Irish tea - a national drink

Did you know? that Irish tea is actually the national drink of Ireland, not Guinness as is popularly thought? As important as choosing a political party (used to be) you are either a Lyons tea man or a Barrys tea supporter. Suitcases are more likely to contain boxes of this precious powdery stuff then anything else, especially if the Mammy is visiting from home. Immortalised by Mrs Doyle in the cult series Father Ted, you will be offered cup, after cup, after cup of tea.....

Lyons Irish Tea

Apart from Irish tea, we would like to think we are serious coffee drinkers as well, but that really only extends to espresso shots mid-morning to wake you up or mid-afternoon cappuccinos (same reason). Apart from Bewleys the original and best! All of the true flavours, aromas and atmosphere and a much loved second home to generations of Dubliners. We almost lost them a couple of years back? but the best of them all is still there in Grafton street, with lunch time concerts in the Oriental Room, €15 including lunch and coffee of course.

The 10 best places in Ireland to sample home baking are....

1 An Fear Gorta Ballyvaughan, Clare lovely old stone cottage by the sea with a lovely walled garden you can sit out in (Steven Spielberg flew into Shannon recently, on his private jet just so he could taste their cheesecake again)

2 Avoca Handweavers known as the 'possibly' shops because they sell the most delightful homegoods and are 'beyond' pretty. Excellent food you can buy to takeaway as well.

3 Bewleys Grafton Street there is no where quiet like it in the world, one whiff of coffee grounds us right back to our childhood or student days.

4 Burren Perfumery Tearooms Carron, Clare enjoy the best of organic food sourced locally, nicely presented with a mediteranean twist, you can browse afterwards in Perfumery shop.

5 Claires Tearooms, Clarinbridge, Galway. This is the kind of place your Mum, Aunt or Granny or would love, me too! Delicate bone china, light as air quiches & cup cakes.

6 Foxford Woollen Mills County Mayo, with more then enough organic healthy options you'd think I could resist the chocolate cake, not a chance?

7 Goya's Kirwans Lane, Galway. Apart from luscious cakes you can by or have made to order? the lemon meringue pie is about a foot high? they also have do very good lunch specials.

8 Griffins Bakery Shop St, Galway for the best tea and scones and real turf fires, bliss on a wintery day.

9 O'Connors Bakery Galway, Ennis & Limerick, for the domestically challenged like myself? you can buy the best 'homemade' (no one will ever know) bread, cakes and apple pies. I have even manged to pawn off their Christmas cakes and puddings as my own.

10 Powerscourt County Wicklow, a lovely day out, you can mooch around the garden or shops, or take a tour around the restored house, or sit out very regally with a hot chocolate or glass of wine on the terrace overlooking the sugarloaf mountain.