Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Donegal Good Food Taverns logo
Last night we went to the launch of the Donegal Good Food Taverns initiative. What is the Donegal Good Food Taverns initiative? I asked one of the founding members, Enda O'Rourke of The Village Tavern in Mountcharles:

"Donegal Good Food Taverns came about as a conversation over a coffee with Hugh O’Donnell, Killybegs and myself in the Village Tavern over a year ago. I felt we needed to stand up against this recession, and the only way I know how is on a plate! Hugh has a brilliant creative mind and I enjoy conversations with him about food and during one such discussions, this brand arose.

We believe from September this year this brand will grow and grow and we are 100% behind delivering everything it’s about to the locals and visitors alike. The next step is to bring growers and producers into this brand to showcase what they are about to our plates and already we are making huge steps in delivering this."

Enda's partner in this initiative is Hugh O'Donnell who owns and runs Hughie's Bar and Seafood Bar in Killybegs (22 Main Street). Hugh, like Enda, runs a great restaurant and we have eaten in both these places many times. The food is always fresh (no packets here!) and always very reasonably priced too. And like the good food and good atmosphere both have created, they both attract the best of staff too: always friendly, always helpful and always welcoming. Reasons we enjoy eating in Enda and Hugh's restaurants.

Enda, Danny McElaney (Donegal Enterprise Board) and Hugh
Given their great interest and love of food I have no doubt the Donegal Good Food Taverns initiative will as Enda said "grow and grow".  Altogether there are ten Donegal taverns in the initiative including Enda's The Village Tavern, Mountcharles ("The Village Tavern stands proud in the tranquil village of Mountcharles, in the heart of some of the most spectacular scenery in the county of Donegal. Just 3 miles from Donegal town on the Killybegs road. it is an ideal base from which to tour this beautiful and unspoilt area.") and Hugh's Hughies Seafood Bar, Killybegs ("Hughies Seafood Bar, Killybegs unique and only seafood bar, opens from 3.00pm to 9.30pm, May to September.  The Seafood Bar has undergone a major refurbishment for the 2011 season and now incorporates a welcoming log fire stove and an Island bar where you can casually dine over a pint of Guinness and six fresh Oysters.  Our dinner menu kicks off at 5.00pm and offers a rich array of local Lobster, Scallops, Whelks, Prawn, Crab, Prime Monk tail, Black Sole and Red Gunard. Chowders served in rustic breads, fresh soups and local fayre from our master butchers offers both visitor and tourist alike a great taste of Donegal.").

The other eight are:
The Lobster Pot, Burtonport "The Lobster Pot, known locally as Kelly’s, is a family run pub and restaurant in the heart of the small village of Burtonport (Ailt an Chorrain) on Donegal’s West Coast. The spectacular coastal setting is the perfect backdrop for our cosy pub." Dawros Bay House, Rosbeg "Dawros Bay House & Joe’s Seafood Bar., Situated at the top of the Rosbeg Peninsula in Co. Donegal, this Bar and Restaurant enjoys unrivalled scenic beauty. Nearest Beach is just one minute walk away." Leo's Tavern, Crolly, Gweedore "Leo’s Tavern is renowned for its music being the birth place of world famous musical talents Enya, Clannad and Moya Brennan.The proprietor Bartley Brennan is Leo Brennan’s youngest son and Leo himself continues to entertain the locals and tourists regularly." Nancy's Bar, Ardara "Nancy’s is an old family owned pub in the heritage town of Ardara – which is also the home of Donegal Tweed. The bar is in the McHugh family ownership for 7 generations, it’s called after our great great great grandmother who ran the pub during the famine years and Victorian era." The Beachcomber, Rathmullan "The Beachcomber Bar is a long established pub located in the popular seaside resort of Rathmullan in North Donegal. The bar has a fabulous setting on the sea front and enjoys panoramic views over Lough Swilly towards Inch Island and the Inishowen Peninsula. These superb views can also be enjoyed from the large beer garden." The Bayview, Dungloe "The Bayview Bar Dungloe is a family run business in the heart of the Gaeltacht Rosses.Totally refurbished and reopened in June 2007, the Bayview has been growing from strength to strength and is very much the hub of Dungloe’s social scene." The Traveller's Inn, Milford "The Traveller’s Inn is a family run bar and restaurant by Michael and Louise McBride, located in the small town of Milford, northwest Donegal. Milford (Baile na nGallóglach – Town of the Gallowglasses) is a gateway to some of Donegal’s top tourist attractions Established in 1867 is the oldest public house in Milford and has become a popular bar, lounge and eatery with visitors and locals alike." The Tavern, Kilclooney, Portnoo "The Tavern – We are a small local pub that serves food in a family friendly atmosphere. Our hospitality & good food is renowned by locals visitors alike.One of our great features is the fabulous open fire that dominates the main bar. We have also added a large Decking area to the front of the premises where live bands perform during the summer period."

