Western Civilisation – Cara Magazine

July 14th, 2011

Cara Magazine-Enjoy your flight-Aer Lingus-July Issue 2011

EAT AND DRINK YOUR WAY AROUND THE WEST OF IRELAND, WHERE AN AVUNDANCE OF ARTISAN PRODUCERS ARE MAKING THE MOST OF THE FINEST LOCAL INGREDIENTS. LIZZIE GORE-GRIMES GIVES HER TASTE BUDS A TREAT FROM CONNEMARA TO CONG.

ALONG GALWAY’S RUGGED Atlantic coast, near the town of Ballyconneely, low-lying, whitewashed building sits perched on a pier, with the strong cold water of the Atlantic crashing almost to its door. This is the Connemara Smokehouse. It appears an unassuming place at first, until you step inside and meet the Roberts family. Graham, in thid mid-thirties, runs the smokehouse with his wife Saoirse and thier four young children (all artisan-smokers-in-the-making). Together they produce the best smoked Irish Salmon and line-caught Irish tuna you are ever likely to taste. There is a freshness and delicacy of flavour to Graham’s smoked salmon that is hard to equal. To taste it, with the mellow aroma of beech smoke in the air and the crashing waves of the Atlantic outside, leaves you in no doubt that this is, indeed, Ireland the food island.

We’re here in the west of Ireland, as part of a seafood appreciation weekend taking place in Ashford Castle. Arriving late at night after a long drive from Dublin, it’s hard not to be impressed by the stunning vista of the sweeping drive, bridging the river to the fairytale castle by the lake. Ashford Castle knows how to make a big impression, but David the doorman tops the lot – you’re definitely somewhere special when the doorman knows your name. All we have to do after that is settle into our sumptuous room, drink in the view over Lough Corrib and wander downstairs for dinner.

The next moring we get up early to head west, about as far west as you can go. Passing through the popular town of Clifden and on out to Ballyconneely and Bunowen Pier, we arrive at the smokehouse at the edge of the world. As Graham Roberts takes us on a tour of the smokehouse, it’s evident how hands-on he is at every stage of the process. As he deftly fillets, trims and preps a whole salmon in minutes, he explains the true depth of connection he has to the area. “fishermen I work with today are the sons of the fihermen my father worked with. Most of our fish come from nearby Killary Harbour. We have wild salmon in season in June & July (until stocks last), and we also get fantastic organic salmon from nearby Clare Island”. Graham opens the thick steel door of the smokery to show us the racks of salmon sides all deepening in colour in the fog of gentle beech smoke.

“We prefer to burn beech rather than oak,” continues Graham, “as oak contains more tannins and can produce a slightly more bitter flavour in the fish” Graham takes a side of salmon from the smoker to his slicing station where he still prefers to slice the majority of the salmon by hand. The way this man wields a filleting knife would make Nobu Matsuhisa look clumsy. A whole side of salmon is perfectly sliced in a matter of minutes. While he is doing this, his four immaculately behaved children hand out plates of smoked salmon and tuna for us to taste. The tuna is something you don’t see too ofter; it’s line-caught off the Irish coast, and Rick Stein was so impressed with it when he came here (to film Graham and Saoirse as part of his Food Heroes television series) that he now serves it in his famous seafood restaurant in Cornwall. Other piscatorial pleasures to stock up on are the Roberts’ family recipes of smoked tuna mousse, as well as gravadlax and traditional smoked kippers.

From one fish feast to another. We leave the Connemara Smokehosue to make our way to Rossroe Pier……

Graham Roberts, Traditional Irish Smokehouse, Ireland

Aer Lingus - Cara Magazine - July Issue

Other wonderful places/producers mentioned in this article:

Cullen’s Bistro – Ashford Castle

Air dried meats – James McGeough

Mussels – Marty’s Mussels

Stefan Matz – Ashford Castle

Seaweed – Seamus Moran Lo-Tide Foods

Butcher – Sean Kelly

Aran McMahon – Café Rua

Farmhouse butter – Cuinneog

Homemade Jam – Grove Jams

Mixed leaves – Stephen Gould

Cheeses – Carrowholly

Chocolate – Helena’s Chocolates..

