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West Cork named as Foodie Destination of Ireland 2017

West Cork was recently announced as the winner of Restaurant Associations of Ireland (RAI)  Foodie Destinations 2017 competition, sponsored by FBD Insurance. The winner was announced at an event held in the Headfort Arms Hotel, Kells, in the home of last year’s winners, Boyne Valley Food Series, on 29th August.

Nora Rice and Nora Collins from West Cork, Foodie Destinations of Ireland Winner 2017

After a rigorous few weeks of applications, regional judging visits and over 10,000 online votes, West Cork was declared the winner after beating out some of the best finalists that the competition has seen to date.

From events and programmes like the annual Taste of West Cork Food Festival and Cork Character Cafes, to the pride and passion that West Cork food producers and retailers have about their locally made products, they have set the benchmark for food tourism in Ireland.

 Liam Edwards, President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, presents West Cork with the Winners Trophy

This year’s judges were Zack Gallagher and Wendy Kavanagh, the co-founders of Irish Food Tours.

“The excellent collaboration between food provider, chef and food producer with the tourism industry is generating amazing potentials for the future development of Ireland as a world class food destination” said Zack Gallagher. “The food and tourism offerings all over the island of Ireland and the use of modern media is changing the perception of Irish food as seen from abroad. This was most evident in the ten regions that reached the Foodie Destinations of Ireland 2017 final.”

Wendy Kavanagh added “What really stood out for me was the passion and pride displayed by the people involved at each destination.”

The top five finalists in this year’s Foodie Destinations 2017 competition are as follows:
1st. West Cork, 2nd. Boyne Valley, 3rd. Kilkenny, 4th. Kinsale and 5th. West Waterford.

The five remaining finalists, all of whom demonstrated spectacular efforts in their applications and finalist's visits were: Sligo, Monaghan, Cong, Loop Head Peninsula and Galways West End.

The West Cork Foodie Destinations team during their Finalists Visit with judge Wendy Kavanagh

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI, presented the award to representatives of West Cork's Foodie Destinations application saying, "It was incredible to see the high calibre of applications for this year’s Foodie Destinations. As food tourism grows in popularity – it is great to see so many places putting local food at the forefront of the visitor experience and like West Cork, enhancing their food tourism offering year on year."

Congratulations to West Cork as Winners of the Foodie Destinations 2017 award which is sure to boost the region's profile as an outstanding food destination in Ireland.


From humble beginnings in 2008, A Taste of Donegal has grown into one of the most spectacular and looked forward to food festival on the Irish Food Calendar. The 2017 Taste of Donegal Food Festival takes place this weekend on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th of August.

This amazing food festival attracts food lovers from all over the world to the beautiful tented village on the Pier in Donegal Town, facing out to Donegal Bay and surrounded by a backdrop of the Blue Stack Mountains! The success of this three day celebration of great food and drink is due to the vibrant personalities of the celebrity and local chefs who will be cooking up a storm over the weekend, the wonderful food produces and their produce and the amazing work of a small but totally dedicated committee head by Mary and Ernan McGettigan.

Food lovers will also enjoy over 120 food and drink exhibitors and top hotels and restaurants from all over the island of Ireland who will be showcasing and selling their produce, wine and craft beers with tastings from an huge variety of food ranging from, confectionery, meat, fish, dairy products and specialty foods.

Photo Credit - A wonderful evening view of A Taste of Donegal Food Festival by Mark Wickam

This Donegal Food Festival weekend includes some high profile cookery demonstrations with  some of Ireland top celebrity Irish chefs such as Gary O’Hanlon, Neven Maguire,  Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio, Kevin Dundon, Brian McDermott, Edward Hayden, Shane Smith, Gearóid Lynch and Actor turned chef, Simon Delaney and more!

There are more cookery demos and exhibitions from local Donegal Celebrity Chefs Zack Gallagher, Anthony Armstrong, Maurice Mc Geehan, Kieran Duey, Mick Mc Crudden, Martin Anderson and Martin Hernandez.

The event will also include a tutored Cocktail Masterclass by leading experts Coole Swan, and A Live Gin Distillation Masterclass in association with Dicey Reilly’s Ballyshannon and delivered by Gin Ambassador Paul Flynn & Distiller James McKenna from Listoke Distillery & Gin School Drogheda.

Ciaran Kennedy (Hunny Pots) and Sian Breslin (Donegal Manor and Cookery School) will showcase their specialist skills in planning healthy meals without spending a fortune, recipes to keep the body healthy and happy, cocktail making using fresh fruits, proper ice, decent spirits and balanced measures and specialised Gin tasting, “Hunny Pots” tray bakes made from 100% pure and natural Wexford (but he's a Donegal man) honey!

Donegal chef Brian McDermott is the MC for the whole weekend at A Taste of Donegal
MC for the whole weekend of this year's A Taste of Donegal, is Donegal chef Brian McDermott, who has an excellent reputation for keeping things running smooth on the demo stages and for interviewing small local food producers and getting them to share their food story to the audience.

