It wasn’t until I left Ireland that I recognized just how Irish the institution of ‘having a cuppa’ is.
Visiting a relative’s house? “Will you have a cuppa?”
Sitting around with the family after dinner? “Who wants a cuppa?”
Meeting friends in town? “Will we grab a cuppa?”
Sitting down over a hot cup of tea (black tea, preferably Lyons or Barrys- none of this fancy schmancy fruit or green tea stuff!) or coffee and having a chinwag is ingrained in an Irish person’s core. It is the first question you will be asked upon entering an Irish person’s house. Whether the conversation is about the excitement of the front page headlines of The Irish Times or the mundane of the grey weather, it will inevitably happen over a cuppa.
One of my favorite things about my annual trips home is the mornings my mom and I spend grabbing a cuppa at one of the local cafes. I heard recently that Ballincollig has close to 15 cafes, such is our penchant for the old cuppa! Over the last three weeks, mom and I did our darndest to partake in a Tour De Ballincollig Cafes! Here are some of the lovely establishments we visited.
Ah, lads! You know Ballincollig has made it when a Starbucks sets up shop. It’s in a beautiful building in the middle of Ballincollig Square. Not much to say about this one- if you’ve been to one Starbucks, you’ve pretty much been to them all.
This one is upstairs from Easons in Ballincollig Shopping Center. Apart from the fact that the stairs make strollers hard to navigate, it’s pretty kid-friendly. There’s a small play table for little ones and coloring for the bigger ones. The food is decent and the views over Ballincollig Square are lovely.
Nosh and Coffee
Another one of Ballincollig Shopping Center’s many cafes. There are some lovely paninis at this cafe, and if the downstairs is too busy you can always truck upstairs for some peace and quiet.
One of Ballincollig’s newer cafes, the sweets here are really delicious. We happened to pop in after my Lisbon trip, and sitting right at the front of the counter was a plate of Pastel de Natas. Get In Ma Belly! We found out one of their bakers is Portuguese and was trying out this recipe for the first time.
Good for the Soul
This cafe has only opened in the last few weeks. It is the hipster cafe of Ballincollig. Even the menus are cool. Old hardback Beano and He-Man comics from the eighties enshrine the food choices. The poached egg and salmon brekkie was goooood! I felt very millennial getting the takeout avocado toast for my sister (which really was delish!)
This one is probably my favorite for our morning cuppa. It’s not fancy and is one of the oldest cafes- restaurants on the list. Mom and I have been coming here for years. In the summer we sit outside and let the kids run around the large, wide- open square by the cinema while we sip our tea. It was still a little cold for that this year. The kids’ scones were fresh out of the oven and I ordered my usual half Irish fry. The kids regaled the owner Mary with tales of their Irish vacation and ended up with lollipops for their troubles.
The Ballincollig Farmer’s Market
Every Wednesday, a little farmer’s market sets up in the square outside the Shopping Center. There is a lovely atmosphere and a plethora of places to grab a bite from. The Wednesday morning we went, a lady with a guitar serenaded us while we grabbed our cuppa.
The Chapel Gate Cafe
When you grab your cuppa at this cafe, you support BALANCE, an organization in Ballincollig that supports people with special needs. The staff are friendly, the food is fresh and it’s very kid friendly.
My Mom’s Kitchen Table
You just can’t beat this one!