Wherever the home in your heart is located, it is certainly the place to be at holiday time.
I spent my Thanksgiving this year in Ireland, where the weather — while a tad rainy — was lovely, crisp and what I’d call homey and warm, at least for late November: The temperatures were in the 60s.
I have always been interested in the Irish pub phenomenon. Seems that entrepreneurs in every country of the world want to recreate the Irish pub in looks and in spirit alike.
What makes the interior of an Irish pub so inviting? It might be the wood floor and the pine benches and bar stools, or, perhaps, the deep-green walls with the bright red Christmas-colored doors. Irish pubs often have lanterns hung over the wood-topped bar, sometimes fitted with green glass “pool hall” shades. The pubs also typically have open stone-faced fireplaces, where in the cool of night a fire always glows. Stone facing always give a fireplace an inviting look, I think.
I often admire the pubs’ display of accessories, either hung on walls or placed on fireplace mantels. Brass or copper kettles and measuring vessels are most collectible, as are old draft beer signs (or any sign, for that matter). And the Guinness posters of the old days certainly lend distinction to pub walls.
During my visit to Ireland, I happened by Nevilles Cross Inn, where Eoin O’Kelly owns and operates the pub on the connecting road from Adare to Ballingarry. It’s only a five-minute drive from the charming village of Adare, where thatched roof cottages are so enjoyed by the visitors. When Eoin — whose name is Gallic for “John” and is pronounced “own” — is not in the restaurant, his dad, Joe, is often there.
Anyone visiting the country and enjoying County Limerick should certainly visit Nevilles, as the food is superb. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it lives up to its reputation for serving “the best steak in the west of Ireland,” and the fresh grilled salmon and Kerry mussels also earn the culinary side of the pub a top rating. The establishment’s website is NevillesCrossInn.net, and it’s worth a look.
If you are decorating or planning your home’s family room or family kitchen, why not take some inspiration from Nevilles? Think about the elements that make the pub look so inviting and would do the same for your room: wood-plank floors, deep-green walls, red doors, pine furnishings, upholstery fabrics that are tapestry-like in feeling. Think, too, about installing a beamed ceiling and a fireplace faced in stone with a mantelpiece fashioned from an antique wood beam.
Ireland offers so many products that Americans enjoy, from woolen Aran sweaters to natural pottery to fragrances and decorative candles that offer a sweet scent from the Burren countryside in County Clare. And the trek there isn’t difficult. On my last visit over, the journey from New York to Shannon took just five hours and 18 minutes.
Now, how’s that for a faraway place that isn’t really far away at all?