A Voice from the Sea – Ireland is calling

St. Patrick's Call to Ireland

“the voice of the Irish” calling

The Irish sea was a place of terror for young Patrick who had been violently ripped from his family in ancient Roman Britannia by a band of Irish pirates and hauled off to a place that the Romans called Hibernia (meaning – the land of perceptual winter). He worked as a slave in what is now County Antrim in Northern Ireland, but hope was not lost. Through a God inspired dream, Patrick had seen a boat, and his possible means of escape from his years as a slave to Miliucc, the Celtic King of Antrim. This gave Patrick the courage to get up, leave his place of bondage and run away in hope of finding this sought after ‘dream boat’, which he eventually did after many dangerous days of travel through the ancient oak forests of Ireland.

Arriving at the south coast, after a long and difficult journey, Patrick boarded a ship, after convincing the captain to take him with them, and sails to Gaul – modern day France. Once in Gaul, he was back in familiar Roman ground and after sometime managed to find his way back to Britain and his northern home after many years of enslavement and hardship.

For many, this might mark the end of a fateful journey, but for Patrick, it was only the beginning as he encountered another dream where he was called back to the very people who had enslaved him. The story goes that one  night he dreamt that he was visited by an angel called Victorious, holding “countless letters” who hands over the mail to Patrick. As the letter is opened Patrick is stabbed in the heart by a voice near the Western Sea crying “We beg you to come and walk among us once more”. The voice of the Irish, fate was calling…

Our next adventures take us to Downpatrick and the landing of our patron saint back in Ireland that would see him transform from captor to apostle. Stay tuned!

Shamrock and Peach

Judith

Advertisements

To all Wild Irish Woman everywhere, St. Bridget and Roots of Hospitality

Pouring a Guinness

To Wild Irish Woman everywhere and the story of St. Bridget

Ireland’s legendary hospitality has many roots but on the first day of Spring, February 1st, we remember St. Bridget or Mary of the Gaels.

St. Bridget of Kildare is buried in Downpatrick, County Down beside our St. Patrick, and legend has it that Bridget defied her father, the King at royal matchmaking and gave away food to those in need – not the done thing. This started a life of hospitality, and Bridget would devote herself to giving and loving those all around her with the gracious gift of hospitality. Under a great oak (the sacred tree of the druids) Bridget founded her monastery in Kildare. It was here the sick were tended to, travelers were fed and poets, craftsmen and farmers were welcomed and their trades nurtured. you go girl!

This poem is associated with St. Bridget:

I should like a great lake of finest ale

For the King of Kings.

I should like a table of the choicest food

For the family of heaven.

Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,

And the food be forgiving love.

So I lift my glass to you St. Bridget for all you have taught us, and may your legacy continue in the hearts of the Irish in every corner of the world! To those who have not visited the shores of Ireland you will find a a hundred thousand welcomes, Cead Mile Failte awaits you!

Shamrock and Peach (Judie the Irish Foodie)

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Fall in love with Ireland in 2019

We are delighted to announce next years itinerary release. We strive to hand pick the best accommodations and destinations we can find in Ireland for our guests, and many of you who have been on past tours with Shamrock and Peach, will recognize some of the amazing accommodations in this video.

Next year we are excited to deliver the same Luxury Ireland to our guests from the stunning Antrim Coast to the Dingle Peninsula. North, south, east and west. In our Legendary Ireland tour of the North and West of Ireland where we offer you the 5 star Culloden Hotel and Spa, the 5 star Lough Erne Hotel and Spa and the Luxury Boutique Twelve Hotel in the West, voted the best hotel in Ireland in 2018. On our Southern Ireland tour we offer you Mount Juliet Estate and Spa in Kilkenny and dining at the Mitchell Star Lady Helen restaurant, the 5 Star Castlemartyr Hotel and Spa in Cork with dining at Ballymaloe House, and the fabulous Killarney Royal Hotel, featured in Ireland’s blue book – the gold standard for historic luxury resorts in Ireland.

