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John Gilmartin, Head Chef, Glas Restaurant at Hotel Doolin, Tina O'Dwyer from The Tourism Space and Michael O'Connell, lobster fisherman, Liscannor..

Slow Food Festival to celebrate the fertile rock of Clare’s Burren

A CELEBRATION of the rich food culture of the fertile rock of North Clare’s limestone landscape will be the focus of this year’s Burren Slow food Festival.
The virtual event which begins this Thursday, April 29, will see producers and chefs come together in a series of online pairings with events streamed online up to May 5 at 7pm and hosted by Tina O’Dwyer of The Tourism Space.
Over the course of the festival, viewers will have the opportunity to see the region’s spectacular landscapes, as the events will be hosted by different members of the Burren Ecotourism network in their own home venue.
Festival regular John McKenna of McKenna Guides, will set the scene with a short introduction, which will be followed by lively discussions between producers and chefs, along with food tastings.
Each event will be wrapped up with traditional Irish music performed by some of the Burren’s finest local musicians.
Geologist Eamon Doyle from the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark will also feature, providing an insight into the fertile landscape of the Burren which has long been known for its quality of beef and lamb, thanks to a unique and ancient system of farming.
Set up by Birgitta Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse over 15 years ago, the Burren Slow Food Festival is a platform to promote the best of the Burren’s produce, recognised as some of the finest in Ireland and internationally.
“This year we will showcase the rich flavour of the local produce, brought to life by the people who have nurtured and enriched the Burren; the food producers, farmers, distillers and chefs,” she said.
For the theme of this year’s festival, inspiration has been drawn from the deep roots of food production in the Burren area which dates back to the 12th century and the Cistercian Monks at Corcomroe Abbey, Santa Maria de Petra Fertilis, which translates as the Fertile Rock.
“We feel particularly proud of the Burren Food story as is was very well depicted on the excellent documentary The Burren, Heart of Stone on RTE 1,” Birgitta added.
“The programme illustrates that the earliest farmers in Ireland can be traced back to the Burren.”
Each of this year’s foodie pairings had been chosen due to their strong connections, whether it is a 40-year working relationship like that between Gregan’s Castle Hotel and the Burren Smokehouse; or a bond between cheese producer Burren Gold and Caherconnell Farm, who supplies the milk.
Other pairings include chef John Gilmartin from Hotel Doolin and Michael O’Connell, lobster fisherman; Bronagh O’Rourke from Burren Premium Beef and Tomas Walsh from Doolin Inn; Viv Kelly, Chef from Fiddle & Bow and Ciara O’Halloran from Flaggy Shore Oysters; chef Ryan Fitzpatrick and Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith; and Brewer Peter Curtin from the Roadside Tavern and Noel O’Loughlin from Burren Distillers.
A 45-minute radio documentary programme on the event was broadcast on Clare FM last week, as part of the Atlantic Tales series, produced by Pat Flynn.
The event will be available on the VisittheBurren Facebook page up to May 5.
It will be available on YouTube and on Burren.ie, after the event has taken place. The Burren Slow Food Festival is sponsored by Calor Bio LPG with support from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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