City is second in foodie competition

Mayor Elisha McCallion receiving the award for second place in the Foodie Town of Ireland competition presented by RAI President Anthony Gray with Tourism Officer Mary Blake, restaurateur Sean Harrigan from the Sooty Olive, and Kevin Hickey of Tamnagh Foods. Photo: Conor McCabe
Mayor Elisha McCallion receiving the award for second place in the Foodie Town of Ireland competition presented by RAI President Anthony Gray with Tourism Officer Mary Blake, restaurateur Sean Harrigan from the Sooty Olive, and Kevin Hickey of Tamnagh Foods. Photo: Conor McCabe

Londonderry has been recognised as one of Ireland’s leading Foodie Towns in a prestigious national competition organised by the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

The city was just pipped at the post in a close fought battle for the title of Foodie Town of Ireland as the Burren emerged top of the list of 10 shortlisted food destinations. The judges introduced a special runners up category recognising Londonderry’s performance and the closeness of the final decision.

Just behind Londonderry as food tourism hotspots were Kinsale and West Cork. A total of 30 towns applied for the coveted title this year.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, said she was delighted that the city had been among the front runners.

“I think we put in a fantastic effort and to be placed second is a great endorsement of Derry as an exciting new food tourism destination and one that will really raise the city’s profile in terms of the quality of our restaurants and our local produce.

“Council has been working closely over the past few years with food industry professionals and suppliers to significantly raise the standards of what’s on offer locally to meet the growing expectations of our international visitors. Securing second in the Foodie Town of Ireland is a huge step towards securing our goal of being one of the best locations in terms of food provenance and culinary talent.”

Tourism officer Mary Blake, led in the city’s bid for the title, and was there for the announcement at a reception in Dublin.

“I was absolutely thrilled when Derry was singled out for the runner up prize for the first time,” she said.

in the competition.”

“I know that our local restaurants and producers are delighted at the acknowledgement and it reflects a significant shift in the food tourism market north of the border, with both Derry and Belfast hitting the headlines in the past month.

“We have been working hard to build the city’s profile through events such as the Legenderry Food Festival and the Flavours of the Foyle Seafood Festival, as well as our newly launched SAINT programme, and those efforts are clearly paying off.

“I want to thank everyone who voted and congratulate all those who have been working so hard to create new and exciting food experiences here in the North West.”

The outcome of the competition was decided by both an online public vote and the Restaurants Association judges, both having equal weighting in the final decision.

Following the awards the Restaurants Association paid tribute to the local campaign tipping the city as a big contender for next year’s awards, and confirmed that Derry had gained the biggest number of public votes in the competition.

This is the second year of the Foodie Town of Ireland competition which recognises the efforts of towns and cities who actively promote themselves as food destinations through trails, markets and festivals dedicated to food tourism.