Beach breakers in Youghal, east Cork
highlights some of the food
heroes of east Cork – the
powerhouse of Ireland’s
IBallyvolane House HIDDEN GEMS Abbeyville House
t sometimes seems as if east Cork is the
Cinderella of the county, with its sexier Ballyvolane House Barnabrow Country House
sister in the west seen as the prime holiday
destination and getting all the credit for Castlelyons (www.ballyvolanehouse.ie) Barnabrow Midleton
kick-starting the new wave of artisan food Justin and Jenny Green are the proud custodians (www.barnabrowhouse.ie)
production. Yet they are two sides of the of this gracious mansion and Justin’s father, As Trevor ‘Little Museum of Dublin’ White
same coin and, while there can be no doubting Jeremy, cares for the gardens and magnificent said the first time he visited Barnabrow, it’s a
the importance of the foods produced in the woodland. Surrounded by its own farmland, it brave person who would open a country
west, east Cork is the powerhouse of Ireland’s has formal terraced gardens, productive kitchen house on the doorstep of Ballymaloe House.
culinary revolution. It is also a fascinating gardens, a trout lake, salmon from the River But Geraldine Kidd’s sensitively restored
place to visit, with some superb visitor Blackwater – and a relaxed atmosphere. The seventeenth century house is a thriving
attractions and that sense of discovery that so Greens enjoy working with other like-minded complementary business, with interesting
many places have lost. local businesses to create unique events. Families accommodation and a special reputation for
Nobody could argue that east Cork’s food are made very welcome and it’s a stunning catering well for groups and weddings
credentials are anything but impeccable. wedding venue. Pretty much perfect in fact. (restaurant open for Sunday lunch).
Wonderful fresh seafood coming into
Ballycotton and Youghal harbours stars on Knockeven House Barnabrow Country House
many a menu and provides the raw materials
for some exceptional smoked fish. The rich Knockeven House Ballinwillin House
farmland of east Cork produces beautiful
vegetables (something which gets too little Cobh (www.knockevenhouse.com) Mitchelstown (www.ballinwillinhouse.com)
recognition in Ireland), fruit and honey, along John and Pam Mulhaire’s large and peacefully They don’t get more hidden than this: a security
with outstanding meats and poultry – and situated 1840s house is an exceptionally gate at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac
some very good cheeses. comfortable place to stay, offering guests the opens to reveal Pat and Miriam Mulcahy’s
But the food enterprise that has become best of every world: lavish decor and facilities extraordinary eighteenth century home and
synonymous with east Cork, and indeed with worthy of a top-class hotel, along with great farm. Once inside the 80-acre estate, you’ll
Ireland, is of course based at Shanagarry, hospitality, and reasonable prices. And Pam is a find deer grazing – and also some
where Myrtle Allen began it all when she and natural hostess who enjoys treating her guests unexpectedly modern and luxurious
her husband, the late Ivan Allen, opened The to delicious breakfasts, and snacks at any time. accommodation in a converted courtyard.
Yeats Room restaurant at Ballymaloe House in And this unusual place has plenty more
1964. Since then, the achievements of Myrtle Abbeyville House surprises in store too.
and her extended family have had – and
continue to have – far-reaching effects on Fermoy (www.abbeyvillehouse.com)
attitudes to food and food production here The perfect place to stay in Fermoy, Sean and
and abroad. Mary Lomasney’s handsome and hospitable
Although not directly connected to nineteenth century house near the northern
Ballymaloe, Ireland’s first farmers’ market was bank of the River Blackwater offers an
in nearby Midleton. It is now used as a model exceptionally comfortable base for exploring
for aspiring marketers, and Darina Allen’s the many activities and attractions of the area
involvement from the outset is undoubtedly (and indeed the whole Munster region).
one of the reasons for its outstanding success.
And now, the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary
Festival of Food & Wine (LitFest 2015, 15 – 17
May; www.litfest.ie), is bringing the world’s
most highly esteemed and exciting food writers
and professionals to this small but very special
corner of Ireland each year. Some achievement.
