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Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2015 culminate this weekend!

The Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2015 culminate this weekend with Finalists Judging tomorrow (Thursday 1st October).

Now in their 8th year, the Blas na hEireann (which means Taste of Ireland) Irish Food Awards is the biggest competition for quality Irish produce on the island of Ireland. Over 2500 products have been entered into this year’s competition to win Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in over 90 food and drink categories as well as key awards such as Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer.

A Blas na hEireann accreditation has been researched to show the highest recognition amongst Irish consumers and using the award logo on product packs really does encourage shoppers to buy these great products. It is a guarantee of a top quality Irish product.

Blas na hEireann  takes place annually on the first weekend in October, 1st – 4th October 2015. Set against the backdrop of the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival the awards and events throughout the weekend are a fantastic opportunity to meet with producers, trade and press.

The Blas Awards and the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival is an event which has grown to be one of the most recognised and well attended food events in Ireland. In the past few years the first weekend in October has become a critical date in the food industry’s calendar. in 2014 this Irish Food Networking event was attended by over 200 producers with buyers and press from all over Ireland, the UK & US!

Most importantly, the Blas na hEireann awards and the Dingle Food Festival have retained a sense of informality while becoming a key business event.

There is a real sense of the pressure that the food producers are under when you attend the awards ceremony. Everyone in the room knows that winning a Blas na hEireann Award, whether it is Gold, Silver or Bronze, can help launch a new product and boost sales of an existing line. And that is what awards the Blas are all about - helping passionate people with wonderful food products to reach new customers.

I'm delighted to have been asked to be one of the Finalists Judges again this year and I write this as I sit in the Dingle Benner Hotel. If you're coming down to Dingle for the Blas na hEireann Awards and/or the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival, do try to get around as much of it as you can, if you can!

Food Festivals all over Ireland have come to understand the power of social media in helping to get the word out about their event and so you can:
Follow the Blas na hEireann Awards on Twitter at @BlasNahEireann
Follow the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival on Twitter at @DingleFoodFest
And of course you can Follow me on Twitter at @IrishFoodGuide

For more details on the Blas na hEireann Awards see
For more details on the Dingle Food Festival see

Kelly’s Butchers of Newport open new Black Pudding factory

Celebrity Chef Neven Maguire performed the official opening of a 6,000 square foot manufacturing facility at Kelly’s Butchers in Newport, Co. Mayo, on Friday 25th September 2015.

The affable Cavan chef has been a longstanding supporter of Kelly’s Butchers and their products. The new manufacturing unit represents an investment of €1 million. It trebles the capacity of the previous facility and leaves Kelly’s Butchers poised to sell into new and bigger markets both at home and abroad. The Kelly family would like to thank South West Mayo Development Company and Mayo LEO for supporting this expansion project.

“I’ve used Kelly’s puddings not only in my restaurant but all over the world from Dubai to the USA", said Neven Maguire, speaking in the very appropriately black and white themed marquee, “I love their consistency and their quality – you can taste the passion the Kellys put into their food. Through that they’ve put Newport, Mayo and Ireland on the map and I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate with them."

“This is a very proud day for the Kelly family”, said Seán Kelly, “It’s the culmination of our family’s work since my father opened the first butchers shop here back in the 1930s. His name, Dominic Kelly, is still over the door.”

The ribbon on the new manufacturing facility was cut by Seán’s mother-in-law, 95 year old Mamie Marley, ably assisted by Neven Maguire.

The new facility will be used to manufacture Kelly’s award winning puddings and sausages. It will hugely increase the manufacturing capacity and will allow Kelly’s to supply customers all over the island of Ireland as well as the UK market. Kelly’s are already supplying customers in major UK cities, and are now able to respond to the increasing demand.

Kelly’s Butchers are a phenomenal success story in the West of Ireland; their turnover has increased steadily year on year and this is expected to continue into the future. Several jobs have already been created by Kelly’s Butchers and they expect to take on more staff over the next year. This will bring their employee numbers to 22.

