As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations Doolin Ferry Co is launching a new Cliff of Moher Seafari private charter boat experience perfect for families and small groups seeking an exclusive adventure. A guide will give visitors detailed information about the wildlife, bird colonies, dolphins and even basking sharks to be found around the Cliffs of Moher. Passengers will also be guided through the infamous Sea Cave where Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince was filmed, along with dramatic sea stacks and arches tunnelled by the Wild Atlantic Way. If this sounds tempting, Doolin Ferry Co is looking for four individuals to test out and fine-tune its new product. Those interested should check the social media channels @doolinferryco where winners will be announced on July 31. In addition to the Seafari, Doolin Ferry Co. has resumed its usual sailing routes, with five daily cruises to Inis Óirr, four to Inis Mór, four to Inis Meáin and six to the Cliffs of Moher. This summer, every passenger who buys a ticket will be entered into a draw to win €3,000. The winner will be announced at the end of the season and passengers can enter as many times as they choose; www.doolinferry.com.
Bonhams Irish Office (31 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2) will host a series of virtual valuation events next week where you can receive expert advice on selling your designer handbags, watches and jewellery at auction. It’s an ideal time to monetise luxury accessories which may be languishing in the cupboard or safe. Consultations about designer handbags takes place on Tuesday 13, July 13; watches on Wednesday July 14, and jewellery on Friday 16. Why not peruse Bonhams Designer Handbag and Fashion sale which takes place on July 20 – the catalogue is currently online. One of the lots is this pink gingham Chanel lunchbox bag from the resort collection in 2011, with an estimate of £800 – £1,200; www.bonhams.com.
When Julie Vandingenen reflected on the loss her fiance to cancer in 2017, she realised it was the kind gestures and support of family and friends that had kept her going. And so she founded Lovingly Box, which aims to support people through any difficult situation from sickness to relationship break-ups, with a selection of thoughtful gifts and personalised messages. There’s a new Lovingly Box gifting pop-up on Ground Level, at Arnotts, where you can see these exclusive care packages, priced from €50 – €87 – 15 per cent of profits going to the Irish Cancer Society. Choose from three gift boxes: “You’ve Got This” gift box (€50) contains a notebook, scented candle from Bearded Candle Makers, The Nature of Things cedar atlas essential oil and 60 Calm prompt cards from the School of Life. The “You’re So Very Loved” gift box (€70) includes a lavender and patchouli scented candle from Little Karma Co., a Badly Made Books “Love Notes to Myself” notebook, a rose geranium, bergamot and orange Literary Lip Balm, Mookie & Boo destress roller to soothe mind and body, The Moher Soap Co. scented moisturiser and an A5 Tourdejess print. The “I’m Here For You, Always” (€87) package contains self-care products from Solaris Botanicals, Bean & Goose, M.H. Clark and much more. As a gesture during difficult times when there are no words, these gift boxes offer support and remind recipients they’re not alone; www.lovinglybox.com.
Something to savour is a new release by Sony Pictures Ireland – an enchanting documentary called The Truffle Hunters. It is set in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, where a handful of men (all over 70) hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle, which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their expertly trained dogs. They live a simpler, slower way of life – untethered to screens or the internet – opting instead to prioritise cuisine, connections and community. The documentary also shows that as a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. It’s clear, however, these men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life; www.sonypictures.ie.
Get ahead of the Netflix buzz by re-visiting Castletown House; the 18th-century Palladian-style country house located in Celbridge, Co Kildare, where upcoming Netflix romcom Mr Malcom’s List was recently filmed. Famous faces such as Slumdog Millionaire’s Frieda Pinto, Ashely Park of Emily in Paris and heartthrob Theo James from The Divergent Series caused a stir when caught on camera strolling through the Kildare set, where they filmed on location for a number of months. The Parklands are open from 7am – 10pm daily; www.castletown.ie.
