Although Queen Elizabeth II did not visit Clare on her official visit, the British monarch got a taste of what the Banner County has to offer at the State dinner hosted by President Mary McAleese and Dr Martin McAleese in her honour on Wednesday evening.
The starter at the exclusive Dublin Castle banquet was a cured salmon dish with Burren smoked salmon cream and lemon balm jelly, horseradish and wild watercress. The salmon came from Lisdoonvarna’s Burren Smokehouse where Birgitta Hedin-Curtin is delighted with the honour.
“Ross Lewis is the chef for the event. He contacted me and asked me if I could supply some smoked salmon and I had just been contacted that morning by someone who could supply wild Irish, sustainably-fished salmon so I said ‘yes’.
“The quality of our salmon would be very well known so that was part of the reason we were selected, also our patented smoking process and the fact that the salmon is 100% Irish, which is a quality standard really when you think of the clean environment of the West of Ireland and that makes it among the best you can get in the world,” Birgitta explained.
“We smoked the salmon on Monday morning, it was out at around 11.15am. I waited an hour for it to cool then popped it in the car and brought it to Dublin myself to make sure it got there. Bord Bia had ordered some of our Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon for the press launch this week as well. I delivered that the same day so it was all very fresh but it had a little time for the smoked flavour to develop too,” she commented.
The meal was followed by a performance of traditional Irish music and dance, including a performance by Ruan woman, Tara Breen.
The short musical performance featured many of the most distinctive instruments associated with Irish traditional music. The opening and closing sections included dancers performing several traditional dances with reels, hornpipes and slipjigs.
Fiddle player Tara has won All-Ireland honours on several instruments, including fiddle, concert flute and saxophone. At Wednesday night’s banquet, she performed alongside Dónal Lunny on bouzouki, James Mahon on the pipes, Michael Rooney on harp and singer Iarla Ó Lionáird.
Lahinch artist Michael Hanrahan also made the trip to Dublin this week, documenting the historic royal visit through art.
“I am very excited about the prospect of my inclusion in this very historic royal visit. I travelled to Dublin on Monday to collect my invitation from Dublin Castle and joined the visit with my camera, sketch book, paints and easel on Tuesday morning. I will try to get as much information as possible during the week to allow me work on the canvasses back in my studio,” he explained.
Meanwhile, a former Irish soldier, who keeps military history to the fore, was invited as a guest of the Irish Government to see Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday.
Kevin McCormack and his wife, Marie, from Newmarket-on-Fergus, who are members of the Irish United Nations Living History Group, received an official invitation from the Government to be at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, where they were transported to Dublin Castle to see the Queen.
Kevin told The Clare Champion he was “over the moon” to receive an official invitation for the Queen’s visit, having travelled to Germany, France and England with his group, who depict all aspects of the defence forces in their various military garb since the foundation of the State. Having spent 23 years in the Irish Army, Kevin believes he was invited as a result of his voluntary work with the Living History Group and its connection with the Irish Guards.
Last June, Kevin addressed the House of Lords in Irish and English where he recounted tales of Irish men who served in the British Army and said the Irish Guards proved to be excellent hosts during their visit.
Recently, the group performed a re-enactment of the 1921 Glenwood Ambush with men and women dressed in civilian and military uniform of the period and a vintage truck to resemble a Crossley Tender, the vehicle used by the RIC and Black and Tans.
Asked about some opposition to the Queen’s visit, Kevin said as a Head of State, she deserved to be shown respect and while people are entitled to protest, it is vital it is conducted in a peaceful and non-disruptive manner.