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Roguey Pale Ale to be launched at new Bia Bundoran Festival

A brand new Roguey Pale Ale produced by  Donegal Brewing Company is inspired by the famous bracing 4.5km Roguey Walk which hugs the coastline of Bundoran in south west Donegal. The ale "captures the refreshment you feel as you stroll along this stunning headland" with its breathtaking views of Donegal Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Roguey Pale Ale will be only available exclusively in Bundoran across the festival weekend!

Brendan O’Reilly of Donegal Brewing Company in Ballyshannon, brewers of the Roguey Pale Ale, said, "we’ve been working with Discover Bundoran for the past number of months on a beer that is unique to the town and that we could launch as part of the new Bia Bundoran Food & Drink festival. We’re delighted to have come up with a pale ale named after one of the most famous walks in the county. It will be available as a limited edition for the weekend of Bia Bundoran in various outlets across Bundoran in bottle and on tap."

Roguey Pale Ale is inspired by the famous Roguey Cliff Walk in Bundoran

Organiser of Bia Bundoran, Tourism Officer Shane Smyth added "we are absolutely thrilled to have a new Bundoran beer exclusive to the festival – one that will celebrate the uniqueness of the locality and of course the warm welcome that awaits you here! I’d like to thank Brendan and the team at Donegal Brewing Company for their cooperation in making this happen. There’s lots of different food and drink related events across the weekend and we’re delighted that so many of the food trade in town have come on board for the very first Bia Bundoran.”

Bundoran Tourism Officer, Shane Smyth, with Brendan Reilly of Donegal Brewing Company

Events during Bia Bundoran begin on Friday afternoon, September 20th and run through until Sunday 22nd. Many of the food outlets in Bundoran will be offering special deals and discounts on dishes – with some created especially for the festival. 

All the up to date information can be found on the website and you can keep up to date on their facebook page at

Embracing Local at the Abbey Hotel Roscommon on Sunday October 20th

The Abbey Hotel Roscommon will host a unique Taste the Island event in the Abbey Ballroom on Sunday October 20th from 2-5pm.

EMBRACING LOCAL is an opportunity for the hotel to give all our local artisan food and drink suppliers in the region a unique opportunity to showcase their produce on the day,” explained Geraldine Grealy, the hotel's Marketing Manager.

"We hope to embrace the concept and meet the makers on a local level by inviting local and regional suppliers to showcase their products here on the day at the Abbey. From organic farm producers, Jam and Brown bread makers to bee keepers, egg suppliers to vegetable producers we want to hear from you” added Geraldine.

Admission is free to the public on the day. Visitors can enjoy Cookery demonstrations from our award winning Abbey chefs and sample some canapés and free goodies from suppliers. We will even have free face painting for the little ones.

Meet the Makers and support local producers in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Exhibitor Stands are only €50. To register Contact Geraldine Grealy on 086 3276584 or email

Sligo Food Trail to host Nine Course Harvest Feast on Friday 18th October 2019

Sligo Food Trail have just announced that their flagship event, the Harvest Feast, will take place on Friday 18th October 2019. This significant gastronomic event is part of Taste The Island, the international Fáilte Ireland food tourism initiative. Sligo Food Trail Harvest Feast consists of a sumptuous nine course tasting menu, each specially created by one of Sligo’s top chefs collaborating with artisan producers. 

The gala banquet will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa and numbers are strictly limited. MC for the evening will be TV3 celebrity chef Shane Smyth.

Marie Casserly, Chairperson of Sligo Food Trail, said “This is an opportunity to showcase both the enormously talented chefs and also the remarkable artisan producers we have on Sligo Food Trail. The combination is truly electric and we guarantee another outstanding event”.

The combination of award winning chefs and the best of local Sligo produce has proved a real winner over the last few years. Anyone lucky enough to be at the Harvest Feast 2017 was bowled over by the incredibly high standard of dishes presented. And those dishes just kept on coming – nine delicious courses, competing for attention. Harvest Feast 2019 will be equally thrilling for the taste buds.

“It was such a wonderful experience for everyone involved, we just had to do it again. The chefs love the unusual experience of working together and celebrating the wonderful artisan producers on Sligo Food Trail”, said Anthony Gray, of Sligo Food Trail, “We are so proud of all of our achievements and have put Sligo on the world culinary map with hard work and dedication from all involved”.

The Harvest Feast isn’t just an outstanding dining experience, it's an outstanding event on the Sligo social calendar. From the Canapé, Craft Beer and Drinks reception at the beginning of the evening to the live music throughout, this is a glittering affair in every way!

