IRELAND has enhanced its growing reputation as a foodies' paradise, after being officially recognised as the home of Europe's tastiest sausages.
Two Donegal brothers, Ernan and Diarmuid McGettigan, will be officially crowned the continent's best sausage makers in an elaborate ceremony next weekend.
The craft-butcher siblings, who run Michael McGettigan & Sons in Donegal town, beat off hundreds of other entries from across Europe to take the top award with their hickory and maple banger.
And on Saturday they will receive the highest honour from an elite French gourmet brotherhood, when they are 'knighted' and inducted into their exclusive order.
Eight French guardians of the 'Commanderie des Fins Goustiers du Duce d'Alencon' will travel from their base in Normandy to Ireland today. They will hand out a number of carefully selected 'knighthoods' to Ireland's top food producers and top chef Neven Maguire.
The French gourmet knights, the globe's foremost custodians of sausages and white pudding, will don traditional robes and headgear before parading through Donegal town and knighting the brothers with a big brass fork and griddle.
Ernan McGettigan (55), whose father Michael (82) still helps develop secret recipes for the 25 different sausages they sell, said: "This means that we are home of the best sausage in Europe and that is a tremendous honour for us. We're thrilled by this and as we've plans to start exporting our sausages to Europe, this will help us enormously.
"We've won national awards before in Ireland, but this is the big one and it's the first time it's been won by anyone from Ireland."
Top-selling French guidebook 'Le Guide du Routard' recently described Irish cuisine as a match for anywhere else in the world.