...County Moira Northern Ireland, specifically Craigavon, you must stay a night at Clenaghans. Never has a repaired barn apartment had such charm.
To note, I stayed a couple nights while driving a loop from Dublin around the northern coast to Sligo and back again. Clanaghans was well worth the stop slightly off route. Coming from the Newgrange stone age passage tombs, it was fitting to stay somewhere older than anything familiar back home - including our country. This is actually not hard to do there. Our old is not nearly as old as theirs.
Best I could decipher, the Clenaghans property was a family farm passed way on down to Ivan. While easily mistaken for a mad scientist or a character from Mr. Bean, Ivan was a consummate host.
I am grateful to have been there when the restaurant was still open. As an American and road-tripper, making reservations ahead was not part of my culture. Graciously I was allowed a table and in good time. They said farewell to the restaurant in 2015. I also hear that Ivan has passed along his post to the next of kin.
Every detail felt lived in and relative. Fresh eggs, cream and bacon left for consuming in the fridge. Family photos hung on the wall. Poignant memories left in the journal (Ivan really is a character - "that'll do donkey"). A place that felt like home so much the state flower was blooming in an old whiskey barrel.