A pleasant cup of tea? Then I’ll meet you at the cemetery gates.
For a blog with the preoccupations this one has, how pleasant to find that a quaint tea room has opened in the quiet surroundings of Deansgrange Cemetery in South Dublin. In a place I like to visit often, this is a very welcome addition to the local area.
Rumours of “a tea room in the graveyard” has circulated for some time; I’m never sure where these start and how they get around but it was quite enticing. For years I’ve thought it would a great idea – how morbidly jolly, munching themed snacks in the shadow of tombstones, like a kind of permanent Hallowe’en. Then I thought, no, locals might find the notion a little lugubrious. And then I recalled that it’s apparently an Irish tradition to visit cemeteries on Christmas Day to remember departed relatives as part of the celebration – ‘Ho Ho Ho’ indeed.
Here it is, then: a (so far) nameless tea room, in a newly refurbished office building just inside the main cemetery gates.
The beautiful old house across from it has been significantly renovated and has, it seems, now become the headquarters for cemetery staff, allowing the former office building to be reborn as a cosy haven of hot beverages and home baking. The room itself is small, with an atmosphere as quaint as any village tea room or parish hall. It reminded me, happily, of such rooms in my own village back in Scotland.
The lady who runs it welcomed us in very cheerfully, and showed us to a large table at the back. As expected, the clientèle were chiefly older people, as befits an ‘olde tea shoppe’ and the presence of our children could have upset the quiet atmosphere. Still, there’s little better to silence a child than a large, fruity meringue and cream cake. The little ones shared it in something approaching silence, until the inevitable fight over which one had eaten the most came up.
Also served was a large slice of coffee and walnut cake. Mrs Grave News thought it was nicer than her own version, and the tea room lady was happy to share her secret – the use of ‘Irel Chicory and Coffee Essence’, the Irish equivalent of that particularly gruesome Scottish product which goes by the spectacularly brilliant name ‘Camp’. Personally, I can’t see how coffee substitute could possibly be a decent substitute for actual coffee, but there we are.
Speaking of coffee, the beverage itself is usually the seal for me as to whether a cafe is worthy of regular patronage. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. There is obviously no Italian coffee machine, which is not a bad thing in itself as there is a severe shortage of decent baristas. Here, coffee is served in a cafetière - often a worrying sign, but it was served strong and tasted very good indeed.
While the parents supped their beverages, the children went outside to play in a fenced-off area* which, I presume, would be used for extra tables in summertime. The lady told us that business is not as brisk as she’d like but then it appears the only advertising, besides word of mouth, is a little blackboard at the secondary gate further down the road. I would love to go more often, if just to support a lovely little local enterprise. Perhaps the pricing could be a little more competitive (personally, I think tea/coffee and cake should be no more €5 per person, here it was more like €6.50) but that may come in time.
For now, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that business picks up and more people get to enjoy the hospitality and home baking at this lovely little café. Mind you, it would be a lot easier to advertise if it had a name – do we think it at all likely that the owner will accept my suggestion of Snacks Bygraves?
* the eerie presence of a ghostly orb in the background notwithstanding