Donegal Town was blessed with glorious weather over the three days. The pier was transformed into a beautiful tented village with a dramatic backdrop of Donegal Bay and The Bluestack Mountains. It was a happy sight to see locals, tourists and traders smiling in the sunshine as they mingled together, sampling the culinary delights of Donegal and beyond. The party atmosphere was enhanced with performances by ‘Ireland’s Dean Martin’- Adrian Cullen, singing chefs, roving clowns, street entertainers and fabulous fireworks.
‘A Taste of Donegal’ is also a celebration of great people who come together in a spirit of collaboration and friendship. Credit is due to the hard working committee led by chairman Ernan Mc Gettigan and his wife Mary. The event is always well supported by sponsors and by local volunteers, many of whom work behind the scenes before, during and after the event, to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
There was great interest in the 2016 ‘A Passion to Inspire’ cookery competition, open to all chefs in the region. According to the judges, the standard of cooking was extremely high. We have an amazing pool of talent in terms of chefs who aspire to culinary excellence and who are keen to support their local artisan producers. We are fortunate to have Killybegs Tourism College on our doorstep, whose graduates include some of the most creative chefs in Ireland. The college has been educating tourism professionals since the 1950s and is today part of Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
Local food tourism initiatives such as ‘A Taste of Donegal’ present us with a platform to fly the flag for our region and position us as a high quality and competitive tourism destination with food as one of our unique selling points. There are over 20 restaurants and 10 cafes / coffee houses in Donegal Town and its surrounds. It is most encouraging to note that there are a number of new restaurants opening in the area. Existing restaurants are being renovated and there is an air of positivity all around. Our industry is dedicated to making memorable food experiences, which evoke a sense of place, culture and hospitality.
I truly believe that Donegal Town has evolved into a destination whereby there is a common goal to attract and welcome visitors from all over the world. The Wild Atlantic Way has given us a strong marketing hook that is opening doors for Donegal and the North West as an exciting new place to visit. ‘A Taste of Donegal’ has brought together a network of industry players that are committed to working towards promoting a vibrant and dynamic food culture in our region.
Winning the coveted ‘Foodie Destination of Ireland’ title for 2017 would greatly enhance our profile among food lovers and give Donegal Town a competitive edge, not just for the summer season, but all year round. Now is the time to keep the momentum going, join forces and work together to position Donegal Town and the surrounding area as the ultimate foodie destination of Ireland.
Donegal…Pride of All.