Thursday, December 15, 2011


I picked up some of these tea towels, when I was in Ireland. I particularly loved the pair of 'Irish Linen & Cotton' tea towels. The border is so beautifully done, with a very subtle pattern taken from the historic 'Book of Kells'. I have some of these left, although they have been a very popular item I believe at this time there may only be 15 sets remaining. $25 for the pair.
'The Doors of Dublin' is another in the range. This tea towel is 100% linen and simply gets better with age ! It holds water so well....of course you could simply frame it for something a little different !


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Giving Life to Seaweed

I remember only all too well my week at 'Knockadoon Marine Camp' located in Cork. I was fourteen years old, and to this day it still ranks as one of my all time favorite holidays. I learned about seaweed, upper, middle and lower zones and foraging for seaweed. Now, twenty seven years later, living in Dallas, I have rediscovered the wonders of Irish seaweed through a book called 'Irish Seaweed Kitchen' by native Irish woman, Dr Prannie Rhatigan. This book is a veritable feast for the eyes. Packed with incredible recipes, photographs and nutritional information on seaweed. Prannie was born and raised on the west coast of Ireland. In this book she reveals her experiences harvesting seaweeds with her family and explains their vital nutritional importance. We all like to eat seaweed when we dine out in Sushi Restaurants and have accepted the wide use in Asian cooking, but have we ever really given thought to the widespread availability of seaweed coming from Ireland, after all it is an island. Reading this book, Prannie's passion for this ancient source of nutrition, jumps off the page. I contacted a man in Ireland by the name of Ger Talty. Ger lives in Quilty, County Clare and is a third generation seaweed forager. I had a group of eight people from Dallas visiting Ireland and as part of their 'foodie' day in Clare, they spent the day foraging with Ger and learning how to cook with this incredible product. Ger and his family own a company called 'Spanish Point Sea Veg' They forage, dry and package the various sea weeds for consumption. As a child we used to eat dried seaweed. There was nothing unusual in that. However, I did not ever really cook or bake much with it. I simply had to try. Thanks to Ger, I had seven different bags of his 'Spanish Point Sea Veg ' and so I set about baking in my kitchen.
Leafing through Prannie's book, which has become a very good friend of mine now, I landed on her recipe for 'Banana and Alaria Loaf'. It was a Saturday morning, busy day ahead with my oldest going to his Sophomore homecoming dance, corsage to be picked up, errands to be run , all the while knowing that my boys are always hungry ! This was the perfect recipe. For those of you who love to eat Japanese wakame, then you will find this Alaria very similar. This seaweed is high in calcium and B vitamins. (wakame is used in miso soup). First I placed the Alaria on a baking sheet and dried it in the oven for a little while. In Prannie's book, there is the most beautiful bookmark, offering different suggestions for preparing the seaweed. All very easy.
For the loaf, I needed the following ingredients: 3/4 oz dried Alaria 2 eggs 4 oz golden raisins 2 tablespoons local honey (which I only use to help with allergies) 3 oz Kerrygold unsalted Irish butter, melted 2 tablespoons raw organic sugar 8 oz all purpose flour ( I like to use King Arthur, unbleached & unbromated) 2 teaspoons baking powder 3 bananas, mashed
The Alaria was soaked in 1/2 pint of water for 20 minutes, covered , then simmered over a low heat for 40 minutes. Then cooled slightly. Oven was pre heated to 350 degrees F. - First the eggs were beaten in a small bowl, raisins added, allowing them to plump. - Honey was added to the seaweed and cooking liquid - Butter was melted in a saucepan , sugar added, then cooled. Honeyed mixture and soaked raisin with eggs were added. - Flour and baking powder were mixed in a large bowl. - A large tablespoon of the flour was added to the wet mixture, then the remainder was gradually folded in. - Finally, mashed bananas were added. - Mixture was poured into a 1lb loaf tin and baked for 90 minutes. While the loaf was still hot, I drizzled a little mixture of water & confectioners sugar over the top. Mmmmmm