To view this article I’m afraid you will just have to take an Aer Lingus flight to view their inhouse “Cara Magazine”.  Food & Drink – The West of Ireland – July Issue 2011

The Guard Premiere

July 6th, 2011

A lot of excitement around the premiere of the new Brendan Gleeson movie THE GUARD.

Connemara Smokehouse Organic Smoked Salmon features at the Irish Premiere after party for THE GUARD starring Brendan Gleeson, Pat Shortt and Liam Cunningham taking place in The G Hotel Galway.

Irish audiences will get an opportunity to see THE GUARD in cinemas when it goes on nationwide release on July 7th 2011.

Baywatch – Irish Style

July 4th, 2011

Delicious Magazine – August Edition 2011 – Hungry Traveller by Les Dunn

The Connemara penisula, west of the city of Galway, is the Ireland millions of Americans imagine when, teary-eyed, they turn their thoughts to their homeland: still, silent loughs, grassy moors, ancient peat bogs, miles of stone walls, rolling hills and a craggy coastline of coves and inlets.  Plus the odd donkey. We’re off along the minor road that winds around the coast. Each mile we travel we feel more relaxed, like we’ve taken a slow-release narcotic.

In a beautiful location out on a lonely seashore, the Connemara Smokehouse proves worth the detour – the delicately smoked Atlantic salmon – they also do mackerel, tuna, herrring and sometimes cod and pollock – is subline. The secret’s in the beechwood smoking (it imparts a sweeter flavour than oak, apparently) – that and the extroardinary dedication of workaholic owner Graham Roberts. “If I come in at four in the morning” he explains, “there are no distractions.” With the fruits of his beyond-the-call labours in our cool-bag, we carry northwards.

To view more producers in this article get your copy of Delicious Magazine – August Edition and enjoy this 3 page article by Les Dunn

For more info on all featured, visit Discover Ireland or call 0800 039 7000

Graham Roberts, Traditional Irish Smokehouse, Ireland

Delicious Magazine Aug 2011

7 Students from St. Caillin’s N.S, launch their very own Books

July 2nd, 2011
© Saoirse O' Rourke

7 students of St. Caillin’s National School, Aillebrack.

Seven students from Aillebrack National School Authors: Amy Roberts, Celia O’Neill, Grainne King, Eimear Roche, Francesca McDonagh, Oscar Conney and Tadhag O’Neill took part in the 10th Annual Write A Book Awards 2011.

More than 500 budding young writers were honoured in Galway on the 6th of June, at a ceremony transmitted live on the internet, which was held at the Radisson Hotel Galway. The children received their prizes in two ceremonies, one in English and one in Irish. The winners were picked from a pool of 6,000 entries by a panel of literary experts. The students of Aillebrack National School launched their very own books in Clifden town Library this week.

The students come from a small rural, two-teacher school in Aillebrack, Co. Galway. Ranging from 3rd Class to 6th Class, each year they participate in a Reading Buddies Programme which involves the children in all classes, from Junior Infants to Sixth Class, doing paired reading. This is a simple and effective reading technique, which usually results in improvement in reading ability for most pupils. It tends to be a very enjoyable experience where pupils develop more positive attitudes to reading. The seven students are keen readers and with encouragement from Muinteoir Louise Roche to put their active minds into creative writing.

The Books are on display in Clifden Town Library for the full Summer 2011.

© Saoirse O' Rourke

So do drop in and check out their work.