FOOD HEROES –
A trio of sorts
Rachel Allen, Kevin Aherne Darina Allen on the
Myrtle Allen and farm at Ballymaloe
Local produce is at the heart of Chef Kevin
Darina Allen Aherne’s Midleton restaurant, Sage, a fact Pat and Miriam Mulcahy farm organic/grass fed
deer, wild boar and Tamworth pigs (which
Together with her late husband, Ivan Allen, the emblazoned on the home page of his website supply the pork and bacon served to guests) at
– “culinary expression of great produce this unusual farm on the edge of Mitchelstown.
great Myrtle Allen began it all, of course, sourced from within 12 miles of our front
door” – where you’ll also find a gleeful video, East Ferry Farm Free Range Chickens
with her recognition of simple, good foods and in which he introduces many of his suppliers
the people who work them, harvest them and and invites us onto their farms and into their Midleton (www.eastferryfarm.com)
create wonderful produce from them. And kitchens. His website, his menus, the food on Reared traditionally on the family farm, Robert
with her infectious enthusiasm, determination the plate – everything about the restaurant, and Yvonne Fitzsimmons produce ducks, geese
and a natural talent for teaching, is it any which he runs with his wife Réidín – shouts and turkey as well as their famous chickens –
wonder that she has inspired such devotion local and proud of it, all so neatly summed up which Robert’s sister sells cooked at local markets
and attracted a supremely talented supporting in the 12-mile ethos which has made Sage a (look for Annie’s Roasts). Available locally.
cast of family members (Wendy Whelan, national name among food lovers.
Yasmin Hyde, Hazel Allen, Darina Allen and Ballycotton Seafood
Rachel Allen). The wonder of Ballymaloe is Ardsallagh goat’s cheese salad
that, despite the numerous related businesses (www.ballycottonseafood.ie) is the main fresh
and the extended family now involved, they FOODS AND PRODUCERS fish supplier in the area. A quality-conscious
have managed to stay true to their philosophy family business run by Adrian and Diane Walsh,
and retain a genuine simplicity, which is both Woodside Farm it has a processing plant at Garryvoe near
inspiring and relaxing for visitors – and totally Ballycotton, and four fish shops – at Main Street
in tune with the local environment. An Ballincurrig (www.woodsidefarm.ie) Midleton, Garryvoe, and also the English
unstoppable force for good in Irish food and Slow Food farmers Martin and Noreen Conroy Market in Cork and Hazelwood Shopping
hospitality. are renowned for the free range pork, bacon Centre Glanmire.
and sausages (and also Christmas turkeys)
Maróg O’Brien established the Farmgate that they produce, with the help of their five
children, on their small mixed farm near
Country Store and Restaurant in Midleton in Midleton for sale at local markets and the
1983 – just when Darina Allen and her brother Ballymaloe Cookery School Shop.
Rory O’Connor were busy setting up the
Ballymaloe Cookery School across the field in John Tait
Shanagarry. There was something in the air at
the time, and these trailblazing women were Westwood (www.johntaitsangusbeef.ie)
on the warpath, sourcing the best local Superb Aberdeen Angus beef from John Tait’s
produce, simplifying cooking and adding a farm near Midleton is slaughtered and dry aged
good pinch of their own personality to every by butcher Frank Murphy, and you can buy it
enterprise. The old shed that Maróg took over in Frank’s shop (www.murphybutchers
that year has served her well, providing a midleton.com).
quirky setting for the very best of foods in the
shop at the front and the bistro behind it – and Ballinwillin House Farm
also the art works that complement her food
philosophy so brilliantly. Her sister, Kay Harte’s Mitchelstown (www.ballinwillinhousefarm.com)
Farmgate Café, in Cork’s English Market
opened a decade later and between them,
these two women – and now their daughters
– are a force to be reckoned with. ‘Politics on a
plate’ is what they call it. Politicians watch out.
Boats in the Ballycotton Harbour
Belvelly Smokehouse handmade food based on organic, mainly local, Jameson Experience
ingredients and including a lot of vegetables.
