see a gate and stairway up to Kilgarriffe Church of Ireland. The base of this square towered church was a little bit unintuitive to find, but worth the effort. Climb up the church and stand amid the gravestones. The views are the best in Clonakilty, looking down over the roofs of the village and to the other church beyond.
Scally’s SuperValu Grocery Store
Whether you are staying in a self-catered spot with a kitchen, like us, or just want to pick up inexpensive snacks, this store is pretty great, with plenty of parking and a pharmacy right next door. They carry our local favorites like Clonakilty Sausage Company sausages, and have just about everything a foodie could want like tubs of house-made broth, bulk tubs of Indian Spices and a decent meats and seafood counter. While you are there, check out the great view from the top floor of the car park.
This tea and wine bar at the intersection of Ashe and Astna Street has cool decor and all the beverages you’ll need to stay all day. We didn’t spend much time here, and regret it. They also serve some tempting sounding food.
Clonakilty boasts a number of charity shops that are worth a look. I found an unopened MC Escher puzzle for 2 euro. Valerie walked away with some great clothing finds. If designer gifts and housewares are more your style, check out Burke by Design. When we found this store it was actually closed, but we caught the owner in and she let us browse anyway. The shop has Fossil bags, Orla Keily housewares and fun and funky art and gifts from a variety of great designers.
We are so in this little town we dream of buying a vacation home near here one day. This list is just a few of the great places that Clonakilty has to offer. If you are lucky enough to spend a day (or a dozen) in this charming little Irish village give some of these places a try. If you do, come back and tell us which ones are your favorites.