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Sunday July 31st, the feast of St Ignatius, (the founder of the Jesuit Order) was the date for 'An Irish Summers Eve in Dallas . It was the last supper of sorts for the outgoing President of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, Rev.Philip Postell, who was moving to Arizona. Ten couples gathered on a hot summers evening. They had seen their kids through elementary school together, endured tough times, watched their boys play football, struggle with homework, succeed at homework, watched their boys discovering their passions and finding themselves. And through it all with the strong guidance from this very special man. So, as you can imagine this was a bitter sweet evening but nonetheless a special evening.

Now ,salmon is widely available here in Dallas but Irish smoked salmon is not. It seemed only fitting to pull out all the stops for this very special evening and contact a few friends. Birgitta & Peter Curtin, owners of the The Burren Smokehouse came to the rescue. They shipped their organic salmon from Co, Clare in the West of Ireland to Dallas on ice in time for our soiree. This salmon is now available in Dean & DeLuca.

Served with traditional Irish soda bread, a slather of Kerrygold Irish Butter freshly chopped Dill and a squeeze of lemon, makes this smoked salmon a meal in itself....

Before dinner began, Fr Postell gave the blessing and in his own inimitable way was able to rouse the crowd again with laughs all round.

The kitchen was a hive of activity. The way I like it ! For starters we had carrot and coriander soup with pickled carrot, a recipe shared by the 'Wild Honey Inn' in County Clare


-Roast leg of lamb with an Irish whiskey marmalade glaze
-Fingerling Potatoes
-Grilled brussels sprouts with lemon zest
-Carrot and parsnip smash
-Roasted red onions

While the guests were enjoying their dinner, I whipped up some dessert. Raspberry fool with Irish Butter Shortbreads.

DuMOL 2008 Russian River Chardonnay was poured at 'The White House' in January this year. The guest of honor was, President Hu Jintua, of the peoples republic of China. This was not the 1st appearance for DuMOL wines at state banquets. In fact it has been poured at 'Crawford Ranch' the residence of President George W Bush and at 'Camp David' when Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of England was visiting. Kerry Murphy is the proprietor of DuMOL wines and tells us there in fact over 1,000 people currently on the pre release waiting list.

Thanks to our hosts, Mr and Mrs Tom Codd, they ensured the guests were treated with rather special libations!

2000 Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Champagne
2009 DuMOl Russian River Chardonnay, 2007 Larkin Cabarnet Franc Napa Valley, 2007 DuMOL Syrah & 2009 DuMOL Pinot Noir

The wines were served with love and received with love. DuMOL proprietor Kerry Murphy explains that the berries are very small, with tight clusters of fruit. Their work is labor intensive and costs four times as much to put in as regular vineyards. Their standards are high and as a result are a favored and popular wine among the members of the prestigious 'Wine Geese Society', part of the 'American Ireland Fund'.

The teenagers moved with ease among the guests, serving, clearing and refilling water glasses. Hovering, wondering if they could catch a morsel of lamb, or a lone sprout. Watching them reminded me of 'Oliver Twist' as if they only received gruel to sustain them.

The evening was layered with Irish stories and peppered with anecdotes. Ingredients such as 'Kerrygold' butter and 'Burren Smokehouse' Salmon were sandwiched between carrots and parsnips, sprinkled with Irish methods of bread baking.

Recently I was leafing through Darina Allen's new book 'Forgotten Skills of Cooking' and I came across a recipe for tomato and apple chutney. Laced with childhood memories of eating chutney's and cheeses, I had to make this for our guests. I served this tangy chutney with 'Cashel Blue'Irish Blue Cheese. Now, if you have never had the pleasure of tasting this cheese, then there is a treat in store for you. 'Cashel Blue' is made on the Grubbs family farm in County Tipperary and is available in most 'Whole Foods'stores. As soon as you put this in your mouth, the unmistakable creamy taste of Irish milk comes through, in this blue cheese.

