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25/09/2021

Carlow’s tasty discovery trail has launched

Artisan food and beverage producers in Carlow have teamed up with a host of heritage “big house” and castle owners to provide tourists with a new offering from the belly of Ireland.

A new discovery trail has been launched for Irish staycationers this week which links Carlow’s new wave of artisan food and beverage producers with the county’s mythical heritage. The Taste In Carlow Discovery Trail is a guide to 26 of the hidden food and beverage gems in the county, from unique producers to food adventures and quirky experiences.

Maria Couchman, Business Advisor with Carlow County Council’s Local Enterprise Office says the trail has been launched to wrap Carlow’s food and beverage story into one cohesive offering for local staycationers, food lovers and cross county travellers seeking out new experiences. In time, it will also cater for the curious, cultural adventurers from abroad.

“The trail offers people a chance to design their own food and beverage itinerary, according to their own tastes, with lots of adventures and unusual discoveries along the way,” says Maria, who is project lead on the initiative which has been funded under the Accelerated Town and Village Fund through the Department of Rural and Community Development.

“The Sunny South-East has offered the ideal climate for produce for generations and our food producers have a long history of hard work, innovation and a strong connection to the land. But it’s not a story that has ever been shared – until now,” she says.

Along with the food and beverage producers, the county celebrates a wide selection of heritage “big houses” with lush gardens to walk, many of which are now quirky and history-soaked restaurants with accommodation.

One such location is Huntington Castle, with its garden, farm, playground and tearoom and - ghosts. But the real must-see surprise is in its basement in the form of a temple devoted to the Egyptian Goddess Isis, built in the 1970s by the writer, artist and priestess, the late Olivia Melian Durdin-Robertson.

Eateries on the Carlow trail are far from dull too, with outlets such as Lennon’s at the Visual Arts Centre, Teach Dolmain, Sha-Roe Bistro, Seven Oaks Hotel, The Step House Hotel, Ballykealey House and the Plum Tree Bistro at The Woodford Dolmen Hotel.

“Carlow has a strong affinity with hard work. Generation after generation, these are hardworking people who toil on the land and can turn it into something amazing,” says Maria.

Some of those people are found at the organic-only Coolanowle Foodhall or Carlow Farmers Market, where you will often see the nettle or goats milk varieties from Carlow Farmhouse Cheese and the colours of Malone Fruit Farm.

Nowadays, Carlow is home to export products like Sunshine Juice, and Gaelic Escargot which has put Carlow on the map as the innovative home of snail farming in Ireland,” says Maria.

The county’s ancient roots are seen too in the skill of foraging which has never been lost and is celebrated and taught through The Blackstairs Eco Trail where you can learn to find, cook and eat whatever Mother Nature has placed on her leafy table.

Download the trail map at tasteincarlow.ie.

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