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In Ireland for Thanksgiving?

Here are tips for finding your favourite Thanksgiving foods in Ireland, where to eat a Thanksgiving dinner out, and more.

Updated with more places to eat Thanksgiving dinner in Ireland  for 2015, some recipe ideas, and a Thanksgiving reenactment. If YOU’VE tips, a fab recipe, Thanksgiving event or fun Thanksgiving in Ireland themed photo you’d like to share, contact me. @vibrantireland on Twitter or email Cheers!

Essential for Thanksgiving in Ireland? Libby's classic canned pumpkin.

Essential for Thanksgiving in Ireland? Libby’s classic canned pumpkin.

Thanksgiving food most missed in Ireland? Pumpkin Pie!

But wait, help is at hand! You can now buy that pumpkin pie classic, pumpkin in a can, in Ireland! How many of us grew up with this rather rubbery mass of surprising deliciousness? Often the brand of choice was Libby’s; You may enjoy the blast from the past Libby’s commercial below!

Note: I should say that while I didn’t conduct a rigorous scientific survey, in chatting to other North Americans over the years, Pumpkin Pie seems to top the list of what we miss most when we spend Thanksgiving in Ireland 🙂



[youtube_sc url=”” title=”vintage%20Libby%27s%20Libby%27s%20Libby%27s%20ad%20″]

Fallon & Byrne in Dublin carry Libby’s canned pumpkin in their shop; I know that  supplies sell out fairly sharpish in many places, and F & B is no exception. Perhaps just give Fallon & Byrne a buzz to check stock levels before you make a special trip. Of course just eating there in their tasty restaurant is a grand consolation if you find the pumpkin pie cans are all gone! Tel. 01 4721010 (choose 1 for the office) Open Mon to Fri 8am- 9pm,  Sat 9am- 9pm, Sun 11am- 7pm Location: 11-17 Exchequer St, Dublin 2

I’ve seen canned pumpkin occasionally in Aldi or Lidl– it must have been during one of their special ‘American’ promotions (Hotdogs in liquid stuffed a jar, anyone? Umm, how is that even a thing? Did I miss this during my 30 years in the States?) If I were you, I’d keep my eyes peeled over the coming weeks in case these guys put canned pumpkin on their shelves again.

You can order Libby’s canned pumpkin online at where it costs €3.45 a can. They also have some shop stocklists; here’s the list from their website:

Call before you go to make sure they have what you are looking for!

The Food Centre (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

Unit 1

Cleveragh Business Park (beside Doorly Park)


Ph: 071-91-74077



The Food Centre (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

Unit 12

Hills Industrial Estate


Ph: 01-601-0952



FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

1-4 Lower Camden Street

Dublin 2

Ph: 01-475-8033/8036



FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery, Drinks, Sweets, Snacks)

Unit 4, Block 1

Grand Canal Square (near the Bord Gais Energy Theatre)

Dublin 2

Ph: 01-671-8004



FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery,Drinks, Sweets, Snacks)


Unit 2

Mayor Street

Dublin 2


Ph: 01-672-0977


FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery,Drinks, Sweets, Snacks)


Dublin 7




Gleesons of Booterstown (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

44 Booterstown Avenue (accross from the Booterstown Church)

Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Ph: 01-288-0236



Londis (Drinks, Sweets)

Foxrock Avenue

Foxrock, Dublin 18

Ph: 01-289-4777


McAteers, The Food House (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

15 Clanbrassil Street

Dundalk, Co. Louth

Ph: 042-932-6420



Super Valu (Rushe’s) (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

37 Castle Street

Dalkey, Co. Dublin

Ph: 01-285-9477


Sweeties (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

56 Henry Street


Co. Clare

Ph: 085-732-8759

Fun! And how to make your own pumpkin pie- can or no can

A fun read with a great recipe for pumpkin pie is US expat Imen McDonald’s account of her first Thanksgiving in Ireland. Well! I find some of those reactions to the pumpkin pie almost sacrilegious 😉

Mouthwatering Recipes from ex-pats in Ireland

Thanksgiving can be a bit of a puzzle in regards to vegetarian eating; what main dish can you serve that is special, filling, and delicious? I think this gorgeous dish from Canadian ex-pat Janine may even tempt the meat eaters away from the turkey. (Note: Canadian’s have their Thanksgiving the second Monday in October.) Butternut Squash, Sage, and Buffalo Mozzarella, let’s be having you! The recipe is here on Cooking With Craic; do check it out & her other recipes too!

MY TIP: you can now get Irish made buffalo mozzarella. As well as online and at cheesemongers’, I’ve also purchased it at Aldi, for €1.99. Yum! 

Irish Buffalo Mozzerella - I got this at Aldi for 1.99

Irish Buffalo Mozzarella – I got this at Aldi for 1.99

Janine says:

Here’s a vegetarian lasagna recipe made with béchamel, butternut squash, sage and buffalo mozzarella. It’s not entirely diet-friendly, but we’re thinking of it as one of our final, creamy indulgences before our diet begins on Monday. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

I’m sure we will!

If you’d like to add a classic Irish flair to your Thanksgiving spread, why not try some easy Irish soda bread? Dee has added a few nutty bits to this, and pumpkin seed (sensing a theme?) but you can omit them if you’d like. Dee says:

Irish Soda Bread Recipe -GreensideUp

Irish Soda Bread Recipe -GreensideUp

I don’t recall eating soda bread in the UK, but soon discovered how tasty it is with a chunk of cheese or a bowl of soup when we moved to Ireland; as a result of Colette’s recipe I also learnt that it’s incredibly easy to make. There’s no kneading or waiting for the bread to rise, just throw all the ingredients in a bowl, transfer to a loaf tin, pop in the oven and it’s done. The traditional Irish bread soda recipe contains just four ingredients – flour, salt, buttermilk and bread soda but a few more bits and pieces have been added to this Irish Soda Bread recipe.

Dee grows masses of vegetables in her Irish garden as well as teaching others about vegetable gardening, and she’s great recipes for pumpkin rice and for pumpkin soup.

I also enjoyed this Instagram photo shared on Twitter by @Alanazdinak 😀 Now that’s a quick and easy Thanksgiving dinner!

No need to go home for Thanksgiving. All sorted now! #Merica #dublin2015

A photo posted by AlanaZ (@alanazdinak) on

For something more substantial, why not try Thanksgiving Dinner in Waterford’s wonderful La Boheme? They tell me that:

Our chefs have created a sumptuous feast of traditional Thanksgiving fare. Eric and Christine lived in the States when they met, and when they moved to Europe, they missed this traditional feast and therefore decided to offer the menu in La Boheme every Thanksgiving. Its a hugely popular day and menu in La Boheme, with many patrons traveling from far and wide to participate in the day, so reservations are appreciated. 

Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in Ireland at La Boheme

Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in Ireland at La Boheme

A tasty and easy way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland! La Boheme’s Thanksgiving dinner is €29.95 pp, and runs Thanksgiving evening only. You can check out their Turkey Day menu here.


Where else can you eat Thanksgiving dinner out in Ireland?

Well, I’ve gotten some tips via social media. — Over on the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page, Linda Fulton Burke says:  Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney has a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Their website is here:   Twitter supplied an idea for the Eastern side of the country, in Drogheda, county Louth:   

@Eseaboard is Eastern Seafood Bar & Grill, and they have served Thanksgiving dinner for the past 7 years. Give them a shout on their Facebook Page to find out the details for this Thanksgiving. You can get their Brown Hound Bakery pumpkin pie in Dublin, too:  

PIE LOVERS UNITE! #pumpkinpie Brown Hound Bakery Ireland for #Thanksgiving 26.11.15 also available for collection in DUBLIN from The Garden Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, D2 (1pm – 3pm) pre-orders only!

