Ireland may not be considered a food destination in the same way as Spain, Italy or France but a new three-month food foodie campaign is hoping to shift perceptions and put modern Irish cuisine firmly on the map.
For the past few years, Ireland has experienced a sort of culinary renaissance with a massive focus on farm-to-table and sea-to-fork dining. It has wonderful producers, particularly for cheese, butter, beer, gin, oysters, whiskey, salmon, crab and pasture-fed beef, lamb and pork. Now a new initiative is celebrating its rich bounty of produce. Taste the Island, or the "world's longest food festival" as the Irish tourist board is calling it, is a 12-week campaign featuring a packed programme of 700 food and drink-related experiences across Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Running until 30 November, Taste the Island invites visitors to meet food producers, distillers and brewers; join food trails; forage and fish, learn traditional skills in cooking workshops or just sit back, relax and enjoy modern Irish cuisine in the many pubs, cafés and restaurants across the island. There's also the chance to visit pop-up restaurants, supper clubs and Michelin-starred dining rooms or savour the flavours of new and existing festivals such as the Armagh Food and Cider Festival, Murphy's Cork Oyster and Seafood Festival, the Clonmel Applefest in Tipperary and the Festival of Honey in Wexford.
This year's campaign is the first of what Tourism Ireland aims to make an annual autumn celebration for the next three years, encouraging visitors to connect with food and places outside of the typical tourist areas and season. Feeling hungry? To whet your appetite, we've put together a list of five tasty festivals that are part of the campaign. The full programme of events can be viewed here.
Johnstown Castle Festival of Honey (28 – 29 September)
The native Irish Black Bee is the last remaining genetically pure native honey bee in Northern Europe. It hives at Johnstown and is part of a national scientific study into the management of Irish native black bees without any pesticides. It also produces delicious honey which you can sample at this one-day event, as well as hive demonstrations with the resident beekeepers.
Taste Causeway 2019 (4 – 27 October)
This is a month-long celebration of Northern Ireland's world-renowned food and drink industry set in the stunning landscape of the Causeway Coast and Glens. Several events will take place across various locations in the region; Portrush Beer Fest, Randox NI Potato Festival and Taste of Place. Visitors to the area can experience many foodie tours available across the borough, including Causeway Coast Foodie Tours, Irish Feast food & drink tours and guided Economusée trails.
Savour Kilkenny (24 – 28 October)
Kilkenny's dairy and meat produce is internationally renowned and you'll have the opportunity to see why at Savour Kilkenny. The festival celebrates local artisan products and a vibrant local restaurant and café culture which has seen the area become a leading food destination in recent years.
Fire of Samhain Púca Food Festival (31 October – 2 November)
Púca is a festival of music, food and light complemented by the magic of Halloween. The new festival will kick off on 31 October in Athboy, County Meath with the symbolic lighting of the Samhain (end of summer in old Gaelic) fires and rich harvest-inspired food experiences.
Taste the Island at the Twilight Market (12 – 13 November)
Newry Market in County Down will be transformed into a food and drink heaven where visitors will be able to feast on some of the unique food and drink elements available in the region. Try a gourmet dish or local craft beers and gin and remember to wrap up warm.