Clare Teal: Dashing through the snow on a memorable Irish tour

A GREAT time was had in Ireland with that dazzling young conductor from Gateshead John Wilson and the legendary RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Sadly our Wexford concert was cancelled due to snow and ice, so we didn't get to experience the delights of the newly-built opera house. Our unexpected day off was not spent drinking. Guinness or Jamiesons but instead working on the laptop in the hotel room. We did venture out at about 5pm to have an early dinner with Geraldine, the harpist from the orchestra, she took us to the extraordinary gastro emporium that is Fallon & Byrne.

Formerly a telephone exchange, this landmark building has been beautifully remodelled. You walk in on the ground floor to the most stunning display of fruit, veg, meats and fancy tins, it's like a cross between the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Fortnum and Mason's store in Piccadilly and Betty's Tea Room in Harrogate.The restaurant wasn't open when we arrived so instead we had a drink and a nibble of pat and homemade bread in the wine shop downstairs.

A fabulous atmosphere is created by the quirky dcor and the many hundreds of wine bottles filling every wall – more than 600 varieties in total and no, we didn't try them all. After one drink we ventured upstairs to the restaurant.The steak was out of this world. In bed early, I wanted to be fresh and in good voice for the people of west Ireland and surrounding areas. Galway is the land of our ancestors, we travelled there on the coach with the orchestra – dashing through the snow on the brand new motorway. We bought four metal kazoos before Geraldine – harp, Steve – drums and Ian – bassoon, took us to McDonaghs, the best chippy in Galway.

A standing ovation from the people of Galway then off back to Dublin by car. Arrive at 1.30am, grab a few hours sleep before getting picked up at 6am.

We land in Bristol, repack the car and head off to Exeter for the first of what I call the Festive Fiestas (love that Miranda Hart show).If you want a joyous musical cuddle, come see us at the Burnley Mechanics. Tonight!