Over 800,000 Christmas puddings made in Carlow winging their way around the world

It took 400 tonnes of sultanas to make the puddings

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

news@carlowlive.ie

Carlow Carlow Carlow

Brian Seery and wife Lorraine

Staff at an Irish bakery which this year produced over 800,000 Christmas puddings for the domestic, UK and Dutch market are finally getting into holiday mode after months of hard graft.

The 70 plus staff at Seery’s Bakery in Carlow are close to finishing packing up the last of this year’s Christmas puddings, most of them traditional one pound weight desserts.

It took 400 tonnes of sultanas, several tonnes of free range eggs, butter, sugar and flour mountains and much more to make the puddings this year.

It’s been all hands on deck at the Tinryland bakery and Seery’s Graiguecullen distribution hub in what is affectionately dubbed Carlow – the Culinary Christmas Capital of Ireland.  

The town and surrounding hinterland already boasts nationally-renowned attractions such as the Arboretum Christmas Village, The Santa Train Experience at Rathwood, Christmas at Huntington Castle and the fabulous Christmas Farmers Market.

The month-long County Carlow – a Festive Family Experience – are now well underway and this Thursday, Carlow Culinary Christmas begins.

From December 6 to 8, all things food-related in the county will be celebrated. And Seery’s domination in the Christmas treats market is literally the icing on the cake and helps boost the county’s appeal as a Culinary Christmas hub as well as a popular destination for the culinary curious.

“We’ve imported 400 tonnes of sultanas from Turkey, just for this year’s puddings,” Brian Seery explained.

“That’s a 40ft container arriving into our bakery in Tinryland every 15 days. While we do puddings of all sizes, the traditional, pound weight is still the most popular.

“We make the own brand puddings for the leading supermarket chains but we’re delighted to have worked with top chefs such as Kevin Dundon.

"We have worked with him on his grandmother’s recipe and have helped him produce that for a mass market. Traditional Christmas puddings made in people’s kitchens are steamed for 5 to 6 hours.

"We’ve employed the same process in our bakery – we’re just doing it on a far bigger scale using Grade A dried fruit and the very best of ingredients.”

The Carlow-made desserts are available across Ireland through Musgrave’s Super Valu and Centra shops, Dunnes Stores and Tesco. Even more are now on the shelves of Asda stores across the UK and Albert Heijn’s 800 shops across The Netherlands.

This year, the export market has grown steadily and now accounts for 55 per cent of trade. It’s a fitting boost as the Seery family celebrates 30 years in business next year and just as they open their pop-up Christmas confectionary shop at the Tinryland bakery.

Brian’s wife, Lorraine, runs the pop up shop and is one of many Carlow-based entrepreneurs taking part inCATALYST,  a new 3-year (2018-2020) Interreg cross-border project to support the Food & Drink & Life Science sectors across Ireland and Wales.

She said: “Our success story shows you can set up a business anywhere, once you have the right team. Carlow is a fantastic location, close to Dublin and well serviced by road and rail. The new motorway is fantastic. It’s a hive of ambition and innovation and our location has been key to our success.

“We’re passionate about what we do. Carlow is a fantastic county with a very strong food heritage and culture. We have amazing food producers, excellent restaurants, cafes and hotels. And we’re proud to welcome people from all over Ireland to Carlow, particularly at Christmas time.”

As life at Seery’s quietens down a little, the festive buzz across Carlow is about to significantly increase. This year’s family-focused, inclusive celebrations include the sparkling Duckett’s Grove Christmas Food and Craft Fair, the Carlow Culinary Christmas festival featuring Rachel Allen, Martin Shanahan, Chef Adrian, comedian, Karl Spain, and more as well as an unmissable, indoor Winter Market and Carols by Candlelight.

Carlow County Council CE, Kathleen Holohan, said: “This year Carlow has added some really magical events and offerings to appeal to all our communities and to make the festive period a special time of year.

"Carlow is fast becoming a coveted destination for festive fun and food. We’re very lucky to have excellent food producers, a thriving café, bar and restaurant culture, quality hotels and accommodation providers.

"Carlow really is a homely, safe, easily accessible and unique destinations and we really go all out for the festive season. I look forward to a record-breaking 2018 in Carlow," she said.

For more on County Carlow – a Festive Family Experience log on to or log onto www.facebook.com/ CarlowChristmas  or  www.localenterprise.ie/carlow