Derry and Strabane’s Year of Food has Lift off!

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Year of Food 2016 celebrations “took off” with an Ulster fry-up of local produce for passengers arriving at City of Derry Airport from Ryanair flights from London and Liverpool on Monday morning.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion was there to greet passengers as they disembarked from the aircraft to tell them about the city and district’s participation in Tourism NI’s Year of Food 2016.

The Mayor said she was delighted at Derry City and Strabane District Council’s involvement in the year of food and its commitment to hosting a year of fantastic events such as the LegenDerry Food festival in March, Taste our Best in February, Flavours of the Foyle, Clipper Kitchens, Slow Food Showcase and other planned events throughout the year.

She said: “The Year of Food & Drink 2016 gives us the great opportunity to build on our designation as Runner up Foodie Town Ireland 2016 and also to showcase our local food producers, tourism and food retailers and tourism providers and promoting the city and region as a food tourism destination.”

Mary Blake, Tourism Development Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council said the Breakfast event at the City of Derry Airport was a great way of informing inbound business and leisure passengers of the excellent food offerings in the city and region as well as affording local producers and food providers such as Irwin’s Bakery, Primrose Café and Breslin’s Butchers, the chance to showcase their food products.

She said: “The NI Year of Food & Drink begins with January which is breakfast month and this Friday is ‘Ulster Fryday’ so we thought it was appropriate to begin the week with a special breakfast on a stick greeting all inbound passengers. The breakfast was sponsored by Primrose Café and Breslin’s butcher who have invented a new cabbage and bacon sausage to celebrate Breakfast Month and Irwin’s bakery who sponsored the soda breads and potato breads. This week gives out restaurants and cafes a great opportunity to share their breakfast stories and we would encourage people to breakfast out on 29th January to celebrate Ulster Fryday.”

Charlene Shongo, Commercial and Marketing Manager at City of Derry Airport, stated that the airport was absolutely delighted to facilitate the launch of the Year of Food 2016 this morning. Ryanair passengers arriving from London Stansted and Liverpool were pleasantly surprised to receive a complimentary breakfast with a difference following their arrival to Derry this morning.

Colette Wilson, Marketing Manager, Irwin’s Bakery said: “As a family-owned business that has been baking bread for more than 100 years, Irwin’s was delighted to join with Derry City and Strabane District Council to celebrate the Year of Food & Drink 2016 and treat passengers to a real taste of our fantastic local produce. At Irwin’s we use traditional techniques and recipes to bake our potato and soda farls, which are an essential part of the iconic Ulster Fry. It is a very exciting time for Northern Ireland and the Year of Food 2016 is going to be a great way to celebrate so many Northern Irish brands, highlight the quality of our food and of course the warmth of our hospitality.”
Earlier this week the city hosted a Tourism NI Year of Food Workshop at the Guildhall where local tourism and food providers were informed of the excellent opportunities available in 2016.

Next week as part of the Derry International Irish Music Festival (31 Jan – 07 Feb) award winning local chef Emmett McCourt will join a host of renowned folk singers for a special evening of indigenous cuisine and music entitled – ‘Food & Folksong: A Worldwide Irish Legacy’ at An Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin on Thursday 4th February. Included in the line-up of performers will be Donegal trio The Henry Girls, All-Ireland Singing Champion Mary Dillon, Dublin-based troubadours Alan Burke and Daoirí Farrell, as well as Gaelic singers Kathleen Mac Innes and Kate Crossan. Local company, Northbound Brewery, will offer tasters of their craft beer, and a range of local suppliers have given their support to the event, including William Grant & Co., Broighter Gold, and Donnybrewer Butter. Tickets for Food & Folksong: A Worldwide Irish Legacy are £10.00, available from the Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin box office (02871 264 132) or online at

Other up and coming events that will have a strong food emphasis during the year will be the Ubuntu festival of world traditions in March and the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival over the May Bank Holiday weekend. While over the summer months, events such as the Angling Festival, the Summer Jamm in Strabane, the Country fest music event in Castlederg, will have food related events organised to complement the event. The Walking Festival in September, the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Festival and an Autumn Harvest event in October will all have a food themed focus to help celebrate the Year of Food 2016.