Cobh (www.frankhederman.com) Encouraged by demand, she established Just Midleton (www.jamesonwhiskey.com)
The only Irish smoker to smoke fish in the Food in 2004 and her business – based on small Dating back to 1780, The Old Midleton
traditional way, hung from the collar bone on batch cooking in a commercial kitchen – has Distillery is a fascinating place to visit and a
tenterhooks, Frank Hederman’s traditionally thrived. Although best known for her soups, the tour of the old distillery is worthwhile –
smoked fish – most notably Clare Island salmon range has grown: an encouraging success story. consider taking home a bottle of the unique
– has won many well deserved awards. His Midleton Very Rare.
unique range of products includes garlic butter Ardsallagh Goat Farm
(using Glenstal Abbey unsalted butter), farmhouse Eight Degrees Brewing Company
cheeses such as Corleggy and Hegartys, and Carrigtwohill (www.ardsallaghgoats.ie)
oats for Robert Ditty’s famous oatcakes. Beginning in 1996 with one goat to provide milk Mitchelstown (www.eightdegrees.ie)
for the children, who suffered from eczema, the Handcrafted by Scott Baigent and Cam
Ballymaloe Cookery School Organic Murphy family are now the largest producers of Wallace, a Kiwi and an Aussie, the Eight
Farm and Gardens goat’s milk in Ireland. Ardsallagh Goats Products Degrees mission is to make modern
includes mature semi-hard, natural and smoked interpretations of traditional Irish ale and lager
Shanagarry (www.cookingisfun.ie) cheeses, bottled goat’s milk, and goat’s yogurt. styles, an aim they are achieving with stunning
Although best known as passionate advocates Widely available. success. The seasonal A Winter’s Ale was
of consuming local produce, the Allens are also developed using a custom-made spice blend
important producers. The Ballymaloe farms and Fermoy Natural Cheese Company from Green Saffron in Midleton.
gardens supply their own kitchens of course
and, in season, home-grown organic vegetables, Fermoy (www.facebook.com/FermoyNatural Green Saffron Spices
fruit and herbs are sold at the Ballymaloe Cookery CheeseCompany)
School Farm Shop and Midleton farmers’ Made on their farm near Fermoy since 1996, Frank Midleton (www.greensaffron.com)
market, alongside their eggs and pork. and Gudrun Shinnick’s cheeses feature on some One of Ireland’s most unlikely culinary success
of the area’s best menus. Their range varies from stories, the business that Arun Kapil runs with
Willie Scannell soft to mature hard, all made from the milk of his wife Olive is built on an ethos of freshness
Frank’s herd of pedigree Holstein Friesians, fed on – they import their spices directly from family
Ballytrasna, Ballycotton; the fertile pastures of the Blackwater River valley. members in India – originality, and an interest
Tel: +353 (0) 21 464 6924 The Shinnicks, who are members of the Slow in combining the best of Irish and Indian food
Many of the area’s flavoursome vegetables - Food Raw Milk Cheese Presidia, also offer raw cultures to create innovative products (the
and, especially, the ‘Ballycotton potatoes’ that milk and yoghurt. Outlets include The Pig’s Back Green Saffron plum puddings have become a
give so much pleasure – are produced by Willie at the English Market and Douglas. modern classic). Arun’s business drive has also
Scannell. A good traditional, low-chemical resulted in some great partnerships with
grower, he produces both early and main crop Hegarty’s Farmhouse Cheddar others, including Ballyvolane House and
potatoes along with carrots, swedes and white Dungarvan Brewing Company.
turnips, summer cabbage, lettuce and parsley. Watergrasshill; Tel: +353 (0)21 488 4238
Available from local farmers’ markets, local Brothers Dan and John Hegarty produce an Wilkie’s Organic Chocolate
shops and sold direct. excellent traditional cloth-bound cheddar on
their family farm. Popular with people who Midleton (www.wilkieschocolate.ie)
The Just Food Company want a real cheddar with character and Shana Wilkie’s cocoa beans are sourced directly
appreciate its quality. Hegarty’s Cheddar is from Peru and she is the only Irish chocolatier
Cobh (www.justfood.ie) matured for at least 12 months before it goes who conches the cocoa beans from scratch; the
Deirdre Hilliard began with a stall at the on sale. Widely distributed. result is premium organic chocolate with a
Midleton farmers’ market, selling organic high cocoa content.
TRAVEL < The strand at Youghal
Shops & cafés Dooleys Bakery& Café Stephen Pearce Pottery
Carewswood Garden Centre & Café Dooleys Bakery& Café Shanagarry (www.stephenpearce.com)
Stephen Pearce’s stunningly simple designs have
Castlemartyr (www.facebook.com/pages/ Rathcormac Post Office; +353 (0) 25 36146 a timeless appeal – like the lovely food served in
Carewswood) Re-opened in 2013 by an Carmel Dooley runs a super little bakery and tea the tea room. Good home baking is the tour de
enthusiastic and knowledgeable young couple, shop at Rathcormac Post Office. A charming place force of course, and the pared back style of the
Daniel Leahy and Juulika Lomp, this renowned to break a journey serving local Badger & Dodo pottery sets off the simple goodness of the
nursery and garden centre has got its mojo back. coffees as well as teas, gorgeous cakes and buns. area’s great artisan foods with panache.