It’s not often we get a chance to see so many contemporary international and Irish artists in one place. However a trip to Art and Soul – The Holywood International Art and Sculpture Fair at the Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast will not disappoint. Art worth an estimated €7 million is on display around the 12-acre grounds and inside the hotel by artists as diverse as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Banksy, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein and Pablo Picasso . This event is officially Ireland’s biggest post-lockdown art fair and runs until July 18. The event features 125 sculptures and includes work by Ian Pollock, Bob Quinn, Eamonn Ceannt (pictured), Orla de Brí, Sandra Bell and F.E McWilliam. I was fortunate to visit the preview of this exhibition and it is well worth a trip north. The event is open to the public daily from 11am – 7pm with guided tours at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm (no booking is required). There’s also a special Art and Soul Afternoon Tea (£35) with a curated tour of the exhibits, as well as private dining opportunities in the Warhol Room each evening. It’s sure to appeal to all the family – one of the highlights of the exhibition are 30 works by Irish artist Patrick O’Reilly, including a special “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” installation showcasing many of O’Reilly’s iconic life-sized bear sculptures. To find out more visit www.gormleys.ie or www.hastingshotels.com.
A must-visit if in Brown Thomas is the Create installation. After you have perused the designers, take the elevator to Level 3 where you’ll find a new Glowberry Bar. This is a decadent destination for chocolate connoisseurs with a penchant for strawberries. Founded by Leonie Emdadian, Glowberry was created after her family run restaurant of 25 years closed in 2020 due to Covid-19. Glowberry’s strawberries are handpicked to ensure the highest level of quality, shape and size before being handcrafted in small batches and double-dipped in Belgian chocolate. The finished product are the perfect accompaniment to watching Wimbledon this weekend; www.brownthomas.com.
If you haven’t been to Solas Eco Garden Centre and Food Market in Portarlington, Co Laois, it is an interesting five-acre development built from 40 old steel shipping containers – the passion project of its creator David Maher, a committed environmentalist and entrepreneur, and his business partner and horticulturist John Carey. They modelled Solas on a directional, sustainable centre in Amsterdam. Says Maher, “We engaged Architect Taminiau BV in Amsterdam to realise our energy efficient vision and they certainly have exceeded all our expectations”. The bold and innovative site houses a street food café and market village complemented with a shop and warehouse full of local crafts. Solas tries to offer something for everybody – there are lively, interactive “Eco Warrior Back Garden” workshops designed for children, as well as “Rustic Hanging Basket” courses delivered by the expert horticulturist team on site h- , all the materials are supplied and participants take home their completed work. There are also classes on how to grow your own vegetables; www.ecogardenshop.ie.
“Departures” by Dublin Book Festival is a three-part digital series with a special focus on Irish-published authors, both established and emerging. On Tuesday, July 13, author Mike McCormack poet Alice Kinsella (pictured) and musicians Cormaic McDiarmuid (of Lankum) and Ruth Clinton (Landless) will be featured and filmed in Westport, Co Mayo. On the shores of Clew Bay, McCormack and Kinsella discuss the power and resonant beauty of the Irish landscape in their art as actor Paul O’Brien reads some of their works inspired by the scenery. There will be musical interludes throughout from Town Hall Theatre in Westport from Cormac MacDiarmada from RTÉ Folk Award and Choice Music Prizing winning band Lankum and Ruth Clinton from Landless as they combine forces to perform their own songs from the landscape; www.dublinbookfestival.com.
Somewhere with an enviable view of Cork is the new panorama terrace at The Montenotte Hotel and its rooftop bar The Glasshouse, which is due to open in time for the August bank holiday weekend. This new addition aims to elevate the guest experience – offering an architecturally designed, art-deco inspired setting. While taking in the views, guests can enjoy a range of botanical cocktails, inspired by the Victorian gardens that surround The Glasshouse. For those hoping to be one of the first to experience The Glasshouse in August, The Montenotte Hotel has introduced a limited edition “Sunset Breakaway Package”. From €295 per stay, the package includes one night bed and breakfast for two adults, with a reserved table at The Glasshouse where guests will enjoy “The Royale Rose” – made with bespoke Montenotte Gin, fresh strawberries and prosecco, as well as a two course lunch at the Panorama Bistro either on arrival or departure; www.themontenottehotel.com.