Posted by Brown Hound Bakery Ireland on Thursday, 12 November 2015

Thanksgiving at the Ulster American Folk Park

It could be very interesting for North American visitors to see what they think of the Thanksgiving reenactment at the Ulster American Folk park in Northern Ireland. I’d be quite curious to see this myself, especially as it is based around a family in western Pennsylvania; where the majority of my own family immigrated to from Ireland. You’ll also get to sample some of the Thanksgiving food, including pumpkin pie. I wonder will it be as good as my granny’s? 😀

At the Ulster American Folk Park you can join the Partridge family for Thanksgiving as they prepare the turkey and anxiously await the return of their only son Joseph, an infantryman in the Union Army.

Costumed guides re-enacting a 1800s Thanksgiving at the Ulster American Folk ParkThe American Thanksgiving is an occasion for Americans to remember those from the Old World who first settled on its shores, consider the uncertain future of the pilgrims who faced many a hardship and to pay tribute to the Native Americans who greeted the first European newcomers.

At the Ulster American Folk Park you will be able to immerse yourself in living history to experience this grand tradition first hand. You will have the opportunity to sample the flavour of a Western Pennsylvania rural Thanksgiving in November of 1863, which was the year of the first national day of Thanksgiving.

Costumed guides from the museum will re-enact a Thanksgiving Day from the 1800s. You will have the opportunity to sample some seasonal dishes such as Succotash, Pumpkin Pie and Butternut Squash.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 – in Ireland or elsewhere!

What do Mick Jagger, Daniel O’Connell, Medieval monks & learning to play the bodhran have in common? Why, it’s the old Smithwick’s beer brewery in Kilkenny; now open to us ordinary folk as The Smithwick’s Experience.

A pint being poured after the Smithwick's Experience tour in Kilkenny, Ireland

A pint after the Smithwick’s Experience tour in Kilkenny, Ireland

That’s Kilkenny beer, right?

Well, yes and no. Let’s clear up some other confusions. Smithwick’s beer originated in Kilkenny City in the 1710 established Smithwick’s brewery, which sent the rich scent of brewing aloft over Kilkenny at the site where the medieval monks of St Francis’ Abbey first brewed. Smithwick’s was Ireland’s oldest operating brewery -303 yrs continuously as Smithwick’s- until 2014 when production was moved over Dublin way to the St James’ Gate Guinness/Diageo factory. Though the actual production of beer has moved, the site now houses The Smithwick’s Experience which opened in summer 2014 to bring to multi-media life the Smithwick’s Brewery’s captivating history.

The Smithwick’s Experience experience

Named as one of Lonely Planet’s top must-see attractions for 2015, I found The Smithwick’s Experience to be done very well & worth the €12 adult ticket and the 70 minutes it takes to do the tour. TIP: minus 10% if you book online. On the Smithwick’s Experience tour you’ll discover tidbits like why on earth these bathtubs are here, what enabled Catholic John Smithwick to found his brewery at the time of the punitive anti-Catholic penal laws, why the ‘Irish Liberator’ Daniel O’Connell became a good friend to the Smithwick family, and how Smithwick’s joined up with a rival Kilkenny brewer to help during the Irish Famine. And of course you’ll learn more about brewing! Don’t miss smelling the different varieties of fragrant hops; very intriguing scents! One should be a perfume- I loved it. You can also try out a brewery job, like giving a barrel of beer a stir. No sneaking a sip, please 🙂 TIP: the video at the very start of the tour is rather over the top. Don’t worry, folks, the rest of the tour isn’t so flowery.  

Peruse over a pint!

After the tour, you may want to linger a bit over over your pint of Smithwick’s Red Ale to peruse the wall photos of celebrities who’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Smithwick’s. Perhaps try the Smithwick’s tasting trio of beer for an extra €6; interestingly the general consensus at our table was that the Smithwick’s Pale Ale led the pack as our favourite. We toured as part of a group of beer/food/travel loving journalists, & were specially treated to an engaging meeting with Paul Smithwick, who, although the company was sold to Diageo many years ago, still is keenly involved with Smithwick’s and sits on the board along with his brother. Paul told us of  visits from Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful and many others; we snooped around old Smithwick family guestbooks, full of the signatures international celebrities– and original letters from Daniel O’Connell! Told you Smithwick’s history is captivating!

Smithwicks Exerience famous signatures Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger & Marianne Faithful signed the Smithwicks’ guestbooks in the swinging sixties!

So what’s the story with Kilkenny beer?

I’ll let Wikipedia explain:

Kilkenny Cream Ale is similar to Smithwick’s Draught; however, it has a cream head similar to Guinness, and it has a stronger and more bitter taste than Smithwick’s. The Kilkenny name was originally used during the ’80s and ’90s to market a stronger version of Smithwick’s for the European and Canadian market due to difficulty in pronunciation of the word “Smithwick’s”, but it now refers to a similar yet distinctly different beer. (via Wikipedia)

Knowing that TIP, & the following, will help you be like a local:

  • Don’t ever say the w in Smithwick’s. Try saying it more like Smidicks, or Smithicks with the th rather soft & short. Say it more like 1 syllable, not 2.
  • If you enjoyed your pint/glass of Smithwick’s on the tour & are thirsty for more, just down to the right a bit & across the street from the Smithwick’s Experience building you’ll find a charming row of pubs. Cleere’s is the one that the Smithwick’s brewery employees often frequented themselves, and I reckon that’s a great endorsement. In fact, ex- employees still meet up there on Thursdays. Maybe you’ll overhear some old brewery tales 🙂 
    Paradise Row! Colourful pubs in Kilkenny Ireland

    Paradise Row! Colourful pubs in Kilkenny Ireland

Fuel for many a trad music session!

It’s nice being like a local, but some touristy things are great craic too! I can be skeptical of certain of these activities, but I’m willing to give ’em ago & see if that wariness is justified. In the case of learning to play the bodhran (Irish traditional drum) at Kytlers Inn pub with Damien of Irish Beats, my skepticism was rhythmically washed away by laughter, Smithwick’s Pale Ale, and the booming sound of this ancient instrument. As Kytlers serves the different varieties of Smithwick’s we all settled in with our choice as the lesson began, but we didn’t get many sips in; Damien kept us busy with nary a dull moment. Starting off simply, he gradually led us into more complexity, keeping us hard-bitten journos 😉 laughing with his quips. See my wee video below for a taster of the session & our musical abilities.

Beer with a side of witchcraft

Pat Tynan, Kilkenny Walking Tours

The Knowledge! Pat Tynan has been giving Kilkenny Walking Tours for 32 years.

Kytlers Inn is a rambling medieval stone built inn turned pub with lots of nooks; sort of easy to get lost in– perhaps due to its witchy history! Dame Alyce Kytler first started the Inn in the 1200’s, but after all 4 of her husbands died one after the other, she was accused of serving up more than pints and hospitality; she wound up convicted of witchcraft. You can discover her tale, and how she escaped being burnt at the stake, along with more of the wide-ranging history of Kilkenny on one of Pat Tynan’s Historic Kilkenny Walking Tours. Pat has been leading his tours in Kilkenny for over 30 years, and I highly recommend going along on one to get yourself better acquainted with this amazing little city. Kilkenny is small- it’s Medieval Mile is pretty much the length of the city, but it is choc-a-bloc with hidden spots & stories which you just won’t discover without a bit of help. Seriously, you all, Kilkenny City is a wondrous tapestry of charm, history, fine craft, culture, and top notch local food which you may not encounter without a bit of extra local knowledge. Don’t just zip in for a day visit, just mainly taking in the Castle & Cathedral– you’ll be missing so much! 

