Monks Pub in Ballyvaughan... if you look closely you can see Eóin standing by the door.

While on holiday in Ireland, between all the sightseeing of castles, caves, beaches, cliffs, dolmens and the odd ancient church and grave yard, one of my favorite things to do is to stop for tea. “Should we stop for tea?”… is a common question asked during our journeys and rarely receives a negative response. By the time the question is asked, everyone is usually feeling the need for refreshment. Although there are the usual stops for lunch or dinner, “stopping for tea” most often means a shorter, less disruptive break and, for the most part, literally means a pot of tea and perhaps a delicious dessert, which if you’re lucky, is the house specialty. These specialties may be a mixed-berry crumble, homemade scones, a simple apple tart, or a lovely slice of Banoffi… all offered accompanied by fresh, thick cream. However, you can have your tea without dessert… but never dessert without tea! Tea offers comfort from the often cold, damp weather and the slight stimulant needed to regroup and move along on the journey. As I mentioned in an earlier post, tea usually consists of a good-sized pot of fully brewed, piping hot tea, accompanied by a pitcher of milk, never cream, on the table.

A break for tea provides for replenishment of energy for the next adventure, but equally, allows travelers an opportunity to discuss the sites and occurrences experienced up to that point and to plan the next step of the journey. In addition, stopping for tea often includes a bit of conversation with the servers, proprietors and/or other customers, which enriches the travel experience, and very often can offer an opportunity to learn about a nearby site that might have been otherwise overlooked. Sometimes stopping for tea is the highlight of the day, but mostly it is just a welcome and enjoyable punctuation between the larger experiences.

Below is a photo I took during one of these “Should we stop for tea?” breaks. On our way to the Aillwee Caveafter a lengthy drive north from Kilkee, past Doolin and up along the scenic Coast Road, which included a couple of windblown walkabouts on the Burren along the way – we enjoyed a wonderful respite at Monks Pub in Ballyvaughan at around 11 a.m.. Notice the lone tea-pot on the table – my idea of “stopping for tea”. Anton and Eóin had different ideas… but we all had a great time and departed with the energy we needed to forge ahead!

Tea, hot chocolate and Guinness at Monks Pub on a very cold, windy day!