The café is full of personality and a delightful
space to enjoy Juulika’s delicious cooking – and PUBS The Kilkenny Café
not only is everything cooked from scratch, but
they also grow many of the organic ingredients Pat Shortt’s Bar Shanagarry Design Centre (www.kilkennyshop.
themselves. com/shanagarrydesigncentre) If you can get
Pat Shortt’s Bar through the barricade of temptations artfully
Fota House Arboretum & Gardens
Café Castlemartyr (www.patshorttsbar.com) arranged en route, a
Owned by the popular entertainer Pat Shortt, this bright, relaxing area
Fota (www.fotahouse.com/Visit-Us/Cafe.aspx) great old bar on the main street of Castlemartyr is at the far end of
Fota House and gardens are well worth a visit full of traditional Irish pub character with an open the shop is home to
and – even if the décor and furnishings could do fire, friendly staff, and plenty of wholesome fresh the Kilkenny Café.
with a makeover – the food at the café is good local food on offer. Here, you’ll find all
and freshly made, and it’s especially enjoyable the ingredients-led
outside on a sunny day. Murph’s Tavern salads, quiches,
Fitzpatrick’s Shop & Bakery East Ferry (www.murphstavern.ie) baked breads
Siblings Micheal and Laura Cashman took over and (especially)
Glounthaune (www.fitzpatricksshop.ie) the lease of this famous waterside pub in 2012. cakes that are
With its jaunty window boxes and picnic tables Michael, a dedicated chef who trained under Rory the Kilkenny
set up along the front, this local institution (est. O’Connell at Ballymaloe, serves up delicious local specialities, and
1942) could be mistaken for a pub. But ‘the shop foods – notably seafood from Ballycotton, great everything has that
with everything’ – which still offers the full steaks and East Ferry free-range poultry – while home-cooked flavour.
range of everyday groceries – is best known for Laura leads a friendly, knowledgeable and
its deli and the in-house bakery, which produces efficient service team. The Rising Tide
a wide range of products daily, both traditional
and innovative. Many regulars come here Murph’s Tavern Glounthaun (www.therisingtide.ie)
especially for their traditional brown bread. The Murphy family’s appealing pub/restaurant is
seen at its best at high water and, with a lobster
Ballycotton Seafood tank in situ, seafood is the main attraction
although other equally appealing options also
Midleton (www.ballycottonseafood.ie) feature local produce. Check out the prints by
One of East Cork’s most famous seafood renowned self-taught Irish artist, Ted Jones,
company’s four retail outlets; much of the fresh upstairs.
fish they well is landed in Ballycotton from their
own boats. Finíns
Farmgate Midleton (www.finins.ie)
Finín O’Sullivan’s thriving bar and restaurant in
Midleton (www.farmgate.ie) the centre of Midleton town has long been a
Older sister of Farmgate Café at the English popular place for locals to meet for a drink and to
Market in Cork, Maróg O’Brien’s well named eat some good wholesome food, mostly based
shop and restaurant has been drawing people to on local produce notably steaks and fresh
Midleton in growing numbers since 1985 with a seafood – and perhaps a well-made Irish stew.
wonderful display of local produce, speciality
foods and in-house baking. Ahernes
O’Callaghan’s Delicatessen, Ahernes
Bakery & Café
Mitchelstown (www.ocallaghans.ie) While John FitzGibbon supervises the front of
Patrick & Mary O’Callaghan provide a one-stop house in this third generation business, his
shop for their many regulars, as they have an brother David reigns over a busy kitchen. Local
impressive deli and bakery as well as tasty fare seafood stars and it’s worth planning a journey
for a snack or full meal in the café. Just the place around a bar meal at Aherne’s – or dine in the
to stock up with delicious home-baked breads restaurant and have a restful night in their classy
and cakes, homemade jams and chutneys – and and extremely comfortable accommodation.
there’s even a range of homemade frozen meals.