Because of the diversity in tastes that exists among people in Ireland Cong Food Festival, taking place this weekend, has decided to explore and unearth the different tastes and flavours that Irish hill lamb has to offer. From the Comeragh mountains in Munster to the hills of herbs in Connemara, or the rambling rich grass of the Wicklow hills, and the open landscapes of Tyrone in Ulster, lamb has many variations of taste.
Visit the festival marquee in Cong this weekend to see local chefs prepare and cook lamb presented to them from well-established hill lamb producer groups in Ireland. Collection and delivery of the lamb from the four provinces in Ireland will be carried out by the Honda Goldwing Motor Bike Club.
The marquee will play host on Saturday and Sunday to many local food producers, food market stalls and displays, cookery and bakery demonstrations by talented local chefs, and workshops for children and adults hosted by Cong Food Village members.
Brendan Joyce from the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association will give an insight into what the future of hill farming may hold for farmers on the western seaboard. Connemara Hill Lamb will also be in attendance, taking orders for this season's lambs, and may even divulge how the unique taste gets into the hill lamb.
Cong Food Festival has become an annual highlight in the village. Niall Rochford, general manager at Ashford Castle, said: “Ashford Castle is very pleased to support Cong Food Festival as it highlights and supports the three main pillars of community, local artisans, and food establishments throughout Cong village. We sincerely thank the committee for their hard work and effort during the festival and throughout the year. Their vital work has encouraged and grown the village as a food and tourist destination year-round.”
Sunday September 15 at 12.30pm will begin with the unveiling of the hands of two of Ireland's well known music celebrities Matt Molloy (The Chieftans ) and John Sheahan (The Dubliners ) as they join the Cong Hands of Fame wall and receive their CHOFA award along with the freedom of Cong from the mayor of the parish John Joe Mc Grath.
Speaking at the launch Patrick Luskin, chairman of the Cong Hands of Fame committee, said: "It was like music to our ears when both men accepted the invitation."
Also in attendance on Sunday will be IFA president Joe Healy, who said he is looking forward to tasting the different types of hill lamb that will be on offer on the day.
Jonathan Keane, executive chef, The Lodge at Ashford Castle and chairperson of Cong Food Village, said: "This is the fourth year of Cong Food Festival and in that time the festival has gone from strength to strength, attracting thousands of visitors to Cong each year, and showcasing our superb local food offerings." Mr Keane also thanked the committee, who strive to make each year more successful than the last, and had a special word of thanks for the festival's sponsors.
Visitors to the event will see some Zwartble sheep and there will be alpacas from the Wild Atlantic Way Alpaca Farm in Sligo, some farmyard fowl, hill sheep, sheep dog demonstrations, and miniature ponies and donkeys.
Cong Food Festival has confirmed that iMayo TV will make a welcome return to the event and will be recording highlights of the weekend for broadcast around the world on the Sky network.
For further information on the weekend’s events see www.congfoodfestival.com