Books on Display:

Amy Roberts – Amy’s Favourite Foods

Tadgh O’Neill – Ryans Story

Celia O’Neill – A Long Book of Poems & Short Stories

Francesca Mc Donagh – Sweet Pea Valley

Grainne King – The True Story of Goldilocks

Oscar Coneys- Max is Lost and Alone

Eimear Roche – Animal Pourquoi Tales

Winners of the Write A Book Awards from St. Caillin’s National School, Aillebrack at the Radisson Hotel Galway were:

Tadgh O’Neill – Ryans Story

Celia O’Neill – A Long Book of Poems & Short Stories

Francesca Mc Donagh – Sweet Pea Valley

Oscar Coneys- Max is Lost and Alone

All can be viewed in Clifden Town Library

Ask Bernie Jeffries or Paul Keogh for Details:

Monday 14:30 to 18:00 and 18:30 to 20:30

Tuesday 10:30 to 13:00 and 14:30 to 18:00

Wednesday 14:30 to 18:00 and 18:30 to 20:30

Thursday 10:30 to 13:00 and 14:30 to 18:00

Friday 10:30 to 13:00 and 14:30 to 18:00 and 18:30 to 20:30

Saturday 10:30 to 13:00 and 14:30 to 18:00

Also viewed on Galway Public Libraries Blog

Smokin’ hot tuna

July 2nd, 2011

Irish Times-Food File by Marie-Claire Digby 2/7/2011

Graham and Saoirse Roberts produce some of Ireland’s best smoked fish products at their Connemara Smokehouse, situated right on the water’s edge at Bunnowen pier in Ballyconneely. Their cold and hot smoked salmon is superlative, but they also smoke mackerel, kippers and tuna – the latter is supplied to UK chef Rick Stein for his Padstow seafood restaurant.

The cold smoked tuna is a revelation – meaty, delicately smokey and sweet at the same time. As part of a smoked seafood platter it steals the limelight from its more common cousin the salmon. Roberts says he uses only Irish albacore tuna, line-caught in an environmentally-friendly way. You can buy this delicacy at the smokehouse, or from the couple’s website and it costs €15 for a 200g pack. Delivery of up to 25kg to addresses within Ireland adds a further €12. “If customers are visiting during June, July or August, they can come on one of our tours of the smokehouse which we run at 3pm every Wednesday”, Graham suggests (booking is advisable).

Saoirse suggests using the hot smoked tuna (€15/200g), in a salad with beetroot ribbons (pictured), while Graham prefers the cold smoked atop thin rounds of toast smeared with cream cheese, with a delicate sliver of cucumber. “Normally we serve it very simply, and it goes very well with some bubbly,” he says. See www.smokehouse.ie.

Graham Roberts, Traditional Irish Smokehouse, Ireland

Honey Roast Smoked Tuna

St. John’s Bonfire Night

June 23rd, 2011

St. John’s Eve, June 23

Is sometimes known as Bonfire Night in Ireland. It is known in gaelic as: Oiche an teine chanáimh or Teine Féil Eóin. The fire must be lit exactly on sunset and must be watched till the next morning.
In many parts of the country, people still light large communal bonfires at sunset on this day, or small family fires outside their houses.

Other customs included inviting the oldest woman in the area to go three times sunwise round the fire on her knees saying prayers, to ward off disease; in some localities, holy water was sprinkled on the fire and, as on other festivals, it was sprinkled on the house, its occupants, outbuildings, livestock and the crops. Generally, this was done by either the oldest person in the family, but in some parts of Ireland, the youngest child was asked to do it.

In many places it was the day the boats and nets were blessed and there was many an angler living inland who eagerly anticipated the arrival of sea trout and salmon which entered the rivers at this time of year.

As might be expected, there was plenty of eating and drinking! Customarily, in Connaught, a special dish called “Goody” was made. This was white ‘shop-bread’ which had been soaked in hot milk and flavored with sugar and spices. It was usually made in a large pot that was either placed on the communal bonfire or heated on a smaller fire close by. Revelers brought their own spoons and bowls if they wanted to share in the “Goody.”

Before moving on to the other customs surrounding the festival of St. John, there was one last ritual to perform and that was the bringing home of an ember from the communal fire and placing it on the family hearth. Some families also kept ashes from the fire for luck, others because they believed the ashes would ensure a peaceful death to old people who were ailing. The ashes also had curative powers: mixed with water, they were drunk to relieve internal disorders and they were used to cleanse and bathe wounds, sores and swellings.

After the merriment of St. John’s Eve and with the fire burned out, families retired to their homes to rest up for the festivities of June 24th, the Saint’s birthday!

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