Please check out our website for more details:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Slainte… we are excited, very excited!

Judith

Shamrock and Peach

 

A tale of two ladies – Juliet & Helen

We are savoring our last few hours at Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny, before heading to our next destination, and what an experience it has been! The welcome we received from our arrival has been second to none with a few guests on my tour are telling me they are not leaving this Irish paradise. With it’s elegant Manor house, built in 1757 and the beautiful grounds, stables and gardens, this is a beautiful lady indeed. As is the Michelin star awarded Restaurant, ‘The Lady Helen‘. Our tour group had the chance to dine in the Lady Helen last night, located inside the historic Manor House, and what a lady she is! Each course was better than the last, and yet again I amazed at the sheer inventiveness of Irish cuisine and the flavor of Irish produce, mot of which is produced on this Irish country estate, nestled in 1,500 acres of woodlands and lush gardens.

A big thanks also to Des McGrath another Mount Juliet legend and local character who shared the history of the estate with gusto, graciousness and a sparkle of Irish wit and charm – my guests loved it!  – The one bit of good news is that next week I am returning with a second group and I’m already hungry for more!

Judie the Irish foodie

Lough Erne Legendary Irish Elegance

Words cannot fully describe how we were royally treated at the Lough Erne Resort in Co. Fermanagh last week when our Legendary Irish tour.  We got to experience world class dining and accommodation staying at one of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious 5 Star resort.  Executive head chef and friend Noel McMeel rolled out the red carpet for our guests.  One of the most memorable meal experiences was the recreation of the menu served at the G8 summit.  Our guests got to taste the menu experienced by our world leaders, the very best of Irish cuisine.   Our guests were overwhelmed with the Lough Erne Hospitality  and the way we were treated by the restaurant servers and chefs will be a food memory to last a life time.  We feel so humbled and grateful to the team at the Lough Erne including Chef Noel McMeel and Chef Stephen and would like  to send out a personal applause and thankfulness to them.  This this Sunday I will embark on two back to back tours of Southern Ireland, but before we lunch our new venture I wanted to acknowledge our appreciation of the very best of Northern Irish hospitality!

Joy in the journey!

Judie the Irish Foodie

Foraging Walks and Irish Clovers

Augh….We are in the foodie destination heaven here in the grounds of Ashford Castle and the Lodge at Ashford Castle!  Our group got to steal Chef Jonathan Keane away on Father’s day on a foraging walk of the grounds and tour of the Polytunnels, vegetable and herbs garden.  Lucky for us we also got to dine in the famous Wilde’s restaurant for two evenings and experience the delicious flavors we had tasted, smelt and seen on our walk in a stunning settling, over the waters of Lough Corrib.  So, with full hearts and memories to last a lifetime we are departing Cong as we adventure further North on our Legendary Irish tour! Big thanks to Chef Jonathan and the team at the Lodge for such a brilliant stay yet again….

Judie the Irish foodie

Bluegrass meets Greengrass

Summer tours are off and running and what a kick off!  Starmakers Dance Academy from South Carolina took Ireland by storm!  In Larne, a port city in County Antrim, the links between South Carolina and Northern Ireland were celebrated and highlighted  – and with good cause, as the first immigrant ship left from this very port of Larne to the American colonies in 1718 carrying those pioneering first Scots-Irish settlers, and the influence of our rich Irish heritage was demonstrated right here with the art of clogging.  An art from that traces it’s roots directly to those Scots-Irish settlers, but now is a distinctly southern American dance.

We were generously hosted by the Mid-Antrim Council and greeted by the Lord Mayor’ with our group performing with the Antrim Coast Dance Academy where again,  the fusion and influence from the shores of Ireland to South Carolina became apparent.

Other high lights included the Titanic Center in Belfast, the Giants Causeway, Slieve League Cliffs, Devenish island and Trinity College Dublin.  We ended the tour with dancing in Ireland’s highest point at Johnny Fox’s Pub to complete our week of adventure and fun.

