00:00 Saturday 27 September 2008  Written by Carol Gilbert

Thousands enjoy A Taste of West Cork in Skibbereen

THIS year's very successful A Taste of West Cork Food Festival came to a close last Sunday evening following a day when thousands thronged Skibbereen's Fairfield in brilliant sunshine, enjoying all that was on offer.

Whilst there was an abundance of fine local artisan food, the core of this festival, there was much more to enjoy with great music, lots of entertainment for children and a variety of demonstrations in Abbeystrewry Hall by the ladies of the country market.

New for this year, the Cooking Theatre's hourly demonstrations, proved to be one of the most popular events, with a great line-up of chefs, including the entertaining Mary O'Brien, Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen Farmhouse, celebrity chef and television presenter Clodagh McKenna, David Crabtree Logan of The Mews, Baltimore, and last year's Mayor of Skibbereen, Brendan McCarthy.

Saturday's extended farmers market was equally successful with a fine array of brightly-coloured vegetables, which will look good on camera. RTE's 'Nationwide' filmed in the town for the day, interviewing some producers in the market, butcher Tom Walsh in his shop, filming Clodagh McKenna's cookery demonstration in Field's SuperValu and Sonia Caldwell's children's workshops in Skibbereen Youth Café.

Friday's sold-out Dog Tail Soup concert, featuring Fergus O'Farrell and Camilla Griehsel, vocals; Colin Vearnecombe, aka Black, vocals, guitar, banjo; Maurice Seezer, piano, accordion; Bertrand Galen, cello; Darren McCarthy, bass; Anthony Noonan, drums, and Gareth Forsyth, guitar, with special guests Jessie Kennedy, vocals, guitar, and Mick O'Callaghan, vocals, guitar, and Pauline Cotter in the finalé was a storming success with encores galore and, hopefully, the group will be back in Skibbereen soon.

STORIES

Stories from the Soil, Stories from the Sea, presented by West Cork LEADER Co-op were informative, entertaining and extremely noteworthy, featuring Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery; Frank Fleming, fisherman; Paul Johnson, Traditional Meat Company; Bill Hogan, West Cork Natural Cheese Company; Jean Domican, Buns 'n' Stuff, and food historian Diarmuid Ó Drisceoil. During the festival, West Cork LEADER Co-op also launched their electronic format Perspectives of the West Cork Regional Brand and their West Cork Food map of the region.

The Gate Theatre's acclaimed 'Waiting for Godot,' another sold-out event, kicked off this year's festival. Celebrity chef Neven Maguire judged this year's schools cookery competition and promised to come back for three days next year.

The pub table quiz, all questions food related, attracted no less than twenty-four tables of competitors, and with the in-store food and wine tasting, the Domestic Godless, the Arts Centre film nights, opening the Masonic Hall and up to fifty people taking part in the historical walks, it is no wonder A Taste of West Cork Food Festival is so successful.

REPUTATION

With such a variety of festival events and the ever-widening reputation of West Cork's food producers, it's not surprising visitors from across the globe visited Skibbereen over the six day festival to sample what was on offer. They came from Australia, New Zealand, U.S., U.K., France, Spain, Holland, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.

The festival committee thanked all their sponsors, as without their support, the event could not have taken place. They also thanked all the individuals, groups, businesses, bands and musicians who came on board to give so generously of their time and skills.

Winners in the Sunday market entry ticket draw were Gwen of Gwen's chocolates who won a flight for two people over West Cork courtesy of JK Baltimore Diving and Watersports; Janet Twomey won the whalewatchwestcork whale watching trip; Sheila Pierce won a week's self-catering accommodation in Pier Holiday Homes and M. Henderson won the two-night stay in the Boathouse, Inish Beg.

Photographs of the festival will be posted up on the www.skibbereen.ie website shortly and the 'Nationwide' programme will go out next month. The date will be advertised in Seen and Heard.

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