It was a pleasure to meet HE The Ambassador of Ireland . I started by asking the Ambassador about Rachel Allen as I love her style of cooking and he spoke to me about the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in the heart of the east Cork countryside run by the Allen family which also has lovely guest accommodation.
I told him how I made a local Marmurat Tart, Cherry Pastini and Xkunvat a few months ago and how delighted I was to receive a message from Rachel Allen saying that they looked lovely and that she has always wanted to visit the island. She also said she loves Cherry Pastini! It would of course be a pleasure for us to welcome her to our island. HE the Ambassador also spoke to me about another popular cookery school incorporating a guest house in Ashford Co Wicklow run by Catherine Fulvio.
Irish dairy products such as Kerrygold are very popular locally. I asked the Ambassador about Artisan Irish Cheeses which are varied and innovative. I am told that Sheridan Cheesemongers in Dublin have a huge selection of irish artisan cheeses and do air mail delivery. I discover that Mrs Hennessy’s favourite Irish cheese is the soft and mild Cashel Blue. Of course we all know that Irish beef and lamb is delicious, the livestock having benefited from grazing on the reknowned green pastures of Ireland and this is widely available locally from good butchers. For those with a sweet tooth look out for the handmade Butlers Irish Chocolates and products now also widely available outside of Ireland in airport duty free shops.
The Ambassador spoke to me about a number of food festivals in Ireland such as Taste of Dublin at Iveagh Gardens and Bloom in Phoenix Park, which although primarily a wonderful outdoor garden festival, also has a significant food dimension. September is the season for the oyster harvest and this is celebrated in particular in the village of Clarinbridge in Co Galway.
The Ambassador also made reference to Ireland’s exquisite exports including Newbridge Silver, ranging from cutlery to jewellery to giftware and Waterford crystal glassware crafted by master cutters. Both Newbridge and Waterford have excellent visitor centres and are worth a detour if you are in the Kildare or Waterford areas.
The Ambassador also spoke to me about Ireland. Recent events involving cooperation between the Embassy and the island include the highly successful Green Economy conference organised by Minister Leo Brincat and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo. Ireland’s Presidency of the EU was a very hectic period for the Embassy and these responsibilities continue as Ireland is in the trio of EU Presidencies and is already working closely with the government and Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg to prepare for the island’s EU Presidency in 2017. The Ambassador was delighted that under the Irish Presidency , the EU agreed the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) from 2014-2020, which allocated €1.128 billion for The island.
The Ambassador spoke about the forthcoming meetings he has arranged between Minister Anton Refalo and the Irish cabinet Minister. There are so many areas in which Ireland is very active locally and this includes financial services, ICT and the creative arts including film and music. The Embassy is delighted to support the Department of English at UM, which plans to host a Tribute to world renowned Noble prizewinning poet Seamus Heaney who passed away recently. This will take place at the University on the evening of 6 December.
The Embassy is very pleased that the work on the restoration of the organ at the St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral is proceeding to completion given that the Irish firm Kenneth Jones was awarded this contract against stiff international competition. Music lovers on the island are impatient to hear the restored organ resound again in the Cathedral.
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It was such a pleasure to spend an afternoon cooking and baking with Mrs Hennessy and Ronan at the home of HE The Ambassador Of Ireland.
For Irish food see www.bordbia.ie
For Festivals and cheap flights to Ireland see www.tourismireland.com, www.dealsireland.ie and www.ryanair.com