The journey across the east of Ireland is peppered with the finest in eateries, cafés, breweries, distilleries, orchards, organic producers and fish farms, all of which continue to contribute fresh chapters to the Emerald Isle’s compelling story.
While you’ll discover a mouth-watering array of food markets and dedicated craft beer creators at the various festivals dotted about Ireland’s Ancient East, every day of your experience is a real ‘choose your own adventure’ scenario, and a particularly delicious one at that. Best to get amongst it, but where to start? You can plan an epic, all-encompassing jaunt or simply take in a smattering of the best food and drink around.
Two gentlemen very much leaving their own mark on this island are David and Stephen Flynn, also known as the Happy Pear. These charismatic twins are regular fixtures at their Greystones establishment of the same name, which – thanks to a huge choice of vegetarian and vegan dishes – has emerged as both Wicklow’s chief health food hub and a notably welcoming haunt.
Nearby, the picturesque rural village of Delgany is home to another delicious culinary experience. Incredibly, where the Firehouse Bakery stands today there were once a number of communal ovens shared by the local residents. In the same building, Roasted Brown – roasters of speciality coffee for distribution all over the country – is well worth a visit for their coffee and their coffee classes.
Inspired by the last in a line of legendary wolves that some believe once ruled Ireland, Wicklow Wolf Brewing in Bray specialise in an ever-expanding range of thirst-quenching craft beer that captures a sense of place. Be sure to try selections from their Alpha Pack (core range); Endangered Species (limited edition small batch offerings); Crossbreed Series (collaboration beers); or the Locavore Project (seasonal brews) – or check out their brewery tours that run regularly. Just a stone’s throw – or perhaps more fittingly, the roll of a keg down a hill away – is the intimate but lively Harbour Bar, a former undertaker’s (yep!) established in 1872 that earned the seal of approval from none other than the late, great Peter O’Toole.
Further north in the pleasant surroundings of the Boyne Valley, home to the famous Brú na Bóinne world heritage site, you’ll find civic spirit in booming, refreshing voice as you sample the wares of the Boann Distillery in Drogheda and its sister operation, the Boyne Brewhouse; where locally-sourced ingredients provide extra kick. While in Louth, pay a visit to the historic Beaulieu House and take in an ornate dining room with a curious piece of history as its centrepiece…
Meanwhile in Kilkenny – on land family-owned for five generations, Highbank Organic Orchards hand-bottle cider (in Ireland's smallest distillery), and produce myriad treats from their trees. Going back even further in food history, the Goatsbridge Trout Farm story actually began in 1180 when local monks fished the River Arrigle. Today, the farm's focus is on organic and local sustainability, ensuring that the centuries-old legacy carries on.
That’s just a handful of the sumptuous highlights that help lend Ireland’s Ancient East its unique flavour. Continue following in Kevin and Ellius’ footsteps as you enjoy your own culinary adventure – and uncover more flavourful food stories.
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