At Claddagh Bay by the Spanish Arch on the River Corrib is the humble Ard Bia, a cafe and restaurant serving Irish, New Zealander, and North African dishes with foraged elderflower cordial and more. Owner Aoibheann McNamara is part restaurateur/part fashion designer who cofounded The Tweed Project, a company making, as she says, “one-off pieces that combine beautiful Irish fabrics with modern tailoring for a truly authentic expression of Irish design.” In that same spirit, McNamara works with Irish farmers on Ard Bia’s menu and with local artists on a rotating gallery on view in the restaurant. The Ard Bia table is made up of mismatched tableware and silver and surrounded by painted chairs and eclectic fabrics that makes for a charming, unaffected cafe interior. It has quickly become a must-stop for anyone taking a design tour of Ireland.
N.B.: While there, you can also rent Aoibheann McNamara’s own house via AirBnB.
Above: Pillows made from South American blankets line the built-in bench of the eclectic dining room.
Above: An old photograph and one of many of the restaurant’s small houseplants.
Above: The dining room was repainted white while leaving most of the building’s original accents intact.
Above: The dining table is decorated with foraged flowers and wax drippings that give character to old candlesticks.
Above: Blue jean napkins, Spanish plates, and antique silver for place settings.
Above: Quiet tables for two can be found in the upstairs restaurant and wine bar in the evening.
Above: An original iron detail in the downstairs window.
Above: Wooden crates for silverware storage.
Above: The Ard Bia Cookbook is available for $46 on Amazon.
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