“We would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported Kelly’s Butchers”, said Seán Kelly, “Every person who chooses Kelly’s Black Pudding or sausages for their breakfast is doing their bit towards creating and sustaining jobs in Ireland.” 

Stuffed Saddle of Rabbit with Serrano Ham and Kelly's Black Pudding
from Sage Restaurant, Westport

Indeed Kelly’s Puddings are seen in all sorts of guises in literally every course of every meal – even in desserts. Seán Kelly has been credited as the man who took black pudding off the breakfast table and put it on the dinner table.

Gerry O’Neill, CEO of South West Mayo Development Company said, “This is another step in the evolution of the Kelly brand which is such a hallmark of success. We are delighted to have supported this project, particularly as it supports rural employment and uses local skills. We wish the Kellys well in their future.”

Michael Holmes, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, recalled bygone days on the football field with Seán Kelly, saying, “Seán always played at the front, he was always moving forward and he still is. He and the family have always been very progressive and have always been more than generous in helping their community as well. It’s a fantastic day for them and for Newport.”

Tanya Whyte, Business Advisor with Mayo LEO who has special responsibility for food, noted that ‘The Kellys are significant employers in Newport and important to the community. I see three reasons for their success: hard work, innovation and excellence in marketing.”

A special presentation was made to the Kelly family by Peter Hynes, Mayo County Manager of a commemorative scroll for Mayo Day created by artist Fionntan Gogarty. Mr Hynes said, “Kelly’s Black Pudding is being consumed everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires and everywhere in between. I wish them every success with their new venture and into what looks like a very bright future.”

Sean Kelly presents the cheque to Caroline Leneghan Mc Manamon
Seán Kelly presented a cheque for €3,000 to Cystic Fibrosis West. This is from sales of the book of Kelly’s Puddings recipes, entitled ‘The Proof is in the Pudding’ which was launched last year and is on sale in Kelly’s shop. Caroline McMenamen of Cystic Fibrosis West thanked the Kelly family for their support saying, “This money will all go towards the new clinic in Castlebar”, she also noted, “It’s very appropriate that Neven Maguire is here beside me today – one of his recipes is in the ‘Proof is in the Pudding’ book.”

Kelly’s Butchers produce and sell award winning black and white puddings and six varieties of speciality sausages. Awards include Blás na hÉireann, Great Taste Awards, Business Achievers Award and many butchers’ awards. Kellys also manufacture the ‘Putóg’, a traditional farmhouse black pudding. Kelly’s products are available through their shop and in hundreds of outlets around Ireland and the UK. 

Their products will soon be available online as well, through a new website which will launch in the next few weeks at


October 24th is "International Bake Bread for Peace" Day

"Bake Bread For Peace has the potential to become a global movement and an international initiative made up of individuals who wish to bring peace, harmony, neighbourliness and a sense of community to those around them and to the world they live in."

International Bake Bread for Peace Day was born out of a passion for humanity, in 2014, by a Baker and Storyteller from Glenties, Co. Donegal, named Breezy Kelly.

The aim of Bake Bread for Peace is to bring people together in a celebration of everything communal and good through one of the most common and basic activities that humanity shares all over the world – Baking Bread. 

Baking bread together as a sign of peaceful intentions is a world-wide costume, common to cultures around the globe and it is the main aim of Bake Bread for Peace to bring the costume into communities and to strengthen it where already present.

What must you break apart in order to bring a family close together? 
Bread of course.” - Jodi Picoult, Storyteller.

"We are all at a loss for words to describe our sadness about the dis-ease in the world at present and things seem to be going from bad to worse", said Breezy. "We hear talks of ceasefire, talks, talks and more talks but the madness goes on. The world wide chaos is so terrible that we try to ignore it, bury our heads in the sand and hope that it will go away, we feel helpless that there seems to be nothing we can do and yet we want to do something."

