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Tracey Coughlan, food tourism, strategy and programmes manager with Fáilte Ireland. Failte Ireland

Taste The Island With Tracey Coughlan

Brought to you by Fáilte Ireland, we take a closer look at the Taste The Island initiative with Tracey Coughlan.


The new Fáilte Ireland Taste The Island programme takes place for the first time this year from September to November, celebrating Ireland’s seasonal ingredients, adventurous tastes and bold experiences.

Notoriously, the autumn season in the hospitality industry can be more challenging after the high of summer tourism, so to counteract this Fáilte Ireland created Taste The Island, an eight-week showcase of Ireland's food and drink culture. Since its launch, Taste The Island has been highlighting restaurants, local craft food and drink producers, festivals, food trails and much more all over Ireland. 

To find out more about Taste The Island, we spoke to Tracey Coughlan, food tourism, strategy and programmes manager with Fáilte Ireland

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Hook Head, Wexford.
Hook Head, Wexford.

How can people get involved in and experience Taste The Island?

“Taste The Island is an all-island initiative that will significantly enhance Ireland’s reputation for its food and drink experiences. It is a three-year programme developed by Fáilte Ireland in conjunction with Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland. Those who wish to get involved by hosting a ‘Taste The Island’ event can contact a local Fáilte Ireland representative or a member of the Food Team at Fáilte Ireland by emailing [email protected] To learn more about the initiative, visit failteireland.ie. To attend or participate in one of the numerous Taste the Island events, visit our website.

How many events are happening around the country?

"The Taste The Island campaign highlights more than 700 food and drink-related experiences taking place in 2019, reaching into every corner of the country. Over the next three years, Taste The Island’s programme will illustrate how many unique and exciting ways holidaymakers in Ireland can experience our wonderful hospitality and local produce under five themes: Food Trails and Networks, Meet the Makers, Festivals and Events, Make It Yourself and a Taste of Place. This is year one of the campaign and we have focused our efforts on working with the industry to develop new, and enhance existing food
and drink events and experiences to create an exciting and vibrant programme of events for the inaugural year of Taste The Island.

The campaign helps Fáilte Ireland address it’s regionality objectives and spread business beyond the tourist honeypots. In terms of extending Ireland’s tourism season, it’s proving to be a great stimulus; this time last year we had 16 food and drink events registered in the calendar, this Autumn, we have more than 300 dedicated food festivals and events and some wonderful accommodation offers to go along with them. Overall, we have 700 food & drink experiences for the consumer to choose from!

We are working with a number of partners such as the Irish Hotels Federation, Ireland’s Blue Book, B&B Ireland to present a wonderful array of short break options for the consumer this Autumn. We are
also working with all aspects of the food and drinks industry, from the producers to our pubs, cafés, restaurants and fabulous food trails to showcase the extensive range of things to do and visit as part of it."

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Mushroom foraging as part of Taste The Island.
Mushroom foraging as part of Taste The Island.

What has it been like to head up a campaign like this?

"This campaign is without a doubt a huge team effort. As well as having a central team, we have pulled in expertise from across Fáilte Ireland, as well as through Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland to bring Taste The Island to life. My hotel management background and years of working in the industry provide me with great enthusiasm for the potential and scope of an initiative like Taste The Island presents for the Irish hospitality sector.

We are also fortunate to be working with a committed and passionate industry. The creativity, breadth and depth of Ireland’s recent food and drink revolution presents a huge opportunity for us
to push out and really draw attention to the quality of our food and drink experiences, which is now as high, if not higher than well-established food destinations around the world. When you combine this campaign with what we’re already well regarded for – fantastic hospitality, our wonderful seascapes and landscapes which Fáilte Ireland has been promoting for years – we are now giving potential international visitors another great reason to come to Ireland, and for domestic visitors to get out and explore more of what we have to offer."

How would you describe the ethos behind the campaign?

"The enthusiasm, passion, creativity and energy that this initiative has been met with by the industry is so encouraging. The response has been amazing! Fáilte Ireland is certainly not lacking in its ambition and commitment to Taste The Island and, together with our partners Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland, we look forward to building an even bigger and better event for 2020 and beyond.

This year we are focusing on the domestic market, but the real step-change for Ireland's food and drink businesses is successfully taking this initiative overseas and bringing quality new business to Ireland.”

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A drink experience in Armagh.
A drink experience in Armagh.

What are some events that have caught your attention?

"There are so many to choose from, but here are some examples...

  • Kinsale Kids Kitchen Takeover, November 11-17th, Kinsale, Co Cork
  • The Copper Coast Plate: Meet the Makers, November 7-28th, Waterford City
  • The Howth Seafood Shuffle, September 1st-November 30th, Howth, Dublin"

Taste The Island is taking place all over Ireland until the end of November. Click here for more information.