For while other politicians may have a fondness for fine dining, Mary White loves nothing more than a feast of fungi, leaves, berries, and nuts freshly plucked from fields and hedgerows.
Now she is urging others to learn the knack of harvesting nature’s abundance in a landscape of austerity by holding foraging workshops at her rural Co Carlow home.
Ms White, a long-time Green Party member who served in the Dáil from 2007-2011, headed for the hills in the best possible way when the party’s time in coalition came to an end.
The Wicklow-born activist to her Borris, Co Carlow, home to start a range of eco-friendly leisure activities.
Her first-ever Wild Food Summer School, which starts this Friday, will see students sniff out their own supper from the foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains and the banks of the River Barrow.
Lessons in what to look for — and what to avoid — will be provided beforehand by a team of experts and all the outings will be led by those who can tell their hemlock from their cow parsley.
And after the baskets are filled, foragers will literally be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour when they are shown how to cook up what they have gathered and prepare a delicious tapas-style spread.
Guest experts featuring over the three-day event including cook and food writer Biddy White Lennon; foodie and author Paddy Woodworth; climatechange.ie founder John Gibbons; the Bee Man from Mooney Goes Wild, Philip McCabe; and food and hospitality guide writer Georgina Campbell.
Foraging is one of the country’s fastest-growing pursuits for foodies and nature lovers alike.
Ecotourism operators are now offering courses and outings at various locations throughout the year, focusing on whatever is in season at the time.
Details of Ms White’s summer school are on blackstairsecotrails.com