A Canadian friend who has traveled much of Ireland, the UK, and Europe put it this way

“Kilkenny has a big character & a fascinating history, and so much to offer for such a small city. I’m struck by how un-pretentious the people here are even though they live in this gem. You can see they love their city, are eager to share it and tell you about it– without the pretentiousness I’ve found in similar spots in other countries. Kilkenny City is really accessible– not just because it is small and easy to walk everywhere, but because the people are genuinely welcoming and friendly. Going on the Historic and the Fab Food walking tours gives you the added bonus of meeting some of the people who are behind the small places which add to Kilkenny’s character; like Pat Tynan, who has been doing his tours for 30 years but yet still is enthusiastic about his city and its history. I’m impressed with Kilkenny.”

Kilkenny Fab Food and Craft Trail

Kilkenny Fab Food and Craft Trail

Stunning stones & tasty treats

The Fab Food Trail of Kilkenny also lets you meet some Kilkenny craftspeople as well as sample foodie gems. Wait til you see the unique gem jewellry of Rudolph Heltzel– stunning enough for a Rolling Stone, or you! I’ve done this tour twice with Eveleen, and also her Fab Food Trail of Dublin, and yup, they are fab. From traditional family butchers to modern artisan foodstuffs, you’ll see why Kilkenny is a food lovers hot spot. The Fab Food Trails Kilkenny tour tends to be on Saturdays, with the odd Friday- do click the link to see current dates. The tour lasts about two and a half hours (€50 at time of writing,) and you will be tasting several food delights. One of the tour stops is the downstairs cafe at The Kilkenny Design Centre– TIP:  the upstairs cafe changes character & becomes a  full service restaurant on Thursday through Saturday nights in season.

Night delight

Anocht's Smithwick's inspired menu, Kilkenny Ireland

Anocht’s Smithwick’s inspired menu, Kilkenny Ireland

The nighttime incarnation upstairs at the Kilkenny Design Centre is called Anocht. (Generally from 5.50 to 9.30pm Thurs-Sat.) Like a local TIP: ‘Anocht’ is the Irish word for ‘tonight’. I’d been meaning to go eat here for ages; they’ve gotten good reviews, won awards, and as an enthusiastic cash-strapped fan of Early Bird menus I found Anocht’s Early Bird tempting for a special night out. But I just never got there. Luck would have it that I finally went as part of this Smithwick’s Experience inspired tour. A special menu incorporating Smithwick’s as an ingredient in most of the dishes was the challenge to the chefs, and boy did they do well. (See photos in my video.)Thank gawd I still had my gallbladder at that point or I would have been devastated to not be able to eat it all :-0 If you’ve got YOUR gallbladder, go! Or, even if you haven’t, go! Apparently once a gallbladder-less person’s liver adjusts, you become able to eat normally/mostly normally again. So, I’ll be back, Anocht. YUM!

Super spot to soak up the sun

Whilst on the subject of food, I must mention the enormous & very tasty lunch portions at our accommodation, the River Court Hotel. Go with a big appetite! One of the fab things about having food, coffee, or a pint here is that you will find that the River Court has a large outdoor seating section along the river with a spectacular view of Kilkenny Castle just across the Nore. TIP: On a sunny day, this is one of the best outside places to sit and sip or sup in Kilkenny. If river, duck, & people watching as you have a drink or a bite is your thing, check it out. On the warmest days you may even be treated to the sight of daring young people diving into the river from John’s bridge. Bring your swimsuit & join in? 😉

River Court Hotel Kilkenny

River Court Hotel Kilkenny

Experience Kilkenny!

You don’t have to be Mick Jagger to get satisfaction from a Kilkenny visit (ahh, couldn’t resist..) As well as the things I’ve mentioned here there’s loads more you’ll enjoy in Kilkenny City. And the green & gorgeous Kilkenny countryside is full of treasures, too; from the Neolithic to the present. You can find out more here; I’ve even made a Google Map trail you can follow. If you’ve any questions about Kilkenny, I’ll do my best to answer; you can ask via Vibrant Ireland & Travel’s Facebook page, or @VibrantIreland on Twitter, or comment on this article. Cheers! Enjoy your pint of Smithwick’s & I hope you will love Kilkenny as much as I do 😀

Having the craic at Kytlers bodhran lesson

Having the craic at Kytlers bodhran lesson

Transparency: I was a guest of Smithwick’s on this sampling of Kilkenny. Being a guest doesn’t change my opinion of what I experience, but it does enable me to tell you about things I couldn’t otherwise afford– for example as a Kilkenny resident for over 10 years I’d never stayed in accommodation there. Being able to stay at the River Court Hotel now means I have firsthand experience & I can advise; I’m often asked about places to stay. Our room looked out over the river to the castle, and was quite nice. The bed was big & super comfy, and I slept well. As always, I advise when you stay anywhere to bring good earplugs (I swear by the soft silicon ones.) I forgot mine this trip! Oops. One of the prices you pay for staying so central in cities/large towns is that they are filled with people & noises. I had the window open & heard a few late night revelers messing about over by the bridge. Shutting the window helped of course, but TIP: be aware that the John’s Bridge & John’s Street area of Kilkenny has very active, often loud, late-night pub-clubs – if you are a light sleeper ask about a room farthest away from the street.

Sample the fun! Video of my Smithwick’s Experience inspired tour of Kilkenny:

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Have fun on YOUR Kilkenny visit!

The leeks and spinach bubble away in the pan.

The leeks and spinach bubble away in the pan. Smells good!

Crunchy Oat-Topped Leek and Spinach Bake

Spinach is one of the power veg, but not everyone enjoys eating a plate of soggy spinach, myself (Terry) included. My Crunchy Oat-Topped Leek and Spinach Bake is all good and no gloop. It also adds another health-giving veg, leeks, into the mix, plus the healthy carbs of oats and the essential fatty acids of linseeds. It’s so tasty you’ll never even realize it’s actually good for you too– plus its easy to make & easy on the budget. It will please any vegetarians, but meat eaters won’t miss the meat either. It also goes well with pretty much any meat you’d like to serve on the side. Here is my recipe:

Casserole ingredients

4 leeks ; chopped into 1 inch rounds

¾ bag washed spinach

2 -3 cloves garlic

Veg stock

¼ cup milk

Dash olive oil

Teaspoon coconut oil


Topping Ingredients

1 Cup oat flakes

¼  cup milled linseed mix

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Let the oat topping for the leek and spinach bake run through your fingers.

Let the oat topping for the leek and spinach bake run through your fingers.

How to Make:

In large pan on a medium high heat, sauté the leek rounds in the olive oil & 1 teaspoon of coconut oil until the leeks are golden. Add salt & pepper & crushed garlic.

Toss in ½ of the bag of spinach; stir. The spinach will shrink; and after a few minutes add ¼ bag of spinach & stir.

Add ½ of the stock; let it render down and pick up the flavours.

After the stock reduces, add the rest of  your stock; lower heat & let thicken; this will take approximately 2 minutes.


In a bowl mix the oats, linseed mix, salt black pepper & 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.

Crumble with your hands & let the mix flow through them.


Remove leeks & spinach from pan & put in medium size oven casserole dish

Top generously with your oat mixture, and firm it down so the stock from the leeks & spinach rises into the bottom of the oat mix.

Bake in the centre of a 200c oven for 20 minutes until top is golden brown.


Finished Crunchy Oat-Topped Leek and Spinach Bake

Finished Crunchy Oat-Topped Leek and Spinach Bake

If you’d like the crust a bit more golden & crunchy, put under a medium grill for a couple of minutes—keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

I also like this Crunchy Oat-Topped Leek & Spinach Bake cold the next day.

— Terry


A day being in Ireland is a day well spent; especially if it’s Kilkenny Ireland!

