Planning the Ultimate Irish Food & Drink Holiday

Whether you are planning your first trip to Ireland or have visited before one thing is certain: the incredible quality and taste of Irish food and drink. So what better way to take it in then plan out a holiday that includes food and drink experiences. Below find ideas to make your time in Ireland fun - and delicious!

Local Market

There are numerous local and regional markets that offer a perspective on the new and burgeoning artisans around the country. You can easily uncover what markets may be going on in the area you are visiting by a simple google search. Some markets include the Friday Clonakilty Market and the English Market in Cork. My personal favorite is the Saturday market at the Limerick Milk Market. This market has a near 200 year history and maintains its charm by having market vendors set up each Saturday. From cheese to baked goods, jams, chutneys and more, it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

Farm Visit

To visit a local farm gives you that hyper local sense of the connection between the farmer and his product. Whether its cheese, milk, ice cream or many of the other farm products it is certainly an enriching experience. In many instances the farm has been long held in the family through generations. Recently I visited a cheese farm where the dairy farm had been managed and passed down through the years - and now on its 8th generation.

Tea at an Historic Property

There is an abundance of manor houses, estates and castles of which many offer afternoon tea experiences, or even the ability to sit within a drawing room, by a fireplace, in some exquisitely appointed room. By perusing through Ireland’s Blue Book or Hidden Ireland for starters you can map out your selections, inclusive of locations that also offer accommodation. A few favorite spots of mine include Longueville House in Mallow, Cork, Dromoland Castle in Clare, Mustard Seed in Ballingarry, Limerick and Marlfield House in Gorey, Wexford.

Distillery Visit

Irish whiskey continues to grow in popularity and with the rise in distilleries - and visitor centers - you will likely never be that far from one to stop into and visit.

Brewery Visit

Similar to whiskey, there are breweries also popping up that alongside with the established beer brands offer you a range of experiences to take in. One discovery I made this year was JJ’s Craft Brewing in Killmallock, Limerick where the brewery tour ended with tasting a variety of brews such as the Abbey Stout, an Oyster Stout, Red Pale Ale and many others. The accompanying breads and sweets also featured their brews and made for a lovely accompaniment.

Culinary Class / Workshop

Depending on the length of your visit you may wish to explore taking a culinary class, workshop or course. From the well known cookery schools such as Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork to one off classes or workshops it’s a great way to advance your culinary skills. A quick search on Eventbrite is one way to find out what may be happening at the time and location of your visit.

Food or Drink Festival

There are many food and drink festivals to select so look at what may be happening at the time of your visit. It’s a great way to experience a community through its approach and for the larger events and festivals to gain exposure to a large group of brands and products in one location. From whiskey focused events, to tasting events, to county wide festivals and conferences there is always something to add in - or prompt the timing of your trip to Ireland.

Gourmet / Specialty Store

To walk into a gourmet store, or a store that features selections of gourmet products can be a real treasure trove - and eye candy. With packaging become much more visually appealing it can be hard not to buy something or many things! Think chocolates, cookies, sweets, crackers, chips, breads, jams, chutneys to name a few.

Food / Drink Focused Museum

From the Butter Museum in Cork to the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin through to a more unique stop at Old Irish Ways in Bruff, Limerick, a museum stop is an added way to take in Ireland’s history of food and drink - inclusive of the many tools that were used over the centuries. At the Old Irish Ways museum I learned about a seed fiddler, saw old packaging for creameries and food brands, as well as many, many other delightful items.

So a few ideas to think on and to make part of your next trip to Ireland!

Bridget Bray