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Rachel Gaffney's Letter from Texas

Jake McDorman in Ballydehob

The famous foodie who’s flying the tricolour for us in Texas rustles up a short notice Irish trip for actor Jake McDorman and his childhood friend, Cole Evans

It has been by far the most unusual trip I have had to plan to date. They had booked their tickets from Los Angeles, to Cork, via Reykjavik. Friends since early childhood, Jake McDorman and Cole Evans had decided on a whim that they wanted to escape Los Angeles and Austin. “When are you leaving?” I asked. “In 48 hours time,” was the reply

Jake McDorman, is known for his roles in the movie American Sniper with Bradley Cooper, Live Free or Die Hard with Bruce Willis, star of the CBS tv series Limitless playing Brian Finch and in the tv series Shameless with William H Macy he played the part of Mike.

Meeting people and having conversations with them prior to planning their trip is crucial for me. There must be a dialogue first between us. I need to know who they are. They reveal clues and answers to questions I didn’t know I had. As their personality unfolds, I immediately think of people around the country they should meet. It always starts with the people. Usually I have months or at least weeks to plan, allowing me to really get to know them, but this was, as I mentioned, unusual. I had 48 hours.

They were already on their way to Reykjavik and I was planning their route from Cork to Kerry. Then it happened. In the middle of the night, I received a text message to say they were delayed in Iceland for a day and the flight would be diverted to Dublin instead of Cork. Fantastic. There went my itinerary. Where to start? Who to see? What to do?

The Taste of Dublin was in full swing at Iveagh Gardens. I knew that Cavan’s own Neven Maguire was one of the many culinary heroes being featured and I thought if I reached out to Neven, then I could take if from there. He welcomed Jake and Cole with the same warmth and kindness he naturally extends to everyone. A great start for their first day and night in Ireland.

Jake McDorman at a waterfall in Ireland

It was Friday, June 16. I was looking ahead to the weekend. Cork’s Long Table Dinner was scheduled for Sunday, June 18. A dining table that would seat 400 people in the centre of the city, with 12 of the city’s finest restaurants and chefs showcasing the food and drink from the county, it was the perfect way for them to interact with the locals and really get a feel for the character of the city.

So I reached out to none other than fellow Cork woman, Claire Nash, owner of Nash 19 to help me with these two guests. I was working with a 6 hour time difference, limited cell phone service and was quite literally planning this trip on the fly, trying my very best to work a day or two ahead wherever possible. Claire Nash is now filed away in my mental Rolodex of ‘Go to people’.

There are people who find reasons why something can’t be done and then there are people who just ask, “what do you need” These are the people I will go to again and again and again. You may not get exactly what you had in mind but you get a solution. It is my understanding from Jake that he was interviewed by Mary Kennedy from RTE’s Nationwide and should have been aired sometime in August.

Sunday night at the Imperial Hotel Cork was now taken care of, but I was still a day behind. I had yet to arrange the Saturday night. It was now Friday afternoon in Dallas. Meanwhile, back in Dublin, Jake and Cole were having a wonderful night on the town with my good friend, Ray Ronan, an Aer Lingus captain. Ray is a writer. Ray co wrote Seconds to Disaster with Glenn Meade and is the author of Bombay Blood. I knew these three would have a lot in common, all with creative and inquiring minds.

My next go to person had to be, Aisling O’Callaghan, proprietor of Longueville House, Mallow, Cork. Her response was prompt. There was a wedding that weekend and they were fully booked. But within half an hour, she returned with the most wonderful news. She had spoken with the Bride to be and not only did they have two rooms available, but the bride invited them to be guests at her wedding. Jake McDorman and Cole Evans were about to attend their first Irish wedding.

All I will say is that I received a call from them the following day to tell me they were singing with the wedding party at 3am. The next afternoon, following a walk in the orchards with the O’Callaghans dogs, they set off for Cork.

On Monday morning, I was now on my own Texas road trip with three friends. We were spending a few days in San Antonio and the remainder of the week at the beach in Port Aransas. The guys had booked a 2-night stay through Airbnb in Ballydehob, West Cork. This was perfect as it bought me enough time to plan ahead. Through people they had met at the Long Table dinner, they were invited to spend the night in Crookhaven also. This was perfect.

I wanted them to visit Killaloe, the most wonderful place in East Clare. A place I was smitten by when visiting a few years ago. Located on the River Shannon and packed full of history, I remembered the activities on offer would appeal to the adventurer.

Several phone calls, text messages and direct messages through Twitter later, Jake and Cole would be guests for the night at my friend’s home in Killaloe. Now, my friend happened to be in Dublin during their pending stay but still wanted them to be his guests. They have a guesthouse and a family friend lives in this guesthouse. She would welcome them. And so she did. Oh how she welcomed them.

They had expressed the desire to canoe or kayak wherever she would recommend. She recommended they venture out to Holy Island on Lough Derg. She brought them to the shores edge and warned them that it was imperative they row around the island 3 times before disembarking. This was crucial as the bad luck that would befall them would follow them for a lifetime.

Eager to comply, they managed to make it around the island once but by now they were arguing with each other. Jake lost his Polaroid Camera overboard and so they each went their separate ways. By now, on his 2nd turn around the island, Jake decided he had enough. His luck was so bad that it could not possibly get any worse. He dragged the boat up, so as not to lose it. He stepped into a pile of cow dung and was greeted by a herd of, as he described to me, “the most curious cows ever” They walked right over to him and it was at that point that he looked over and saw his pal Cole walk across soaking wet from an unscheduled dip in the Shannon.

Later that evening, they soon discovered that three times around the island was in fact a wicked prank! That night they ate outdoors with this very same lady and listened as she told them all about Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf. The following day they climbed the Brian Boru tree, the oldest tree in Ireland with my friend, who had now returned from Dublin, and his children.They stayed in Killaloe another night.

It was time to meander back to Cork but not before stopping in Adare village and dining at 1826 Adare, owned and operated by one of my favourites, Chef Wade Murphy. Contemporary Irish food presented in an historic thatched cottage is an experience not to be missed. A warm welcome always awaits you from Chef Wade and his wife Elaine.

Jake and Cole wanted to return to Longueville House. It was beginning to feel like their home. Their special place. It was closed for their staff party. But, like all good homes, family are always welcome and so Jake and Cole were to join the family at Longueville House for their last night in Ireland.


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Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland

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