A Taste of Ireland’s Ancient East with Catherine Fulvio

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Join culinary star Catherine Fulvio on a search for the unique tastes of Ireland's Ancient East. Along the way, travel with Catherine through some of the most beautiful counties in Ireland to meet passionate food producers and source the finest ingredients.

Julie Calder-Potts from Highbank Orchards
A riverside view of Kilkenny Castle
Riversfield Farm's Vincent Grace
Left: Julie Calder-Potts from Highbank Orchards | Middle: A riverside view of Kilkenny Castle | Right: Riversfield Farm's Vincent Grace

Born and raised on a working farm in Ballyknocken, County Wicklow, Catherine has an inherent respect for the land – and a vast knowledge of food. An ardent supporter of local produce, her recipes reflect seasonal, quality ingredients that sing with flavour. With rich, fertile farmland that yields much of the best produce in the country, Ireland’s Ancient East is the perfect place for a culinary treasure hunt. Not only a food lover’s paradise, the region is also famed as the land of storytellers – and Catherine had the opportunity to meet some great characters along the way!

The first stop was County Kilkenny, to see the lovely folks at Highbank Orchards – Julie and Rod Calder-Potts. Steeped in medieval history, the 17th century stone-built coach yard and quaint distillery offer a stunning backdrop for tasting their organic orchard syrup, juices, ciders and apple spirits – all produced directly from the apple orchards at Highbank. While you're in the area, Kilkenny City has numerous sights to see – don’t miss the Medieval MileKilkenny Castle and the Smithwick’s Experience on your travels. Home to attractions like Castlecomer Discovery Park, the 'Marble County' is also ideal for adventurous types.

Continuing southward, lush countryside and rivers unfold – here Catherine visited Riversfield Farm. At this certified organic operation, Vincent Grace presides over production of a bounty of fresh, quality vegetables – and it’s here that Catherine chose Vincent’s vibrant rainbow chard.

Marita Collier with some of the Drummond garlic
A view of Drogheda from Millmount Tower
The Workmans of Dunany Farm
Left: Marita Collier with some Drummond garlic | Middle: A view of Drogheda from Millmount Tower | Right: The Workmans of Dunany Farm

With the beautiful Boyne Valley and Neolithic site of Newgrange close by in County Meath, Catherine sourced the perfect garlic bulb from Drummond House Garlic in neighbouring Louth – admiring the sights, sounds and smells along the way. The Drummond House estate boasts 150 years worth of stories – to this day, you can still see the remnants of the passion, hard work and respect with which the ancestors of Peter and Marita Collier farmed this hundred-acre spot.
 

Featuring breathtaking scenery, spectacular coastline and rich history, County Louth is one of the finest jewels of the east, boasting sites like MonasterboiceClogherhead and Millmount Tower. The next stop on the trail was Dunany Farm, where the fourth generation of the Workman family run their mill – lovingly producing flour with a perfectly nutty, whole-grain texture.

Jane Russell and her homemade sausages and bacon
Ballyvoyle Tunnel on the Waterford Greenway
Comeragh Mountain Lamb farmer William Drohan
Left: Jane Russell and her homemade sausages and bacon | Middle: Ballyvoyle Tunnel on the Waterford Greenway | Right: Comeragh Mountain Lamb farmer William Drohan

Kildare is world famous for places like The Curragh and the Irish National Stud, but not everyone is aware that the flat green plains of the ‘Thoroughbred County’ also produce uniquely succulent pork! While exploring Kilcullen Abbey, Catherine met Jane Russell – who is proud to be carrying on her generations-old family tradition of producing delicious sausages and rashers. Their story began in 1863, when Jane Russell’s great-great-grandfather Edmund Burke established his pork and bacon business in Clonmel, County Tipperary. One hundred and fifty years later, Jane is running the business from her home in Kilcullen, successfully maintaining her family’s long-standing reputation for quality produce.

View of meadows and lake with hills in the distance

See Catherine's trip

See Catherine's trip

The trail would be incomplete without a visit to County Waterford, where attractions like the Ballyvoyle Viaduct, The Copper Coast and the Waterford Greenway pepper the length of its scenic coastline. Strolling amidst the spectacular Comeragh Mountains, it’s easy to see why the area is so popular with hillwalkers and hikers. Here Catherine visited the farm of William Drohan to find the best quality Comeragh Mountain Lamb. William is the sixth generation of his family to herd sheep in this region, displaying a passion for the work since the age of 10. This interest was developed and nurtured by his family who passed on their tradition, skill and experience to him – as their ancestors had for them.

Catherine Fulvio in her herb garden
Catherine's County Wicklow home
Left: Catherine Fulvio in her herb garden | Right: Catherine's County Wicklow home

The journey came to an end at Catherine’s home of Ballyknocken in County Wicklow, where she is fortunate to live surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of Powerscourt, Glendalough and the Wicklow Way. Only Catherine’s own expertly nurtured fresh herbs would do to put the finishing touches to her recipe – plucked from her garden, they added one final taste of Ireland’s Ancient East.
 

Rich in sights, activities and flavours, Ireland’s Ancient East provides a bounty of delicious food wherever you visit. Take some tips from our trail to start planning your own journey today.

MORE TO ENJOY AND EXPERIENCE


And that’s just a taste of the delights that await you as you plan your escape in Ireland’s Ancient East!

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