Fresh oysters in Nancy's Bar
The launch last night was a roaring success and Nancy's Bar was packed to the rafters. Fresh oysters were served along with tiny squares of brown scone topped with various fish including smoked haddock, mackerel pate, smoked salmon, and smoked trout.  All were delicious but the star of the food show for me were the oysters which were bursting with the taste of ozone ("clean bracing air, as found at the seaside".).    

Part of the initiative is that traditional Irish music will be available seven nights a week between the participating taverns which means that visitors to our county can not only enjoy a full week of fine Donegal sourced foods but great traditional Irish music too. In Nancy's last night local traditional Irish musicians entertained us giving a taster of the great nights to come in Donegal.
Traditional Irish music ~ an integral part of the DGFT initiative
To keep standards high in the taverns in the Donegal Good Food Taverns initiative, all participating taverns will be externally audited by independent auditors at any time and without prior warning.  All taverns in the initiative will display the logo outside their premises.

I asked Enda to explain to me the elements of the logo and he explained it thus:

1.  The outer rim is the base of an old beer barrel to depict a tavern.

2.  The bird (not yet named but more information on this below) represents the idea "as far as a bird can fly in Donegal".

3.  The knife, fork and chef's hat is to depict good food.

4.  And the Fáilte, being the Gaelic (Irish) for "welcome" represents the welcome you will get in any of the taverns in the initiative and the 100,000 welcomes or in Gaelic, the "céad míle fáilte" you can expect in Donegal.

The beady eyed among us will also notice the little green map of Donegal behind the bird!

"The Bird!"
The bird.  Yes, during the course of the launch this massive bird was wandering about.  That's the good thing about Donegal bars, no-one turned a blind eye to a six foot plus furry toucan wandering about. 

But he does have a use more than just his image on the DGFT's logo, or indeed wandering about bars.  And a very beneficial use for the public, locals and visitors alike.  He will be appearing at every major tourist event in Donegal for the summer and most if not all of the Donegal festivals.  And here's the good bit: spot him and be first to telephone in to the number given on the DGFTs site and you win a prize such as a meal for two in any of the taverns listed.  So take a good long look at the picture to the left here!

I keep calling him "The Bird" because as yet he has no name.  This is another chance to win a prize ~ name the bird.  Yes, you think up the winning name and you are in for a prize.  Keep checking the DGFT's site to check to see what the prize is and how to enter. 

Enda and the as yet unnamed bird
The website for the Donegal Good Food Taverns can be accessed HERE and you can follow them on twitter HERE or check out their facebook page HERE.

We wish Enda, Hugh and all the participating taverns the very best of luck on this fabulous initiative and a big well done for all getting together and working together to make beautiful Donegal an even better place to visit.

To read more about Donegal and view photographs of our county visit our site at WeLoveDonegal.


  1. Excellent write up, Cath. Thanks for your pics and the update.

    I learned of this blog post from "Irish Emigrant Forums."


  2. Very informative , and well done .

  3. Thanks folks for taking the time to comment.


  4. We have a fabulous seafood meal at Joe's Seafood Bar last year - he is a talented chef and it was really good value...