It is worth making small diversion off the main Sligo road to investigate Nessa O'Brolchain and Cliodhna Quinlan's café at Ardcarne Garden Centre, near Boyle - and garden lovers will be in heaven anyway, as it’s a destination garden centre (and a specialist listed by RHS Plantfinder).
Open since 2013, the café is a lovely bright and colourful light-filled space with a mature olive tree as its centre piece and beautiful murals by photographer Mike Bunn, who is very attached to the area.
The evocative ‘Bluebell Wood’, taken in nearby Oakport Forest, is a reminder of the unspoilt beauty of the local woodland, while the collage of ten vegetables and flowers should inspire everyone who passes through here to go home and grow something.
The café faces right on to the main plant area in the garden centre so it feels as if it's in a big garden and, with well spaced chunky wooden tables and comfortable chairs, it’s a lovely setting for wholesome, homemade food that showcases some of the best seasonal and artisan produce from the locality and around Ireland.
At lunchtime, freshly made soups come with home baked breads, and hot dishes inspired by the girls' travels come with organically grown vegetables from Knockvicar and a choice of lovely salad sides. Delicious vegetarian and gluten free options are always available.
And then of course, if you’re just popping in for a cuppa (there's an interesting drinks list and the arabica blend house coffee is supplied by French roasters, Caron Coffee), there are gorgeous home bakes to help the day along - and, like almost everything else, including the chutneys and dressings - all the breads and bakes treats are on sale to take home for later too.
Events and workshops are often held, including musical events and classes (Cliodhna is a classically trained violinist and fiddler).