Could these be the best ice creams in Cork? Meet the couple behind a new parlour

A couple have set up an ice cream parlour with a dizzying array of flavours in Ballycotton — just in time for the lifting of the lockdown and summertime, reveals CHRIS DUNNE
Could these be the best ice creams in Cork? Meet the couple behind a new parlour

One of the mouth watering ice creams on offer at   'Coney' Island. 

IF you want your summertime ice-creams to come with a stamp of approval — head to Coney Island, a new ice-cream parlour at the Trawl Door deli and cafe in Ballycotton.

The premises is located in the town’s former post office.

The owners, Joan Paul and her husband Seán, are hoping business will boom now the 5km restriction has gone and sunnier days arrive.

“People are eager to get out for spins and for picnics in the great outdoors,” says Joan. “The cliff walk here hasn’t opened up again yet, but people are flocking to the seaside.”

Coney Island has a delicous list of frozen treats, including East Cork Mess, Rocky Bog Road, Ballycotton Banoffee, Coney Island Sandwich and Zest On The Beach, all for €3.95.

Joan and Seán Paul at their Coney Island ice cream parlour in Ballycotton
Joan and Seán Paul at their Coney Island ice cream parlour in Ballycotton

Joan, who is originally from Tullamore, Co. Offaly, met her husband at a wedding in 2005 when she travelled to Ballycotton from Scotland. The couple bought the two-storey shop there 14 years ago, trading as The Ballycotton Stores and Post Office.

“I think everyone in the county and in the country is desperate to get out and about in the fresh air and take a stroll or enjoy a picnic outdoors in the countryside or at the beach,” says Joan, who is hoping an ice cream will be the icing on the cake for a perfect day out.

“There’s something about ice cream that evokes childhood memories and creates nostalgia,” says Joan.

 “I remember as a kid going for the ‘Sunday spin’. We never knew where we were going but we always knew there was an ice-cream at the end of the journey!”

Ice cream cones, ice cream sundaes, 99s, knickerbocker glories, and a scoop of Fermoy Glenowen Ice-cream, reminds us of bygone days out in the countryside.

“The ice-cream parlour has definitely sparked joy among the locals here,” says Joan. “Since we opened a couple of weeks ago, we’ve had massive support from the locals, including Darina Allen and her family.

“Day-trippers visit the deli for scones, rolls, quiches, desserts and salads. Families especially love visiting the ice-cream parlour and looking at the ice cream flavours and choices we have on offer. It’s a treat!”

Another one of Joan and Sean's special ice creams.
Another one of Joan and Sean's special ice creams.

Choosing a delicious sundae is a serious business, especially when you’re spoilt for choice, and when you are being treated royally.

“My sister, Nuala, is the ice-cream queen,” says Joan, introducing me to her.

With all the names and flavours, customers are spoilt for choice.

I opt for the Ballycotton Banoffee Sundae, which hits that mouth-watering spot; the combination of fresh banana, biscuit crumb, and home-made butterscotch sauce, topped with vanilla fudge pieces, almost transports me the 5,041 kilometres from Ballycotton Island to Coney Island, USA.

And when I offered their award-winning Bellagio coffee, I was in heaven.

“The Trawl was named Cork County Council’s ‘Best Newcomer’ in 2019,” says Joan. 

“When trends changed, we renovated the shop in 2019. All our cakes, scones, salads, cakes and desserts are home-made. I make them all fresh in-house every morning.”

Joan is a grafter.

“I had my last day off last August and then on Christmas Day. I love cooking and baking. My mother was a great cook.”

She had to be.

“There were nine of us to feed!” says Joan, laughing.

While the shop remained open for takeaways during Covid 19, An Post closed the post office counter last December after 30 years.

Where did the quirky name, Coney Island, come from?

“My brother, John Minnock, came up with the name and Seán’s nephew, Dylan, created a logo to that effect,” says Joan.

 “Dylan did all the art-work here.

“The picture of the ice-cream cone appearing out of the sea is symbolic, with Ballycotton lighthouse within our sights from the shop window. Having a link to two islands, Ballycotton Island and Coney Island, seemed like a really good idea. The name is a great talking point among our customers!”

Coney Island is full of good flavours and the Pauls are full of good ideas.

“Dylan has also created a map of the cliff walk that people can pick up here in the shop for free,” says Joan. 

“It provides a good guide for children to follow. Lots of families come in here to the shop before doing the cliff walk to get rolls and coffee. They can pick up a free map of the cliff walk too.”

As well as that free souvenir, they can have a soft scoop or a hard scoop of ice cream with a flake, or with a fruit topping, or with the Trawl Door’s own delicious sweet sauce recipe.

Zest on the Beach from Coney Island.
Zest on the Beach from Coney Island.

“I make the home-made ice-cream sauces,” says Joan. “And I include sauces suitable for vegans.

Seán is in the process of researching making his own ice-cream. Has he a secret recipe?

“It’s so secret, he doesn’t know himself what it is!” jokes Joan, adding that her husband also does the ordering, the administration, and the maintenance.

There are more plans in the pipeline for Coney Island.

“Later in the summer, we plan to put seating outside,” says Joan.

 “People can enjoy their coffee, salad or ice cream overlooking the fabulous sea view.”

The Trawl Door and Coney Island is a family affair set in the dreamy fishing village of Ballycotton.

Does Joan advise others to push the boat out and take the plunge, opening a new business or expandingin these testing times?

“You know, if you believe in your product and you know it is top quality, then go for it,” says Joan. 

“Word spreads about good food and good quality produce. Give it a go; just see what happens!”

Another one of the offerings from the new ice cream at Coney Island, Ballycotton.
Another one of the offerings from the new ice cream at Coney Island, Ballycotton.

Across the bay, in Youghal, the good news has spread about Coney Island. A former U.S special-forces soldier who was decorated for valour, Micéal O’Hurley, of King of Fantastic Flavours Ice Cream parlour, wishes his neighbours all the best in their new venture.

Micáel, who is married to Oksana, bought an ice-cream machine in 1984 at a boot sale for $50. Now Fantastic Flavours on Main Street, Youghal, is a favourite staple in the sea-side town.

“It’s funny, but last year was our best yet,” says Micéal. “Ireland is not reliant on tourism for business. Irish people are great to support local businesses.”

“I look forward to opening up and welcoming everybody back,” he says.

And when it comes to staycations, you can’t lick a good ice-cream!

Trawl Door and Coney Island Ballycotton open 7 days a week. 8am-6pm.

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