There is so much to do and enjoy in Kilkenny, City and county.

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You’ll find plenty of ideas for things to see and do here, and I’ve made a bit of a Kilkenny map to help you. Also look at the wee video to get a taster of what life in the charming Kilkenny countryside is like. Thanks so much to Suzanna at Zwartbles Ireland sheep farm for letting me visit & film!

US food writer Joanna Pruess loved her day in Kilkenny & Zwartbles Ireland! sheep

US food writer Joanna Pruess loved her day in Kilkenny & Zwartbles Ireland sheep!

Kilkenny Ireland: a perfect mix of city & rural culture.

Campagne Kilkenny Ireland- Michelin star desserts!

Campagne Kilkenny Ireland- Michelin star desserts!


You will truly get the best of ‘both worlds’ here; for example you can experience exquisite tastes at (not one, but 2!) Michelin star restaurants, and explore the rural countryside where several of the food products used in these & other Kilkenny restaurants are farmed. I’ve not yet been to the Lady Helen, but I’ve been to Campagne for special occasions several times. We always go for their Early Bird dinner menu or set lunch menu, as they are good value if you haven’t got the biggest budget. My top tip is to save room for dessert! Seriously have not ever tasted better, so if you are like me & go for 2 courses skip the starter not the sweet 😀

The Ireland you’ve dreamed of

Often when folk visit Ireland they want to experience some of the wonderful ‘cliches’ of Ireland; amazingly green countryside, an ‘Ireland traffic jam’ of sheep herded down a windy road, other-worldly megalithic stone circles and ancient monastic ruins, hospitality & craic of a traditional village pub which also doubles as a hardware shop, a friendly cupán tae in a handmade crafts shop. `

You may think that this is a tall order; perhaps you haven’t loads of time, and figure that in order to experience all this you’ll have to do a several hour trek across Ireland to Kerry, Galway, or Donegal. But you don’t! In under an hour and a half’s journey from Dublin you can be in a very special part of Ireland, a place that everyone, including outdoor adventurers, culture lovers, foodies, fun seekers, and family travellers will enjoy. Welcome to Kilkenny!

Kilkenny Ireland sheep traffic jam

Kilkenny Ireland sheep traffic jam

A world- class friendly city: Kilkenny, Ireland

Kilkenny City was voted the 9th friendliest city in the world by Conde Naste readers in 2013. It’s a compact medieval city home to Ireland’s Medieval Mile; this includes Kilkenny Castle, St Canice’s Cathedral with one of only two Irish round towers you can still climb, Rothe House and much more. There’s nearly always a festival of some sort happening! You should definitely go to Kilkenny City. But what you should also do is explore the Kilkenny countryside.

It is easy to get to Kilkenny City from Dublin. You can take the train from Heuston station, several bus companies go, or you can rent a car and drive. To get to several of the fantastic places in the Kilkenny countryside you’ll need a car. I’m afraid that is true for all of Ireland; many of the gems are tucked away from public transport routes. So, do seriously think about renting a car. If you just can’t get a car, you can still get to some of the towns by bus. There are two routes: Kilkenny City to Thomastown and Inistioge, and Kilkenny City to Graiguenamanagh.

There really is something for everyone in the Kilkenny countryside! What do you want to experience?

You want ancient ruins?

Knockroe passage tomb is second only to those in the Boyne valley when it comes to Irish Neolithic stone carvings. Unusually, is aligned to both the rising and setting sun on Winter Solstice. If you are in the mood for an adventure, this side trip is perfect. Non sign-posted, you have to traipse across some fields to find this truly hidden gem. Finding the 12c Aghavillar monastic site along the way is easier and you can actually go up to the top of the building. Brooding and beautiful, there is a part of a round tower here as well.

Kells Priory Kilkenny Ireland sheep

Kells Priory Kilkenny Ireland sheep

Kells Priory is 1,000 years old. It is a large, walled set of ruins, and the tumbled-down parts are rather maze like. Kids love running around here, and in the field populated by sheep on the short walk to the ruins. Kells Priory is usually deserted, though on my last visit I met a man with his pet fox. This is not the only pet fox in rural Kilkenny! You may also see another man walking with one in Thomastown. With accompanying fox or not, it’s nice to take a nice little walk along the river behind the Priory, where you’ll find the restored Mullins Mill.

Jerpoint Abbey is stunningly elegant & beautiful, dating from the 1100s. Unlike Kells Priory, there is a small visitor centre run by the OPW. Be sure to look carefully around this Abbey, because it has many carvings along and in the stone walls that you may otherwise miss.  There are many more fascinating historic sites in the area- keep your eyes open and investigate!

Want to stroll, or take part in more active outdoor adventure?

In the charming village of Inistioge where the movie Circle of Friends was filmed, walk along the river Nore to ‘Eve’s’ hidden cottage, or stroll in the Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum. You can go kayaking, SUPing, and canoeing out on the river Barrow in Graiguenamanagh, and you can even arrange to take a half day barge trip from St. Mullins to Graiguenamanagh on Larry’s Barge.  If you’d like to get into the water, there are two diving boards (or steps for the less brave) into the river along the quays.


Rent the beautiful Larrys Barge in Ireland

Rent the beautiful Larrys Barge in Ireland

Rent bikes and cycle along the Barrow river towpaths with Bike & Hike Graiguenamanagh (great for families as it is quite flat) or get more challenging along the Trail Kilkenny East Kilkenny bike trail. Or how about a hike up Brandon Hill to look across five counties, or hike in the Blackstairs mountains.

You want tasty artisan Irish food?

There are several award winning artisan food producers in the area, ranging from Stoneyford’s Knockdrinna cheese to Thomastown’s  Goatsbridge trout & caviar to Truffle Fairy chocolates– and loads more. Many of Kilkenny’s restaurants pride themselves on using fresh local ingredients. There’s a whole Kilkenny Food Trail you can explore, too.

You want to experience an authentic traditional Irish pub?

Graiguenamanagh is home to a pub which is also a shop, a hardware store, and a fishing and shooting depot! If you’re lucky, you may hear trad music, or the church bells as you have a tasty pint. Doyle’s is just across the street from the 800 year old (still functioning) Duiske Abbey.

There’s a tiny pub in a farmhouse on the road from Thomastown to Graiguenamanagh, just at the Coppenagh crossroads, . You can glimpse the family watching telly in their sitting room as you sip your pint.

Inside of Doyles, Graiguenamanagh Kilkenny Ireland

Inside of Doyles pub,Graiguenamanagh Kilkenny Ireland. Photo by @GraigueBikeHire

Get your name written in your pint by the barman in Inistioge’s O’Donnell’s pub. Better than Starbucks!

You want Irish crafts?

There’s Cushendale traditional woolen mill in Graiguenamanagh, between Thomastown & Stoneyford you’ll find Jerpoint Glass glassblowers, and in Bennettsbridge there’s Moth to a Flame candle maker and Nicholas Mosse‘s lovely handcrafted pottery & cafe in a picturesque stone mill. Thomastown is a very crafty small town, with several makers and craft shops. Do have a stroll around. There’s even more elsewhere, all on the Kilkenny Craft Trail.

Call it getting off the beaten track, call it community-oriented tourism, or just call it a good idea- exploring rural Kilkenny Ireland will give you an authentic taste of Ireland in uncrowded, special places.

Prepare for that Irish weather!

Transitions well from rainy field nice restaurant! Makes life simpler! My Cotswold Outdoor triclimate jacket

Transitions well from rainy field nice restaurant! Makes life simpler! My Cotswold Outdoor triclimate jacket

One thing I’ve found invaluable when enjoying a day out in Kilkenny, is to be prepared for any weather, any time of year! Even if it is sunny when you start out, it could change and lash down rain for 20 minutes, or just produce a steady, misty drizzle for a few hours before the sun splits the sky again. Don’t underestimate the misty type rain– it will soak you to the skin in a few minutes! Always bring a suitable rain jacket- preferably one that won’t be too warm, or cold!