Sligo Food Trail chefs and producers taking part in the Harvest Feast include: 
Alan Fitzmaurice (The Glasshouse), Marcin Szczodrowski (Eala Bhán Restaurant) Yvonne Kathrein (Waterfront Hotel),
Prannie Rhatigan (Irish Seaweed Kitchen), Joe Shannon (Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa), Aisling Kelly (Sligo Oyster Experience)

The chefs involved are a truly outstandingly talented group, many are award winning and all are true ambassadors for food in the northwest. They are keeping the menu a closely guarded secret until the night itself, but we can introduce you to the award winning chefs:

Joe Shannon (Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa) - Well known TV3 personality chef who has cooked for all kinds of personalities including Hillary Clinton.

Marcin Szczodrowski (Eala Bhán Restaurant) - Talented Polish born chef with a penchant for classical French cuisine. Marcin revels in creating culinary masterpieces with top quality ingredients sourced in the northwest.

Alan Fitzmaurice (The Glasshouse) - Chef, chocolatier and dedicated forager who loves to take classical dishes and add his own contemporary twist.

Joe McGlynn (Hooked) - Donegal born Joe is head chef at Anthony Gray’s eclectic Hooked restaurant.

Marc Gallagher (Sligo Wellness Centre) - A leading light on the thriving Sligo organic food scene.

Yvonne Kathrein (Waterfront House Hotel) - Originally from Austria, Yvonne has a passion for seafood, artisan foods and local suppliers which is strongly reflected in her menus.

Chris Friel (Sligo Park Hotel) - For Chris, being a chef is a true vocation and classical training an essential.

Mammy Johnstons, in Strandhill just outside Sligo town, is famous for its homemade Ice Creams

Representing the artisan producer aspect of Sligo Food Trail, courses will also be presented by Neil Byrne (Mammy Johnston’s) and Aisling Kelly (Sligo Oyster Experience at WB’s).

Aisling Kelly of Sligo Oyster Experience

Tickets are only €75 each for this Nine-Course Feast

Tickets and can be booked online at, by contacting Marie Casserly (086 3182529) or calling into these Sligo restaurants: Hooked, Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, WBs Coffee Shop, Ósta Café & Wine Bar or Sweet Beat. 

A special overnight rate of €109 single and €119 double is available at the Sligo Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, just quote Sligo Food Trail Harvest Feast when booking!


Bia Bundoran to showcase food and drink offering in Bundoran, County Donegal

A brand new food & drink festival, Bia Bundoran, is set to take place in the County Donegal seaside town of Bundoran, from Friday September 20th to Sunday September 22nd 2019

Announced last January as part of the new season for Discover Bundoran, the food & drink festival will celebrate and showcase the wide and varied range of food and drink available in the town. The festival will also form part of the national offering from Failte Ireland’s “Taste The Island” initiative.

Many of the Bundoran food providers will present special offers and discounts on their menus or dishes, while others will host special events across the weekend to highlight the fact that diners need not wander too far in search of tasty cuisine. 

Events include Wine Tasting at Fitzgerald’s Bistro, a Food & Foto Tour whereby participants can learn how to take better photos of their food for social media, a Gin Masterclass with an expert from the Sliabh Liag Distillery, a tour of the Community Garden to learn what grows in Bundoran and a family friendly Foraging talk with Forager Fred.

A Limited Edition Beer, Roguey Pale Ale, (the name is Inspired by the famous bracing walk around the cliffs of Bundoran) has been especially commissioned for the Bia Bundoran event. Made by the Donegal Brewing Company, the ale will have it's official launch at the Official Festival Launch in Madden’s Bridge Bar at 6pm on Friday 20th September. (All Welcome!)

Bundoran Tourism Officer Shane Smyth who is coordinating the event said, "There’s a huge demand for food events and it’s been something that has been missing from the Calendar of Events for some time now. We have been delighted with the enthusiasm shown by the various food providers in Bundoran who have embraced the need for this type of event." 

Shane added, "We are blessed with so many food and drink offerings in the town from home grown and home baked goods to specialised coffee shops and quirky cafes that offer a wonderful choice to residents and visitors alike. We look forward to seeing everyone for our first Bia Bundoran weekend this September."

Many of the events require pre-booking and all information can be found on the Bia Bundoran website at where a copy of the festival programme can also be downloaded.

See you there!


Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection wins ‘Own Label Brand of the Year 2019’

Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection wins ‘Own Label Brand of the Year’ for Second Year running at the Food & Drink Business Awards 2019!

Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection was announced best in Ireland for the second year in a row, as the winners of the much coveted ‘Own Label Brand of the Year’ Award at the Food & Drink Business Awards 2019 in City West Hotel on Thursday evening, 5th September. 

Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection is the premium tier food collection presented under the Dunnes Stores private label. Since it was established in 2013, the brand has received over 340 food awards, the most awards for any Irish food brand. In 2016 the brand won an international Great Taste Golden Fork Award for its Sticky Toffee Pudding, which is produced by the Flaherty family in Kilmessan, Co. Meath.

The ‘Own Label Brand of the Year’ Award at the Food & Drink Business Awards 2019 honour was given in recognition of Simply Better’s commitment to consistently delivering quality products, great food made in the right way, while working in partnership with the best food producers who share the same ethos around quality and provenance, with over 50 of these producers from Ireland.

The Food & Drink Business Awards recognise innovation through excellence, with the very best companies operating in the food and drink sector in Europe. This award, one of the most highly competitive awards on the night, demonstrates the premier position the Simply Better Collection maintains within the industry, as one of the most successful food brands in Ireland, awarded over 340 national and international food awards since it was established in 2013.

At the Gala Awards to receive the prestigious award was Diarmuid Murphy, Brand Manager Simply Better Collection who stated “We are delighted to be receiving the “Own Label Brand of the Year” in Ireland for the second year in a row. We couldn’t achieve this great success without the authentic collaborations and constant new product development between our amazing Food Producers and the Simply Better team. This award is in recognition of these producers as much as it is for the brand and is a testimony to the great products we create together.”

Also present to receive the award was Ireland’s favourite chef and Simply Better Brand Ambassador, Neven Maguire. Neven stated “It has been an amazing evening for Irish Food and the Simply Better Collection. I have been involved with the Simply Better brand for almost four years now and have seen first-hand the time, passion and care that goes into selecting each of the products for this outstanding collection. I am so proud to be part of the Simply Better team and delighted to be here to celebrate this fantastic achievement for the second year in a row. ”

Neven added “ When the Simply Better Collection wins an award it is a joy that is shared with many, as the Simply Better Collection is home to many of Ireland’s best Food Producers who we call our ‘Food Heroes’. It has been a privilege to get to know each one of these amazing producers who help make this collection an award-winning and world class offering”.

All of the Simply Better Collection products are chosen for their provenance, many from small Irish producers, and all with a nod to the past, where food was made in the right way.

The supplier story is absolutely intrinsic to the Simply Better Collection and the provenance of all the products is highlighted through the individual product story on the back of all packaging. Dunnes Stores are proud to tell the story of the supplier, as they are proud to show their partnership with such quality Irish and International crafts people.

For more information on the Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection visit  or on social media platforms - @SimplyBetterDS 


5 Food Producers from Donegal shortlisted for Blas na hÉireann 2019 Finals

Blas na hÉireann, the Irish Food Awards, have reached the penultimate stage of this year’s awards, with the announcement of the finalists who will go through to the final round of judging in Dingle this October, with 350 producers from across Ireland reaching this coveted stage.

The Blas na hÉireann awards are the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country, and the criteria on which the product is judged as well as the judging system itself, which was developed by Blas with the Food Science Dept of UCC and the University of Copenhagen that is now recognised as an industry gold standard worldwide.

During the first round of judging which took place over the course of four weeks in June and July, over 2,500 entries were judged in UCC & TU Dublin, bringing the total number of finalists in each category down to just five.

Each of these producer finalists will have their products tasted, compared, savoured and judged at the final of Blas na Éireann 2019 in Dingle on Thursday 3rd October. This is the 12th year of the biggest competition for quality Irish produce on the island, and the Blas na Éireann 2019 final will produce worthy winners of awards that have become an important part of the commercial success of so many exceptional Irish products.

The Father and Daughter team behind the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards, Fallon & Artie Clifford

Five finalists from Donegal have been shortlisted across a range of different categories and these producers are Donegal Rapeseed Company Ltd., Filligans, Green Pastures Donegal, Harnett's Oils, Island Seafoods Ltd. The Blas na hEireann Roadshow will be in Donegal on Wednesday 4th September at 10am in the Bank Of Ireland Workbench, Upper Main Street Letterkenny.

Returning to this year’s Blas na hÉireann in Dingle is the hugely successful Backyard at Blas, an innovative meeting space designed to bring fellow producers together in a relaxed and informal way to meet, mingle and share experience and insights into running a business, and to offer support to those starting out. First supported by Bank of Ireland in 2017 and again last year, the talks series has proved so popular with attendees that Bank of Ireland have just signed a new deal for Backyard at Blas 2019.

