Great Craic in Dingle

It was a wonderful weekend in Dingle at the 2nd Annual Dingle Food Festival. I judged on Friday, see www.icecreamireland.com for all the winners of the Blas na hEireann National Irish Food Awards. I was happy to see that all my favorites in the Healthy Division were chosen as winners.  The top price in this category was awarded to Just Food – Organic Food for Life, a family run Cork business that submitted their  Cranberry Nut Muesli. I met Deirdre Hillard and family at the Farmers Market. It’s good to see such hard working, down to earth people with a good product get the recognition they deserve. Other winners in this category were Foods of Athenry for their spelt bread and sugar.dairy free brack and Largo Foods for their truly satisfying Tayto Velvet Crunch.                                                On Saturday I gave a Book Signing at the Dingle BookShop followed by a very succesful cookery demo. I made the Tofu Cutlets with port wine, rosemary and mushroom sauce, maple squash and broccoli with sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. Maybe it was the atmosphere of the lovely little St. James Church, the professional setup and/or the audience that made me feel totally comfortable, but I had a blast and the comments from everyone who came up to sample the food and buy a copy of Coming Home To Cook said I was “very entertaining.” There was a great craic in Curran’s saturday night, as well as a singing session.  On Sunday I sampled some of the delicious foods on the Taste Trail and at the Farmers Market Stalls. I met Valerie O’Connor, a Limerick based food writer and photographer who took a book home to try a recipe and review the book. Check out her blog www.valskitchen.com.

Food Awards Judge

The Dingle Food Festival www.dinglefood.com.  is this coming weekend, friday thru sunday, 03 -05/10.  I have been asked to be one of the Judges for the Health and Well Being Food section for the Blas na hEireann National Food Awards. These awards are given to Irish commercial food producers.  Thanks to Kieran Murphy of Murphy’s ice Cream for giving me this special opportunity. www.icecreamireland.com  On Saturday at 3:00 I will be having a Book Signing at the Dingle Book Shop on Green St. followed by a cookery demo at 5:00 at James Church on Main St.  Join me, it’s going to be a great weekend!

Best Selling Cookery Book In Dingle!

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On Sunday I headed for one of my favorite places in Ireland – the Dingle Peninsula.  On a visit in 2005 I reconnected with my cousin, James Curran and we became fast friends. James runs the pub/shop on Main st. that our Great Grandfather started and where our cousin Peig Sayers lived and worked. Her “Reflections of an Old Woman.’ was required reading in Irish schools for decades. My Grandmother, Annie Curran, is the little girl, Nan, in the book.  Walking into the pub/shop is walking back in time.  When I arrived, there was a sing song happening, highlighted by a fisherman with a beautiful, strong voice. My favorite was “Barr Na Sraide”, about the rebels of Cahersiveen, one of which was a Sheehan.  James is selling Coming Home To Cook which is displayed right on the counter.  He’s sold quite a few copies which makes it the only Pub in Ireland selling the book.   On monday I did my rounds to the other 6 locations in Dingle that are selling the book. Commodum on Main St. had sold out so I restocked and talked with Mary about doing a Vegetarian Cookery class in Dingle next winter.  Sean Brosnan at Leac a Re on the Quay had also sold out so I restocked.  I met Martin Bealin at Global Village Restaurant on Main St. who organizes the Dingle Food Festival www.dinglefood.ie which is held october 3-5. I will be doing a vegetarian cookery demo at 4:45 at St. James Church on Main St. and a book signing at the Dingle Bookshop.   But, the big news came at the Dingle Bookshop where Camilla checked her records and told me Coming Home To Cook is their best selling Cookery Book of the 2008 season! So, it’s exciting and appropriate that I’m doing my first official Book Signing there.  Join me!                            James and i love to take spontaneous road trips so when I finished my rounds we took off for Kenmare.  I restocked at The Kenmare Bookshop and McCarthy’s. As it turns out, Dolly McCarthy knew James uncle, Father John Gerald Curran, who was stationed in Eyeries in the 1960’s, so she was thrilled to meet him and told us many good stories.  As it was still early, we decided to drive out to Castletownbere on the Beara peninsula.  To say that is one of the prettiest and most dramatic landscapes in ireland is an understatement.  Everywhere you go in Ireland there’s a different landscape.  This one can’t be missed. The peninsula is a combination of lush little coves, fishing villages, majestic trees, barren hills, fields of 40 shades of green.  I loved Eyeries, 1/2 way out on the northern side.  It’s a beautiful little coastal village with beautiful, brightly colored houses.   The stars were shining over Dingle as we returned and we actually had a mostly sunny day!                                     Tuesday on my way back to Clare, I dropped a book off at  Radio Kerry and got  a call today from John Greene who will be interviewing me tomorrow (Sept. 4th) at 10:15 on the Morning Show.  John is from West Cork so I’m looking forward to this interview. you can get get it livestream at www.radiokerry.ie

