Wednesday, April 21, 2010


In this fast paced society, we are always trying to 'get ahead'. Ahead of the curve, ahead of ourselves, ahead in school and ahead in business. By trying to get ahead in business we are trying to outmaneuver our colleagues and competitors.In doing so, I think we tend to loose sight of who we truely are and what we are really and truelly about. Recently I have encountered quite a bit of interest in my business. The questions I am asked frequently...."What Is Your Brand Message?" "Why the name Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland?" "What are your core values?" and so on. I understand the neccessity for building your brand or the architecture of your brand so that all who work with you can deliver your message . Whilst branding sessions are important,the simple message is often the best. So what is RACHEL GAFFNEY'S REAL IRELAND?

I was born in Cork City, in Southern Ireland in 1969. As a toddler I lived in Blackrock and was educated by the Ursuline nuns. I wore a navy blue uniform, with knee length socks,wore a gaberdine coat and beret for mass on Friday's. I played hockey and tennis and went on school trips abroad to France & Switzerland. On Saturday's, I took the number 7 bus into town to meet my fiends for coffee. I studied the Irish Language (which was mandatory in schools)along with Biology,Chemistry,World History and French. I was the oldest of four children and we all played an instrument. Not very well but nonetheless music was mandatory for a period of time in my home. I fought with my siblings. My younger sisters were often cramping my style and my baby brother could do no wrong ! I tried to get into bars with fake identification with my friends and loved to go to Rugby matches. We ate fish every Friday (like all good catholics !) and every Christmas our kitchen was a treat for the senses.I had a passion (and still do) for Irish Literature, Speech & Drama and my sisters played the violin and cello terribly ! Every Summer we rented homes on the beach either in Ardmore,Co waterford or Schull,Co Cork. I entered the Young Scientist competition and won my first cookery competition at 11 years old. I made Pineapple Upside Down Cake ! I liked to cause mischief and truthfully still do ! Manners were drilled into us. I picked blackberries in the rain. Ran away from home and only made it to my grandmothers house ! I went to my first concert in Dublin to see David Bowie. I ate raw gooseberries and suffered for it later ! I wandered the beaches looking for shells and was fascinated by tides. I can still smell the sea air. A fond memory.

I tell you this because this is who I am. I never met a leprechaun. I too watched the 'Quiet Man' with an air of nostalgia wondering who these people were !I never saw green beer until 1996 in the U.S ! Whats REAL is whats true of Ireland. The Ireland I know. You may stand at the bus stop and someone will strike up a conversation with you. This is sincere. We are a genuine people. If we are not interested we simply won't bother. Instant Gratification was not something I knew.I worked for what I had. I was by no means poor growing up but that still did not matter. I watched as my mother made one piece of meat last for two meals. This was the smart thing to do.
Although, knowing that every Monday was, 'leftover night' didn't always excite me. Stale bread was made into 'Bread & Butter Pudding' served with hot homemade custard.Education was and still is the cornerstone of the Irish Family (along with religion)

Quality resonated with my mother. I remember every Christmas getting a new 'outfit'. All four of us were fitted for our dresses,coats and trousers. Always in a boutique. My mother taught me this saying which I still live by 'Buy Cheap....Buy Twice'
Think about it for a moment. When I married, being on a bridal registry was not all that common, so I was at the mercy of our guests ! But,oh how glad I am now. This generation somehow knew that the toaster and kettle was not the gift to give. We were bestowed with gifts such as the 'Foxford Car Rug' which at the time, even I thought was a stretch. Now it is a constant companion for me. A company founded in 1892 and one that is truely associated with quality. This 100% Connemara wool rug has been to football games in Soldier Field Chicago, Rugby matches at Twickenham and even Lacrosse games in Dallas. The Pure Irish Linen tablecloth with its magnificent hem stitch has seen many a dinner party and more than its fair share of red wine spills but has washed beautifully and rewarded me with an elegant look each and every time.

Your REAL IRELAND is somewhere within you. It's what your parents taught you. Its the places you visited, the schools you went to. It's how you teach your kids and how you feed them. Its how you take pleasure from the little things. Its back to basics.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is that the REAL IRELAND is the Ireland of today. It always embraces the past and allows it to be intertwined into the present. We have come a long way. We have historically endured so much as a nation. Each and every time we bounce back. My own personal opinion is that it is in our genes. Not only do we survive but we thrive. In the words of William Butler Yeats....BEING IRISH HE HAD AN ABIDING SENSE OF TRAGEDY WHICH SUSTAINED HIM THROUGH TEMPORARY PERIODS OF JOY

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rachel Gaffney's Traditional Irish Shortbread Cheesecake | Belo Interactive Newsletters

Rachel Gaffney's Traditional Irish Shortbread Cheesecake | Belo Interactive Newsletters

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Whether born and raised in Cork, Ireland or Dallas,Texas, we all have our childhood memories. At times, we are told that we are wearing rose colored glasses when recalling them but I think Mother Nature has a kind way of helping us remember.

One of my earliest memories, is the 'Sunday Drive' An excursion to break the monotony of the rainy day or a subtle way of reinforcing culture? Who knows what the reasons were for my parents, but they served us well.
Only 13 miles away from our home was the ancient historic town of Kinsale. Dubbed the 'Gourmet Capital of Ireland' this town hosts thousands of tourists each and every month. Known for it's restaurants,beaches, historical monuments and breathtaking scenery, Kinsale for me was the home of the '99' (Ice Cream Cone)and a place to run wild with my siblings . My parents parked the car at 'Charles Fort'and released all four of us. Running wild among the famous ruins, we played Hide and Go Seek, paying little or no attention to the historic significance of this once important stronghold, during 'The Siege of Kinsale' in 1601.
Climbing the walls, weaving through the ruins and all the while taking in the fresh sea air.

Immediately following this ramble was a stop at the infamous 'Bolands craft Shop' on the corner. Here we lined up for our reward. Our 99 ! A whipped vanilla ice cream cone, made from the finest Irish milk, topped with a chocolate flake. Now, a grown woman living in the U.S, I long to roam the store, foraging for Irish treasures !

Moving on, we walked to 'Actons Hotel' Here we walked along the raised walls, jumping from one to the other, ignoring the beauty of this spectacular view. Or did I? The very fact that I can now remember every detail serves me well. Actons is located in Kinsale town, overlooking the harbor. Fishing boats and sail boats fill these waters in every bright color you can imagine.

Kinsale was the town my parents took all visitors to. I have had many a walk with my siblings, my granny, my grandaunts and my French foreign exchange student !
When I was old enough to drive, it became the stomping ground for my friends and I on a Sunday afternoon. When I moved to London and brought my then boyfriend, now husband, to Ireland, Kinsale was a must see. At that time, the Old Head of Kinsale was simply that ! Now it is "The Most Spectacular Course On Earth" according to LINKS MAGAZINE 1999.

It was established in 1997, rising hundreds of feet above dramatic cliffs surrounded by the ocean on all sides. Earlier last month, when I appeared as a guest on 'The Martha Stewart Show' among all the photographs of me as a youth, the producer chose to use a picture of me with my brother, with The Old Head of Kinsale in the background.

If you go to Ireland and I strongly urge you to do so, then Kinsale is a must see. Here you will form your new memories. If you do go, then please share your memories............