The joke about Ireland having 4 seasons in one day is TRUE! I’m finding that one of those rainproof jackets that also has a removeable fleece lining is perfect. I got a 3-season one from Cotswold Outdoor online, and I wear it everywhere! I even wore it  into our annual Christmas lunch at Michelin-starred Campagne– I think it looks that good 😀 Cotswold contacted me about testing out an item, and when I chose the 3-season coat I never expected it to look as nice as it does; I figured it would be really frumpy or kinda gaudy because it was functional; but this coat goes fine with most any outfit! You can see me in it in the video & photos; often even with a skirt or dress! Of course if I get it mucky visiting the Zwartbles Ireland lambs that’ll be born around Christmas, I won’t wear it to eat out until it gets a good clean– I’ll let you know how it washes up!  If you are interested in checking out the one I got, it’s also on Sale right now at Cotswold Outdoor; the Women’s Evolution 2 triclimate jacket.

Here’s the Google map with driving routes & some interest points and activities for your visit to Kilkenny.

In the map I have you starting from the area of Kilkenny Castle, heading to Kells. (The route is figure 8-ish, with a side jaunt to Knockroe passage tomb.) I’ve recommended the journey with that starting point because from that driving direction a lovely view of the Barrow valley rises up on your right hand side as you near Graiguenamanagh. There is a roadside pull-off where you can stop and savour the scene.

Have a great time! If you have any questions, tweet me @VibrantIreland. And watch out for those sheep on the road 😀

A version of the Kilkenny information was first was written by me for TBEXcon’s site ahead of their 2013 conference in Dublin.

Alan Foley of carlow's Step House is the McKennas Guides Chef of the Year 2014 Pic by Nick O'Keeffe

Alan Foley of Carlow’s Step House is the McKennas Guides Chef of the Year 2014 Pic by Nick O’Keeffe

Carlow is Tasty!

Taste of Carlow Food Festival is on Sunday 31 August 2014, and it is stuffed full of food, fun, and even family foraging!

There are SO many reasons to visit Carlow, it is full of tasty treasures! The Taste of Carlow is taking place along the river Barrow in Carlow Town from 12-6pm, and it promises to be an event for both foodies and families. I’ll be there, and hope you will, too. Follow the hashtag #TasteCarlow on Twitter & Instagram to see what will be happening on the day- plus I’m also arranging a Blogger’s Tour of Carlow, and we’ll be sharing photos & Carlow tips using #TasteCarlow. If YOU are in or have been to Carlow, do share your pics & Carlow tips using #TasteCarlow, too– let’s spread the word about what’s tasty & good in Carlow 🙂

Check out some of what’s on at Taste of Carlow:


Savour all that is wonderful about Carlow at Taste of Carlow, a dedicated craft and food fair on Sunday 31st August from  12 – 6 p.m. on the River Barrow Promenade, Barrow Track, Carlow Town.

Taste of Carlow - Sunday 31st August

Taste of Carlow – Sunday 31st August


This artisan food and craft fair, which is in its 4th year, will feature local craft and food producers. There will be food demonstrations by leading Carlow chefs, tasting menus, Bungee Trampoline, Kite Flying, face painting, water activities and musical/family entertainment!

Visitors to Taste of Carlow are invited to meet, learn from, taste and smell the produce of the many hospitality providers and artisan food producers whose passion and commitment is profiling Carlow as an up and coming food destination.

Artisan foods will include cheeses, juices, jams, chutneys, crepes, beverages, home baking, fresh meat, organic fruit and vegetables, organic home made burgers and chips, ice cream and mouth watering chocolates. Enjoy your lunch on the banks of the gentle River Barrow!

Cheese  making demonstrations will be delivered by Tom Burgess of Coolattin Cheddar, and the Carlow Bee Keepers Association will give an insight into the fascinating world of honey.

Fiona Dillon author of Food from an Irish garden, Dympna Maher, Healing Herbs and Alan Foley head chef of Step House, Borris will provide insights into the delights of good cooking and healthy foods.

Paul Stock from SMOQUE  Restaurant and Tapas will provide mouth watering Tapas Carlow Style. Imelda Byrne from the ICA Bootcamp will also be in attendance.

Carlow enjoys an abundance of original, hand made crafts including woodturning, pottery and jewellery. A Taste of Carlow is the perfect opportunity to meet local artists and craftspeople who have created a wealth of beautiful and collectible pieces in both traditional and contemporary designs. Featuring ceramics and knitwear, hand crafted enamels, art, jewellery, embroidery and hand made cards, the craft fair is guaranteed to appeal to anybody seeking a special gift or those who just want to browse and soak in the atmosphere of the riverside area.

For the younger among us there is lots of fun entertainment throughout the day, with face painting, musical entertainment & more. While here make sure and visit Carlow Town Park, immediately adjacent, a wonderful amenity for all the family which features a safe and secure children’s playground. Other activities for the little ones include a craft area, bouncy castle and  bungee trampoline.

River activities on the day will focus on demonstrations by Carlow Sub Aqua and Carlow Rowing Club and Civil Defence.

Carlow has so many quality craft makers and artisan food producers and restaurants. This event recognises the importance of this resource by bringing both buyers and sellers together in a dedicated one day event against the backdrop of the lovely River Barrow. Visitors to the fair will be guaranteed both excellent shopping and a very special atmosphere with a wide range of activities throughout the day.

Free Admission and ample free car parking available

For more information telephone 059-9136204 or visit


Seaweeds in a strainer & Guide to Edible Seaweeds by Prannie Rhatigan

Seriously, this stuff is fantastic!

Pepper dulse is like a delicious seaweed garlic. You can nibble it straight from your seaweed foraging as a snack! Also, Terry’s created a tasty recipe for you.

dog reads Irish Seaweed Kitchen cookbook

Petal considers reading Irish Seaweed Kitchen recipes

Inspired by So Sligo Festival and the beautiful book Irish Seaweed Kitchen by Prannie Rhatigan, on the sunny Summer Solstice Terry & I drove to the seaside in Wexford to forage seaweed.

As well as seaweed, we got seaside photos from both Wexford & Sligo for you to enjoy, even if you remain unconvinced about the seaweed 😉

Summer Solstice was a stunner of a day, hardly a cloud in Ireland’s skies. To tell the truth, this foraging seaweed lark was a bit of an adventure for us– we’d never even tried cooking with seaweed, much less hunting for it!

Doing so was all down to Prannie’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and tasty samples during the seaweed excursion she led at So Sligo. She had passed her excitement on to me, so I got her book, showed it to Terry, and he got the seaweed bug as well.

If YOU are curious about seaweeds, and fancy a special weekend on the Wild Atlantic Way in Sligo, I’ve cool trip info to pass on to you in a minute.

blue sky & beach grasses  co Wexford Ireland

Blue sky & beach grasses, Summer Solstice. co Wexford, Ireland

Sea Spaghetti and Pepper Dulse (the garlic seaweed) were top of our seaweed foraging list. Both are tasty nibbled straight from the sea, the sea spaghetti nutty/salty/crunchy; its long strands fun to eat. I was armed to hunt with my laminated font of knowledge: Prannie’s identification Guide To Edible Seaweeds, a handy beachside companion to the Irish Seaweed Kitchen.

