A Taste of Wexford
Georgina Campbell savours the delicious treats that Wexford’s fertile land offers and champions some of the region’s culinary gems
A favourite holiday destination for Irish families, Wexford is blessed with a benign climate and can boast Ireland’s sunniest coastline, lush river valleys and fertile farmland. While Wicklow may claim the title ‘Garden of Ireland’, the kitchen garden – and, especially, the fruit garden – is seen at its best in Wexford, which is most famous for its soft fruit production. In summer, roadside stalls all over the country tempt passers-by with ‘Wexford strawberries’, and the abundant supply of quality produce has inspired entrepreneurs in the region to specialise in fruit products too, accompanied by good baking, a legacy of the area’s long history of grain production and milling.
With ports like Kilmore Quay and Duncannon supplying fresh fish and shellfish daily, seafood is in great demand at pubs and restaurants along the coast, and both sea angling and river fishing are a big attraction to visitors. But meats get their fair share of the limelight too, with Slaney Valley lamb, for example, proudly featured on menus throughout Ireland, and some top quality pork products now earning a national reputation. Dairy products, including artisan ice-creams, are equally successful and you’ll also find some of Ireland’s finest and longest established farmhouse cheeses here, notably the Carrigbyrne range, produced on one of the country’s most environmentally-friendly farms.
Historical and food-related places of interest are exceptionally wide ranging in Wexford and there is plenty to keep you here longer than you thought, with highlights including the Dunbrody Famine Ship and the Irish Agricultural Museum at Johnstown Castle & Gardens as well as the unusual thatched windmill, Colclough Walled Garden, and Kilmore Quay. Annual events of note include the Wexford Food & Wine Festival www.wexfordfoodfestival.ie and Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival (www.kilmorequayseafoodfestival.com).
(www.killianecastle.com) Perfect for stressed townies, Kathleen and Jack Mernagh’s magical farm B&B is ideal for those with children in tow – a real castle, a seventeenth century house to stay in, and lots to do.
6 Glena Terrace, Spawell Road
In a beautiful Victorian terrace house offering every comfort and memorable breakfasts, Seamus and Kay McMenamin’s legendary B&B has wowed lucky visitors for many years.
(www.thearchways.ie) Seasonal, local and home produced is the ethos at Eileen and chef Chris Hadlington’s smart modern B&B. Dinner is a real treat: Chris’s own rare breed pork may well be on the menu. Great food and genuine hospitality – one to seek out.
(www.rathaspeckmanor.ie) Surrounded by parkland and a Par 3 golf course, Betty O’Kennedy-Cuddihy’s warm and welcoming Georgian home offers very pleasing accommodation and local produce for breakfast – plus Betty’s personal dinner recommendations.
Kilmokea House & Gardens
(www.kilmokea.com) Especially appealing in early summer, Mark and Emma Hewlett’s peaceful and relaxing late Georgian country house offers home produce in the Pink Teacup Café (daytime) and the Peacock Dining Room.
(www.ballinkeele.ie) Although grand – this handsome listed building is set in 350 acres of parkland, game-filled woods and farmland – the Maher family home has a hospitable and down-to-earth atmosphere, and Margaret is a keen Euro-Toques cook.
Woodlands Country B&B
(www.woodlandscountryhouse.com) Easy to find yet secluded, John and Philomena O’Sullivan’s charming creeper-clad midnineteenth country house offers woodlands, a river, even a small lake – also big log fires, antiques and good food.
(www.glendinehouse.com) Comfortable, hospitable and reasonably priced, Ann and Tom Crosbie’s large nineteenth century farmhouse enjoys magnificent views across the Suir estuary; with sandy beaches nearby, an enclosed playground and great breakfasts, it’s ideal for a family holiday.
Kevin Dundon, Dunbrody House & Cookery School.