Breaking Bread together is a universal sign of peace, it is something we can do together, no blaming, no making anyone right or wrong, just baking and sharing bread to reach out in peace and for peace. Together we can make a difference. 

Join in on October 24th for "International Bake Bread for Peace Day", get your thinking hats on, create an event in your area, in your kitchen, in your local school, it's up to you. Share your ideas, send photos, advertise your events, spread the word far and wide that we want Peace! 

Bake Bread for Peace is not an organization, it does not raise funds, it does not have a CEO, managers, or accountants. It is solely based on people taking the initiative and creating events in their own locality. It is based on communication and creative thinking shared between individuals across the world that have the same aim – to bring people together and share their love for Baking Bread and for Peace.

Breezy Kelly (aka Breezy Willow) is a native of Glenties in Co. Donegal. She has been involved in promoting the ancient tradition of home-baking for over 15 years. For over a decade she was included in the Heritage in Schools scheme which is run by the Heritage council and the I.N.T.O.

Breezy comes from a background where traditions were very important and it was her realisation that these traditions are fast disappearing that prompted her to launch “Sillybucks”, a project whose aim is to collect and record stories, songs, recipes and cooking methods of days gone by.

In 2006 she published a collection of traditional recipes – “Bread, Scones, Stories & Songs” – which is now in the process of its 3rd print. In 2013 she was involved in organizing and facilitating ‘Born and Bread’ project, as part of the ‘One Donegal Cultural Diversity Month’.

Breezy came up with the idea for “Bake Bread for Peace” in 2014 and on October 24th of the same year she organized the first “Bake Bread for Peace” day. Working mainly through social-media, she encouraged countless individuals, in Ireland and abroad, to share their wishes for world-Peace and bring their neighbours and communities together through the ancient and Peaceful activity of baking Bread together.

Breezy Kelly, with her dog Sheila, Baking Bread for Peace around the world

During 2015 Breezy, along with her wee dog Sheila, a bag of bread soda and a tub of Bextartar has taken to the roads of Ireland, north and south, to share the idea of Bake Bread for Peace. During her journey she was hosted by various individuals and families and wherever she stayed she organized an evening of baking, songs and stories, encouraging her hosts to invite family and friends and to turn the evening into a celebration of Peace, unity and neighbourliness.

Breezy believes that although Bake Bread for Peace Day is now becoming an established date in many individual calendars, it is in fact an ongoing, year-long event. "It is a philosophy, a universal wish, an urge to make a positive change in the world that we are all invited and welcome to take part in."

Breezy wishes to encourage those who wish to organize an evening of Baking, Songs & Stories to contact her. She believes, "Think globally – Act locally, Peace begins at home. All that is required is an invitation, and baking ingredients. Together we can create an evening of Bread, Scones, Stories & Songs and most importantly, Peace and neighbourliness".

For More info about "International Bake Bread for Peace Day" and pictures and recipes of bread posted by people from all around the world, visit:
and you can also contact Breezy at


Irish National Bread Week starts 4th October

From 4th – 10th October 2015, National Bread Week will be calling on the nation to ‘Love Your Loaf’ and celebrate one of Ireland’s favourite foods – Bread! The week is organised by Ireland’s bakers, who make the fantastic range of great tasting breads for us to enjoy every day. Whatever kind of loaf you prefer, be it Soda Bread, Sour Dough, Batch Loaf, Fruit Bracks or simply Sliced Pan – Irish Bread has so much to offer and is arguably the best in the world!
National Bread Week celebrates Irish Bread and aims to encourage consumers to love bread and its heritage and versatility and is organised by FCBA (Flour Confectioners and Bakers Association)

The week-long celebration, which is being supported by TV chef and author Rachel Allen, will highlight the heritage, value and versatility of bread, and dispel some of the myths about breads. Irish bread is steeped in history and tradition and has been part of our culture for hundreds of years and is definitely something we should all be proud of. 

