Ireland holidays: The best food experiences, from farm to table

Samantha van Egmond tracks down the top farm-to-table experiences to try in Ireland

A new generation of talented chefs and artisan producers is proving that modern Irish cuisine extends far beyond potatoes and Guinness. Earning its place on the map as a food lover’s must-visit destination for 2020 by picking up six new entries in this year’s Michelin Guide, the Emerald Isle boasts an profusion of fresh flavours and creative dishes that showcase its exceptional natural bounty.

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One thing that hasn’t changed throughout Ireland’s culinary renaissance, however, is its producer-to-plate approach to cooking and dining. “Sustainably sourced” and “locally grown” are not buzzwords here – the slow food movement is ingrained in Ireland’s rich gastronomic history. From whiskey trails and seaweed foraging to acclaimed cookery schools and lively village markets, there are plenty of ways visitors to Ireland can experience a true sense of place through its unique fare.

Plan your visit around a food festival

The Irish love to celebrate, particularly when it comes to food. With a vibrant programme of culinary-focused events, it is definitely worth taking a look at what’s coming up before booking your trip. Taste of Dublin (June 11-14) is a highlight on Ireland’s summer calendar, with the four-day festival drawing world class chefs to the city’s Iveagh Gardens to host masterclasses and demonstrations.

In September, Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival (September 25-27) – claiming to be the oldest oyster festival in the world having launched in 1954 – marks the start of the region’s annual oyster harvest season with a weekend of street parades, seafood feasts and shucking championships. Fancy a road trip? Take a drive outside the cities to find every flavour of food-centric events, from strawberries and gin to craft beer and chowder.

Forage for seaweed along the coast

Foraging for seaweed, mussels and other ocean delicacies is a great way to discover Ireland’s scenic shores, and with more than 1400kms of coastline there are plenty of opportunities for exploration. Much like foraging for wild foods along hedgerows, this Irish pastime involves a keen eye and an adventurous spirit – a little expert advice also comes in handy.

Atlantic Irish Seaweed has been running seaweed discovery tours along the Wild Atlantic Way for more than a decade, teaching foragers how to sustainably harvest, dry and store their finds. On the island’s southern side, The Sea Gardener takes visitors for a forage along Waterford’s Copper Coast followed by a seaside cook up that might feature soup and seaweed scones. This is especially fun for young children, who love to lead scavenger hunts around the rock pools and shoreline.

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