Food Fleadh Ballina brings a 'Taste the Island' experience to Mayo

With a four-day holiday programme planned for the end of September, visitors can enjoy a weekend long family-friendly food festival in Ballina and north Mayo showcasing the best of Mayo food and drink.

Coinciding with Fáilte Ireland's recently launched Taste the Island Experience, Food Fleadh Ballina will be a celebration of Ireland’s food and drink culture this autumn.

A highlight of this year’s festival and a firm favourite with families is the Wild Atlantic Seafood Family Foraging trip with well-known forager and historian Denis Quinn. Denis not only brings you on a historical walking tour of Killala, but also incorporates a walk and forage along the north Mayo coastline as far as Bartra Island. In addition, you get to keep what you catch and cook what you catch with a Food Fleadh chef.

The Connacht Whiskey Company, based along the banks of the River Moy, hosts discovery and tasting tours outlining Ballina’s unique distilling process, offering you the chance to taste its own gin, poitin, vodka and whiskey, while Ballina’s world famous Clarke's Salmon Smokery opens its doors to share its 70-year-old story, giving you a hint of how they smoke their salmon.

The flagship event of the festival, the Food Fleadh Ballina Market set in the historic Military Barracks, kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 28. Running late into the evening, the market hosts a plethora of well-known bakers and food producers, cooks and chefs from around the county.

The market hosts 50 food stalls and vendors, giving you the opportunity to taste a wide variety of dishes and tastes from around the world, as well as hosting a schedule of cooking and cocktail-making demonstrations and children’s cooking classes, with live music on the Local Voices stage.

The market will take place under the Military Barracks canopy, the only retractable canopy in Ireland – so no matter what the weather, a great day and fun atmosphere is guaranteed.

Yeast Meets West Craft Brew Fest returns to the Food Fleadh Market for its third year after a very successful appearance at this year’s Ballina Street Festival’s National Heritage Day. This features craft beers, ciders and locally produced spirits, all based along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Well known chef and proprietor of Luskin’s Bistro, and chairman of Food Fleadh Ballina, Gerry Luskin, said Food Fleadh Ballina has gone from strength to strength since its inception.

“The appetite was there from the community, local businesses and restaurants to allow this festival, which was once a one-day market, grow organically into a four-day festival.

“The festival highlights many great food offerings that are already here in north Mayo, bringing them all under the one roof, showcasing the passion and variety of food producers that exists here.

“Food Fleadh Ballina likes to host a new event each year and this year we host the Chefs Table: Banquet in the Barracks. By bringing locally based chefs together to create an unforgettable menu in a very unique setting - under the canopy of Ballina’s Military Barracks - one gets to enjoy the company of the chefs and the company of those attending the Chefs Table.”

Tickets for the Chefs Table: Banquet in the Barracks is €50 per person, which includes a four-course locally sourced menu with accompanying drinks. This event is also a fundraiser for Food Fleadh Ballina.

Beyond that, the River Moy Trust hosts a children’s River Moy ecology workshop on Sunday, September 29, based along the banks of the River Moy’s Cathedral Beat from 12 to 2 p.m. Expect a fun and interactive workshop to explore the biodiversity and ecology along the River Moy and the crucial role the river plays in our food cycle, with planting demonstrations and special guests on the day.

On the same day, Food Fleadh Ballina’s final event of the festival celebrates the town’s priceless asset and jewel in the crown of Co. Mayo, the world famous fishing River Moy, as Ballina Salmon Anglers and Food Fleadh Ballina hosts the Last Cast Fishing Competition and free fishing on the Ballina Salmon Anglers' stretch of water all day. Competition registration commences at 10 a.m. and the day finishes at 4 p.m. with a fisherman’s party, presentation of prizes and the biggest treat of all, a taste of River Moy salmon.

Attending a recent Drinks Industry Group of Ireland event at Connacht Whiskey Distillery in Ballina, Newstalk presenter and event host Ivan Yates and economist and panellist David McWilliams praised Food Fleadh Ballina for promoting and supporting Mayo’s unique food and drinks produce. Ballina was one of three stops on DIGI’s ‘Support Your Local’ campaign tour of Ireland.

For further information on Food Fleadh Ballina or to book a market stall, a workshops or dining tickets, go to or see the Food Fleadh Ballina page on Facebook, or contact Ballina Tourist Office on (096) 72800.