The Menu: Valentia Island King Scallop Festival

Sandra O'Connor finds her bounty of scallops.

Whenever mention is made of Valentia Island, a guilty Menu reverts yet again to that much-scored spot on his mental checklist.

Where he has made repeated entries over the years recording his intention to return once more to that idyllic island in Co Kerry, the same place where The Menu first rode a horse and also, coincidentally, the first place The Menu almost rode a horse over a cliff.

The 7th outing of the annual Valentia Island King Scallop Festival (July 9 & 10) is a family-friendly occasion with events including live music on the streets, the RNLI hosting an open day at the lifeboat station and a children’s aquathon (swimming and running) but at the centre of all proceedings will be the magical mollusk itself, the scallop.

Local chefs serve up their own renditions of hand-dived local scallops throughout the festival and also compete in a cookoff for the title of Mr King Scallop. 

‘Mr?’ says you, dear reader, isn’t that a tad exclusionary, particularly in this day and age?

Well, according to the organisers, there has been a paucity of willing female volunteers to date and they would dearly love to rectify that particular conundrum and are very interested in hearing from prospective female competitors.

Also, taking place, several days later is a gala dinner (July 14) as part of the Transatlantic Cable 150th anniversary festival, marking the departure of the Great Eastern ship from Valentia, in 1866, as it laid 4,394km of cable before fetching up across the Atlantic in the wonderfully-named Heart’s Content, in Newfoundland, Canada. 

Thus was established the very first telegraphic communication network between Europe and north America.

With representatives from the Canadian, American and British embassies and the Irish navy all in attendance and limited tickets available, prospective diners would be well advanced to employ slightly more advanced modes of communication to communicate their interest in attending 


Airfield Estate, near Dundrum village, is a little oasis in Dublin, a working farm and gardens and Overends restaurant, children’s play areas and woodlands with over 2,000 native trees spread over 38 acres and affords a unique opportunity for young urban dwellers to learn about food, farming and nature.

Children can join the egg collection, sample the fresh milk from the Jersey cows and join farmer Eamon as he feeds the animals.

As well as heritage tours of the original Airfield House, there is a busy programme of workshops, summer camps and classes for children and adults including young farmers’, gardeners’ and cooks’ classes.


The Boyne Valley Food Series continues with two more events: the Drogheda Maritime Festival (July 9) which includes a food market and Scholar’s Townhouse head chef Michael Hunter presents a Taste of a Farmers Market (July 10) six-course tasting menu dinner featuring fine Boyne Valley produce ( ).

The inaugural Irish Curry Awards is open to Indian curry houses, restaurants and takeaways throughout the 32 counties.

The brainchild of Safa Belfast chef/proprietor, Ali Aksir, nominations will be accepted from the public or the restaurants themselves until July 31. 


Traipsing through Cork’s English Market with two hungry and, thus, rather contrary young progeny in tow, The Menu went for the quick fix and hauled them round to one of the market’s newest retailers, Maki Sushi.

Ten minutes later, he departed the market, metaphorically borne aloft by their renewed youthful vigour.

He was fuelled by two fine sushi roll lunches, one, cooked tuna with sweetcorn, red pepper and lettuce, and the other, asparagus, beetroot, carrots, cucumber and spinach with miso dressing, all very well done, fresh, simple and extremely tasty, just the class of lunch that earns a ‘reward’ from another favourite stall nearby, Niall and Rose Daly’s Chocolate Shop. 


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