Heron Gallery Café and Gardens in Ahakista is on the Sheep's Head Peninsula near Bantry in West Cork, Ireland and was established by artist Annabel Langrish in 2004.
It has been refurbished and is a bright and cheerful space leading to a sunny terrace and gardens. A leisurely walk around the gardens will take you on a yet more peaceful journey. There is always a collection of Annabel's vibrant originals, prints, cushions and raku ceramics. Favourite subjects are hares, dogs and pigs.
There are regular exhibitions of guest artists and details are regularly updated on the Facebook page.
The café hosts afternoon music events which are free to attend, voluntary contributions are welcome. There is a lovely sunny terrace for those precious sunny days and free WiFi can be accessed both inside and outside.
Visitors to the gallery can walk around the productive vegetable, herb and ornamental gardens where much of the produce used in the café is grown. The café serves fair trade organic coffee and teas, delicious scones and cakes and in summer, simple, wholesome lunches using locally sourced organic produce.
The menu is mainly vegetarian, with the exception of the Thai fishcakes and spicy Gubbeen chorizo and bean soup. Coeliacs and those with special diets are catered for and seasonal locally produced organic vegetables are used.
A typical menu includes a choice of two soups served with homemade brown bread, three or four specials including quiche, falafel or fishcakes served with homemade green salads and a selection of healthy and not so healthy desserts. Emphasis is always on fresh, organic, wholesome and attractive presentation using edible flowers and colour to create art on your plate.
Chips and burgers are not available, but children have a few options - homemade spicy wedges, macaroni cheese and homemade mini pizzas. Soups are always popular with kids too.
The gardens are vibrant with lots of colour and annuals are grown from seed - favourite cottage garden varieties like sweet peas, Californian poppies, sweet Williams and calendula. The ornamental beds and borders are a profusion of colour and scent all summer.
The vegetables are grown in raised beds and a polytunnel.
There is a large pond in the field, buzzing with huge dragonflies, a small wildlife pond with resident frogs, newts, water beetles and leeches and a raised goldfish pond under a rose and wisteria pergola.
Also there is a young orchard of Irish heritage apples, a wildflower meadow, a shingle garden and a fenced future forest area, home to pet kunekune pigs- Fuschia, Fay and Fern.
The gardens are on the West Cork Garden Trail and are open from Easter until the end of August, which is when the café is open too.