All posts filed under: Features

Breac House, Donegal

This article was originally published in The Irish Times. There is often a gorgeous moment on holiday when you open the curtains to reveal a view that rushes into your soul like a restorative tonic; you then sigh and wish you were waking up to it every day. Two former accountants from Dublin have made that dream come true with their modern retreat, Breac. House, which they recently opened on Horn Head, the dramatic northwestern headland in Donegal. Starting with a dramatic site, the last thing Cathrine Burke and Niall Campbell wanted to build was “big hexagon of glass”. The primary aim for its design was a balance of modern and traditional, connection to local craftsmanship, and showcasing the beauty of its surrounds. “You see a lot of the modern design hotels and they look like the spaceship that has landed on the side of the hill,” says Burke. “While they have their place, we never wanted to do that. We wanted something that was very contemporary but very in keeping with the locality, so …

Wild Garlic Table Cookery School, Ramelton, Co. Donegal

This article was origianlly published in The Irish Times on August 05 2017.   Imagine learning to cook in an Edwardian bank building where the kitchen is the original banking hall and the old safe cleverly doubles as the cool spot to store potatoes. “Wild Garlic Table” is a new cookery school and catering company run by Ballymaloe-trained Pauline Sugrue in her family home in Ramelton, Co Donegal. Home happens to be an early 1900s bank, which she and her husband Michael renovated some years ago keeping as many of its original features intact as possible. From the first weighty, solid knock of the original front door handle there is a unique feeling as you pass through the entrance hall with original tiling and stained glass into this five-bedroom listed house. Sitting proudly by the river Lennon which runs into Lough Swilly, it has been restored with remarkable love and attention to fine detail by the Sugrues that ensures you feel the reverence of the building. “The house was built in the 1903 in Edwardian …

Red hot – perfecting the red lip

How to get the perfect red lip I adore red lipstick. It never ceases to enhance my mood or transform my outfit, it’s a little bullet of instant glamour. Ever since that the sugary smear of red “M&Ms” or smushed raspberries as “lipstick” before you were allowed to wear it, then graduating to the trashy pound shop efforts that made you look more disturbing than Dietrich; red has always been the lipstick look I wanted to master. Throw in a few years of getting it spectacularly wrong; seeing yourself in a nightclub bathroom at 2am with a less than precise pout will compound efforts to try to learn a thing or two about investing in getting it right. It is sexy, defiant, bold and can transform how you feel when you apply that dramatic kiss of poppy colour. And it’s always in style. Bernadette Mc Bride is an IFTA-nominated professional make-up artist and has worked on countless TV and film productions. She is also my Godmother and my go-to for any make-up advice or tips …

Christy Toye reflects on a career of success and defiance

 This article was originally published in The Irish Times. The very last person who wants to talk about Christy Toye is Christy Toye. The recent news that the Donegal senior GAA footballer was to pack away his county jersey after 15 years saw an outpouring of admiration and appreciation in Donegal and beyond. A career that spanned All-Ireland wins and a chronic facial pain condition had come to an end. The huge reaction to his retirement has bewildered Toye though. He was never in it for the glory – just to make his parish and his county proud. “It was brilliant,” he said of the response. “I don’t know why. Maybe they see somebody who is injured and kept going and came back? Maybe they recognise the effort you put into going back on the pitch?” No other player has scored more Championship goals for Donegal in Croke Park than the Creeslough man. He also holds three Ulster titles, one All-Ireland, a National League and has captained the team. But it isn’t only his ability …

Dressing up for ‘The Restaurant’

Going back to the Restaurant was a little bit like bumping into an old boyfriend, except I was given a little more warning so wanted to make sure it wasn’t dressed with a hoodie and last night’s mascara on my face. As a former producer and director, I had once enviously watched the diners from the kitchen while they sipped wine and commented on how rubbish or wonderful that night’s chef’s offering was for four years. Everyone who works on The Restaurant crew works very, very hard and the actual shoot day runs as a real restaurant with prep from early morning until the afternoon’s tastings and then diners arrive in the early evening and the kitchen kicks into service. I started as a runner on the series in 2008 and loved every step of the journey to becoming Series Producer in 2011 when I last worked on it. Seeing everyone again was a gorgeous reunion. Going on as a diner was as much exciting as it was nerve-wrecking. I was often asked ‘Where on …

Forgiving and forgiveness

We are in the twilight of the season of goodwill, the season where we reconnect. We are to be good and generous, we embrace family and friends, old and new, and spread good tidings and kindness. Everything is amplified in two weeks of love and understanding and supposed to be a peppermint flavour of perfect. But, thankfully, life is not perfect and with reconnection comes memories, good and bad. We realise that some wounds have healed, some are nicked open, and forgiving, and forgiveness, can be a huge challenge during this period. A mince pie and gulp of mulled wine do not always help the spiky swallow of anger or pain in the name of Christmas. What is forgiveness? You wrong me, I wrong you. Whatever the response to either of these is where forgiveness lies. Forgiveness is hope. And about how much you care about the person, and they for you. The absolute key is the acknowledgment of the hurt. Then to apologise and to try to learn from it, and behave better. The …

Irish Christmas Cheeseboard

Christmas can mean a lot of things, but for me it is all about cheese. As one of the great loves of my life all year round, I love that everyone else gets equally besotted with it at Christmas time. Thankfully we have shaken off our Galtee shackles, and fled the Easi-Single prison cell to embrace the delicious cheese from our wonderful Irish cheese makers. We have the best dairy in the world and superb goats and sheep’s milk cheeses that will make your Christmas cheeseboard sing. Every Irish cheese is special because it has a story; the producer, where it comes from and how it is made. As the late David Tiernan who made the glorious Glebe Brethan once told me, ‘You have to be a bit cracked to make cheese, but sure that’s the magic of it.’ This Christmas, do try Irish cheeses if you are entertaining, or even if you fancy just having a party for one with a glass of something by the fire. You will not be disappointed. Trying to …