Forage for seaweed at low tide, as many interesting varieties are to be found at the farthest receding of the sea. Always be aware of when the tide will turn, aware of your surroundings, and go with a friend. Never forage alone with your back to the sea; freak waves are not unknown, so always have someone with you facing out towards the sea. Don’t go too far out that you can’t easily get back in– tides can come in quickly! Find out the quirks of the area you are foraging.

You can get phone apps that track the tides, and have a look around online (and talk to locals!) for tide times & local sea / beach information before you go.


The ‘spring tides’ are ace times to forage for seaweed; the sea goes out farthest then.

Never pick the whole plant of any seaweed. A good general rule is to only snip off the top third. This ensures it can continue to grow sustainably.

Only take what you’ll use. Legally, removing things from the seaside in Ireland is prohibited.

Many seaweeds need gentle handling. They can become unrooted by human clumsiness & tugs.

Avoid places where you can see lots of bright green seaweed & seepage/runoff from land, as there could be pollution here. Same for marinas & ports.

Don’t forget your plastic bag to carry your seaweeds, and boots or a towel to dry you bare feet. (Yes, when we went the water was warm enough for a very enjoyable wade!)

Pepper Dulse & other seaweeds

Pepper Dulse is the golden one here. The strands are Sea Spaghetti, and the discs are the beginnings of Sea Spaghetti

In the crevices of rocks at Baginbun, Wexford we found our gold– the Pepper Dulse! When it is not growing at the lowest reaches of the shore it is quite tiny, so you must be careful to only snip off the tips of this flavoursome seaweed. The easiest way to harvest most any seaweed is just go armed with scissors & snip, but with these tiny Pepper Dulse I found fingertips easiest– next time I’ll also bring quite small scissors.

Our seaweed harvest had a pleasing variety, but we only found a tiny bit of sea spaghetti. Terry could see some more farther out; maybe we’ll look up the date of the next Spring Tide & try again then.

I really want to find some because in the Irish Seaweed Kitchen there’s a yummy recipe for Sea Spaghetti & Cheese Straws. I sampled them on the So Sligo seaweed walk. Apparently kids love ’em, but any kids around that day missed out cuz us (supposed) adults gobbled the straws all up!

Irish Seaweed Kitchen cookbookby Prannie Rhatigan

Irish Seaweed Kitchen cookbook by Prannie Rhatigan. Beautiful to look at, tempting to read, and a helpful bookmark too!

Prannie Rhatigan’s cookbook is fantastic, and the descriptions & photos will make you want to try some recipes. These are of a great variety, and plenty that aren’t seaweed based; you won’t feel like you’ve a mouthful of ocean 😉 The thing about seaweeds is that they have so many healthful nutrients, so adding just a touch here in there can be beneficial.

Terry loves to use cookbooks as a jumping-off point to create something himself. What he did with the garlic-y Pepper Dillisk was to bring it into a summery bean salad:

Easy Seaside Summer Bean Salad

tin of sweetcorn, drained
tin of chickpeas, drained
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot
hot sauce, to taste (Terry likes Franks Original Hot sauce for this recipe)
juice of 1/2 lime
tablespoon or more of shredded Pepper Dulse, to taste
chopped/ snipped sea spaghetti (we had about  2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon of Shoyu sauce, OR 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
black pepper, to taste

Peel your carrot, using the peeler to make wide ribbons of carrot. Chop them roughly. Into a good sized bowl add all of your ingredients, stirring well to mix them up. Let it settle and serve. A tasty source of protein as well as part of your 5-a-day veg, with the bonus of seaweed nutrients!

It’s delish, do try it! I even shared it on Twitter’s #SundayCookoff. It got a good response from the Cookoff Chef 

Another interesting thing you can do with Pepper Dulse is to dry it in the sun & then grind it up to use as a seasoning, like pepper. This was a traditional way of using it. I’m curious as to whether it will lose some of its garlic flavour when dried. I will try this and let you know!

If you’ve been tempted to learn more about foraging and cooking with seaweeds with Prannie Rhatigan and you’d like to enjoy a fantastic weekend on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in county Sligo, this weekend break may fit the bill!

Sligo Seaweed Days 30th and 31st July, 2014

Day 1:  You will enjoy brunch at Lang’s Bar before joining us on a seaweed identification walk on Streedagh beach. A dolphin spotting trip around Sligo/Donegal Bay will be followed by an aperitif and dinner at Eithna’s By the Sea.

Day 2:  You will begin with a visit to Creevykeel court cairn with local archaeologist. Then a cookery demo and hands on workshop with Prannie rounded off with a leisurely lunch at Eithna’s.

Full details and to book, here.

Prannie Rhatigan is a medical doctor with a lifetime experience of harvesting, cooking and gardening organically with sea vegetables. Born and raised in the North West of Ireland where she still lives, she has a lifelong interest in the connections between food and health. Hailed as “Ireland’s leading seaweed expert” in Food and Wine in June 2012  she has represented Ireland’s finest food abroad on many occasions and has given workshops and lectures on sea vegetables and cooking. Amongst other awards, in May 2012 she was awarded Special Acknowledgement for her Outstanding Contribution to Irish Food by Euro-Toques 2012.

I ate at Eithna’s By the Sea as part of my So Sligo visit, and certainly recommend it. De-lish! Amazingly fresh seafood and a charming, lovingly run restaurant. The harbour setting is lovely, too. I’ll tell you more about Eithna’s & how you can do some beach horseriding in the area in an upcoming post.

You can also learn plenty from Prannie’s the Guide to Edible Seaweeds, too. Each seaweed even has a QR code you can scan to watch a video with more information! You can purchase it, and/or the cookbook, from the Irish Seaweed Kitchen website, in bookshops or on Amazon.

When I was having a look around online to see if many other folk found Pepper Dulse garlic-y, I found this on Wikipedia:

Sligo beach

Sligo is special!  This is the beach where we seaweed walked with Prannie

“Osmundea pinnatifida is a species of red alga known by the common name Pepper Dulse.

It is a small seaweed widely found with the tidal zone of moderately sheltered rocky shores around Britain and Europe. Although technically a red seaweed, it can show a wide range of colouring from yellow-buff to a red so dark as to be almost black. Reference is made to its being harvested and dried in Scotland and in the Channel Islands for use as a curry-flavoured spice.”

Curry flavoured? Interesting! I’d love to hear what you all think Pepper Dulse tastes like! If you’ve had Pepper Dulse, let us know–what did it taste like to you? Or if you’ve had another unusual tasting seaweed, have a great recipe or other tip, let us know, too! I’d love for you to share. Leave your comment below, or tweet me at @VibrantIreland or tell me over on the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page.

Enjoy the Irish Seaweeds 😀

Cheeses Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland ; Sheridans CheeseCheese lovers, take note!

Irish cheeses are among the world’s best, and the best of the Irish have been announced at the Irish Cheese Awards 2014. 

The Irish Cheese Awards 2014, the most well-known and prestigious event in the Irish cheese industry calendar, has taken place at Bloom 2014. The only competition dedicated entirely to Irish cheese, cheese makers from all over Ireland were judged in 17 classes by a panel of experts including Adrian Boswell from Selfridges and Aoife Carrigy from the Irish Independent.

This year a special category, Cheese for Children, was judged by Hannah Cahill (10 years), Leon Cullen McLoughlin (seven years), Ryan Mooney (12 years) and Sarah Whalley (16 years) who awarded these cheeses their top medals (do you sense a chocolate theme?)

Cheese for Children

Gold: Coolea Young Matured, Coolea Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Soft Cheese with Chocolate, Green Pastures Donegal

Bronze: Cheddar with Chocolate, Old Irish Creamery


Kilkenny’s own Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheeses brought home 2 Golds. One for their Sheep’s Cheese Meadow Semi Hard, and another for the category of  Bloomy Rind, where their  Meadow Mini Soft won.

