Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Manning's Emporium, Ballylickey, Bantry, Co Cork

I was home this weekend in Kilnamartyra in order to have my Dad check out our new secondhand car. Despite much tutting and humming, he finally (grudgingly) gave it a clean bill of health.

But I did have to get two new rear tyres for the car. As it's a rear-drive car, there really was no point in putting it on the long finger, and as my Dad didn't have the tyres in stock, he arranged for us to collect a set from Bantry Tyre Centre.

It's a lovely drive back to Bantry, going through Ballingeary and Ceim an Fhia. As we passed the turn off for Guagane Barra, I regretted not bringing my camera with me. The sun was starting to shine through the morning haze and there should have been some lovely photos to be had.

Anyway, with 2 new tyres in the boot, we hit the road back home. And promptly stopped again about 2 minutes later in Ballylickey to visit Val Manning's fantastic Emporium. Now, I have fond memories of Manning's treasure trove shop. It is the place where I first tasted prosciutto, nearly 16 years ago. It's also the place where I first tasted a lot of good Irish cheeses. And true to form, Val was handing out the samples again today.

I was delighted by a sample of Hegarty Farmhouse Cheddar, from Whitechurch in Cork. When he heard I was from Kilnamartyra, Val also insisted that I try a piece of the local cheese, Coolea, only this sample was from a matured block. Absolutely divine.

We also picked up some Sliabh Luachra air-dried beef from Jack McCarthy's in Kanturk. McCarthy's are award winning craft butchers with an on-line shop and we also bought some of their low-fat Butcher's breakfast sausages and some delicious looking rashers.

As we chatted, Val mentioned how tough times were for small retailers. He mentioned that he didn't expect to last the year if things continued as they were. Tourist numbers were down and overdrafts are hard to come by from the banks. I was shocked to say the least. Val's shop has been in action for years, and has helped numerous artisans start out. And to think that it could all be gone so quickly is just an awful thought.

So my little trip to Bantry to buy new tyres has turned into a plea.

Get out there and support the small retailers who have given us so much over the years. If you know a small shop that you love, give them your contiued custom. We don't want to wake up in a few years when everything is better and find out that we've lost these great little shops.

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