Celebrate the invention of Irish coffee at Jackson's this weekend

Not a lot of people know this, but Irish coffee was actually invented by a Donegal man. And a Ballybofey hotel is celebrating the fact with the first ever Joe Jackson Perpetual Cup competition for Best Irish Coffee this weekend, as part of the Twin Towns Festival.

Yes, there have been pretenders to the throne, most notably a barman at Shannon airport and two men at a caf in San Francisco.

But we can reveal the truth here and now. Irish coffee - that most delicious of concoctions - was created by none other than the late Joe Jackson, of Jackson's Hotel, Ballybofey.

Joe, who was originally from Derry, was in the Merchant Navy during WWII. One night, in the north Atlantic, his ship was torpedoed by an enemy sub. To help him recover from hypothermia, Joe was given a traditional Navy remedy, a mixture of coffee and rum. Later, as he served on ships in the eastern Mediterranean, he tasted a number of drinks made from cream, sugar and various types of spirits.

When he returned home to his wife Margaret (ne Slevin of Ruskey near Convoy), who had bought a hotel in Ballybofey in 1945, they soon started serving Irish coffees and other specialty drinks in their bar. The drink's reputation spread when in the early 1950s, a Scottish motoring magazine, described Joe's amazing new drink.

So why not celebrate one of Donegal's least-known but best-loved achievements? Come along to Jackson's Hotel, Ballybofey on Friday or Saturday night from 9pm. There, under the watchful eye of Joe's son Barry and his wife Margaret, you can either try your hand at creating the perfect Irish coffee or sample the best efforts of aspiring bartenders.

And we're pleased to announce, this will be an annual event!


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