rain rain go away

I’m on the road again and wishing that  I had some good ice cream just about now! I recently spoke with  Kieran Murphy of Murphy’s Ice Cream in Kerry.. I know the Murphy’s from my Nyack, NY days. Kieran, mom Christine, dad Finbar and Aunt Carol were regular customers at Mary’s Cafe. I catered many events for them at the Weleda Headquarters and we became good friends.  In the mid 1990’s Christine was visiting Dingle and I suggested she look in on my cousin, Mary Curran. She introduced herself to Mary,  was welcomed in for tea and a chat by the fire. I’ll never forget Christine stressing to me how I had to get back to Ireland asap as this way of life was becoming a thing of the past and how lovely and gracious Mary was. Sadly, I didn’t return to Ireland until a few years after Mary and Joe had passed away but I have been welcomed warmly into the family by their son James.                                                                                                                   Now, Kieran and brother Sean have a thriving Ice Cream business in Dingle and Killarney and this summer have also launched a book, The Book of Sweet Things is a beautiful book of ice cream and dessert recipes. Check it out on Kieran’s award winning blog www.icecreamireland.com   I’m working my way through the book and will post my favorite recipe soon. The only thing that’s stopping me from getting some ice creeam now is the storm raging outside.                                                            Back to business – Coming Home To Cook is now in Athlone at Planet Life. Laura Kelly and I have a mutual friend in Clare and Laura owns a very cool healthy foods shop and cafe. In Mullingar the book sits on the front counter in Just Books on Pearse St., Nuts & Grains on Friars Mill Rd. and Wild Earth Natural Health Clinic on Dominick St.                                  Coming up this week – an interview on Raidio Corca Baiscinn 94.8 FM South Clare.I will be interviewed at 9:30 Wednesday by Kathy Nealon on the Women’s Hour.  Also, on Wednesday I will be in the food section of Waterford Today and Friday will be in the Feel Good supplement of the Irish Examiner. check out my website www.marysheehan.com.  for more info on the book. And, please send sun!

Southwest Cork

I arrived at Liam and joan’s in Carriganima on Monday night to a flurry of activity. They are clearing one of the upper hills for grazing land which involves a lot of extra help that are always fed.  Joan was busy getting supper ready and Karen was finishing up milking the cows while Liam and Steven and more Sheehan cousins were up on the hills working. Lots of talking, eating, a beautiful sunset in the Lee Valley.                                                                                                                       On Tuesday morning I headed out to Skibbereen to restock. Patsy at Ying Yang Health Foods has the books right on the front counter. She suggested I go up to the Heritage Centre gift shop.  I left a copy for the vacationing manager to look at. Last September I had come to Skib, as that is where my mother’s family, the Driscolls are from. The most common name in Cape Clear, Baltimore and Skibbereen is Driscoll. Unlike the Sheehan side of the family, we don’t know much about their history (next project!)   Skibereen is known to be one of the hardest hit areas during the famine.  I think The Heitage Ctr. has the best famine museum in the country. It is small but striking. Last year, after I visited the ctr., I went to the famine graveyard which is a short drive from there. It is humbling, to say the least.  5,000 residents of the area who died of starvation and the diseases that result from it are  buried in a mass grave in which is now a small green plot and there is a beautiful monument to them.                                                  Leaving Skib with it’s busy streets and lush green countryside I headed for Ballydehob to restock at Hudson’s Health Foods. I set up a new account at Chapter One  on Main St. , Schull. Great Bookshop in a friendly, very pretty little village. www.chapterone.ie.  I had enough time to take the road across the peninsula to Bantry and I was glad I did. Brilliant red fuschia bushes line the entire mountain road. It was something out of a postcard. Low clouds hung over the mountain, the red of the fuschia, the sheep on the hillside, the old ruins of houses and sheds turned picturesque with colorful rose bushes and vines clinging to them.  In Bantry I restocked at Bantry Books on Marino St. and chatted about the “new Ireland” with the owner, Margaret o’Neill.  Margaret thinks that if you take the cars out of Ireland it would look like it did 30 years ago!                    I set up a new account at Bantry Whole Foods. Simon was great craic. He has an adorable little Jack Russell named Lola. His shop sits in a little lane and is stocked with fresh, local produce and health food items. We talked about a lot of things , he liked the book and I know he’ll promote it and it will sell well there.  The drive from Bantry to Macroom is another spectacular road in southwest Cork and if you’ve never been to this part of Ireland, you have to see it to believe it.   Canyon walls of rock covered with moss and shrubs open up to the beautiful Lee Valley. This is also a historic road as many ambushes  took place in these narrow mountain passes  during the civil war.                                                                                                

