It was as cold a May as I can recall – except, perhaps, for that time during my college days when, on a day early in May, the theory of lolling around on warm grass was replaced by the practice of scurrying to avoid a brief, freak snow flurry. And though this year’s May might not have been snow-cold, it was, for most of its length, nippy nonetheless. During that unseasonably chilly month, I watched as my emerging tomato plants steadfastly refused to budge beyond their seed leaves, as if to say ‘feck this for a game of cowboys, wake me when you have the heat on.’ It’s only the belated arrival, in the past few weeks, of some actual summer warmth that has, at last, spurred them into growth.
Let’s just say I know how they feel.
Daily Spud observers will have noticed an extended period of dormancy hereabouts but, whether it’s the warmth, or the season of new growth, a bout of spud activity this way comes, with me in the thick of it.
Sure it never rains but it pours. And while that old adage could be applied, literally, to the winter we’ve just had, over the past week, it has also been true of life in the spud lane.
It includes the clip above, for a program which will see me passing across the nation’s TV screens on Mon. Feb 24th (and more of that anon), but it started last Tuesday, with the I.F.A.’s National Potato Conference, and continued with a flurry of media reportage over the following days. Though, sadly, I could not attend the conference myself – there was the small matter of the day job, which keeps me in the spuds to which I have become accustomed – I think that the essence of what was said at the conference echoed the same event two years ago: we need to tackle falling levels of spud consumption and do what we can to promote the potato (because, y’know, it’s a damn fine thing to eat, as things to eat go).
The latest development in this respect is a commitment made by various interested parties – the Irish Potato Federation, the Irish Farmer’s Association and Bord Bia – to prepare an application for EU co-funding to support a €1M potato promotion campaign over the next three years, which will reflect the potato’s versatility and health benefits and, if all goes according to plan, stimulate long term consumer demand for spuds.***
*** A note to any spud officials reading: am available for potato promotion and generally bigging up the spud, and for a lot less than €1M too.
One word to say it all:
signage for the Spud-Off Mór at Tigh T.P.’s in Baile na nGall (Ballydavid) on the Dingle Peninsula
That was T.P.’s response when it was suggested that the story he was spinning might be somewhat less than factual.
I was in the West Kerry Gaeltacht, at the end of the Dingle Peninsula – almost as far west as you can get in Ireland before you fall off the edge – with some newly made acquaintances, scooting between events at the recent Féile an Phráta (Festival of the Potato). T.P., former master of Tigh T.P.’s pub in Ballydavid – now run by his son – had lead a walk that morning along the misty shores of Smerwick Harbour to the site of a famine-era village and had regaled the general company with stories and local lore.
“Ah now, pure truth, that’s a higher order of truth,” said the bould T.P., and you could almost hear the glint in his eye. Something told me that it wasn’t just the spuds hereabouts that might require a large pinch of salt.
T.P., man of pure truth