My First Book

I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to write this blog post. Well, since about mid-November 2016 to be correct. Ever since it properly sank in that I had just been commissioned to write a book. Well, a guide. A guide book. My first book!

I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to write this blog post. Well, since about mid-November 2016 to be correct. Ever since it properly sank in that I had just been commissioned to write a book. Well, a guide. A guide book. My first book!

Having been sworn to a thinly veiled secrecy about any details about it right up until it’s launch of it on Thursday last week (22nd June), I have had to keep this project under lock and key – and I am someone who finds it very difficult to keep good news to themselves. All I wanted to do was talk about this opus I was busy creating!

Even at the point of the official launch photoshoot surrounded by PR and those wearing medals of office, to the launch event itself in Vertigo – the room with a 360 degree view at the very top of the high rise Cork County Council offices, surrounded by the very people who I admire for crafting tremendous things to eat, with beautiful words of praise and thanks being heaped upon me and feeling incredibly awkward at the same time – it still hasn’t sunk in!


I realise I have come this far in the blog post without actually telling you what this book is! Well, it’s full and proper title is: “A Taste of West Cork Food Festival: Artisan Food Guide – a definitive guide to the best artisan food producers, farmers’ markets and speciality food shops from Bandon to Beara” – phew, a mouthful, wha’?


I’ve been a fan of the Festival ever since I settled in West Cork. Nowadays it takes place over 10 days in early September and covers the breadth of West Cork over many towns, villages and islands. Last year there were 188 events, this year there will be over 200! It has won Best Festival in Ireland and countless number of recognition and awards. It has a stalwart of a Chairperson in Helen Collins whose love of West Cork is unmatched (even by mine), who has grown the festival over the past 4 years of her direction to the best Festival in Ireland. Her colleague, friend and personal counsel is Fiona Field – someone whose eye for design and attention to detail is beyond compare.

It’s not that often that there is a meeting of minds and the synchronicity of fate to bring those minds together. As someone whose foundation stone for creating was to champion local food producers and to get people using the beautiful foods created in our region daily, I had already noted on the mental post-it notes that are “The Business Plan” that I would work up some sort of directory for Food Producers.

Roughly at about the same time, it seems, Helen and Fiona has noted that outside of the Festival, there wasn’t a definitive guide for locals and visitors alike to be able to know, find and visit our amazing food producers at anytime of the year. With this kernel of an idea, they went looking for funding which came through Cork County Council and Taste Cork thanks to the council’s CEO Tim Lucey.

With the idea fixed and funding secured, next they needed someone to write it. In mid-November I was invited to a chat over a cuppa with Helen and Fiona. This was the fateful day that they pitched their idea to me and asked if I would be interested in writing it for them.

To say I almost bit the hand off of Helen is probably an understatement! It was as though the universe had stumbled upon my mental post-it note and decided for me that this was something I really, really should do!

I began researching and writing the manuscript in late January this year. By early May the manuscript was finalised and we went into editing and design mode. The printed copies flew hot off the press on Tuesday 20th June and they were being eagerly picked up and picked over at the official launch just two days later. Down to the wire is an understatement.

Launch 4 The result is over 100 food producers and 40 or so speciality food shops and farmers’ markets encased within 80+ pages of a guide complete with maps, directory containing information about each producer, shop, market; information about visiting, contact information and where to buy. There is also a suggested itinerary for each section of who to visit and for what.

It is a guide that is as useful for local people as it is for visitors from home and abroad. It’s vibrant, clearly laid out and, most importantly to me, it is written like a story…a whole raft of mini-stories about place and people and great food!


And I am very proud of it! It may not be a book in the traditional sense, but to me it is my first book. One off the bucket list!

So, where can you get a copy?

Well, like with all quality publications, there is a price to purchase – but it’s just €5 – one of them small blue notes or a wee pile of coins, that’s all! It’s going to be available across West Cork and in the City too. The Festival Committee are working up a list of stockists at the moment that is growing. I will add details of Stockists below as and when they are confirmed.

Please buy a copy and support the work of the Festival, all our local food producers and myself as well – it would mean the world to me to have your support!
If you do buy a copy, email me: and let me know what you think.

Thank You: to all the producers who are so inspiring; Helen Collins and Fiona Field who do such important work through the medium of the Festival and for Cork Co Council and Taste Cork for supporting the project with vital funds. And finally, to Fintan O’Connell of who was the driving force behind the creativity and bringing my idea of a “hand made book” to life in such great quality design and print.


ARTISAN FOOD GUIDE – Available a from the following shops:
Aylmers Newsagents Bantry
Bandon Books, Bandon
Bantry Tourist Office, Bantry
Fields Supervalu, Skibbereen
Hickeys Newsagents, Skibbereen
Mannings Emporium, Ballylickey
McCarthy Newsagents Clonakilty

The Olive Branch, Clonakilty
McCarthy Newsagents, Macroom
Meades Newsagents Clonakilty
O’Farrell’s Newsagents , Bandon
Olives West Cork at various farmers markets across West Cork
Time Travellers Bookshop, Skibbereen and Cork
Urru, Bandon
Yin Yang Whole Foods Skibbereen

…more being added all the time…!

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