After some considerable hiatus – blame life, blame whatever distractions you like – there could be no better day on which to return than on this, my sixth blog birthday.
On exactly this day six years ago – and a Sunday it was too – I found a spud in my garden and – who’da thought – a voice to go with it. Since then, I have passed through one potato, two potato, three potato, four, moved through five potato, six potato, and, with any luck, there will, in the future, be seven potato, more.
The potato – a complex carbohydrate for sure.
That was how Pádraic Óg Gallagher introduced proceedings at an event in Gallagher’s Boxty House to mark the launch of last Friday’s National Potato Day. He’s not wrong, either – if six years of writing about the potato has taught me anything, it is that there is a great deal more to the spud than meets the eye.
It was a mighty busy week last week and no mistake. Amongst the various goings on, yours truly featured in last Friday’s installment of Dublin City FM‘s Sodshow with Peter Donegan, to which you can listen back below (and, yes, the interview was recorded much earlier this year – at Sonairte‘s Potato Day – hence the springtime talk of potatoes chitting in my hallway).
Curiously enough, it was when I reemerged from the recording of said interview that I stumbled into what I later christened The Great Potato Standoff of 2013 – an incident which had everything to do with the feverish interest generated by the return of the Lumper potato last March. And, as I learned this week, those newly-resurrected Famine-era spuds are far from a flash in the pan…
A feed of Lumpers
Back in March of this year, Marks & Spencer Ireland announced a limited three week run of Lumpers, grown for them by Michael McKillop of Glens of Antrim Potatoes. It signalled the first time that the Lumper potato – which had been the mainstay of the Irish peasant farmer in the pre-Famine era, and which had succumbed in such devastating fashion to the onslaught of blight in 1845 – had been grown in any kind of significant quantity in Ireland in around 170 years.
With the sincerest of apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, I was inspired by events last Friday to pen this slightly less than epic variation on his Charge of the Light Brigade:
Spuds to right of them,
Spuds to left of them,
Spuds behind them;
And on through Temple Bar,
Strode the six hundred;
Though some may indeed have come charging past that evening, it was chiefly in their numbers that the denizens of Dublin’s Temple Bar bore any resemblance to the 600 immortalised in Tennyson’s classic. As Pádraic Óg Gallagher stood in front of Gallagher’s Boxty House passing out boxty dumpling tasters, Sam Dennigan Jr. and others from his namesake potato company offered bags of their microwaveable spuddies to passing striders and, in an engagement that lasted a mere 90 minutes, they had, give or take, 600 takers for their ready-to-go packets of baby spuds.
Sam Dennigan Jr. with potatoes for those trooping
through Temple Bar last Friday evening
This, then, was National Potato Day.