KENMARE man Patrick Sweeney has been collecting wild mushrooms since the 1980s but even he got a bit of a surprise recently when he made a very exceptional discovery on his travels.
It came in the shape of a massive 'cauliflower mushroom' and even his regular scales couldn't cope with a specimen that eventually came in at a massive 11.1lbs. It's edible too and the local trader said it certainly caught him by surprise.
"I'd do a fair bit of searching in the local woods, it's really a hobby, and I came across this one back near Lauragh on the Castletownbere Road," he revealed. "It was in a very dark wood and there were chanterelle mushrooms nearby, which I had originally set out in search of, but this one was a bit special."
Patrick's interest in mushrooms started back in 1989 when former head chef of The Park Hotel, the late Matt d'Arcy, asked him to source chanterelles.
"I started in wash-up there and Matt just called me in one day and had a chanterelle in his hand. He said there was an extra few bob in it for me if I wanted to go out and find these mushrooms," he added.
Patrick said he kept the interest up largely as a hobby but had never come across a mushroom weighing over 11lbs.
"I found it near pine, which is where the cauliflower mushrooms are typically found and, while you'd come across a lot, you would never get them this size," he said.
"It's perfectly edible if a little bland but I've had it with smoked bacon and that's tasty!"