...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

Spud Sunday: Like It Or Lumper

Sonairte Potato Day

Sonairte Potato Day:
first held in 2011 and lovely to see it make a return this year
under the stewardship of Trevor Sargent, with the
Lissadell/Langford collection on display, lazy bed demonstrations, good potato eating in the café, and talks on potato growing and
on the fascinating world of the spud

I will think of it hereafter as The Great Potato Standoff of 2013.

The white-haired gentleman had, in my absence, clutched one of my two packets of Lumpers and was peering somewhat demandingly in my direction.

“Well, are they for sale or aren’t they?” he said. It was more challenge than question. He repeated it several times.

Startled, I hemmed and hawed my way through explaining to this man (and assembled others, who were now also desirous to establish the for-saleness of said spuds) that these Lumpers were not, in fact, for sale. They were samples I had brought along for the curious to see at this, Sonairte’s Potato Day. I had suspected that – given recent media coverage of the commercial re-cultivation of this Famine-era potato – that they would be a talking point. It seemed a nice, oh-wouldn’t-that-be-interesting kind of thing to do, but to say that the aforementioned gentleman was peeved at being unable to secure these particular potatoes would be somewhat of an understatement.

Blue Danube Potatoes

I had brought some fine Blue Danube potatoes too, from the
Sitric Community Garden – my Lumper-loving friend was oblivious to their charms, however

He had heard it on the Mooney Show, you see. Talk of the event at Sonairte and of old varieties and of Lumpers and of potato seed for sale. He came to the reasonable – but, alas for him, incorrect – conclusion, that the available seed stock would include Lumpers. Sure hadn’t he gotten in his car and come all the way from Cavan, specifically to secure Lumper seed, so that he could plant and grow them for all the family. By not selling the Lumpers, I had, albeit unwittingly, dashed his plans and ruined his day. Not to mention missing the chance to make a few bob for myself in the process. Sheesh. I had visions of him calling Liveline to complain.

Sharpe's Express seed potatoes

Sharpe’s Express seed potatoes:
there were plenty of these, and other varieties, for sale at Sonairte alright

There was no opportunity to explain that, in an ideal world, I would have consigned the Lumpers, to which this man was holding fast, to a pot of boiling water, to be cooked and eaten by any and all – as we had been able to do a couple of weeks back at the Organic Centre’s Potato Day. As that hadn’t been possible here, the next, but, as it turns out, unintentionally fraught thing to do was to leave the tubers on display, which, in this fellow’s case, served only to taunt.

In the end, my attempt to placate the unlucky gentleman with the offer of a handful of Lumpers was met with disdain. “Sure that’s no good. I wanted enough for the family.” Big family, I thought, if the spuds from growing the five offered seeds would not provide enough to go around the dinner table at least once. I tried to give a few to his wife while he wasn’t looking but I guess that she knew what his reaction would be, and declined.

And the moral of the story? Never, ever underestimate how fanatical people can get about potatoes. Dave Langford, whose knowledge of, and enthusiasm for the spud enthralled the attendees at Sonairte yesterday, would, I’m sure, agree.

Dave Langford at Sonairte Potato Day

Dave Langford – a man of many spuds – talks potatoes, and then some, at Sonairte Potato Day

One to watch…

Speaking of potatoes (as is my wont), they will feature as part of a new six-part series starting at 9.30pm this coming Thursday on TG4. Bia Dúchais (Our Native Food), made by Marmalade Films, explores our Irish food heritage and the history of our relationship with some of the staples that have sustained us down through the centuries, from potatoes, pork and salmon to grains, honey and cheese. It’s a nicely shot, thoughtful series, with each episode featuring contributions from historians, food producers and chefs. Well worth a look, I’d say.

Bia Dúchais Promo from Marmalade Films on Vimeo.


  1. Jane @ EarthAppleJane

    What a fabulous post Aoife! I was grinning the whole way through! Sounds like a great day out for most at least ;))

  2. Daily Spud

    Indeed so Jane, I think *most* people there were pretty happy with the way the day turned out :)

  3. Brian@irelandfavorites

    I was afraid you might take a few lumps protecting your lumbers, Glad you are safe,

  4. Daily Spud

    I was mildly worried alright Brian, but all’s well that ends well (in my case at least!)

  5. Mairead

    “Never, ever underestimate how fanatical people can get about potatoes.” Love that statement and it is ever so true. Living in America I miss all the different kinds of spuds in Ireland. Idahos and Yukon Golds just don’t satisfy my Irish trained taste buds.
    All the best,

  6. Daily Spud

    I hear ya, Mairead – there are so many different kinds of potato, seems a shame to be restricted to just one or two varieties.

  7. Abigail

    It sounds like a very exciting day Aoife! Good to hear you came out unscathed, it’s not wise to withold delicious potatoes from us ;-)

  8. Daily Spud

    Well it certainly wasn’t without incident Abigail, that’s for sure! And yes, it does go to show that it’s not wise to come between a potato lover and their spuds :D

  9. Trevor Sargent

    Hi Aoife,
    That passion for potatoes was palpable on Potato Day! I hope the Lumper hunter remembers his manners before the next Potato Day. We appreciate all the more your participation at Sonairte’s Potato Day in the light of that teasy tete-a-tete!
    Good growing and savouring,

  10. Daily Spud

    Hi Trevor – I suppose the proof in that particular pudding will be whether the Lumper hunter returns for the next event – hopefully his ire will have dissipated by then! Congrats on a very enjoyable event at Sonairte – may there be many more in the future.

  11. Eadaoin

    I’ve never heard of someone getting so indignant over potatoes before, but I guess there’s always someone!! Hopefully he’ll get his hands on some before long, but it’s a real shame he didn’t take the couple your offered him! Makes for a funny story though :)

  12. Daily Spud

    Indeed, Eadaoin, it’s true what they say – there’s always one :) The phrase cutting off his nose to spite his face also springs to mind… Still, it takes all sorts and, if you’re going to be fanatical about something, then there are far worse things to be fanatical about than spuds!

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