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Spud Sunday: Rare, Old and Unusual Potatoes

collector and exhibitor of rare, old and unusual potatoes

So proclaims the business card of the fabulously enthusiastic Dave Langford, whom it was my distinct pleasure to meet today at the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, at their annual celebration of our national tuber.

potato day signage

Myself and resident sis had made the trip out west for said Potato Day and were guided into the depths of lovely Leitrim by our western correspondent MGH. On display at the open day, courtesy of the aforementioned potato maestro Dave, were a large sampling of the 150 or so varieties of spud that Dave has in his collection, in suitably varied shapes, sizes and colours.

Not one to pass up the opportunity of expanding my knowledge of all things spud, I introduced myself to Dave and got straight to the point. What did Dave think of Shetland Blacks, that heirloom variety that I was so excited to have sprouting at this very moment in my shed. What he said was….


He later expanded that to “bland and a bit mealy”.

Well, that stopped your roving reporter in her tracks. It was not what I had read. Still, the man has partaken of far more potato varieties than most and was a member of the UN steering committee for last year’s International Year of the Potato to boot. He clearly has a finely tuned potato palate and an opinion worth listening to. He reckoned that some of the heirloom varieties that have been dusted off and brought back into cultivation were being chosen somewhat more for their aesthetics than their taste. There were heirloom varieties out there that were tastier than the Shetland Blacks, but they just didn’t look as good. Like so many other things, it seems that we judge there to be beauty or otherwise in the eye, skin and flesh of the potato, and act accordingly.

And so we moved on from Shetland Blacks and talked of much else, from the range of varieties to planting traditions to potato-as-dessert. As I made ready to take my leave, Dave gestured at the bounteous display of potatoes.

Potato varieties on display at the Organic Centre

Just some of the varieties on display

“Which would you like?”

That stopped your spud mistress in her tracks for the second time that afternoon.

These were part of his display collection. These were not for sale. But I was about to have my pick. Spud’s Saturday had been made by a mention in The Irish Times weekend supplement and this offer was about to make for a truly memorable Spud Sunday.

I picked a sample of the Champion variety, one I had heard my father mention. After that, I let Dave choose and he selected a May Queen (similar to, but better than, British Queen in his opinion) and a Bloomer, which I suspect is quite rare and unusual.

So it was that I left Rossinver clutching 3 brown bags containing 3 seed potatoes for 3 different varieties, to add to the 3 varieties that I already have sprouting in my shed. A case of good things coming in threes, if ever there was one.


  1. Reeni

    How cool! That was super nice of him! I look forward to hearing how the growing goes and most of all how they taste.

  2. Jenni

    Kudos to you on your Banner Weekend! A mention in the paper and free spuds from the Spud Master himself–you are Big League, lady:D

    It’s kind of funny that people are hung up on potato aesthetics when they’re all pretty humble looking to begin with. People are odd.

    Can’t wait to hear your reviews of your rarities once you’ve been able to try them!

  3. Heather

    so many potatoes! i’ve never seen all of them! can’t wait to hear about them :)

  4. Angry Brit

    I adore potatoes, because, well, who doesn’t? I would love to grow my own, but saying that I do not have a green thumb would be generous. I usually kill every plant ever put into my care. Herbs, flowers, trees- you name it, I will have killed it. How difficult is it to grow potatoes? How fussy are they?

  5. The Other Tiger

    How cool! Sounds like a great day.

  6. Sophie

    MMMMMM….all those different variaties of yummie potatoes!! Lucky you!!! In Brussels, we are lucky to get 5 different sorts of potatoes!!!

  7. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie

    So many wonderful potatoes! Congrats on the feature in Irish times – how neat!

  8. Tangled Noodle

    What a great weekend you must have had! Please keep us posted on your new seed potoatoes (and I still want to hear all about the Shetland Blacks). Anything is better than the russet I picked up yesterday – I was in a hurry, the Yukon Golds were all green and I grabbed 2 ‘taters that looked like the sizes I wanted. Unfortunately, one was all soft and turning wrinkly. Ugh. Perhaps we can plan our next trip to Ireland to coincide with this lovely festival of ‘propitious esculents’!