Waterford to Cork

 

Dungarvan is a beautiful coastal town with a serene feel to it. It’s very bright and cheery, lots of wind boxes with fresh flowers on old brick buildings which have been neatly restored. Catherine O’Donnell owns Readers Choice on Lower Main St. She took a supply of books and was very warm and friendly. Blasta Health Foods on Main St. is owned by Rob and Anne Whinnett and Rob was very helpful with suggestions on marketing the book and took a supply. I took a copy of the summer issue of Naturally- the Irish Health Stores Magazine, www.naturallygoodhealth.ie. Where Blasta is featured in the “local stores” column.

I drove out of Waterford satisfied at my progress in the past week. I left Lisdoon a week ago and have distributed the book in 30 shops in 6 counties, met fantastic people who love my book, been offered wonderful opportunities to promote it, spent some good down time at the beach in great company and the weather has been terrific!

Smiling I headed into the home county of Cork – the People’s Republic.

All of the Sheehans, Driscolls, McCarthys, Duggans, Murrays that are my ancestors are from Cork. The names are everywhere, in every town on numerous shop fronts. The villages I pass seem familiar as they are in my grandfathers family history.

First stop is Youghal, in East Cork. Noelle at Horan’s health Food on North Main St. took a supply. The Horan’s in Listowel and Tralee are also selling Coming Home To Cook. Youghal has an appealing wide expanse of sandy beach. Ok, keep driving!

On to Midleton where I stopped at Well and Good owned by Jill Bell on Broderick St. Jill was very nice, as was her assistant, Wendy. We chatted about the book, other shops I’ve been to where Jill knows the owners. She was very helpful and took the books with great pleasure. She stocks a wide of foods, supplements, essential oils, and local products made with organic ingredients. It was a pleasure just being in the shop in their company.

Midleton Books on Main St. is owned by Ronan McCarthy. It’s a big shop with a welcoming feeling, which is neatly laid out and he was also very helpful and took a supply.

Marian at Healthy Say in Carrigaline loved the book and is going to feature a recipe from it in her weekly recipe handout. Her shop is in the Supervalue Shopping Centre and is filled with lots of colorful and healthy items. Marian talked about how she lived in South Africa and owned a restaurant there. We talked about the road trip I’m on and how you just gotta get out there, life is too short! I passed the Carrigaline Book Shop where they have not sold out yet but have a copy in the window. It’s a thrill seeing that! My little book in shop windows in Ireland.

I ended the day at the Quay Food Company in Kinsale where I had left a supply of books in June. They were sold out, from the front counter , so I restocked. Thanks, David and Laura!

Leaving Wexford

Monday

I reluctantly left Cullenstown Strand as it was another sunny day and I could have spent another day on the beach. I headed back down to Waterford, this time taking the ferry across from Ballyhack, a great alternative to sitting in New Ross traffic. I stopped in at Kilo’s on Michael Street and Brett McGrath was a good way to start the day, he took 6 copies in to his great shop packed with bulk bags of whole grains and ethnic foods. Full of Beans owned by Barry and Frances Coffey in George’s Court took a supply for themselves and their shop in Ardkeen.

I worked my way down to Abbeyside, a hamlet before crossing the bridge

into Dungarvan. Jurgen Denzinger owns Remedies Health Store on Sexton St.

www.remedieshealthstore.ie Nice shop, good craic.

Wexford and Enniscorthy

Saturday

Another sunny day in Wexford and I was off for a quick trip to Wexford town and Enniscorthy. Wexford is a big town with lots of winding, narrow lanes. There are many brightly colored houses and store fronts, many with front gardens and 2 majestic cathedrals overlooking the town and the quay. Most towns in Westford have a monument to the 1798 rebellion and the one in this town square is impressive.

Only Natural has 2 locations and they are both large and well stocked with a variety of health foods, supplements, therapy needs and gifts. Gerald is the owner and he happily took Coming Home To Cook for both shops. Mag at The Book Centre on South Main St. took a supply. Now 3 of the 4 Book Centre’s, Ireland’s own version of a Barnes and Noble (Yank talk) has my book. Rainbow Whole Foods is a bright and cheery shop owned by John Linden, who took a supply.

On to Enniscorthy where I met Matt Ronan who with his wife Nuala owns Evolve a lovely big shop dedicated to health/beauty/life.

www.evolv.ie.There’s always some kind of magic that happens to me on these trips. Matt graciously suggested I contact the local radio and newspaper and gave me their contact information. Then, he asked if I would like to come back in the fall and give a workshop on healthy eating. Then, he took 10 books .

