With a four day holiday programme planned for the end of September, visitors this autumn can enjoy a weekend long family-friendly food festival in Ballina and North Mayo, showcasing the best of Mayo food and drink, to coincide with Failte Ireland's recently launched Taste the Island Experience, a celebration of Ireland’s food and drink culture.
A highlight of this year’s festival and a firm favourite with families is the Wild Atlantic Seafood Family Foraging trip, with well-known forager and historian Denis Quinn. Denis not only brings you on a historical walking tour of Killala, the trip also incorporates a walk and forage along the North Mayo coastline as far as Bartra Island. You also get to keep what you catch and cook what you catch with a Food Fleadh Chef.
The Connacht Whiskey Company, based along the banks of the River Moy, hosts discovery and tasting tours outlining Ballina’s unique distilling process, offering you the chance to taste its own gin, poitin, vodka and whiskey, while Ballina’s world famous Clarkes Salmon Smokery opens its doors to share its 70 year old story, giving you a hint of how they smoke their salmon.
The flagship event of the festival - the food fleadh market - set in the historic Military Barracks of the town, kicks off at 11am on Saturday, September 28. Running late into the evening, the Food Fleadh market will host a plethora of well-known bakers and food producers, cooks and chefs from around the county.
The market hosts 50 food stalls and vendors, giving you the opportunity to taste a wide variety of dishes and tastes from around the world, as well as hosting a schedule of cooking and cocktail making demonstrations, children’s cooking classes, with live music on Ballina’s Local Voices Stage.
The market will take place under the Barracks canopy, the only retractable canopy in Ireland, no matter what the weather, a great day and fun atmosphere is guaranteed.
Yeast Meets West Craft Brew Fest returns to the food fleadh market for its third year, after a very successful appearance at this year’s Ballina Street Festival’s National heritage Day, featuring craft beers and ciders, and locally produced spirits, all based along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Well known Chef and proprietor of Luskin’s Bistro and Chairman of Food Fleadh Ballina man Gerry Luskin, said: "The festival highlights many great food offerings that are already here in North Mayo, this festival brings them all under the one roof, showcasing the passion and variety of food producers that exists in North Mayo.
"Food Fleadh likes to host a new event each year and this year we host the Chefs' Table; Banquet in the Barracks. By bringing locally based chefs together to create an unforgettable menu, in a very unique setting, under the canopy of Ballina’s Military Barracks, one gets to enjoy the company of the chefs, and the company of those attending the Chefs' table."
Tickets for the Chefs' Table; Banquet in the Barracks is €50 per person, which includes a four course locally sourced menu with accompanying drinks. This event is also a fundraiser for Food Fleadh Ballina.
On Sunday, September 29 the River Moy Trust hosts a Children’s River Moy Ecology Workshop based along the banks of the River Moy’s Cathedral Beat, from 12 noon to 2pm. Expect a fun and interactive workshop to explore the biodiversity and ecology along the River Moy and the crucial role the river plays in our food cycle - with planting demonstrations and special guests on the day.
Also on Sunday, Food Fleadh’s final event of the festival celebrates Ballina’s priceless asset and jewel in the crown, the River Moy (world famous for fishing ) - as Ballina Salmon Anglers and Food Fleadh Ballina host the last cast fishing competition and free fishing on the Ballina Salmon Anglers stretch of water all day. Competition registration commences at 10am and finishing at 4pm with a fisherman’s party, presentation of prizes and the biggest treat of all, a taste of River Moy Salmon.
For further information on Ballina’s four day food festival, booking a market stall, workshops and dining tickets go to www.balina.ie or www.facebook.com/foodfleadhballina or contact Ballina Tourist Office (096 ) 72800.