  9. OysterCulture

    What a tubular adventure – how exciting to find a Sunday event focused on you well, focus. It sounds as if Dave was not cut out for copywriting, or marketing for that matter, but he certainly wins points for honesty.

    The blacks sound intriguing, I wonder if they are black all the way through – I am considering making a meal entirely of naturally black food, get on a color there as it were, and this potato sounds like a worthy addition.

    The three you selected sound wonderful and I look forward to seeing what you elected to do with them.

    Congrats on the mention in The IRish Times, my feet would not have touched the ground if that had been me!

  10. noble pig

    That potato display is just cool! What an time that would be and I would love it.

  11. English Mum

    Spud, only you could unearth (see what I did there?) such a thing as an Annual Potato Day. I love it. :0)

  12. Daily Spud

    Reeni: I’m looking forward to it myself!

    Jenni: yeah, isn’t it odd – I didn’t think anyone had ever accused a spud of being good looking!

    Heather: I’ll be happy to report in due course :)

    Angry Brit: I actually find spuds less fussy to grow than most veg (and believe me, I’ve killed a goodly share of plants in my time!). If you grow varieties which mature early in the summer, it seems to be possible to avoid the worst of the diseases that can attack.

    Other Tiger: yep, it was a lovely day :)

    Sophie: well, even here in the local shops, we don’t see too many different varieties, so it was also exciting for me to see so many in one place

    Natasha: thanks, it was an exciting weekend all round!

    Tangled Noodle: oh I will absolutely report on the Shetland Blacks and sorry to hear about your unfortunate russet experience; I would love you to visit here again and meet some superior spuds!

    Oyster Culture: thanks! The Shetland Blacks are really just black (or at least very dark) on the outside; the interior is light-coloured apart from a single (quite photogenic) purple ring, which, it would appear, is part of their appeal

    noble pig: yes, I’m quite sure that you would love it!

    English Mum: yep, I see what on earth it is you did there alright, excellent work :)

  13. Lori

    Okay, i seriously had no idea how diverse and complex potatoes were. How interesting! You teach, I learn. :)

  14. The Duo Dishes

    So many taters. It’s all so interesting. Can’t wait to see how you use them.

  15. zerrin

    I can never imagine those varieties of potatoes. I had just one potato image in my mind before this post and before I discovered your blog.

  16. Jennifer

    Free potatoes and a feature! oh, and an award:

  17. Chef E

    How are you today my wee Irish friend and possible blood cousin of sorts? Later today I am highlighting you on my ‘Green’ post…

    Love this as usual, and we know potatoes will be around long after we leave this place!

  18. Chef E

    BTW email me your address, I am sending you some Mung beans and quinoa grain and flour! I want to so don’t make a fuss girl! elizabeth@cookappeal.com

  19. Daily Spud

    Lori: …and I appreciate that you keep coming back for more potatoes :)

    Duo Dishes: it should make for an interesting summer of potato trials!

    zerrin: I know what you mean, and there’s even more varieties than I had imagined

    Jennifer: you are most kind (and apologies for missing this earlier) – thank you so much!

    Chef E: I am very well on this Paddy’s Day and delighted to be highlighted in your Green Post, I couldn’t think of anything better :) I am also looking forward to receiving your care package and blogging about it!

  20. doggybloggy

    my favorite – the peruvian purple potato….this looks like it was a good time…

  21. Daily Spud

    It was indeed most enjoyable. No peruvian purple potatoes though, which I’d love to get my hands on – they just look so good!

  22. Maggie

    This is so exciting! I can’t wait for your harvest!

  23. Daily Spud

    Ah, Maggie it was great. It’ll be time to get those spuds in the ground soon, can’t wait!

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