From spectacular seafood to hand-crafted beers and artisan produce, there's a foodie event around the country to suit everyone's tastebuds, writes Tanya Sweeney
Ballymaloe relish aside, we in Ireland are not quite known the world over for our supreme cuisine. Three words if you don't believe me: Tayto chocolate bar.
But that's not to say that we're not good at appreciating the finer gastro experiences in life. Whether you're a dyed-in-the-wool gastronome or a curious greenhorn wanting to challenge your tastebuds, there's a gourmet event in every corner of the country – and, so far, not a single Tayto chocolate bar in sight.
Wexford Food & Wine Festival
Co Wexford, May 22-26
For anyone curious about how food might have been cooked back in 500BC, the Wexford Food & Wine festival offers revellers a chance to find out. Good news: there's a crackling hog roast involved.
In another twist, the festival will host the Welsh Tent this year, featuring a number of specialist food producers. We also like the sound of Susan Boyle's (not that one) 'wine-tasting comedy show'. Keep an eye out for the many free workshops, too.
Details: See wexfordfoodfestival.ie.
Foynes Irish Coffee Festival
Foynes, Co Limerick, May 31-June 2
There are many people for whom coffee is much more than the murky brown liquid that helps us from bed to car each morning. Coffee lovers, this is just the weekend for you.
Enjoy busking on Foyne's main street, fancy dress, genealogy talks, the festival parade (with Alan Shortt as special guest), fireworks, a pet farm, a craft fair and a Michael Bublé tribute act.
You can also avail of a ringside seat for the Irish Coffee Making Championship Final; tickets €35.
Details: See foynesfestival.com.
A Taste Of Dublin
Iveagh Gardens, Dublin,
It's the Big Daddy of foodie festivals, and every name you can think of in Irish gastronomy will be present: think Rachel and Darina Allen, Derry Clarke, Clodagh McKenna, Ross Lewis, Neven Maguire, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Catherine Fulvio.
If that isn't enough, the chance to sample fare from award-winning eateries such as Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt, Brasserie Le Pont, Aniar, Wineport Lodge and Matt the Thresher certainly should be.
Details: See tasteofdublin.ie.
Wexford Strawberry Festival
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, June 28-30
Come June, we'll be slap bang in the middle of strawberry season, so make haste to Enniscorthy, where there are events aplenty planned. Already on the slate are Wexposé and the Wex Factor (see what they did there?).
Besides, any festival that involves strawberries, a teddy bears' picnic and a 'princess and superheroes disco' is worth checking out. Delorentos, Cry Before Dawn and The Original Rude Boys will provide the soundtrack.
Details: See strawberryfestival.ie.
Kenmare Food Carnival
Co Kerry, July 12-14
Last year's inaugural Kenmare Food Carnival went down a treat, and hopes are high this summer. From the carnival parade and gingerbread man puppet shows, to food-photography exhibits, pop-up restaurants and funfair rides, there's much to enjoy.
Details: See kenmarefoodcarnival.com.
Feile Bia Na Mara
Achill Island, Co Mayo,
Achill has long boasted a rich sea heritage, and the full gamut is laid on for visitors in its glory this weekend – the name translates as 'seafood festival', in case you were wondering.
While local chefs will be out in force, details of this year's special-guest chef are being kept under wraps.
Details: See feilenamara.com.
Carlingford Oyster Festival
Co Louth, August 8-11
It's back to Carlingford for the town's much-loved oyster festival. Known the world over, visitors partake in a heady schedule of events, including an oyster pearl hunt, world crab-fishing contest, oyster tent and sailing regatta.
Kids aren't left out of the fun, either: face painting, kayaking, a magic show and children's cookery demonstrations will keep them occupied.
Details: See carlingford.ie.
Lobster, Crab and
All That Jazz Festival
Dalkey, Dublin, August 23-25
If you do like to be beside the seaside, make haste to Dalkey, where chef competitions, a shellfish barbecue and a selection of global jazz musicians will help this family-friendly event run smoothly.
Details: See facebook.com/
Doolin Irish Craft Beer and Food Festival
Co Clare, August 23-25
The Doolin Craft Beer festival celebrates all that is hops-based. Enjoy hand-crafted tipples from Carlow Brewing, Galway Hooker, White Gypsy and the Franciscan Well.
A hog roast, barbecue and cheese stall will partner up well with the beer, while revellers listen to sets from the Ceili Bandits, Sumbrella, Bushplant and trad up-and- comers Socks In The Frying Pan.
A Taste Of Donegal
Donegal Town, Co Donegal, August 23-25
Neven Maguire and Kevin Dundon will repair up north for this bayside festival. The itinerary is heaving with cookery demonstrations aplenty, as well as wine and beer tasting.
Also in tow are a number of local food producers and restaurateurs, while the weekend will culminate in a fireworks display over Donegal Bay.
Details: See atasteofdonegal.com.
Westport Food Festival
Co Mayo, September 6-8
The summer may be over, but that doesn't mean that the gourmand-flavoured shenanigans can't carry on.
Over in Co Mayo, the Westport Food Festival gang take all things gastro very seriously; this weekender even features a one-day business talk for anyone considering a move into the foodie business.
Aside from that, it's lashings of great food, drink and entertainment.
Details: See westportfoodfestival.com.
Waterford Harvest Food Festival
Co Waterford, September 9-15
The folks behind this festival profess to be passionate about healthy, good food, so expect to learn plenty about growing your own and the art of slow-food cooking.
With plenty on offer to keep kids entertained, grown-ups can enjoy restaurant trails, jazz gigs, harvest jigs and a celebrity cook-off.
Details: See waterfordharvestfestival.ie.
Clarenbridge Oyster Festival
Co Galway, September 13-15
A stone's throw (okay, a stone's pelt) from the City of the Tribes, Clarenbridge in Galway is known as a prime oyster-breeding ground.
Since 1954, the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival has celebrated the sea's bounty with food, dancing, music and plenty of old- fashioned craic.
There's even a prize for the festival's best-dressed lady.
Details: See clarenbridge.com.
For a full menu of food festivals and events go to discoverireland.ie/food