Tomorrow I meet a greet my second tour in Dublin airport and looking forward to more stories to share from the road!

Joy in the journey!

Judie the Irish foodie

Irish Pottery inspired by the Royal Wedding

Less than a week to go before the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle and I wanted to share the story of this Belleek Irish Pottery heart shaped basket that was inspired for the Royal occasion, made by Belleek using the Irish craftsmanship famous across the world.

The basket itself is full of symbolism, and ties between Ireland, England and the United States.  The Ribbon detail at the top of the basket signifies ‘tying the knot’ (an iron age Celtic wedding tradition).  The Roses are both the national flower of England and the United States. The peony is thought to be Meghan’s favorite flower and the Lilly of the valley is associated with the month of May. Oh, and an Irish Belleek basket would not be complete without a hand crafted Shamrock to wish them a lucky and happy marriage, or course!

So from the Shamrock and Peach, may we wish the happy couple well and many years of happiness.  Meanwhile the limited edition basket is for sale!

Here’s a video clip…

Judith the Irish foodie

Go Green for March

Irish Kale Salad Recipe

Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing and Crispy Shallots

I don’t know about y’all but all the winter and holiday eating has caught up with me and it’s time for me to Go Green and eat some healthy and ‘in season’ Kale. I mean, the recipe does call for Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Crispy Fried Shallots, but it sure beats the heck out of Fries and Butter Burgers?  It’s also the month of March where we celebrate our beautiful Emerald Isle and our patron Saint Patrick. So, here’s a healthy Salad with the goal of going green…

…and finally, in keeping with the theme, here’s a verse from one of my favorite artists and songs, written by Johnny Cash and Forty Shades of Green...

“I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea

From the fishing boats at Dingle to the shores of Dunardee

I miss the river Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen

The moorlands and the midlands with their forty shades of green”

Hers the recipe…

Kale Salad with a Warm Bacon Dressing and Crispy Fried Shallots

 Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ oz (5 cups) Kale (hard stalks removed and hand torn)
  • (for the dressing)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 slices uncured apple smoked bacon (finely chop)
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • (for the fried shallots)
  • 2 shallots (finely sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper

How to make it:

  1. Heat oil in skillet and crisp bacon. Remove bacon from the pan and set on plate lined with a paper towel.  Drain bacon fat from skillet leaving 1 Tbsp for a little flavor.
  2. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute to soften but not brown. Remove from heat and add vinegar, (being careful as pan may splutter some).  Gently shake the saucepan to mix.   Use as whisk to mix the mustard, sugar.  Add ground black pepper.  Finally whisk in the olive oil and gently heat on low.
  3. To make the fried shallots toss in the flour. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan or fryer to 360 degrees F.  Add the shallots in small batches so they do not stick together cooking for 10-12 minutes until they are really crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.   Season the shallots with a little salt and pepper.
  4. To serve toss the kale in the warm vinaigrette with the bacon.
  5. Serve right away and top each salad plate with a small handful of friend shallots and enjoy!

Judie the Irish Foodie

 

Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Ireland

We all know Ireland is a special place, but did you know about Newgrange on December 21st? – Now this is really special….

New Grange is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids and on December 21st ( the Winter Solstice) it is a symbol of light to our dark world. The Winter Solstice is the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.  The mound that you see in the picture covers a single tomb that consists of a long passage and a cross-shaped chamber. The Megalithic chamber was build for the Winter Solstice and when the run rises a shaft of light illuminates the chamber through an opening in the roof box. The actual purpose of the chamber is unclear, although recent research suggests it could of had an astronomical function, but whatever it was built for…it is amazing! How could stone age people have built such an amazing thing?

This year I lead a tour of American guests to NewGrange and the response was that of complete awe and fascination! Just like the ancient Celts we look for light and the sun to break forth in the midst of the Bleak Mid Winter!

…just amazing. Please check it out and I do hope everyone is enjoying the run up to Christmas – excitement is building!

Judie the Irish foodie