The Backyard at Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards supported by Bank of Ireland is very popular

This September, Blas na hÉireann are going on the road with a special roadshow to help finalists get ready for the weekend in Dingle. They have been kindly welcomed by their partner Bank of Ireland to host special events across the country in their Bank of Ireland Workbench venues. These events will help finalists with details on the weekend of final judging, tips on how best to prepare from a press and buyer point of view, local information for travel, help on timings and how best to prepare your product for delivery and judging.

These are exceptionally rigorously-judged food awards, as Blas na hÉireann use an innovative blind-tasting judging system developed by Blas with the Food Science Dept of UCC and the University of Copenhagen that is now recognised as an industry gold standard worldwide. Products entered are blind-tasted, meaning that all packaging and identifying features are removed from products before being presented for judging, creating a level playing field for products from both large and small producers.

Judges come from a range of food backgrounds from chefs to restaurateurs, academics, journalists, authors, food champions, caterers and enthusiastic home cooks.

Often dubbed the Oscars of Irish food, Blas na hÉireann, the Irish Food Awards, are the largest food awards on the island, open to all 32 counties, with judging taking place during June and July, finalists notified in August, and finalist judging in Dingle, the home of the awards, in October.

Over 2,500  products were entered into this year’s competition to win Gold, Silver or Bronze Blas na hÉireann awards in over 140 food and drink categories, as well as key awards like Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer, so there will be good food and drink guaranteed in Dingle this October.

Rooney Fish Millbay Oysters were the Supreme Champions at Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2018

With workshops and masterclasses in Dingle, final Blas na hÉireann 2019 awards will be presented alongside producer networking events on October 5th during the Dingle Food Festival, always an unmissable event for food lovers!

Hedgerow Blackberry & Apple Jam

"You ate the first one and it's flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue
And a lust for picking..."
-from "Blackberry Picking" by Seamus Heaney

It's Blackberry Time Again!

Autumn comes and the Blackberries ripen just in time for the back-to-school children. One of my favourite memories as a child is picking blackberries down country roads with my cousins, so that my Aunty Nora could make some of her famous and delicious Blackberry & Apple Jam.

We would never pick them just after it had rained, always checked them for worms and always ate as many as we picked!

There are many recipes and methods for making jams with blackberries and this is my favourite. The fruit is cooked without sugar at the start and then sieved to remove the seeds as they can be quite hard and get stuck in your teeth!

The sugar is added later in the cooking as the amount of sugar in any jam recipe is determined by the weight of the fruit. Removing the seeds will reduced the weight of the fruit by 40% therefore less sugar is required.

The apple helps to increase the pectin content giving this jam a better 'setting' quality, as well as adding more flavour & bulk.

Always sterilise your jam jars before use. You can do this easily by putting them in the microwave on full power for 3 minutes.

My Ingredients:
2kg Blackberries
500g large cooking Apples
2 whole cloves
150ml water
Juice & zest of 1 Lemon
1.5 kg granulated sugar

My Method:
1. Peel, core and roughly chop the apples. Pull the stalks out of the blackberries.
2. Put the apple, blackberries, lemon juice, cloves & water into a large heavy-based pot and bring to the boil.
3. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring ocassionally with a wooden spoon. The fruit should be smooth and soft.
4. Pour the cooked fruit into a sieve and rub it through with the back of the spoon into a clean pot. Discard the seeds & cloves.
5. Add the sugar, stir it in well and simmer the jam for another 20 minutes.
6. To test the setting properties of the jam put 1/2 teaspoon of it on a cold saucer and push the end of the spoon through it. If it sets and leaves a gap then it is now ready. If it falls back on itself, give it another 5 minutes cooking and test it again.
7. Pour your hot jam into the warm sterilised jars. (I put the glass jars in the microwave for 3 minutes to sterilise them.) Cover with a greaseproof paper disk and close the lid tight while it is still hot. Turn the jars upside-down once and then upright again - this helps in the sterilisation of the lid and also helps create the vacuum that will make the jam keep longer.

Leave the jams in a cool place until cold.

Delicious with homemade soda bread and My soda bread recipe is here.

This September I went picking Blackberries with my daughter and found millions of them (well, nearly) That post is here: Picking Blackberries & my Blackberry Madeira Pie Recipe and my Blackberry Ice Cream is Here!



The Wild Atlantic Way is the world's Longest Coastal Route