Reading all the different categories, I realize that even though I adore eating cheese I know little of the finer points. Bloomy Rind??– is it called that because the awards were judged at the Bloom festival, or is it something else? 😉 It actually kinda sounds like a plant disease, perhaps a strain of  powdery mildew… Tee hee,  just a bit of what Hubby calls horticultural humour- he gets to hear plenty of it when all us garden-y folk gather at Bloom & other flowery events! Bloom 2014 Diublin

Bloom runs until Monday, 2 June & is fun for garden lovers, foodies and those who enjoy a great family day out. It’s Ireland’s largest garden and food festival runs for five days over the June bank holiday weekend in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Kids are free, and you can get your tickets at the gate or online at 

Follow Bloom on or join the conversation on Twitter @Bloominthepark and #bloom

Next up on the garden &  flower- lovers’ calendar are the Dublin Garden Festival 13-15 June at beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, the World Flower Show at the RDS on June 19-22, and the Carlow Garden Festival 25 July-4 August. ( If you know of others let me know in the comment section below. Thanks!)


Here’s the full listing of the Irish Cheese Award Winners 2014; some beauties there & I know you cheese fiends want to know what to go out and try! Time to get sampling, I think 🙂

Supreme Champion 2014

Killeen Farmhouse Cheese for ‘Killeen Mature Goat’


Reserve Champion

Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese for ‘Humming Bark’


Class 1, Creamery Mild Cheddar


Bronze: Avonmore Red Cheddar, Glanbia

Class 2, Creamery Cheddar 6-9 months


Gold: Kilmeaden Mature White Cheddar, Glanbia

Silver: Wexford Medium Cheddar, Wexford Creamery


Class 3, Creamery Mature Cheddar


Gold: Kilmeaden Smooth & Mature, Glanbia

Silver: Wexford Mature Cheddar, Wexford Creamery

Bronze: Cheddar, DairyGold Co-Op

Class 4, Smoked Cheese


Gold: Wexford Vintage Cheddar, Wexford Creamery

Silver: Oak Smoked Cheddar, Old Irish Creamery

Bronze: Cahill’s Ballinwood Smoked Cheddar, Cahills Farm

Class 5, Fresh Cheese


Gold: Buffalo Ricotta, Toonsbridge Dairy

Silver: Buffalo Mozzarella, Toonsbridge Dairy


Class 6, Fresh Cheese Flavour Added


Gold: Goats Cheese with Garlic, Honey & Thyme, Bluebell Falls

Silver: Cashel Cream Cheese, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Bronze: Goats Cheese with Garlic & Black Pepper, Bluebell Falls

Class 7, New Cheese


Gold: Organic Mild, The Little Milk Company

Silver: Brewers Gold, The Little Milk Company

Bronze: Cais Na Tire, Cais na Tire

Class 8, Sheeps Milk Cheese


Gold: Knockdrinna Meadow Semi Hard, Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Crozier Blue, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Bronze: Cais Na Tire, Cais na Tire

Class 9, Flavour Added Cheese


Gold: Burren Gold Cumin, Aillwee Cave

Silver: Mossfield Mediterranean, Mossfield Organic Farm

Bronze: Mossfield Cumin Seed, Mossfield Organic Farm

Class 10, Hard Mature Cheese


Gold: Burren Gold Plain, Aillwee Cave

Silver: Coolea Mature, Coolea Farmhosue Cheese

Bronze: Organic Mild, The Little Milk Co

Class 11, Hard Cheese (under 6 months)


Gold: Killeen Goat, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Mossfield Farmhouse Cheese, Mossfield Organic Farm

Class 12, Bloomy Rind


Gold: Knockdrinna Meadow Mini Soft, Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Wicklow Bán, Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese

Class 13, Semi-Soft


Gold: Humming Bark, Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese


Class 14, Blue Cheese


Gold: Cashel Blue, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Silver: Young Buck, Mike’s Fancy Cheese

Bronze: Wicklow Blue, Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese

Class 15, Goats Milk Cheese (under 2 months)


Gold: St Tola Ash Log, Inagh Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: St Tola Log Plain Mature, Inagh Farmhouse Cheese

Bronze: Gortnamona, Cooleeney Farm

Class 16, Goats Milk (over 2 months)


Gold: Killeen Mature Goat, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese


Judging Panel

The other judges were as follows:
Adrian Boswell, Selfridges
Aoife Carrigy, Irish Independent
Barra McFeely, Tesco Ireland
Diarmuid Murphy, Dunnes Stores
Eddie O’Neill, Teagasc
Frances Douglas, FSAI
John Farrand, The Guild of Fine Food
Mary Kate Mageean, Musgraves
Michael Cleere, Cheddar Grader
Steward: Derek Cahill, Traditional Cheese Company

Hungry yet?? 😀

Wexford food and Wine Festival. Pictured at the launch of the sixth annual Wexford food and Wine Festival are Lucia Goggins age 7,  Sophie Rose Connolly age 5 and Charlie Grannell age 6 from Discovering Drama in Wexford, Ireland Picture: Patrick Browne

Wexford Food and Wine Festival 2014 Ireland. Lucia Goggins, Sophie Rose Connolly and Charlie Grannell Picture: Patrick Browne

Charming seaside town? Check. Friendly folk? Check. Great food & wine? Check!

The Wexford Food and Wine Festival 2014 is serving up a fantastic weekend 23-25 May.

There will be lots of scrumptious food on offer in the stalls, and fab events, too. The Irish Craft Beer & Food Matching event sounds great. It’s on at the  Cistín Eile Restaurant, which is very good. Or so I’ve often been told– we tried to get a meal there during our last Wexford Food Festival visit but it was booked up– so; TIP: if you’d like a meal there plan ahead.

Whether you’re in Ireland on vacation or you’re just enjoying a day trip, check out the festival and all the tasty delights:

The festival has a fun filled menu with over 50 events celebrating the county’s superb and thriving food scene. There will be plenty on offer for all tastes young and not so young, with mouthwatering demonstrations & workshops plus family fun activities and entertainment. Here are some of the highlights- do also check the full programme of Wexford Food and Wine Festival here.


 Friday Evening: Seafood & Singing

The festival opens Friday, May 23 with an evening of ‘Sea Shanty’ and fish at Greenacres Gallery. Peter Caviston, Fishmonger of Glasthule and the Dublin Male voice choir ‘Brook Singers’ join forces for an evening celebrating Seafood.


Saturday and Sunday Fun & Food

On Saturday and Sunday, guided foraging takes off at 9.45am from The Raven in Curracloe with the excursion guided by the Blackstairs Eco Trails.

If you’d rather hear about foraging then join cook and author of ‘Wild Food’ and judge of ‘The Great Irish Bake-Off’ Biddy White Lennon who will discuss ‘Foraging for Fun’, where and when to forage for wild food in spring and early summer at 1pm on Saturday.

If it’s the food you are planning to enjoy on Saturday evening you can’t go wrong by heading to Wexford Boat Club for a Festival Hog roast and BBQ or take in the highlight of the Food Festival at the open air Food Producers Market at Selskar Square and South Main Street in the heart of Wexford town. A host of outdoor food producers featuring local, regional and Welsh artisan produce. Food producers and growers will display fresh produce ranging from breads, cakes, ice cream, seasonal fruit including Wexford’s famed strawberries, eggs, cheese meat and much more! To add to the festival atmosphere a tasty side helping of family entertainment will also be provided. This market will also be open on Sunday, May 25.

If you’d like to get involved in the cooking process head to the Irish National Heritage Park where visitors have the opportunity to experience an ancient cooking method used by our ancestors; Fulacht Fiadh. Dating back to the early Christian age skinned animals were wrapped in straw and placed into a pit of boiling water which had been heated using rocks from a fire. It has been discovered that this ancient cooking method is very similar to that of our modern ovens – 20 minutes to the pound and 20 minutes over! Visitors will have the opportunity to taste meat cooked in this traditional method.