The 2017 A Passion To Inspire Chefs Competition will take place under the watchful eye of Anthony Armstrong (WACS), Peter Griffths (BCF), Gerard M. Molloy (ACF) and Bob Mc Donald (MCGB). Entrants are required to cook and present two different dishes, a starter and a main course, each for two covers, showcasing the best of Irish produce.

The Agri Aware Mobile Farm will be at the Taste of Donegal Food Festival

Another new attraction this year is the excellent Agri Aware Mobile Farm. This independent agri-food educational body's interactive attraction is a great way for children to follow the “Farm to Fork” journey of their food in a fun and interactive way.

Ireland's comical celebrity chef Joe Shannon & comedian Frank Forde will be cooking and having a laugh in the Cookery Comedy Theatre. There may even be a bit of singing and dancing thrown in! As Chef Joe says, “We'll teach you everything in the culinary world that you probably don’t need to know!"

There will also be free admission to Donegal Town Castle all day on Sunday 28th August.

The 2017 Taste Of Donegal Food Festival opens on Friday 25th August at 4pm. The Official Opening will be preformed by Dr Séan Duffy Head of School of  Tourism LYIT Killybegs at 7.00 pm.

The opening event will be hosted by TV3 Star Noel Cunningham, who is also the General Manager of the local Harvey’s Point Country Hotel. Friday evening will conclude with the amazing annual Fireworks display which takes place over the reflective flat calm waters of Donegal Bay.

Fireworks at the Donegal Town Food Festival - A Taste Of Donegal - pic by Zack Gallagher
The annual Fireworks at th Taste of Donegal are an amazing sight!

A Taste of Donegal is truly a food lovers dream and will showcase Donegal Town, the surrounding area as a region of high quality restaurants and hotels, with a vibrant and growing artisan food network!

Admission is €6.00 per adult, €1.00 per child, €15.00 for a weekend pass.

For the full programme of events and more info check out and see their Facebook page A Taste of Donegal.


I have an exclusive Weekend pass for 2 people to give away for a lucky reader.
Simply LIKE & SHARE the A Taste of Donegal Facebook Page

adding a comment saying "I want to win the Weekend Pass for 2"

The Winner will be announced on Thursday evening (24th August 2017) and the Passes will be available on the Gate at the Food Festival from Friday morning. Good Luck!

Donegal Town is my Home Town and I think it's the Best Food Festival in Ireland!

I'll be there and look forward to seeing you at A Taste Of Donegal Food Festival!

Letterkenny hosts new Irish Street Food Festival 29th and 30th July

Donegal's newest Food Festival kicks off this weekend in Letterkenny with an action packed program of events over Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July 2017!

Off The Street Food Festival, Donegal's first ever Irish Street Food Festival, will feature local food producer's stories, food talks, cooking demonstrations, music and entertainment and a host of Donegal Street Food!

The brainchild of Chris Molloy from The Lemontree Restaurant and Derek Walker of Letterkenny Artisan Market, this new Irish Street Food Festival is offering a huge variety of food stalls selling amazing street, fresh local produce & much much more.

Two days of live music by local musicians, live cookery demos in the marquee by local talented chefs and producer story sections where you get to hear the stories behind some of Donegal's best food producers.

Declan McConnellogue from The Haven Smokehouse

Among the food producers from Donegal that will be telling their food story are Ballyholey Farm, OURganic Gardens, The Haven Smokehouse, Simply Natural Health, Harrys Walled Garden, Carols Stockmarket, Hive Donegal, Gareth Austin Horticulture and Boghopper Brewery.

Cooking Demonstrations will run all weekend and Donegal chefs on the stage on Saturday and Sunday include Gary M Peake, Mary McLaughlin, World Chowder Champion Kieran Duey, Frank Pasquier, Maurice McGeehan, me... Zack Gallagher, the 9 Hostages Coffee Baristas, Chris Molloy and Ciaran Sweeney.

The Street Food Festival takes place at the rear of the AIB Bank on Letterkenny Main Street and access is via Justice Walsh Road. There will be over ten stalls from local chefs cooking up a local Donegal Street Food and in total there will be over 50 food stalls!

As part of the food festival the popular Letterkenny Artisan Market will relocate to the festival site in the town centre over the weekend.

“The popularity of street has really grown in the last couple of years so we just wanted to try an run an event like this in my home town", said Chris Molloy, about the new Street Food Festival. "Entry is just €3 per ticket, €5 for a full weekend ticket and children go free!"

With something for the whole family, this is a true celebration of the vibrant Donegal Food scene, and a weekend not to be missed! For more info see

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The Irish Food Guide Blog includes news, foodie chat, recipes, award results, links and other general information on the Food & Tourism Industry in Ireland.

It is written & curated by Zack Gallagher, Donegal Town, Co Donegal, Ireland.

“My Blog is a slice of the Irish Food ‘Network’. I’m a Chef with over 27 years experience and also have a background in media. I’m passionate about Irish Food Tourism and I believe that a rising tide really can lift all boats!”

Supporting Irish Food created by passionate producers and encouraging the Irish food & hospitality industry to use modern social media methods to increase their business.

Zack is building an all-Ireland Food Tourism network to assist Tour Operators bringing guests into Ireland to connect easily with artisan Irish food producers, so as they can experience the provenance and personality behind our Irish food Visit

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