A FESTIVAL OF FOOD AND COLOUR
We are quite fortunate in that we live on an island which has some of the best local food produce that you will find anywhere in the world. Once a year, the island town of Enniskillen is host to a festival which celebrates the best local produce, and gives visitors a chance to sample the local artisan food and drink on offer, as well as showcasing the talents of our local chefs with cookery demonstrations. The event takes place over two days and attracts visitors from all over the world. In its third year, Festival Lough Erne was held in the grounds of the historical 600 year old Enniskillen Castle which is located on the beautiful waterways of Lough Erne. The site also houses the Fermanagh County Museum, the regimental museum of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, all are worthy of a visit.
IS IT A BIRD, IS IT A PLANE…IT’S ANYTHING YOU WANT
This is our second year attending Festival Lough Erne and thankfully the weather was perfect, last year the event was a complete washout. There’s nothing worse than walking around at a festival on a cold wet day, unless it’s Glastonbury and mud wallowing is expected. Entry to Festival Lough Erne was just a couple of quid each and the girls were free. On the main stage set up in the courtyard, music was provided by children from Omagh Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, who played an assortment of traditional Irish instruments. Entertainment for the children came from Superhero characters who ‘bust shapes’ on the dance floor and mingled with the children, many took the opportunity to get photos taken. There was also face painting and balloon modelling by our good friend and Guinness World Record Holder, Ryan Tracy, Duff Balloons. For those of you not familiar with Ryan’s story, he is a balloon modeller from Omagh, County Tyrone and managed to get himself a slot on Britain’s Got Talent, he wowed judges when he successfully broke a GWR live on TV, the man is a gentleman and legend. Since his appearance on TV, Ryan has become a local celebrity and is the happiest man we think we’ve ever met, always smiling. If Ryan can’t make it with a balloon, then it’s not worth making…simples.
It was just after 13:00 when we arrived at Festival Lough Erne and for those of you who know us, food is always top of our list, and today was no exception. It was great to see one of our favourite restaurants in attendance, Dollakis, a Greek restaurant located in Enniskillen, this is our first port of call and as usual, the food did not disappoint, the falafel is the best we have ever tasted anywhere. After food, we make our way into the Food Hall to peruse (and purchase from) the many produce stalls.
LITTLE MISS STICKY FINGERS
Upon entering the Food Hall the smell of freshly cooked food instantly hits us, Matilda has already made her way to a stall selling cupcakes and she sticks her finger in the cream on the top of a cupcake, Daddy has to put his hand in the pocket before we even begin! Lynne stops at a stall showcasing amazingly detailed paintings and illustrations by Fermanagh based artist Gráinne Knox. Gráinne’s inspiration and business name, Inspired By Astrid, comes from her young daughter Astrid. As well as painting famous landmarks, Gráinne is a children’s book illustrator and her work can be seen in John Gilmour’s Hector and the Magic Detector available on Amazon. I am currently working on a children’s book, so maybe Gráinne could help me out…watch this space!
I’M NOT COLD, I’M JUST A LITTLE CHILLI
We visit each stall in turn and the girls delight at the free samples that each stall has on offer. Lily-Belle and Matilda are very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, Mummy definitely isn’t, and both waste no time in sampling crackers and jams from The Erne larder Preserves stall, that is, until Matilda dips into something with a hint of chilli in…she wasn’t one bit amused, her demand for a drink could be heard echoing around the marquee. The Erne Larder Preserves have an amazing array of preserves, chutneys and sauces, don’t mind if I do purchase a few, always great for a cheese board night when friends call.
YOU MUST BE CRACKERS
Eating crackers and preserves makes for thirsty work, plus Matilda’s mouth is on fire so we (mainly she) needs a drink, and quick. Matilda sees a multi-coloured stall and thinks it is selling slush puppies, it isn’t. The stall is in fact Papas Mineral Company who sell speciality artisan cordials in a whole variety of flavours, including lemonade that Matilda was extremely grateful for, her mouth was no longer on fire…bless. Purely for giggles I ask Matilda if she would like to go back and try some more ‘chilli jam’, her answer ‘no, maybe not’. Too cute! Papas Mineral Company cordials come in a variety of flavours such as the extremely popular non-alcoholic ginger wine, to the light and summery elderflower cordial. Don’t worry if those two flavours don’t appeal, there is a flavour suitable for every person, season and occasion. Papas Mineral Company have a stall each Saturday morning at the famous food and garden market at St Georges Market in Belfast, go along and try them for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.
