Teatime in Ireland

IrelandMissCourtneys1

MISS COURTNEY’S TEAROOMS
8 College Street • Killarney, County Kerry
353-87-610-9500 • misscourtneys.com

Miss Margaret Courtney opened her confectionery, tea, and grocery business at No. 8 College Street, Killarney, in 1909. The women of the next two generations ran the store as a café and bakery until 1999. Then in 2008, the fourth generation, Sandra Dunlea, opened Miss Courtney’s Tearooms, an adorable, irresistible, magical cocoon of nostalgia and timeless charm. Sandra loves old-fashioned 20th-century style, and the beautiful antique china, elegant tiered cake stands, vintage embroidered tablecloths, and pretty tea sets maintain an enchanting link with the past. Her grandfather, an accomplished photographer whose eye-catching black-and-white images of the family decorate the tearoom walls, always said Sandra belonged in a different era. The tearoom continued its colorful historical links in 2009 when it celebrated the family’s 100 years in tea with a 1930s swing and Lindy Hop tea dance. A program of jazz evenings, Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties, and Ladies’ and Gents’ Tea parties keep the sense of old-fashioned fun spinning. But live radio broadcasts from the tearoom, book club meetings, high-profile magazine articles, and a long, long list of awards keep Miss Courtney’s very much in the swing of modern Killarney life.

Tea here includes, of course, all the favorites—neat sandwiches, scones with homemade jam and clotted or whipped cream, and cakes that Sandra and her mum bake according to old family recipes (Victoria sponge, chocolate and brandy, sticky date and walnut, etc.). There’s an excellent selection of green, white, black, and puerh teas from Assam, Darjeeling, Sri Lanka, and China and a few herbal and fruit infusions. “We use loose-leafed tea in the pot. I prefer this way because I like seeing the leaves in the strainer—it’s nicer than pouches or infuser baskets, I think. And, of course, some customers choose not to strain, to have some leaves in their cup. And then we often see people reading their tea leaves for fun!”

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