Dairy-free/Wheat-free holiday in Cork

On a recent long weekend break in Cork I found some lovely places which cater for wheat and dairy intolerances.  Cork just has a wonderful buzz about it and there is always so much to do and see. The weather was great too, which is always an added bonus in Ireland.

Great places to eat: Issacs, Hayfield Manor, O’Connaill’s Chocolates

Issacs on McCurtain Street

We had pre booked, letting them know about my intolerances.   All I can say is what a wonderful find.   The waitress had remembered my intolerances and with no fuss or bother went through the menu and made a few suggestions.  She also pointed out that the chef would change sauces and anything else necessary to suit.  As the place was just hopping, totally packed with hungry mouths to feed, this bending over backwards to help me wasn’t expected.  The chef changed the sauce on my dish to a delicious tomato and pepper sauce, along the lines of ratatouille and was just delicious.  Iassac’s is on my list and definitely worth checking out if you’re around there.  It’s a really casual place with a terrific buzz and delicious food.

Hayfield Manor

This hotel is just fabulous, luxurious, cosy, great food… I’ll be doing a TripAdvisor report soon so more on it then.  One thing I’ll say here is that they are doing great specials so worth checking out and they served up delicious evening meals which were no bother to change to suit, where possible.

Natural Foods Bakery

Of all the times I’ve been to Cork I was amazed at how I had missed this place up to now.  Even on the day we found it, only thanks to Tony I would’ve passed it off.  Their main bakery is located at the Pierhead, Blackrock, Co Cork.  We visited their shop on Paul Street in Cork city and were just delighted to find, along with their wheat packed selection of cakes, they offer a variety of wheat / sugar and dairy free cakes and treats.

At lunchtime they have spelt flatbreads, so a handy place for a quick and healthy bite to eat. I enjoyed a spelt flatbread salad sandwich and me being me I bought cakes.

Their bobcake (a fruit cake but different, as they describe it themselves) and their date oatie (like a flapjack) were delicious. The flapjack is a great snack to bring on a trip as it’s a huge slice so can be nibbled on throughout the day.  It’s so handy when you get stuck out on a day trip and there’s nothing in the cafes for you to eat.  On our trip the following day when we ended up in Mizen Head the flapjack was a godsend.

The shop in Cork city was originally a natural foods store owned by their mother, Helen, but the two sisters have since changed it to the bakery. Great little bakery offering great selection of breads and cakes (breads get them early in the morning as they go quickly).  On our second visit I met Ellie, one of the owners, and along with her  sister run the whole show. Looking forward to stocking up when I next visit Cork.

O’Conaill Chocolate

Their factory is based in Carrigaline but we visited their chocolate and coffee shop in French Church Street, again in Cork city. I buy a lot of their 70% dark chocolate as it’s dairy and wheat free.  This chocolate reminds me of a wonderful organic chocolate I used to enjoy.  They have a wide range of different types of chocolate but my main focus was on their dark, gluten and dairy free selection.  I was delighted to see they sell 2.5Kg slabs of the chocolate which works out far cheaper than buying the smaller packs, especially if you’re like me and use a lot.  Pity no one sells the big slab in Dublin for them, maybe one day.  So how thrilled I was walking back to the hotel with my chocolate slab.  You might laugh but I showed Tony in delight and he just shook his head and smiled – what’s he like.  By the way, these are not dairy free or wheat free but they do chocolate hurleys which are a wonderful idea as a present from Ireland or for a hurling lover where ever they are. The staff too were really helpful and knowledgeable and willing to check with the factory if they didn’t know an answer themselves, which proved useful to me as I pondered buying more from the range.
Beyond Cork city places to visit: Skull,  Mizen Head and Crookhaven

Skull: A friend of Tony’s hails from Skull so as well as great tips for places to eat in Cork city she also pointed us to great places in Skull.  The Bunratty Inn in Skull is a local pub but the food is good wholesome grub at reasonable prices again.  I had, the only way i can put it, a massive salad.  The village is also very quaint and old world but the Bunratty Inn won it for us.

Mizen Head: As we were so close to Mizen Head we drove on to see it.  It’s like a trip back in time at the Visitors Centre.  You get to see a replica of the kitchen and bedroom of the lighthouse keeper.  OMG was it tiny.  You can hear a recording of the wind howling and just imagine the loneliness they must have endured.

There is also a video showing how they made the ‘ship in a bottle’ including the trick to getting the ship upright in the bottle.  The last lighthouse keeper left in 1993 and in a way I’m glad, as even now it just seemed a lonely place.  In saying that it was wonderful to see and Tony had great fun viewing the old radio navigation system for ships at sea.

You can also walk to the lighthouse itself (takes about half an hour or a little bit more) and very steep hill on the way back so brace yourself.

For dairy and wheat free diets remember to bring your own food as it’s only a small cafe with limited array of food, basically just for a quick refreshment. We don’t usually have that luxury of finding suitable wheat and dairy free treats in places like this, now do we? I didn’t care this time though did I as I had my flapjack from Natural Foods Bakery bought the day before.

Also the road is extremely narrow as you approach Mizen Head so take plenty of deep breaths and be patient with having to share the road tightly with oncoming traffic.


On the way back to Cork city from Mizen Head we came across Crookhaven.  The sun was shining gloriously and the water was crystal clear.  If only we had some time, and swimsuits, we’ve had rushed down there.  We were up on a hill but seemed a great beach for families and the water so crystal blue clear.

It’s great to see that’s it getting somewhat easier for anyone suffering with intolerances. There is a growing acceptance of gluten free and dairy free. It’s a pity that the wheat allergy or intolerance is just lumped in at times with gluten free as it’s not always the case that they are both interchangeable.  So fed and watered in Cork and no ill effects.

On to the next holiday.  Do you find it easier to find places that cater for your intolerance or are more willing now to adjust their menu to suit?  I’d like to see more variety and choice for dairy free and wheat-free together included in the menus.  Do you agree?


Categories: Uncategorized


Home cook, Irish food blogger and live a plant-based lifestyle. I also co-own of www.herbicarni.com with my hubs where you'll find online courses, vegan chocolates and lots more to help a transition to a plant-based diet or live with someone who is a carnivore.


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