We finished the evening with a glass of 'Coole Swan', made from Irish cream, Irish whiskey, Madagascar Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate. Guests absolutely loved it. The bottle was modeled on the original Irish milk bottle and it got it's name 'Coole Swan' from the poem 'The WIld Swans of Coole' by the great WIlliam Butler Yeats. This glass was but a mere taste and of this award winning liqueur, so when the guests discovered they were all receiving a bottle in their goodie bags, to say they were delighted is a bit of an understatement.

A copy of 'A Kingdom of WIne', which won the Gourmand Award for the 'Best in the World Wine History Book for 2006' was also included in the goodie bag. The author, Dr Ted Murphy is a fellow Corkonian and his research on the Irish and their influence on viticulture throughout the world needs to be shared. When you open this book you begin a magical journey and discover facts and stories about the Irish that will change your view forever.

It was a lovely evening. The guests were wined and dined but most of all, the families worked together and then ate together. This Irish Summers Eve was a peek into my Ireland........

Sunday, July 31, 2011


"Galway Oysters, Kerry Pies, Wexford Strawberries, West Cork cheeses, Dublin Bay prawns, Westmeath Beef, Comber potatoes...these are just a few of Ireland's most famous foods " Georgina Campbell

I came across this beautiful book called 'Ireland for Food Lovers'. It is both a cookbook and travel guide, filled with stories and photographs. Georgina is one of Irelands' leading food and hospitality writers. This was the inspiration for my next chat on Twitter ! Yes, on Twitter. There is such an incredible community of food writers, foodies, food suppliers and food lovers online.

This is my 3rd week hosting this Twitter Party. For the last two weeks I hosted it in the evening and decided to change the time to accommodate our European friends ! If you would like to join in, please do.
WHEN: Tuesday , August 2nd
TIME: 9am CST/ 10am EST 3pm (Irish Time!)
HASHTAG: #Soulfodder

1) Nothing negative
2) No selling
3) You can join in and follow the conversation a lot easier by going to tweetchat
4) REMEMBER, after the hour is over, you can always go back to the chat by simply typing in #Soulfodder and it will all be there for you.

The topic this week is 'TRAVEL' as it pertains to food. Needless to say, it doesn't have to be about 'Ireland'!

I will ask a few questions and people can answer and join in on the conversation. This is a great way to connect with people globally, make new 'Foodie Friends' and learn about other food blogs, sites and suppliers.

BIA is the Irish word for Food. Thanks to the folks at 'Bord Bia' (Irish Food Board) they have donated a copy of 'Ireland for Food Lovers' by Georgina Campbell, it will inspire you !

Monday, July 25, 2011


Yes, you read correctly, the title says 'Inspired by Sprouts' and by sprouts I mean 'Brussels Sprouts'. I cannot honestly remember a time when I did not like them. I can even eat them slightly boiled with nothing but a little white pepper. Now, that is not the case for a lot of people, I understand, so when I come across a recipe for them , especially one that I can share with others I immediately try it out. Yesterday, I was browsing through the 'Huffington Post' on line and came across this recipe for grilled brussels sprouts and they were quite simply delicious.

They were par boiled for a grand total of five minutes, drained, then tossed in onion powder, garlic powder, fresh lemon zest, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

I grilled beef on a charcoal grill, using a marinade that I also found on the same site, that was quite simply delicious. When the meat was cooked, while standing , I grilled the sprouts for four minutes turning for another four minutes, returned them to the bowl, tossed again in remaining oil and added more fresh lemon zest and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Food52 is the name of this new and exciting site for foodies, chefs, cooks and generally food lovers. I also love their new service called 'In a Pickle'

Saturday, July 16, 2011


For 15 years now, I have been saying how great the food in Ireland is. I have been teaching cooking classes, appearing on television, writing articles and generally trying to spread the word. It is high time I clarified something. Why? In March this year, I did a series of radio interviews with FOX TALK RADIO. The responses are responses I have become all too accustomed to. "Ireland? Good Food?" I suggested a foodie tour and it was received with laughter.

