Normandy Gastro Guide by Trish Deseine

Trish Deseine

Belfast born Trish Deseine studied Modern Languages before moving to Paris where she spent over 30 years raising her family, working in fashion, marketing and PR.

In 2000 Trish wrote her first cookbook “Petits Plats entre Amis”. Now an award winning author Trish has 35 books in both English and French and has 5 World Gourmand Awards.

Trish has also presented 3 cookery series for Irish broadcaster RTE and more recently has 2 productions with BBCNI.

Gastro Guide by Trish Deseine

Dublin Bay - Howth Head


Slane Castle

Once you’ve arrived in Ireland (not that I might be biased, coming as I do from Co.Antrim!), why not head north instead of south or west as you drive off the ship, and discover some of the country’s hidden foodie gems?

Just an hour’s drive north of Dublin port is the majestic Slane Castle. Built in 1785, it is famous for its rock gigs since the ‘90s when Lord Henry Mount Charles started inviting superstars (Bowie, U2, The Rolling Stones…) to play in the natural ampitheatre behind his ancestors’ castle. You can take guided tours around the castle and follow walking trails in the grounds. Most importantly perhaps for epicurean visitors, adjacent to the castle is Slane Distillery where you can discover how Slane’s triple distilled whiskey is made and do some tasting and buying.

A short drive from Slane, just outside Kells, is Sheridan Cheesemongers’ HQ, housed in the old Virginia Road Station with a warehouse shop, offices and maturing rooms. Every Saturday they host a small market for local producers and annually they hold their now famous Irish Food Festival, celebrating the best of Irish food. Their selection of Irish cheeses is next to none, but you’ll also find interesting charcuterie and deli items for all your picnic needs. Not far, a fun place to overnight is Sheelin’s Shepherd’s hut, set in peaceful fields overlooking Lough Sheelin. A brand new, beautifully appointed tiny house, with everything you could need to feel cosy and looked after, including a well-equipped kitchen and nicely stocked fridge.

Cavan Burren

Next stop, Cloverhill, a charming village with beautiful buildings in county Cavan, including a local church dating from the mid-1800s, and Castle Saunderson just outside the village. The large grounds of the castle demesne offer a lovely walk with a lake and a woodland walking trail. The village is home to one of the region’s finest restaurants, the Olde Post Inn, as well as comfortable accommodation. It’s the perfect place from which to head north to the slopes of the Cuilcagh mountain outside the village of Blacklion, where you will find the Cavan Burren Park, a limestone plateau rich with archaeological features, and a prehistoric landscape dotted with megalithic tombs, glacial erratics (boulders) and dolmens to be explored on one of the five walking trails.

Moira Co.Down

Drive further north onto Fermanagh, where you can stay in some luxury at Lough Erne resort, either in the sumptuous five star hotel, or in one of their comfortable golf cottages. In Enniskillen town, check out Joe The Baker’s superb sourdough and O’Doherty’s famous Fermanagh black bacon, made from ‘happy’ pigs who roam freely on Inishcorkish Island on Upper Lough Erne. Have a pint in characterful Blakes of the Hollow, one of Ireland’s oldest pubs or take a foodie ‘Taste Experience’ tour available on foot or by boat on the Erne waterway.

From Enniskillen, a 45-minute drive takes you to the Wild Atlantic Distillery and Gin School in Co. Tyrone. Spend a day learning about the distilling process, enjoying a gin and tonic with a light lunch, and making your very own, unique gin to take away.

Hillsborough Castle

Then, head east to Moira, a small, unassuming town in Co. Down, rapidly becoming a mini Irish food Mecca. Travel via the Orchard County Armagh where both Armagh Cider Company and Long Meadow Cider offer tastings and tours for an enjoyable stop on the way. In Moira, eat at Chris McGowan’s Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded, Wine and Brine or for a more traditional gastro pub setting and menu (including a good vegetarian option) try Clenaghan’s, who also do comfortable self-catering accommodation. Two first class food stores in Moira are Ispini Charcuterie and Hannan Meats. Both offer their own fantastic meats, fresh and cured, alongside a treasure trove of local artisan produce. Pick up some delectable Abernethy Butter, Ballylisk Triple Rose cheese (think a slightly funkier Chaource) or multi award winning raw milk blue cheese, Young Buck.

Head for Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland’s royal and state residence, which sits at the top of the pretty, well-kept town. Visit the castle and gardens, before falling into a four-poster bed for the night at the gorgeous Newforge House and build up your energy and appetite for one of Ireland’s best breakfasts the next morning.

Newgrange Co. Meath

On your way back to Dublin, both the famous neolithic Newgrange World Heritage site in the heart of the Boyne Valley and the 18th century Tankardstown House and Gardens, are well worth a detour. There you will find 80 acres of formal gardens, woodland and parkland to explore, and you can also enjoy a casual lunch in the Brabazon restaurant. Or head to the coastal north Dublin village of Skerries, where you can enjoy a pint in the 400-year-old Man O’War pub with its thatched roof, whitewashed walls, and an interior that is home to a lively, traditional Irish atmosphere. Enjoy great modern Irish food in neighbourhood restaurant Potager in the heart of the village, with a focus on outstanding Irish producers and their ingredients. Then walk it all off on the 1.5km-long Skerries Coastal Trail, a path that loops around the headland of Red Island and links both the South and North beaches of the village, before heading to the port for the trip home.

Suggested Itinerary

Suggested Itinerary - Ireland

Meath - Cavan

  • Dublin Port ➔ Slane Castle 45 mins/55km
  • Slane Castle ➔ Sheridans Kells 35 mins/35km
  • Sheridans Kells ➔ Sheelin Shepherd’s Hut 23mins/22km


  • Sheelin Shepherd’s Hut ➔ Cloverhill, Co. Cavan 35 mins/36km
  • ➔ Blacklion, Co. Cavan 42 mins/48km


  • Cloverhill, Co Cavan ➔ Enniskillen 40 mins/41km
  • ➔ Aghyaran 25 mins/47km
  • ➔ Craigavon 1hr 26 mins/104km

Moira / Hillsborough

  • Craigavon ➔ Moira 22 mins/27km
  • ➔ Hillsborough 13 mins/13km


  • Hillsborough ➔ Newgrange 1hr 10 mins/105km
  • ➔ Rathkenny 19 mins/15km
  • OR
  • ➔ Skerries 35 mins/31km

Practical information

Places to eat

Places to shop

  • Sheridan’s Cheesemongers: Virginia Road Station, Pottlereagh, Kells, Co. Meath
  • Joe the Baker: “The Bread Table”, 32 Paget Lane, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
  • O’Doherty’s Fine Meats: ➔ Sheridans K ells 3 Belmore St, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
  • Ispini Charcuterie: Rawdon Court, Main St, Moira, Craigavon, Co. Armagh.
  • Hannan’s Meats: Moira Industrial Estate, 34 Old Kilmore Rd, Moira, Craigavon, Co. Armagh

Places to stay

Places to visit