Something for the weekend: Two weddings and a Silver lining in Cork...
PJ Cunningham explores the luxury, culture and natural beauty on offer in Cork city and county
How could you refuse two compelling reasons to spend three days in Cork? They say that in spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love – and two of them happened to be our friends. So the consequences of their popping the question were weddings serendipitously taking place on successive days in the southern capital – one in West(ish) Cork at Inchydoney Spa and Hotel, the other in the Garryvoe Hotel, Ballycotton, in east Cork.
Where to stay?
We chose the strategy of a halfway house by booking two nights in the Silver Springs Moran Hotel in Cork city – that way we were equidistant between the two great occasions. The Silver Springs majestically stands watch from its Tivoli perch on all the goings-on across the Rebel City. From the moment we arrived there was a genuine feeling of being made welcome by the staff. For instance, when we couldn't get our wi-fi working, a man arrived within 60 seconds and had us sorted in five minutes.
How did the food fare?
It's a real advantage to have a good in-house restaurant, particularly when you arrive hungry, as we did. From the hotel foyer, the famed Watermarq Restaurant was only an opening of a door away. If you like being made a fuss of, it's the right place. For starters, I had mackerel and Rosemary pate. I went fish for mains as well – seabass – while Rosemary's lamb was described as "heavenly" in its texture and its serving. A dessert of cheesecake broke our non-sweet 'diet' but sure, weren't we on our holidays.
I judge breakfasts by how hotels present their porridge. In a rush to meet an appointment on the first day, I settled for juice, toast and coffee, but on the second I was served the finest porridge I've tasted (smooth with the right amount of 'set' in it).
Was exercise out of the question after all that food?
Two weddings on successive days meant there was a whole lot of eating and dancing (if you could call it that). Fortunately, at the Silver Springs, there is a hidden gem called The Source Health & Leisure Centre. It is on the same grounds as the hotel, and you can drive to it in about a minute. Better still is to do what we did – walk uphill for eight minutes and you will have worked up a good sweat by the time the 25m swimming pool and the well-equipped gym come into view. The equipment is modern, there is a good feel to the place and, best of all, you have a sauna and steam room to round off your workout.
Did you get out and about?
Inchydoney on a fine day is a little bit of heaven on Earth.We got some sun but a bit of the four seasons during our fleeting visit. The Inchydoney Spa Hotel was a beautiful base for a wedding with nature outside adding a value to it that is immeasurable.
Then off to another wedding?
Yes, though this time we were heading east to the Ballycotton area of the county. This meant passing the famed Midleton hurling area, genuflecting at the home of the great one in Cloyne, Christy Ring, and then having a wonderfully relaxed hour for coffee and scone in Kilkenny Shop Café in Shanagarry. I should mention that close by this area is Ballymaloe and Trabolgan. Talk about a mini-adventure on the way to a wedding.
The Know How
It wasn't exactly Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell, but we had our own version called Two Weddings and a Fun-For-All few days. The big regret is we should have arranged to stay on for a few more days. It's like the old showband manager's belief that you should always leave the punter wanting more. Cork does that to you.
Getting in touch
Simple really, just ring (021) 4507533 or go onto www.silverspringsmoran hotel.com to check out the numerous special deals on offer which could suit your requirements.