One potato, two potato, three potato, four

potato herb butter

Posted on: 16th January, 2014

Category: Food & Wine

Contributor: West Cork People

Bill Chase of Deelish Garden Centre in Skibbereen says that writing about potatoes in Ireland is a bit like describing snow to eskimoes.

Not only does everyone have their favourite varieties; anyone who grows them has their favoured methods and strategies for combating the many enemies of the crop. It’s a versatile vegetable; you can use potatoes to remove rust, or shine your shoes, or cure a rash, or…you can eat them!

Happily, very few of us are bothered by the seldom expressed truth that the potato is a blow-in (it originated in Chile and Peru). But, perhaps typically, the English were so agitated by the thought of consuming a potato that in the 1850s they established The Society for the Prevention of Unwholesome Diet simply to keep the thing out of their country. Still, you can’t keep a good spud down and its use as a staple crop has so increased over the eight millennia in which it’s been cultivated that now every man, woman and child on the planet consumes over 30 kg. of them, or would if we all shared an equal diet.

In this country we have of course embraced the potato to the extent that it has become the iconic national food; the stuff around which all other ingredients are measured. It’s central to any thoughts of taking nourishment. And yet, it must be admitted that the potato is a crop totally unsuited to the Irish climate; it likes nothing more than sun and warmth, and it loathes damp, dank days and cloddy wet soils. So why persist in this ultimately doomed love affair? Well, potatoes are familiar, and some years they do grow well and above all, they taste good, though just what that means has been debated over many a pint.

Any listing of ‘the best’ potato varieties is clearly challenging; it is a well understood truth that no two people have ever shared potato tastes. So, in an attempt to be provocative, I will commend a few sorts of spud for specific purposes.

Boiled: Charlottes, Desiree, Duke of York, Golden Wonder, Nicola, Orla, Pink Fir Apple.

Roast: British Queen, Cara, Home Guard, King Edward, Maris Peer, Record, Rooster.

Baked: Cara, Kerrs Pink, Red Duke of York, Rooster, Sante,

Chips: Cara, Kerrs Pink, King Edward, Maris Piper, Record,  Rooster, Sharpes Express,  Sante.

There are also a few new ones on the block; the Sarpo family, in particular Mira, Axona and Setanta. While it’s perfectly true that they have miraculously overcome the vagaries of our climate, performing well in nearly all weather conditions, in the opinion of some, the less said about their taste, the better.

For those who are carried forward by the anticipation of plunging their seed potatoes into a well formed ridge, the question arises, when? Well, soon.

First earlies, — which are, unsurprisingly, the first to be harvested — should go in towards the beginning of March, (after a few weeks of chitting, of course). Second earlies are planted in the middle of the month, around St. Patrick’s day, and maincrops, which, unless they are Sarpo types, will almost certainly need some sort of protection from blight, are put in towards the end of March.These schedules are subject to weather conditions of course, and so will seldom be followed.

There is something quite satisfying about producing your own spuds, whether in a barrel or a tyre or a fish box or even in the ground, and despite all the tribulations which lay ahead…well, have a go and taste the result.

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
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7th September, 2017  ·  

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