Jackie Dawson, of Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business, is in a good position to provide an overview of food tourism in the town.
“We are very, very lucky to be in the position we are through the work of the Good Food Circle,” says Jackie, “and all the restaurant owners who work collaboratively.
“Kinsale is obviously a place where restaurateurs and food lovers choose to come and set up because of the reputation— you wouldn’t, for example, set up in Courtmacsherry, unless you’d done the numbers really well. Here we provide the connectivity and the footfall. People come to Kinsale for the food reputation, we bring the numbers. From a food tourism point of view, it is definitely on the map. Reputation and quality are hugely important and the Kinsale Good Food Circle serves as its own benchmark, if you like.
“And though not all restaurants are members of that, ALL of the local restaurants are very good at maintaining standards, especially in the area of local provenance. And we are proud of being Transition Town, Kinsale and one of the first towns in Ireland to have a Fairtrade mark. Obviously with all the activities, on land and water, and the history and culture of Kinsale, it’s not all about food but food is a really im- portant part of the message about Kinsale. And, crucially, it gives the jobs and training to Kinsale. All our teenagers get summer work and often go on to careers in catering and hospitality. Everyone somewhere is connected to the hospitality industry in Kinsale.
“Plus, there are new influences coming back into the town all the time: Daniel Horgan coming back to Man Friday; Paul McDonald, of Bastion, bringing his experience; Martin Shanahan is constantly travelling, always in London or Barcelona or elsewhere, constantly gaining more experience and knowledge and bringing it back. We have to know and understand our market. And while we have people coming from capital cities all over the world, in Europe, Scandinavia, the US, there is a mix of wanting to be like others but also of being unique, of being ourselves, and using our unique provenance, holding our own, having our own identity for exquisite Irish cuisine, but this new knowledge keeps it fresh and modern and giving new techniques to the staff.”
Guests enjoying a magnificent meal at The Steakhouse, Kinsale.
Daisy Lynch, Therese Hurley, and Ingrid Kelly enjoying the 2016 Guinness Kinsale Fringe Jazz Festival. Picture: John Allen