Monday 22 July 2019

Revealed: Ireland's best breakfasts - 'Cinderellas of the culinary scene'

Irish Breakfast Awards 2018

Georgina Campbell with Sean Kelly of Kelly's Butchers of Newport Co. Mayo. Photo: Paul Sherwood
Georgina Campbell with Sean Kelly of Kelly's Butchers of Newport Co. Mayo. Photo: Paul Sherwood
The Tipperary Breakfast. Photo: Kevin Thornton
Georgina Campbell (Centre) with Deirdre McGlone and Noel Cunningham of Harvey's Point. Photo: Paul Sherwood
Mary Wall (left) of Hanora's Cottage with Georgina Campbell
Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo.
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But could it become the most important meal for Irish food tourism?

That was just one of the propositions served up at Georgina Campbell's second annual Irish Breakfast Awards, held in association with Fáilte Ireland.

Breakfast is a modest, "personal meal," Campbell told guests at Dublin's InterContinental Hotel yesterday, "the Cinderella of the Irish culinary scene".

"How often have you had a wonderful dinner in a hotel, only to be disappointed by breakfast?" she asked.

"Our winners can inspire others to up their game and ultimately, we hope, lead to everyone being able to enjoy an authentic breakfast experience that reflects the locality... It all comes down to the ingredients."

Best Irish Breakfast: 5-star hotel

  • Winner: Ashford Castle, Co Mayo
  • Highly Commended: Hayfield Manor, Cork
  • Highly Commended: The Marker Hotel, Dublin

Best Irish Breakfast: 4-star Hotel

  • Winner: Gregans Castle Hotel, Co Clare
  • Highly Commended: Harvey’s Point, Co Donegal (above)
  • Highly Commended: Beech Hill Country House Hotel, Derry

Best Irish Breakfast: 3-star Hotel

Georgina Campbell (Centre) with Deirdre McGlone and Noel Cunningham of Harvey's Point. Photo: Paul Sherwood
Georgina Campbell (Centre) with Deirdre McGlone and Noel Cunningham of Harvey's Point. Photo: Paul Sherwood
  • Winner: Greenhills Hotel, Limerick
  • Highly Commended: Schull Harbour Hotel, Co Cork
  • Highly Commended: Nox Hotel, Galway

Best Irish Breakfast: Country House

  • Winner: Longueville House, Mallow, Co Cork
  • Highly Commended: Carrig Country House & Restaurant, Co Kerry
  • Highly Commended: Whitepark House, Co Antrim

Best Irish Breakfast: Guesthouse

  • Winner: Hanora’s Cottage, Co Waterford
  • Highly Commended: Butler House, Kilkenny
  • Highly Commended: The Olde Post Inn, Co Cavan

Best Irish Breakfast: B&B

  • Winner: Archways B&B, Co Wexford
  • Highly Commended: Coill Dara House B&B, Co Sligo
  • Highly Commended: Castle Murray House, Co Donegal

Best Irish Breakfast: Visitor Attraction

  • Winner: The Crawford Gallery Café, Cork
  • Highly Commended: The Garden Café @ Avoca, Co Wicklow
  • Highly Commended: Glenarm Castle Tea Room, Co Antrim

Best Irish Breakfast: Brunch

  • Winner: Firehouse Bakery & Café, Co Wicklow
  • Highly Commended: Ely Bar & Brasserie, Dublin
  • Highly Commended: Gather Restaurant, Co Galway

The Irish breakfast is having a moment, with visitor numbers on the rise and a boom in brunch options and new takes on the traditional themes - Kevin Thornton's recent reboot of the Tipperary Breakfast (below), for example.

"Breakfast is the last meal people have before they leave," commented Darina Allen, speaking at the awards. "It's an incredible opportunity."

An Irish breakfast survey launched in tandem with the awards found that almost two thirds of respondents (62.3pc) rated the traditional Irish Breakfast highly, while over 65pc saw a good breakfast as ‘a point of pride’.

The Tipperary Breakfast. Photo: Kevin Thornton
The Tipperary Breakfast. Photo: Kevin Thornton

Growing numbers of Irish menus are citing local producers, the survey found - important in telling area food stories, linking accommodation and attractions with their culture and landscape, and encouraging visitors to engage more deeply.

Many visitors coming to Ireland expect "a typical fry", said Tara Kerry, Hospitality Manager at Fáilte Ireland. Awareness of the variety and quality of Irish food needs to grow, she added, with breakfast a cornerstone of a "world-class" food offering. 

This January, Fáilte Ireland launched a five-year Food Tourism Strategy aiming to boost visitor food and drink spend by €400m by 2023.

"The starting point for that will be breakfast," Kerry said.

Campbell's Irish Breakfast Awards aim to link the best Irish producers with those who serve their food - and several breakfast food award-winners featured on a breakfast plate (below) at the InterContinental, which hosted the event.

Local foods "can lift this simple meal into an expression of the local land - and seascape - and we want to see more of them on Irish breakfast menus,” she said.

Irish Breakfast Food Awards 2018

  • Meats: Kelly’s Artisan Butchers, Newport, Co Mayo
  • Fish: Connemara Smokehouse, Ballyconneely, Co Galway
  • Cereals: The Foods of Athenry, Athenry, Co Galway
  • Dairy: Cuinneog Irish Farmhouse Butter, Ballina, Co Mayo
  • Preserves: G’s Gourmet Jams, Abbeyleix, Co Laois

Aherne's Seafood Restaurant & Accommodation in Youghal, Co Cork won the 'Irish Bread Award', while Currarevagh House in Oughterard, Co. Galway, won 'Best Welcome Standard', in other gongs announced at the ceremony.

The awards were also supported by RTE Lyric FM.

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