Introduce Margret Hicky's "Ireland's Green Larder"
Speech18 August 2019
I’m delighted to be here today to hear about Margret Hicky’s recent book “Ireland Green Larder”. This is a unique book that captures a very relevant subject to Irish identity and intimately narrates the story of Irish food historically, sociologically and through literature.
Margret shows that our “green and life-giving larder” is worth celebrating and that the story of our food is not just an interesting topic, but an integral part of the history of Ireland itself and a constant story of passing life on to the next generation.
Ireland’s success in innovation, technology and business internationally today is also matched with an outstanding Agri-Food reputation which builds on centuries, in fact, millennia of experience from the ancient field system of the Ceide Fields to today’s thriving food scene in Ireland.
Agri-Food is Ireland’s largest indigenous sector exporting outstanding quality food and drinks to 180 markets with the US being Ireland’s second largest export market after the United Kingdom. Ireland is indeed a food Island with a 140,000 family farms that make up over 60% of Ireland.
“Ireland Green Larder’s” chapters are allocated to Irish produce that always formed a part of our living as Irish people and continues today to be a contributor to our international success as a top quality food producer of dairy, meat, drinks and grain.
It wouldn’t be a surprise for the 8th century St Bede who once said about Ireland “The island abounds in milk and honey”, nor to the Elizabethan traveller Fynes Moryson, who wrote that the Irish regarded “milk like nectar” to know that Ireland today produces 10% of the world’s infant formula and more than 50% of the world’s cream liqueur.
Margret says in her book that “it is almost impossible to overstate the central significance of butter as we trace the history of food in Ireland”. Irish butter today is not a stranger to American consumers. Kerrygold is the No. 1 imported butter into the US and overall, the no. 2 butter brand in US
Margret argues that Irish beef stew is Ireland’s national dish and not bacon and cabbage. Perhaps the fact that, in beef, we are the largest net exporter in the Northern Hemisphere may add to her argument.
The list continues but before I introduce Margret let me tell you that Origin Green is Ireland’s national sustainability programme for our entire food and drink industry, and a key delivery of the Irish Government’s globally focused agri-food strategy, FoodWise 2025. It is the only food and drink sustainability programme in the world operating on a national scale.
I’m looking forwards to Margret presentation. Margaret Hickey read English at Trinity College, Dublin. As Food and Drink Editor at Country Living magazine she commissioned a range of food writers and chefs. She also pursued her freelance writing career, contributing articles on food, drink and travel to most of the British national press, including The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Times. In 1999 she moved to Ireland to complete a book commissioned by UK publisher Kyle Cathie. Irish Days, a collection of oral histories, was published in 2001 and received national coverage in both Ireland and the UK. She is currently Vice Chairperson of Portumna Arts Group, which runs Shorelines, an annual art festival recognised by the Arts Council.