Irish Craft Beer!

More festival cheer is to be found with a good helping of Craft Beer, at the ‘Irish Craft Beer & Food Matching’ 2pm on Saturday 24 May with Cuilan Loughnane of White Gypsy Brewery and Warren Gillen of Cistín Eile Restaurant. Cuilan is one of the early pioneers of Irish brewing and has built up a great reputation for his quality beers, recently bottling for the restaurant trade. Many of the same principals can be seen in at Cistín Eile. Warren too prides himself on sourcing his ingredients from local artisan producers and has also built up a reputation nationwide for his contemporary Irish food. This event is a must for anyone who appreciates high quality food and beer using locally sourced ingredients.



Greenacres Restaurant, winners of numerous awards including Food and Wine Magazine, ‘Best Wine Experience,’  will host some key sommeliers for the festival weekend.  Philipe Germain from Chateau de la Roulerie vineyard whose origins date back to the 11th century, Bertrard from Domaine Deshaires of Pouilly Fuisse and Pascual Toso Tasting and Frank Kinneen The Vineyard, Galway will all be on hand to share their expect wine knowledge.

 A series of GIY workshops, Composting workshops and Beekeeping workshops will also be available throughout the weekend.

For further details on Wexford see  You can also find the full festival program at Wexford Food Festival

Looking for more fun things to do in Wexford & Ireland’s sunny southeast? Here are some great ideas for all ages!

Bia Beag's Meet The Makers food series; Real Bread at Highbank Orchard

Bia Beag’s Meet The Makers series; Real Bread was the 1st talk

Even a vegan loves these Irish cheeses!

Irish artisan cheeses are next up in the Bia Beag series.

Yes, even though he’s a passionate vegan, Keith Bohanna is a champion of these lovingly made artisan food products. He’s organized one of the most interesting & best value evenings around; Bia Beag’s ‘Meet the Makers‘ food talks, and Irish artisan cheeses feature on Saturday 5 April, with 3 award winning producers:

Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith – St Tola: Irish Organic Goat Cheese, Co Clare

Helen Finnegan – Knockdrinna Cheese, Co Kilkenny

Tom Burgess – Coolattin Cheddar: Mature Raw Milk Cheddar, Co Carlow

For just €5 you’ll get to enjoy the makers sharing their stories, their tips, and their cheeses! Yes, there will be samples :-DI know that Keith will be salivating from the smells, but he’s a very committed as a vegan & I don’t think he’ll crack. But seeing if he gives in to the temptation could be part of the fun. (Tee hee… sorry, Keith!)


 Highbank Irish Medieval Cider

Yummy Highbank cider! There’s a non-alchoholic one for Drivers, too

Terry & I attended the first in this Bia Beag ‘Meet the Makers’ series, which was on real bread— it was a fantastic 2 hours; the speakers & breads were wonderful. Terry was so inspired he went home & baked that very night! While I’m not sure you’ll go home on the 5th of April and milk your goat/cow to make your own cheese, I’m pretty sure you will at least be inspired to try new cheeses. As well as the samples, the cheesemakers will bring some cheeses you can buy, and as the event is held at Highbank Orchard, you’ll also be able to sample & buy Apple cider & syrup products before the talks if you’d like. We had the Irish Medieval Cider– mmmm!


Some details on Meet the Cheese Makers:

Date: Saturday 5th April 2014
Time: 6pm, for about 2 hours

Location: Highbank Orchard  and you can Click here for a map showing the entrance to Highbank.

Click here to purchase tickets – €5 each – NOTE They sell out quickly, so don’t wait

Also, I know Helen at Knockdrinna cheese does cheese making courses, so if you are inspired to try making for yourself, do check them out.

Read more on the cheesemakers and the Bia Beag talks series on Bia Beag

Is the way to find Dublin’s heart through your stomach? Try a Fab Food tour and see!

Fab Food trails Dublin Ireland

Corleggy Irish Cheese. Free samples are great! You can get a taster box for a fiver.

Going on a food tour is a fantastic way to get to know a place.

Not only will the eats & drinks satisfy your taste buds, a good tour will cater to your craving to experience an area’s history, culture, and local gems. This could be a tall order for something that lasts around 2.5 hours, but it can be done. I’ve experienced 2 food tours that fit the bill perfectly; one with Walks of Italy in Venice, and this one in Dublin with Fab Food Trails.


Visitors and Locals

Hometown crowds are often the toughest. As well as visitors, the Fab Food tour participants included Dublin locals exploring more of their city. By the end of the tour they’d discovered several new places, had seen their city in a different way and were quite happy; great result! If even locals love it, I think you’re bound to, too.


The elusive Cake Cafe!

The Cake Cafe was one of the places several of us familiar with Dublin were chuffed to finally find. Tales of their delectable treats had been wafting around the internet like a delicious smell on a breeze, but many of us just couldn’t find the physical source! It was Fab Food Trails to the rescue, and our excellent guide Eveleen showed us the simplest way to get there–  by going through Daintree Paper shop!

The Cake Cafe Dublin ireland

You know the Cake Cafe is cool: tasty treats, local & green ethos, and beardy hipster waiter 🙂

(Oh, the browsing & buying that could be done at the shop! Unfortunately Daintree Paper will close 31 Jan 2014 unless they get a buyer. They are having a closing sale & say there will still be Cake Cafe access. You can also get into the Cake Cafe by going around the block.)


Some Tour Highlights


Two other highlights stood out for me on the Dublin food tour. One is the compact 5 minute history of Ireland through food Eveleen tells before you begin the walk. Tis fascinating how so much history can be summed up through the lens of food, farming, and eating. You’ll get nuggets of Dublin history throughout the tour as well, and a favorite was The Swan.


The Swan, Victorian Pub

The Swan Victorian pub hasn’t been destroyed remodeled like many Dublin pubs; it is still home to beautiful original period features. You’ll sip a sample of  Powers Dublin whiskey whilst you listen to the exciting history of the Swan during the Easter Rising. You also get a glimpse into social history as well. Here’s a wee video clip about their snug:

                                                                                                                                Tastings & Tips

swans victorian pub dublin ireland

Swan’s Victorian pub, Dublin Ireland. Gorgeous & full of history from the Rising and more.

There are plenty of  tastings and tips on the tour. You’ll discover where to eat from breakfast to dinner as well as ideas for a fun evening out afterwards. Helpfully, you’ll get a printed leaflet listing what you’ve seen, with & other recommendations too.

The tour is a Fab Food Trail; the only thing I declined to enjoy was the oyster at the end of our tour. I enjoyed the rest of Saturday’s the Temple Bar Food Market, but though the oyster looked fantastic … well, I’m not an oyster person; perhaps you are. You can have mine 🙂

Fab Food Trails (2.5 hrs, €55) give tours in both Dublin and Cork. They are now offering Fashion and Evening tours as well. Here’s the link to the Dublin food tour.

Transparency: when I noticed on Twitter that Fab Food Trails had a place open due to a cancellation, I arranged to join in as a guest. Being a guest does not make me hide the flaws of something when I write about it, but I have no qualms about recommending the Dublin Fab Food Trail tour to you; I found it tasty for both body & mind 🙂

Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland ; Sheridans Cheese

Sheridan’s is another delicious stop on the Fab Food Trail tour. You’ll sample cheeses & discover some fantastic Irish cheeses too

Fab Food trails Dublin tour

Mmmm fresh bread!

Oyster. Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland

Even with a lovely salsa on it, I can’t be tempted by a raw oyster. Does it tempt you?