Imagine breakfast without toast, a picnic without sandwiches or soup without soda bread – bread has a part to play in every meal and is also one of the most versatile foods there is. Registered Dietitian Dr Mary McCrery, explains that bread also has a valuable role to play as part of a healthy balanced diet: 
National Bread Week is a great opportunity to correct some of the confusion there is about bread. For example, many of the facts quoted about bread are based on American bread which is completely different in its composition, particularly its sugar content, to the healthier style Irish bread. Contrary to popular belief bread is good for us – providing protein, folic acid and many nutrients such as dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.”

To find out more about Irish Bread and National Bread Week visit There you will find a host of information all about bread as well as details of participating bakeries around the country. Make sure you join in and Love Your Loaf this autumn!

Follow the campaign on Twitter @loveyourloaf and like them at


see also our story about  International Bake Bread For Peace Day

Rockwell Catering College Reunion taking place this October

The Rockwell Hotel and Catering School, which had a major influence on traditional cooking and service in Ireland, is holding a Reunion for past students on Sunday 11th Oct 2015.

Rockwell was world renowned for training and turned out some of Ireland’s best chefs and waiters, many of whom work in top restaurants around the world today. The Catering College began in 1958 under the auspices of Bord Failte Eireann and was run by Mr. Jimmy Kelly.

Well-known past pupils include Martin Shanahan, TV chef and proprietor of Fishy Fishy in Kinsale Cork, Eugene McSweeney, a well-known industry consultant who resides in Kilkenny, Ed Cooney, Executive Chef at The 5 in the Merrion Hotel, Steven McNally, Deputy CEO at the Dalata Hotel Group and President of the Irish Hotels Federation, Noel Cunningham, Media personality and General Manager at Harvey’s Point, Paul Carty, MD at Diageo and Chair of Irish Tourism Confederation (ITIC).

Jimmy Kelly and Pat Cronin
Mr. Pat Cronin, who was one of the first students and the last Manager of the Catering School after being at the helm for almost 15 years, said, “Rockwell had a major influence on traditional cooking and service over its 25 year history the hotel and catering industry in Ireland, and it’s legacy is still lives on as past pupils continue to make a major impact on the National and global Hospitality business. It is a sadder place without the Rockwell student”.

Some famous Rockwell Hotel School students include:
Steven McNally, Ed Cooney, Martin Shanahan, Noel Cunningham and Paul Carty.

Dolores O'Connor, the co-ordinator of the event, is looking forward to welcoming all past students, of any year, to the event. Dolores, who was a former secretary of the catering school and is currently Managing Director of Ambassador Recruitment, said, “This year’s get-together will be the best yet and we expect in excess of 180 past pupils. Everyone is assured of a great night with excellent food exceeding expectations of those working in the industry.”

Former pupils will be travelling from all over Ireland and further afield for the event – one chef Padraig Molloy is even coming in from Antarctica. The evening, which is in aid of local charity, will commence with mass at 7pm in the hotel, followed by a drinks reception, 4 course dinner and music to follow.

The organisers also looking for old photos or memorabilia of Rockwell and another of their famous past students, Rory Morahan, The Druid Chef, is putting together a collection for all to see on the night.

Past pupil from Rockwell Catering College, Rory Morahan, The Druid Chef

If you have memorabilia, would like more details on the event, or you would just like to reconnect with old Rockwell friends see the Rockwell Hotel School Facebook page or contact

The Reunion will be held in the 4-star Landmark Hotel, located in the heart of the beautiful riverside town of Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. The hotel is owned by Ciaran Kelly, a past student of the Rockwell Catering School.

The Landmark Hotel is situated on the main Dublin to Sligo (N4) road overlooking the beautiful river Shannon, with access to stunning lakes, is offering special overnight rates for past students. Book your room and dinner on at  071 9622222 or

I went to Killybegs Catering College so I won't be joining you but have a great evening!

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