In our house we try to eat healthy, but in all honesty, we (Daddy in particular) love a good fry up, and a fry up isn’t the same without sausages, and beans, a fry must have beans! As a family we don’t like beef sausages, pork is always the choice, so imagine our surprise when we come across Cavan based Barry Johns Butchers selling an assortment of flavoured sausages. We stood for several minutes sampling the delicious sausages, and had we been allowed, we would have spent the whole afternoon at this one stall, the flavours were amazing. I particularly loved the chocolate and honeycomb, yes you read that right, chocolate and honeycomb sausages, but for Lynne it was the curry sausages, the girls had no preference and happily sampled each flavour. Bangers purchased, and I’m really looking forward to my next fry. We were too busy eating that we neglected to take a photo…doh! So here is a random picture, courtesy of Uncle Google, of a festival pig wearing wellies, absolutely nothing to do with Festival Lough Erne!
LAY A LITTLE EGG FOR ME
We finally drag ourselves away from the sausage stall and Matilda makes a bee-line for a stall selling all colours of candy floss. Bucket of blue candy floss purchased we continue our food journey, where to next at the Festival Lough Erne? As a coeliac sufferer, I struggle with food, it doesn’t help that I have a dairy and egg intolerance as well! Lynne tells me to purchase eggs from award-winning Cavanagh Free Range Eggs, and I begin my usual spiel of ‘what for, I can’t eat them’ and I get the usual reply of ‘but we do’! The gentleman on the stall obviously picks up on something and invites us over, I strike up a conversation and explain my intolerance and allergies and that’s why I wasn’t purchasing eggs on this occasion. We did walk away with a free pen, you can never have enough pens you know. I honestly meant to go back later on in the day to buy eggs for ‘er indoors but clean forgot. Next time I see Cavanagh Free Range Eggs in the supermarket, I’ll make amends and buy some.
I CAN SEE A RAINBOW
One thing we note from the Festival Lough Erne is colour, so vibrant, so intense, it’s everywhere. Colour in the drinks, the labelling, the food, the containers, the balloons…everywhere. Lough Erne Cakes had the most amazing macaroon tower in a multitude of colours, and each colour a completely different flavour. Lily-Belle chose blue-coconut, Daddy chose ivory-coffee ganache, Matilda also chose blue as she likes to copy her sister, and Mummy chose green-pistachio and they were delicious. The sweet meringue-based confection just dissolved on the tongue, ever so moreish. My only regret was not buying enough to take home, but we did opt for a selection of the extravagant looking cupcakes to take away with us, perfect with a cup of aromatic chocolate and fig flavoured coffee purchased from Sperrin Speciality Coffee. The girls also took a couple home for Nana and Granda.
AND A WHOLE LOT MORE
Enniskillen Castle also houses the Fermanagh County Museum and the regimental museum of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, all are very worthy of a visit. There are fantastic historical artefacts scattered throughout the grounds including medals, photographs, silverware, uniforms, canons and military vehicles. We even found the old water gate, perfect for locking up two cheeky little rascals, namely Lily-Belle and Matilda.
ROW ROW ROW THE BOAT
At round 16:30 we leave Festival Lough Erne and walk the short distance to the river bank to see about a cruise on the river, unfortunately we had just missed the last Erne Water Taxi and so we were in a bit of a pickle, Matilda was about to have a full on meltdown! We spotted kayak’s being taken out by Erne Paddlers. There was space available so we got kitted out and climbed aboard. Matilda took up position at the front of the kayak, Mummy directly behind, then Daddy, Lily-Belle and the lady and gent from Erne Paddlers in charge of steering at the back. This was our first experience as a family in a kayak. Our guided journey took us out on the Lough, around the fountain at the Erneside Shopping Centre, and then returned back to the jetty. We were alongside a family from Strabane and we had plenty of laughs on the water.
MUCH MORE THAN THE FOOD
Festival Lough Erne is about more than just food, it’s a festival that brings people together, a celebration of all things cultural, but don’t get me wrong, food plays a huge part in the festival. We live just outside Enniskillen and this was our first visit to Enniskillen Castle, and it really is a fantastic historical place, a ‘must visit place’ should you find yourself in the area. As a family we had a great day at a well organised festival, we will be back in 2018 for sure.
LILY-BELLE (age 8) SAYS
I had a great day. I really loved seeing Ryan as he always makes great balloon models, this time I got a unicorn hat, and Matilda got a Unicorn. I really liked trying the jams and it was funny when Matilda ate the chilli jam. We got a huge chocolate covered apple to take home. The boat was lots of fun and I’d like to do it again but not wearing my good boots.
MATILDA (age 3) SAYS
I like the boat and the yellow paddle. The candyfloss was very nice.
The Festival Lough Erne is annual but event dates vary
Date of visit: 24th September 2017
Entry Fee: Adult – £2.00 each, children under 12 free
Tel: +44 (0) 28 6632 5000
Send a message: email@example.com
Car park: public parking and pay and display nearby
information, currency and prices are correct at time of post
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All views, opinions and experiences are that of The Callaghan Possy and are correct at time of publication. Photos taken by Andrew Callaghan for use and distribution by Around The world In 18 Years.