Shellfish, chefs, students and surfers

An enthusiastic crowd gathered on Bundoran Boat Quay this week to launch the Lobsters & Lettuce Festival, Bundoran.

An enthusiastic crowd gathered on Bundoran Boat Quay this week to launch the Lobsters & Lettuce Festival, Bundoran.

The event, which takes place July 6-8, will celebrate the bounty of the ocean and the superb food production and dining options available in the local area and wider North West. While still in the planning stages, the Lobsters & Lettuce Festival is already backed by a dynamic group which includes chefs, food and seafood producers and local students and surfers.

The Lobsters & Lettuce Festival is an intitiative that has come out of tentative joint actions by the local chefs in Bundoran. Building on work done with Fáilte Ireland around local produce, the festival aims to showcase the quality of the food offering in the Bundoran and wider area and highlight the artisan producers working in the region.

Unlike other food events, there is a strong community element to Lobsters & Lettuce with involvement from the Magh Éne VEC and St Macartan’s NS as well as the Glor Na Mara Community Garden and the Organic Centre, Rossinver. The Bundoran RNLI are thrilled to be involved and are planning a rescue demonstration during the Festival. It’s not all about seafood either and Alan Frizell, award winning butcher of Bundoran Meats, is working on a special sausage project that is sure to intrigue.

The Lobsters & Lettuce Festival is already on the way to attracting some high profile guests with interest confirmed from Neven Maguire, Donal Skehan and Sligo seaweed expert, Prannie Rhatigan.

Apart from food demonstrations and cook-offs, the event will also include family friendly elements and guided walks and interpretation of the natural environment and the edible delights available to us on our doorstep.

While the Lobsters & Lettuce Festival is firmly set in the 21st Century it harks back to the Bundoran Lobster Festival of the 1960’s. An Irishman’s Diary (written by Patrick Gordon Campbell, 3rd Baron Glenavy) June 5, 1961 compares the Bundoran Lobster Festival to the Galway Oyster Festival.

One of Bundoran’s chefs at the time, and current stalwart of Tidy Towns and Magh Éne Historical Society, features prominently in the article.

“Chef Michael Walsh of the Great Southern Hotel, Bundoran, was not greatly concerned with the prettiness of his prey on Saturday. He cooked some 60 lobsters for some 45 people in a matter of an hour, and if there had been 60 more lobsters in the Watters’ tanks they would have found appreciative custom.”

We look forward to Michael showing us how it’s done in July. He still has the clippings and remembers the event as the launch of the summer season and a highlight of the Bundoran calendar.

Just as in the 1960s when Sean O’Connell and Fergus Gorman worked hard to get things off the ground, Erne Enterprise and Discover Bundoran are working together on the planning of the Lobsters & Lettuce Festival. They’ve been greatly assisted by local expertise in events planning. There are some nifty online and social media features coming down the tracks. If you are a wannabe MasterChef or a reluctant cook, keep an eye out for an exciting competition that could hone your culinary skills.