Corned Beef and cabbage is an AMERICAN IRISH tradition introduced in New York. When the Irish emigrated they could not find/afford the quality ham available in Ireland , so they borrowed the Jewish tradition of brining beef. I did not dance at the crossroads and for those of you with visions of 'The Quiet Man'....well, sorry to disappoint you. The Cork Opera House, museums, vacations in Ardmore, Co Waterford were part of my youth. My mum cooked. EVERY DAY.

I will say this however. Ireland does have it's fair share of really bad cooks. Yes, we too have people that simply cannot cook. There, I said it. America has it's fair share of really bad cooks too. Does this make the food bad ?

Ireland , in my opinion , has the finest ingredients in the world. I have Irish American friends in New York who laugh about the Irish food that they grew up on. They grew up in New York. When I ask them to describe the awful fate of their food they describe the bland and boiled vegetables they received. Now, I ask you. Who's fault is that? the way, this is a rhetorical question !

I visited quite a few places in Ireland that served french fries with almost everything. If I didn't ask for them, they offered them !
I visited places that are considered to be the best and let me tell you something...I will not go back.

Then, and this is where it really matters, I visited places and ate in places that make the Ingredients of Ireland so noteworthy.
One of these stops was to a place in Lisdoonvarna, Co CLare. The WIld Honey Inn. The ingredients were the stars. There was no 'personality' selling the lunch. Carrot and coriander soup made from locally sourced carrots. Nothing could be more perfect.
I ordered 'Apple Crumble' for dessert. Locally sourced apples.
I ask you. What is wrong with ordering simple meals from the sixties and seventies? Are we trying so hard to be something that we are not. On the luncheon menu, alongside the crumble was a trifle. A trifle made with local raspberries and white peaches.
This is food. No, this is good food, in fact this is great food. It tasted so good. I wanted to pay for the pleasure of eating these ingredients.

I wonder, have we become so obsessed with TV personalities and reality TV that we need this to make the food taste good?
The market seems to be absolutely flooded with foodies right now. Has it become vogue or have we turned a corner? I don't know, I'm asking you this.
There are two words that also concern me. Artisan and Passionate. They should be rationed. Have you noticed how everyone is an artisan and everyone is passionate about what they do. Some truely passionate people spring to mind for me.
Most believe that being passionate means that you absolutely love what you do. This is partly true but is not enough. I believe that passion is the absolute BELIEF in what you are doing, allowing you to persevere when naysayers let you know otherwise.
We can all look at the ladies I have mentioned below and see their cook books, TV shows, celebrity appearances and be in danger of not seeing the years and years of unwavering belief and commitment. Ladies who were ahead of their time. Ladies who wanted to bring the best of food to us and ladies who wanted to share the truth about food with us (however disdainful the truth may be at times)

Over time, I intend on sharing more about these wonderful women with you. In fact, some of them have even agreed to give away autographed copies of their books !

Myrtle Allen, Darina Allen, Georgina Campbell, Prannie Rhatigan, Suzanne Campbell, Ella McSweeney, Alice Waters to name but a few.

I remember reading this article from Saveur magazine. This was the opening quote. I think it says it all.

I was away at school when my mother told me she was opening a restaurant at our house," recalls Tim Allen, Myrtle Allen's son. "I was very excited. I thought I'd come home and have chips and mixed grills and all. I was so disappointed when I got back and discovered that she was serving the same food I'd eaten all my life." Though he didn't realize it at the time, the food Tim Allen had eaten all his life was something of an endangered species: fresh, honest Irish home cooking based on ingredients grown or raised around the house, or at least in the neighborhood. And his mother was to become the leading light of modern-day Irish cooking, a mentor and an inspiration, as important to her country's cuisine as Alice Waters was to America's.

