day 46, thursday

Today was our school day out. I was thinking Magical Mystery Tour (and had The Beatles music going round in my head every time I thought about it) only we knew where we were going. Well, if you knew Ireland you would have known where you were going. So that left me still thinking Magical Mystery Tour!

We had to be ready to board the bus at 7.45am (wearing warm clothes and sensible shoes and to take rain gear). All aboard, we left at 8.00 to visit Frank Hederman at the Balvelly Smoke House where he smokes organic salmon, mussels, eel and mackerel in the traditional way. We got to taste but I already knew how good it was cos I’d taken some home recently.

Next stop Mahon Point Farmers Market! Lots of local artisan and specialist food producers selling meat, poultry, fish, cheese, veg, etc, and where we had a mid-morning snack (which could have been breakfast or lunch). We chose what we wanted from a list and I was having dhal with rice. It hit the spot.

Onwards to Co. Tipperary to visit award winning farmhouse cheese makers Jane and Louis Grubb who created Cashel Blue Cheese in 1984. They also make Crozier Blue, a sheep’s milk cheese, which I took home recently too. Delicious!

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Quick lunch (or maybe afternoon tea?) and then off to Lismore to visit O’Briens Chop House (think gastropub) and The Summer House (cafe and shop owned by ex-Ballymaloe student) who both talked to us about how they started their business. Both great places and on the list to visit soon!

Last but not least was McGrath’s Craft Butchers, also in Lismore. Michael McGrath talked to us about his meat and then took us through to his abattoir. This was very small – maybe five animals in a day. I’m sure this is less distressing for the animals than the huge places you see on TV.

Back to Ballymaloe by about 7.00pm. A great time was had by all and the clothing advice was absolutely right – it felt like we had all the seasons in one day!

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