5,000 years of Irish food and culture is on the brink of national access

OPRAH Winfrey is advocating small businesses as one of her favourite things for this year while chefs around the world are talking to local farm producers for what’s best on their tables and meanwhile, a small region on the island of Ireland has been quietly building towards a national identity of food and drink culture.

Irish culinary royalty Dr Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire (l-r), renowned Irish chef JP McMahon and his daughter Martha, Irish culinary legend Darina Allen at the Boyne Valley Centre of Food Culture symposium

In rural communities, towns and cities across Ireland, family-run businesses peopled by local makers and producers are being heard and recognised for their regenerative vision of food and culture, and one region in Meath Ireland is on the brink of rolling out a national plan.

Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan Cheesemongers and Dr John McKenna, co-author (with wife Sally McKenna) of McKenna’s Guide) at the Boyne Valley food symposium Ireland

Borne out of 5,000 years of food and culture, the Centre of Food Culture in the Boyne Valley has just recently received financial investment from two local county authorities in Meath and Louth – a huge achievement, given these financially straitened times. The makers, producers and small business owners involved are ones to watch as they aim to usher in a future where the food and drink culture of Ireland is celebrated locally in every county, where education and discourse are advocated as a means for people to connect to local food, soil and sea and the world.

Rinaldo Giacomo Rava, Managing Director of the University of Gastronomic Science, Pollenzo Italy and of Slow Food International

“Our vision is to create a national centre of food and drink culture, to facilitate education, enterprise and discussion by connecting people to a creative source,” said Olivia Duff of the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells, County Meath. “It is a mirror reflection of our identities of the past, of which we are now very much where we need to be for the future.”

Along with Olivia Duff, makers and producers that have sanctioned the plan include Sheridan Cheesemongers, Listoke Distillery, Eureka House Tea Rooms and Coole Swan Irish cream liqueur. The country’s national tourism development authority, Failte Ireland supports the small regional centre with a big vision for the nation alongside the renowned SuperValu Food Academy.

The Boyne Valley Festival of food for the season of Samhain included the making of food from farm to table such as homemade cheese

It’s a vision of food and drink, linking cultural, environmental and educational opportunities to every community in Ireland and beyond, the sculpting of an identity that is truly, wholly Irish.

“(Food) education is about everybody speaking to each other, learning from each other,” said Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan Cheesemongers. “It is bringing together all the elements of a community that are so important.”

Cheese and beer tasting with Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan Cheesemongers and Judith Boyle at the Boyne Valley Festival

Locally sourced, locally produced, made and designed – find out more about the Centre of Food Culture in the Boyne Valley, County Meath Ireland and what a vision for the future can mean for every community online at https://boynevalleyflavours.ie.


Tags: Food & Drink Arts & Culture

Image credits: Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is Pynck.com’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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