I don't know Tim but I felt his disappointment when he didn't get the chips and mixed grills !
Every Friday, our fish came from the 'English Market'. Every Christmas we had the famous 'Cork Spiced Beef' from Donovans butchers. Early September we donned our wellie boots and gathered blackberries, went strawberry picking during the summer. My baby brother could not drink dairy so my mum sourced goats milk daily from a local farmer in Cork. New potatoes every Summer. Fresh lamb chops served with mint sauce. No sodas ! Chips were a treat.

Now, I live in the United States where sodas are consumed like water, served with every meal, and are refilled in restaurants without you even asking for it. To some Alice Waters is seen as elitist. To me, Alice Waters and Myrtle Allen are like the child in the famous fable 'The Emperors New Clothes'. Remember when the Emperor was walking down the street naked...the crowds cheering. The one child exclaiming....'But he's naked'
Yes, it really is that obvious.

Ingredients in Ireland really are that good. There are people who CANNOT cook and so give Irish Ingredients a bad name, when all it takes is a few classes !

'Forgotten Skills of Cooking ' by Darina Allen . This book is such a treat. If you want to buy someone you love something special, then look no further. Darina speaks to you in the introduction and for a moment I thought she was speaking directly to me ! You know what though, she was. She is speaking to anyone that wants to reconnect. A marvelous journey. The skills, the photography and the recipes are all waiting for you to explore. Darina is indeed from Ireland as am I but in this book she is speaking to everyone. Whether you are from Sweeden or Finland, Texas or Alabama, we all had people we learned from and still need to learn from.

Georgina Campbell is another leader and who I believe is and was ahead of her time.
'Ireland for Food Lovers' is the must have guide if you plan on visiting Ireland. Also filled with photographs, recipes and introductions to places to eat and stay.
She is a member of both the Irish and British Food Writers' Guilds. She too has written a number of cookery books and is the author of the comprehensive and critically acclaimed independently assessed guides to Ireland's best places to eat, drink and stay 'Georgina Campbell's Ireland-the Guide'

More recently Georgina has launched her own series of apps for the smart phone. By going to her web site you can browse them in the store. One of the cooking apps I urge you to look at, is one with Ireland's very own Neven Maguire. Now, you can call me biased and you would be CORRECT. I just think Neven hung the moon. I would probably buy an app of Neven teaching you how to fold laundry ! He's just a genuine nice guy and I always have time for genuine nice people. Neven Maguire is the owner of the award winning 'MacNean House and Restaurant' located in Co Cavan. He is a huge advocate for locally produced ingredients. In my humble opinion it is only a matter of time before the United States gets to know and love Neven too.

Many thanks to Georgina Campbell for agreeing to award one lucky winner an autographed copy of her book 'Ireland for Food Lovers'

All you have to do is share your POSITIVE IRISH FOOD EXPERIENCE in no more than 6 sentences and submit a photo if you have one.
- It may have been during a visit to Ireland.
- It may be an Irish Ingredient you tried
- An Irish recipe you tried
- Something someone else introduced you to.

Send your details to

Competition closes September 1st 2011

Follow on Twitter!/Rachelgaffney

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I , or rather we, have lived in our current home since moving from Chicago to Dallas in August 2001. Over the years I have watched as people have transformed their homes into the most beautiful places to live. I have always had a picture in my head as to how I would like my home to look. I want it to reflect who we are. In other words , I don't like to hang things on the walls that don't have any meaning to us. I want the home to be just that, a home. A place that we live in. A place, that is constantly evolving. I knew I was going to need some help. At the same time, I never wanted to simply pay someone to 'decorate' my home. So, for years it was left on the back burner, ideas simmering. Now that pot has been brought to the front burner !

Throughout my travels over the last few years I have met some wonderful people. One of those people was a fashion designer in New York. Shelly Lloyd is a graduate of 'Parsons School of Design'. She spent two years working and living in Madrid, Spain as a designer for the famous 'Induyco' Brand. I knew that Shelly was very influenced by her world travel. I noticed that she had collected items from her travels and they were showcased beautifully and told a wonderful story, unlike me, where my collectibles are gathering dust! I told Shelly how much I wanted to bring our English/Irish lifestyles into our homes. (My husband being from England !)

