Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Name the Mascot contest

Frenchman Jan Blanchard has been in touch about Mitchelstown's International Wine and Food Festival: "The event is unusual; held on a live farm with exceptional wine makers from Hungary meeting local artisan food (venison, wildboar, iron age pigs, cheeses, apples and more)." 


3rd- 5th DECEMBER 2010

The International Wine and Artisan Food Festival takes place in Ballinwillin House, Mitchelstown this weekend (4-5 December 2010).  In its inaugural year, this event is bound to become a firm favorite with all members of the family. 

On hand to officially open the festival is TV and radio personality and renowned food and wine expert, Derek Davis.  Derek will welcome one and all on Friday, 3 December at 8pm and guests are invited to join in the celebrations at a banquet of fine food and wine on either Friday or Saturday evening.  Tickets for the either banquet can be purchased at www.hungrywines.com.

Santa's deer rest up
Inspired by the festive atmosphere of traditional European Christmas markets, picturesque wooden chalets located in a courtyard setting will offer a wide variety of locally produced food, handcrafted gifts and some unique Hungarian wines on Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-7pm.  Children will see Santa’s reindeer resting up before their hectic trip around the world on Christmas Eve, an indoor farm full of rare breed animals and Santa will be there to hear all their Christmas wishes. 

For the adults, a large number of artisan wine makers from Hungary are making a special trip to the International Wine and Artisan Food Festival.  So, come along and sample their carefully selected wines at organised tastings throughout the day.

Festival co-organiser, wine enthusiast and Frenchman, Jan Blanchard said:

“We hope that the festival will present an opportunity for people to try something new, discover new wines and enjoy local craft and artisan food. The festival, which is held on the first weekend of December, is a perfect outing to kick start the Christmas season”

To add to the fun, the Festival has its very own mascot who features on the website www.hungrywines.com and on posters and road signs in the area. Help us find a name for our Mascot and by sending your suggestions to us on www.hungrywines.com or on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hungry-Wines/177062268977949). The winner will be announced at the festival and will win a fabulous Christmas Hamper.
In the cellar

Entry fee to the festival will be €5.00 per adult and children are free. Parking is also free and your entry fee entitles you to a free glass of wine or mulled wine or a non alcoholic drink.   The event is being sponsored by Ballyhoura Development.

An it isn't just food and wine at Ballywillin - you'll be able to see some rare animals such as an Irish Grazer Pig and, believe it or not, an Irish Iron Age pig.....

Kerry Cattle

Kerry Cattle
are a rare breed of dairy cattle, native to Ireland. They are believed to be one of the oldest breeds in Europe. Their coat is almost entirely black, with a little white on the udder.  The horns are whitish with dark tips.

The breed is probably descended from the Celtic Shorthorn, brought to Ireland as early as 2000 BC.  They were developed as a milking breed suited to small subsistence farms of southern and western Ireland.  They cause less damage to soils in high rainfall areas than larger breeds. 

By 1983 there were only around 200 pedigree Kerry cattle in the world, but numbers have since increased.  A breeding herd is maintained at Ballinwillin House.

Wild Boar

Wild Boar (also wild pig, Sus scrofa) is a species of the pig genus Sus, part of the biological family Suidae.  The species includes many subspecies.  It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises. 

Wild Boar are native across much of Northern and Central Europe, the Mediterranean Region (including North Africa’s Atlas Mountains) and much of Asia as far south as Indonesia and were part of our folklore in Ireland for thousands of years.  

Wild Boar became extinct in Ireland over 250 years ago but the Mulcahy family of Ballinwillin House reintroduced a herd of 36 on December 6th 1995 consisting of 30 females and 6 males.  The herd has thrived since then.

Irish Grazer (Tamworth) Pig

The Irish Grazer is one of the oldest pig breeds.  It is almost a direct descendant of the native pig stock of Europe that in turn descended from wild boars. 

The breed originated in Ireland.  While in Ireland in 1809, Sir Robert Peel was impressed by the Irish Grazer breed.  He imported several to his Drayton Manor Estate at Tamworth in Staffordshire, England about 1812.  This breed soon became known as the “Tamworth” pig.

At Ballinwillin House we have reintroduced the name of the Irish Grazer back into production.  They are great bacon pigs, renowned for their flavour.  They are very docile and are excellent mothers.

Iron Age Pig

The Iron Age Pig is a hybrid between a wild boar and a domestic pig meant to recreate the type of pig represented by prehistoric art works of the Iron Age. 

The project started in the early 1980’s by crossing a male wild boar with a Tamworth sow to produce an animal that looks like the pig from long ago. 

Iron Age pigs are generally only raised in Europe for a specialty meat market, and in keeping with their heritage, are generally more aggressive and harder to handle than pure domestic pigs.

The first Irish Iron Age Pig was born at Ballinwillin House in 2008 and the herd is doing exceptionally well.

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig

The Gloucestershire Old Spot is a large meaty animal with a broad and deep body and large hams.  Its white coat has large clearly defined black spots. 

They are ideally suited to an outdoor system.  Provided they have a warm and comfortable hut they will thrive outside all the year around, better on land that is reasonably dry so that it does not become a quagmire.  This the pigs wouldn’t mind, but it would become difficult to get round to look after them.

Ballinwillin House has a small herd of Old Spots at the present time.

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