Awesome! I have a wealth of information to share and it will be fun to get to know the local people who are interested in some different recipe ideas.

Beach days

I’m sitting up in the loft at Judy’s beach house which has 2 windows overlooking the Irish Sea. The sun is shining on the white caps and the horizon is getting that pinkish hue to it. I’m going to make this quick so I can take a nice walk on the beach before sunset, which here is about 10:30!    After spending a glorious day off yesterday, doing nothing but relaxing and feeling so grateful that I have Judy as a friend,  we headed off this morning to Waterford. It’s a city with a great old feeling. First stop was The Book Centre in John Roberts Square. This is a big beautiful Irish owned Bookstore that has branches in Naas, Wexford and Kilkenny. It’s in a restored  movie theater and is very much like a Barnes and Noble, with a cafe and comfortable chairs for reading. John, the manager was happy to take Coming Home To Cook.  The owners of the 2 health food shops in town were out so we had lunch and traveled on to New Ross. This is the town that JFK’s ancestors were from so there’s lots of memorabilia about the Kennedy’s and his visit there in the 1960’s. Being of Irish Catholic Massachusetts heritage I always find this interesting.  It’s a very pretty old town with colorful shop fronts, many interesting cafes and a majestic cathedral up on the hill. Paul Brennan at Nolan’s on South St. took the book and was delightful.                                                                        On to the highlight of the day which was Kate’s Farm Shop on the Wexford- Duncannon Road. www.goodfoodireland.ie. I would love to own a shop like this. There’s lots of gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables out front, and room after room of everything you’d want or need in a fresh food market. The shelves ae packed with fresh breads, cheeses, grains, nuts, fruits, crackers, grains, you name it, they’ve got it. Owners Kate and Ollie were real pros, very friendly, efficient and good craic.  It took only a few minutes to look at the book and a chat about terms to decide they defintely wanted to sell it.  All of the ingredients in the book can be bought at this little shop. And, it’s the ONLY BOOK in the shop. So, if you’re in the Wexford area, this is the place to go. Slan.

To the sunny southeast

Before leaving Dublin, I dropped a lot of books off at Cultivate on Essex St. West. www.cultivate.ie.  I have to admire a retail shop with a mission. As the website states it’s purpose is  to respond to climate change by giving the public the knowledge and tools to cultivate sustainable lifestyles. Mark, the shop manager was very friendly and professional. There’s a gorgeous garden in a courtyard in the back and the shop is light filled and airy, you could spend a lot of time and euros in there! It feels good to have the book in so many wonderful places.        I headed north to Malahide for a quick stop at the health food store, Revitalise where Regina took books for that shop and the one in Maynooth. www.revitalise.ie.  I headed south around Dublin on the infamous M50 and landed in Dalkey. What beautiful little village. I remember stopping here a few years ago when I visited my nephew Patrick who was working at the Glencree Reconciliation Centre.   Oliver at Select store on Railway Road www.selectstores.ie took Coming Home To Cook and I promised I would send him a press release and a point of sale leaflet. He has a packed health food shop with a fantastic lunch counter, interesting menu and juice bar.  Over to The Exchange Bookshop  on Castle St.owned by Michael Simmons. Michael was very impressed with the book, and it is being sold on the front counter! While there, I met David Knight a Photographer who has a Design and Publishing Company. He creates Irish made greeting cards www.willowireland.com  He has a great catalog and the cards are spectacular with all kinds of themes. My favorites were the greeting cards with the illustrations taken from Trinity College Libraries’ rare and unique book collection. We exchanged products and had a great chat about how to help each other in our networking efforts. More magic in Ireland, everywhere I go, I meet creative, generous people.   Down to Bray, another lovely coastal town to Littlebray Books owned by David Cassidy who also owns Frascati in Blackrock.  Sean Egan, a retired professor and writer took my books for the front counter and placed one in the window.  Good craic there! Sean was another beautiful Irish character!         Last stop of the day was in Wicklow Town to Health and Healing, a big shop filled with all kinds of good healthy foods, and crafts. Hillary who owns the very large and well stocked Bridge St. Books took a supply for the front counter! Wicklow is a very historic old town with a real character to it. It has a beautiful monument in the square to those who fought in the 1798 rebellion.  I drove the coast road from Wicklow to Arklow. The Irish Sea is very different from the wild Atlantic of West Clare, but beautiful in it’s on way. I got a real “beachy” feeling as I worked my way down to Wexford to Judy’s cottage in Cullenstown Strand, the sunny southeast.