Prior to her move to Dallas, Shelly worked for twelve years in New York as a designer for 'Ralph Lauren' sportswear Purple Label and the 'Polo Collection'. Following that, she worked as a designer for the 'Tommy Hilfiger' sportswear brand. When Shelly and I chatted over coffee she told me that she moved a lot as a child and so began her love of house design. Between her formal design education, world travel, experience with famous designers and her experience with textiles mills worldwide, her love of color then developed and evolved.

Now, Shelly has begun a new chapter of her career setting up her own design company. Allow me to introduce you to 'LEDAIRE INTERIORS'
Shelly has a different view of how it should be done. When I asked her what she was going to do differently, Shelly told me that just like fashion and style, it is always moving,changing and evolving. Shelly loves to "find new ways to bring things together"
I knew that Shelly could help me. We have already had our first two meetings. What I wasn't prepared for was that her process was just like the process I went through ten years ago designing my company logo. Back then the designers spent a lot of time asking me about me. Where I went to school, my pastimes, my summer vacations etc. Shelly spent a lot of time learning about me. Afterall, this home is for us ! Shelly has just completed projects in Florida and California for clients with South American and European backgrounds that like me want to carry their cultures and traditions into their homes in an understated way.

I am going to Ireland in June and I have been assigned a task by Shelly. To look for anything that catches my eye, a fabric sample, an Irish design, a pillowcase, ribbon, old blanket, see? ANYTHING that catches my eye. Shelly has already prepared a mood board and design for my home, so I cannot wait to see this. I also have another task, which I hate doing, but that is for me to start the clearing process, get rid of what we don't want, either donate, sell on Craigs List and to gather all the items we may want to repurpose ! In order to be accountable I have agreed to document and photograph this process. June 13th is my next meeting with Shelly Lloyd and procrastination and I are very good friends so I had better get to work !

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It was my last day attending 'Showcase Ireland' held in Dublin last January. Hurriedly I made my way through the RDS . Walking a straight line is nigh on impossible for me. One almost needs to wear blinkers to make it through ! This , however is not a bad thing as the 'Creative Island' is a veritable feast for the senses.
One of the hidden gems in this treasure trove was a company named 'Unicorn'. The founder and designer, Sophie Rieu was born and raised in France and now resides in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Wicklow is also known as the 'Garden of Ireland' . I stopped to chat with Sophie and learn the lovely story about her designs.

Sophie was born and raised in Volvic, France. Volvic is located in the Masif Central region, (South Central France). In 1994 she moved to Ireland working as an au pair for an Irish family for ten months. An English and history degree followed and from 1994-1996, Sophie studied journalism which led to a career in public relations for Patricia McKenna, MEP for the Green Party.
Sophie's love was fashion and not surprisingly she studied Fashion Design at Grafton Academy for another 6 years or so.

I asked Sophie if this was something she always wanted to do and if she was influenced by anyone. Her answer was not surprising as most people who pursue their passions tend to have been doing it somewhere from the ages of 8 - 14 years of age. Sophie knitted as a teenager, making dolls clothes and clothing for herself. I suppose it was only a matter of time before her love became a career.

Sophie and I had one thing in common, ( actually we had a lot in common) both of us learned a lot from our grandmothers and great grandmothers. Sophie's great grandmother 'Marguerite' is the inspiration for one of her pieces. Her love of fabric and accessories shine through in this beautiful piece. A time to be a lady.

The brand 'Unicorn' is a label with a conscience, using natural fibers. Donegal and Kerry Tweeds are used as these manufacturers use yarns from sheep bred in Tipperary. These magnificent pieces of art are then lined with silk.

