Time to celebrate the humble spud

Cathal Lynch talks cooking, live gigs and the inaugural Shanagarry Potato Festival, this weekend
Time to celebrate the humble spud
Cathal Lynch of Shanagarry Design Centre

TELL us about yourself;

I’ve worked in the catering industry for more than 20 years, everything from cocktail bartender to restaurant manager.

I work in the Kilkenny Café in Shanagarry Design Centre which does fantastic food — especially the cakes! The Terrace Room has a beautiful view of Ballycotton Island. I work with a great team, all of us are committed to providing excellent service.

Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, listening to music and live gigs. I also find running helps me keep relatively fit as well as being good for my mental health.

Where were you born?

I was born in Cork city and grew up in Ballymacoda, East Cork.

Where do you live?

I moved backed to Ballymacoda a few years ago after many years away, including 13 years in London.


I have a brother and two sisters who are all married and living relatively close by in East Cork. My parents live in Youghal.

Best friend?

I am lucky to have many good friends, however my best friend would have to be my girlfriend who I have known since my college days in Cork.

Earliest childhood memory?

Nothing specific, just happy memories of playing with my siblings at home.

Person you most admire?

Seamus Coleman, who came from the League of Ireland to Everton and became one of the best full-backs in the Premier League as well as playing at international level for Ireland. Yet, he remembers his roots and stays humble and grounded.

Person who most irritates you?

At the moment, Donald Trump seems to do that on an almost daily basis!

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

Somebody with the social conscience and bravery to think beyond the next election to the next generation.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

My first trip to New York. I went on my own for 10 days and stayed in downtown Manhattan in a room just opposite the music venue CBGB’s. I did all the usual tourist sights as well as music and comedy gigs and lots of bar-hopping.

Favourite TV programme?

I mostly watch American crime dramas and cookery shows. I particularly enjoy Donal Skehan as well as Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals.

Favourite radio show?

A nod to my London days, I still listen online to a great DJ on Soho Radio called Eddy Temple Morris who does the weekly Remix Show. I also enjoy Matt Cooper’s weekday show on Today FM.

Your signature dish if cooking?

I do a really tasty Mediterranean chicken dish with chorizo, sun-dried tomatoes, paprika and olives cooked paella-style with rice.

Favourite restaurant?

I was sorry to see the recent demise of Wagamamma in Cork, always great food in a casual setting at a reasonable price.

Last book you read?

Love Goes To Buildings On Fire by Will Hermes. An incredibly well-researched history of music in New York City during the 1970s.

Best book you read?

Meditations In Green by Stephen Wright.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

The latest Morrissey album, Low In High School.

Favourite song?

Always changing / updating, however, one tune I can listen to on repeat for hours is Never by Orbital.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I’m glad to say I’ve seen most of my musical heroes, however I’d love to have seen the late, great Jimi Hendrix.

Do you have a pet?


Morning person or night owl?

A reforming night owl — good coffee helps!

Your proudest moment?

The time I was awarded Manager of the Year by the hotel chain I worked for in London was pretty special.

Spendthrift or saver?


Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

The beautiful country roads of East Cork can be uncomfortably narrow, a bit of wideneing in places wouldn’t go amiss.

What makes you happy?

The company of friends and family, good music, nice food and drink, ideally all together.

How would you like to be remembered?

Easily and fondly.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Training for my first 10-mile road race which will be held in Dungarvan in February — that should keep me busy for the winter!

I am also preparing for the first ever Shanagarry Potato Festival which is taking place in Shanagarry Design Centre and Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday, November 25. As part of the festival we will be serving savoury and sweet potato dishes and desserts in the Kilkenny Café.

We are also hosting a Potato Salad Competition and are asking people to bring their Potato Salads to Shanagarry Design Centre on the day.

We are also hosting a competition for the Largest Potato, Longest Potato Peel and Funniest Looking Potato. See https://www.kilkennyshop.com /kkshanevents


The inaugural Shanagarry Potato Festival is being hosted by Shanagarry Design Centre, in conjunction with Ballymaloe Cookery School

The festival aims to celebrate the history and relationship of the East Cork region with our national treasure the Potato, allowing the public to partake in one of Ireland’s oldest traditional foods in new and unique ways.

With cookery demonstrations from renowned chef Darina Allen and quirky events including a potato art class in Shanagarry Design Centre and a competition for largest potato, the festival offers something for all the family.

Organiser Eimear O’Brien said: “We are looking forward to putting on these great events and demonstrations and inviting the locality to get involved in a festival that’s really new and different.”

Programme of events on Saturday, November 25:

Ballymaloe Cookery School 10am-11.30am: Acclaimed chef Darina Allen will give a cookery demonstration entitled Exciting Potato Dishes from around the world.

This one and a half hour cookery demonstration will take place in Ballymaloe Cookery School and will feature wonderful potato dishes from all over the world. Tickets cost €30 and places can be booked on www.cookingisfun.ie

Shanagarry Design Centre 10am-5pm: The Kilkenny Café will serve a variety of savoury and sweet dishes, all which will celebrate the potato and showcase how potatoes can be used as a main course and as a dessert.

From 11am to 2pm: Keoghs Crisps will run various tastings.

Noon to 1pm: Resident artist, Ann O’Riordan, will host a special Potato Arts Class for children. Learn how to make potato prints, potato horses and potato men! Tickets cost €8. To book a place in the Art Class contact 086 3087647.

3pm: Judging of the Amateur Potato Salad Competition. Members of the public are asked to bring their homemade potato salad to the Shanagarry Design Centre between 10am and noon. The public will have the opportunity to taste and pick their favourite potato salad between noon and 3pm before the competition is judged by Chef and Centre Manager of the Shanagarry Design Centre, Sandra Parke.

Prizes will be awarded for first place, second place and third place. The winning recipe will be posted on the Shanagarry Design Centre Website and on the Shanagarry Design Centre Facebook Page.

4pm: Judging of the largest potato, funniest looking potato and longest potato peel competition.

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