Centuries ago, in a small village along the high road just outside Dublin, a two-week-long event took place annually in late August that captured the attention of Ireland and beyond, but for all the wrong reasons.
Horse and livestock traders, fortune tellers, wrestlers, bare-knuckle boxers, dancers, performers, musicians, magicians and hawkers selling just about every kind of regional food, drink and elixir, were drawn together for one of the rowdiest, noisiest festivals in all the land: the Donnybrook Fair.
Noted primarily for its non-stop, high decibel levels, it was the legendary, whiskey-fueled, after-dark brawls involving sticks and fists that eventually signaled the demise of the fair, leaving behind in its riotous wake a word that lives on to this day in the English lexicon: donnybrook.
Under the cloak of darkness and sans shillelaghs and bruised knuckles, the “band of merry media,” 18 travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to sample its Treasures of Ireland journey, takes its place around the table to enjoy a riot of traditional Irish fare at O’Connells in, you guessed it, Donnybrook.
“We’re a respected, farm-to-fork restaurant,” notes soft-spoken Tom O’Connell, owner of the family-friendly business in the heart of the village-turned-suburb, “committed to the highest quality Irish produce from around the Emerald Isle.”
To start, a buffet of fresh salads, cheeses — including Irish mozzarella — and smoked organic salmon pâté are there for the taking at the Small Irish Food Producers counter.
Piping hot main dishes are aplenty as our choices nearly stretch all the way to Co. Cork. There’s roasted leg of lamb, rib of beef in three-day gravy, charcoal oven-roasted breast of guinea fowl and, my fave, a delicious Irish fish pie.
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See you tomorrow morning, well after the rooster announces first light, as we enjoy a “relaxed start” to our journey down south to Kilkenny and Killarney.
Oíche mhaith (Good night).
©The Palladian Traveler