Is it any wonder the Crafts Council of Ireland selected 'Unicorn' to be featured on the 'Creative Island'. If you are a buyer and are looking for unusual, classy pieces for your customers then a visit to 'Showcase Ireland' and to 'Unicorn' is a must.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Cork City, Ireland's 2nd City and my home plays host to Her Majesty the Queen on Friday May 20th 2011. Although I am many many miles away from home living over here in the United States, I am brimming with pride, bursting with joy and so incredibly happy for the people in Cork. The Queen will visit the historical 'English Market' located in the heart of the city. Doors opened to this market over 223 years ago in 1788.
During my final year in school, I attended a school in Washington Street Cork, known then as Doctor Paye's and every day I walked along the Grand Parade, through the doors of the 'English Market' to use it as a shortcut to get to Oliver Plunkett Street. I have to admit, there were days when the smell of the fish just made me move a little faster. Stalls were brimming with fresh produce, fresh eggs, butcher's counters , breads, poultry , home made sausages and cheeses. This was, as I mentioned, an everyday occurrence , so the word 'Foodie' was never uttered. It didn't even exist back then. No, indeed, this was the norm !

Last June, I revisited and spent the afternoon browsing, smelling and sampling. What a difference a decade makes......oh ok then a few decades make ! I ate lunch upstairs in the famous 'Farmgate Restaurant' . One thing I always notice and indeed miss when I return home for a visit is the incredible vibrancy in Cork City. The streets are always busy, and on this day the English Market was equally as busy. You know that lovely sound of people chatting, bustling, vendors calling is simply happening.

The Queen will tour this historic place and be presented with a basket filled with goodies from the 'English Market'. Would you like to know whats in the basket.................?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"The Crafts Council of Ireland and Craft Northern Ireland have designated 2011 as Year of Craft. The year marks the 40th anniversary of the Crafts Council of Ireland and will be celebrated through a diverse range of dynamic events and programs to showcase the very best of craft made on the island of Ireland" ~ CRAFTS COUNCIL OF IRELAND.

Showcase Ireland is Ireland's largest international trade fair and this was the venue for me to launch my line of Irish kitchen textiles. Almost a year in the making , working across time zones , it seemed almost surreal seeing the textiles come to life.
I wanted to work with an Irish company, one that also makes the products in Ireland (Not China). Charles Gallen Irish Linen was that company.

Charles Gallen enters it's 141st year as a family linen business. The company has seen it's way through the empire, world wars, uprisings, depressions and the occasional boom. The company bears the name of the first owner who purchased what was then called 'The Drogheda Linen Company', in 1870. The firm remains in the hands of the Gallen family today. Their cloths cover the tables of Irish Embassies worldwide, and their pure Irish Linen sheets and pillowcases grace the beds of fine homes and exceptional hotels. When I was invited to be a guest on 'The Martha Stewart National TV Show' here in the U.S in March 2010 I was contemplating what to give Martha as a gift. I presented her with a Pure Irish Linen Damask tablecloth. She was delighted and told me how much she loves Irish Linen.

I wanted designs that were indicative of the Ireland I know, as I love to say 'My Real Ireland'. The' Boyne Spiral' was inspired by two things, my logo and company colors and a visit to the historic Newgrange in 2010. The Irish Castle was a must. The number of castles located around Ireland is staggering. From ruins to 5 star properties. The third pattern 'Irish Cupboard' features many of the ingredients I use in my cooking classes from mussels and turbot to carrots and leeks.
As I write this the prints are currently being assembled in Ireland and will be winging their way to the U.S market soon in the guise of aprons, tote bags, tea towels, oven gloves and even the long forgotten tea cosy.

