It was an educational experience and a brush with Craggy Island reality. Being offered the honour of a long hour’s trench warfare did not always guarantee that those selected would turn up. For some being picked only mattered if a better proposition could not be found.
One, our only decent player, would vanish if there was a good fall of woodcock; another’s presence depended on where the pack of otter hounds — yes, it was that long ago — his family had built over generations were hunting. If it was good, likely ground he’d be gone too.
Thankfully that principle worked in reverse and if our coach wanted a decent squad he had to use skills that had nothing to do with the ploughing, red-faced, ball-dropping kind of rugby we played. More than once he shared the seemingly irrelevant titbit that “Niamh was coming home from Mary I for the weekend, Paula told the missus.”
Niamh would come to the game to watch her brother and her doe-eyed admirers — scrum half, centre and hooker — would turn up and in washed gear too.
Another selector, still playing well into his 40s, had built a reputation as an all round sports man, or at least he thought he had, on the remote but culturally-significant fact that he had had a trial for the county minors about 30 years earlier. However, he had become known as the flying comb-over, one, thin pony tail trailing as he rushed — if that’s not too extravagant — defences. He was impossible not to notice, the uncovered head was almost fluorescence in its whiteness, like the freshly-chalked tip of a snooker cue, it was a beacon even in mud and fog. If he had been an otter hound he’d have been called An Buachaillín Bán.
Anyway, the meeting was nearing its end and a position remained open. A name was offered and our bald Brian O’Driscoll dismissed a contender, a steadfast defender, with a cutting judgement: “Him? Shure he couldn’t turn in the square in Macroom!”
We, DW and I, parked in that very square some weeks ago as we made our way to Granville’s Bar and Grill, which is about as far as anyone on that long-forgotten team could run — maybe 60 metres — from the square.
It is a lovely welcoming place, full of cheery, buzzing staff all smiling and more than happy to help. As we waited — we were early — we sampled some of the lovely craft beer Paul and Leonie Granville offer. And a glass of Shandon Stout was an excellent reason to arrive early.
DW opened with bruschetta, mushrooms and some salad and it was a fine, generous plate, full of zip and taste. Nothing spectacular, just good, fresh real food. I chose lobster and prawn bisque which had been enriched with a dash of brandy cream. It was a lovely, well-balanced dish, one I’d happily have any time.
For her main course DW had roast cod with spinach, prawns and pesto served with a smoked salmon risotto and Hollandaise sauce. It read as if it might be a flavour or two too many but, no, it was a success all built around a fine, fresh piece of well-cooked cod.
My main course, rack of lamb with a herb crust, was not wonderful. The meat was far too fatty and the crust more a poultice than an enriching coat of flavour. It is not difficult to get the fat/meat ratio right, but in this instance almost half of what was served was inedible fat. A pity, especially in an area where lamb is hardly a rarity.
Desserts — apple crumble and fruit trifle — were boarding-school dull too, more transition-year muddles than the kind of exciting dish the food-as-a-lifestyle culture of the last decade, and myriad TV chefs, has made everyday.
Granville’s is a lovely welcoming place but it needs to do more with its food to stand out from the crowd. There were plenty of indications that could be achieved.
Dinner for two with a bottle wine — €33 — and coffee came to €115
Open daily 12pm (12.30 Sunday), lunch 12pm-5pm, early bird 5pm-7pm and a la carte 5pm-9.30pm.