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Noel O'Loughlin at the Burren Distillery, Ballyvaughan, took part in the food fayre.

Minister’s praise for unique Clare food festival

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has praised the Burren Agritourism sector for a host of innovative food and farm initiatives which saw hundreds of visitors head to the Burren area recently.
 
Minister McConalogue said: “I was delighted to see the Burren Food Fayre returned for a series of unique food and farm visitor experiences with a return to in-person events. 
 

“I congratulate the organisers, the Burren Ecotourism Network, who are marking their 10th year in operation.”

 
The Minister said that it was encouraging to see that agritourism initiatives were continuing to go from strength to strength, adding: “We are proud to be funding these projects under the Department of Agriculture, Rural Innovation and Development Fund.”
 
During the bank holiday weekend, the Burren region hosted food and farm tours, walks, talks, cattle drives and tree planting which took place in locations all over the Burren which showcased the strong collaboration between farmers and tourism business owners.

The weekend culminated with the annual spectacle of the Burren Winterage cattle drive which took place on the arm of Frank and Mary McCormack. It saw hundreds of locals and tourist join the event.

There was huge participation in the winterage drive. Photograph by William O’Reilly
The annual Burren Food Fayre, organized by the Burren Ecotourism Network saw five bespoke ‘Food Experiences’ take place all over the region.

The events hosted during Saturday and Sunday, saw two to three food and farm businesses working together, for example, salmon smoking at the Burren Smokehouse, beer tasting and tours of Burren Brewery in Lisdoonvarna and the story of whiskey making at Burren Distillery in Ballyvaughan.
 
Other experiences included cheese making at St Tola Goat Cheese, bread making at Stonecutters kitchen and seaweed foraging at Lahinch Beach with Wild Kitchen.

Foraging with Oonagh O’Dwyer of Wild Kitchen was one of the many diverse and interesting events at the Burren Food Fayre

An experience which saw Caherconnell sheep dog trial and visit to a prehistoric fort saw a natural link with Aillwee who produces Burren Gold Cheese, using milk from Caherconnell farm.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience hosted a Burren food tasting menu in the cafe which was followed by a farm walk at Linnalla ice cream and dairy farming. On Sunday, a unique beef and botany tour at Burren Farm Experience was followed by oyster shucking at Flaggy shore oysters.
 
Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of Burren Ecotourism Network said: “The story of food production in the Burren is an ancient one, going back for many generations. 

“The Monks in Corcomroe Abbey named it St Mary of the Fertile Rock in the 12th century, and visitors to the area are truly amazed by the fact that the earliest settlers in the Burren were attracted there by the fact that they could grow food in the rich soils of the valleys while livestock were able to survive the winters in the uplands. The RTE production Burren – Heart of Stone illustrated this very well earlier this year.”

 
“The members of The Burren Food Trail are delighted to share their farming and food production stories with visitors at the Burren Food Fayre each year, as they observe ancient customs and traditions that help to maintain the landscape at the same time.” He added
 
An annual tree planting event also took place in the Burren at the weekend, as part of the Burren pine project, which is an initiative by Burren Beo to bring back Ireland’s only known native pine from the brink of extinction. The Burren Ecotourism Network has partnered with Burrren Beo and volunteers planted trees at new mini woodland site.
 
The weekend culminated with the annual spectacle of the Burren Winterage cattle drive which took place on the arm of Frank and Mary McCormack with hundreds of locals and tourists join the walk, herding cattle to the higher ground.
 
The Burren Food Fayre is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the 2021 Rural Innovation Development Fund with support from Calor Gas Ireland and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Unesco Global Geopark.
 

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