I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Once Upon a time there was a girl who lived in Boston...............Before I proceed, let me explain. In this day and age of negative press, recession and reality shows that tend to thrive on humiliating people there are so many people out there working extremely hard , being kind and simply sharing with others. This is one of those stories.
This time last year I met Ann Marie Maxwell from Enterprise Ireland. A government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish Enterprises in world markets. I had begun my business in 2001 here in the U.S with the plan to build a brand. 'Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland' has now become the Irish Lifestyle Company I had envisioned back then, well it's on the right path anyway !
Ann Marie listened over time and managed to connect the dots by introducing me to the people I was looking for.
I know that you all know what I am talking about when you meet people who do their job because it's 'their job' and then people who 'take pride in their work'. Huge difference. Puala Chase and Ann Marie Maxwell are two such people. They worked around the clock, enthusiasm never waning. I loved watching how excited and happy they were for everyone.Their enthusiasm was contagious. Every day I needed to check in to the Media Lounge just to see Paula smile. These two ladies represent Enterprise Ireland well but even more so...they are the ambassadors that Ireland needs today. It was my honor and pleasure to get to know them.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


The last two weeks have been somewhat of a whirlwind. I spent the first week in New York attending the Martha Stewart 'Dreamers Into Doers' Entrepreneurial event which was held at The Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Offices. The next few days were spent visiting the 'Enterprise Ireland Offices' and learning all about 'Education Ireland' which I will share later. The following week was spent in Dublin at Ireland's Premier Tradeshow where I launched my line of Irish Textiles, proud to say,'Made In Ireland'. The name of the event was 'Showcase Ireland'. This was a veritable treasure trove where Irelands premier artists,fashion designers and crafts people exhibited. I discovered some wonderful people and products and learned their stories, which I plan on sharing with you.
I need to recover from a little jet lag, compile my thoughts and upload photos & videos ! So bear with me......!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Friday, December 3rd, I arrived in Austin, Texas as I was teaching an Irish cooking class at Central Market. I was early. The Capitol Building was calling me. I had visited once before, ever so briefly but had this urge to go back. Upon entering the building I noticed quite a few tour guides eagerly waiting to share their knowledge. One guide in particular caught my attention. He was talking to two boy scouts with such animation that I knew immediately he was the one ! The child in me needed someone 'who loved' what they do to share this afternoon with. I was not disappointed.

Upon walking into the Senate Chamber, I was struck by the magnificence of two paintings hanging on the walls. As my tour guide continued to talk and ask questions,I participated eagerly. His comment was quite funny ,as he said 'young lady, you must have been a good 5th grade student in Texas History'. Obviously he had not noticed my Irish accent as it was not quite what I was studying at the Ursuline Convent Cork ! However, having two boys being educated here in Dallas helps somewhat when you are helping with study ! I continued to ask more questions as I noticed in the painting ' Dawn at the Alamo'that James Bowie was very much alive and I had thought he was dead or injured by the time battle occured. That was when I learnt about H.A McCardle.

I was right, James Bowie was indeed dead or at least dying at that time but the painter had made changes. This famous battle, (although 'The Battle Of San Jacinto' is more significant) depicted the Fall Of The Alamo in March 6th 1836. There is a somewhat humorous depiction of Santa Anna himself on a donkey as little more than a caricature ! The painter had a sense of humor.

H.A McArdle was born in Belfast in 1836. His parents died when he was a teenager and he immigrated to America. He was a draftsman during the Civil War for the Confederate Navy and later he made maps for Robert E Lee. After marrying he settled in Texas and taught art at Baylor Female College. Later the President of Baylor, William Carey Crane recommended McArdle to the Governor of Texas. He was commissioned to paint a portrait of Jefferson Davis for the Capitol. McArdle moved to San Antonio and painted numerous portraits of Sam Houston. One of his portraits are on display in DeGolyer Library at SMU (Southern Methodist University)

The House of Representatives in the Texas Capitol houses 'The Settlement of Austin's Colony'. More of his work can be found across the street in the 'Texas State Library'and in Baylor University in Waco, Texas. I was so incredibly proud of this Irishman and wanted to see more. It was time to leave for Central Market but you can be sure that I was eager to share this information with all the students in the cooking school. Amazing what you learn when you look around you.