ely’s 15th Year Celebrations – Down on the Farm
On Tuesday 23rd September, to kick off ely’s 15th year celebrations, a gang of us slipped on our wellies, tucked our ponchos into our bags and headed out for a fun filled and insightful trip to the ely organic family farm in the Burren, Co. Clare.
The day started bright and early at 8am with the warming scent of homemade sausage rolls and brownies laid out for breakfast at ely bar & brasserie, IFSC. Fed, watered and one chorus of Irish mammy style “make sure you go to the restroom before we leave” later and we were off on the 3 hour luxury coach to Clare. Our first stop found us outside of the coach and inside our TV boxes, at “Craggy Island Parochial House”.
Father Ted’s house, the McCormacks’ organic farm, is where all of ely’s delicious organic lamb is reared. Cheryl McCormack, the lovely lady of the house, treated the gang to scrumptious home baking using only organic ingredients; scones, brown bread, home made jams made from their own fruit, organic tea and coffee, served in a welcoming home atmosphere. Patrick McCormack, the first speaker of the day, so eloquently recited the poem “Lost” and discussed the simplicity and passion of a simple Burren farm life along with a much needed reminder, to always try to take a little “Burren time” for ourselves, in our fast paced and busy lives.
“Stand still. Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you. Are not lost.” – David Wagoner
The beauty of farming in the Burren, Co. Clare lies in the fact that it has been farmed in the same fashion for 6,000 – 7,000 years. We then visited a site, which to the naked eye might have just seemed like grass, rock and shrubbery, but which was in fact the home to rare and unique Burren flora and fauna. Paula and Sharon from the Burren Life Project spoke to the group about the importance of Burren landscape preservation, the difficulties that organic Burren farming faces and the strict grazing methods being used to counteract these difficulties.
Following this, in true Irish fashion, the clouds began to darken and the drizzle appeared. With a few rumbling tummies and rain jackets zipped up to the neck, we hopped back in to the coach and headed off to the home of Hugh and Isobel Robson, the organic ely family farm, for a much anticipated farm lunch. Having worked up an appetite, we were in for a treat. What awaited us was a feast of Burren produce featuring organic Burren beef tongue with black truffles, organic porchetta rolled in local Burren herbs and succulent organic Burren rib, all from the ely family farm. We also enjoyed nori, dillisk and kombu smoked organic salmon from the Burren Smokehouse and homemade MOPE (Most Oppressed People Ever) potato cakes from the Burren Spud Project, all accompanied with salads, quiche, artisan Burren cheeses, ely’s homemade Guinness bread and 7-day pickled eggs. Deirdre from the Burren Spud project spoke about the importance of the humble potato in the global food crisis while Birgitta from the Burren Smokehouse spoke about combining her love of the west of Ireland with her passion for organic smoked salmon. All of this wonderful food for thought was washed down with Irish craft beers such as Orpens Irish Cider, O’ Haras Curim Gold and Trouble Brewing’s Sabotage IPA and enjoyed with wine favourites such as Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage Blanc and Thalran Syrah Castell d’Encus.
A tour and insight into the organic ely family farm from Hugh Robson finished off nicely, what was an extremely special day out for us in the Burren, Co. Clare. We, at ely, were extremely privileged to share with our guests, the passion that our Burren community, friends and family feel about all of the different work that they are engaged in.
To experience ely’s organic family farm in The Burren, Co. Clare, without having to leave Dublin, visit any of our 3 ely venues.