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Q&A Series: Colette Twomey of Clonakilty Food Co.
13 December 2018|Q&A Series

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Guaranteed Irish member Clonakilty Food Co. is the maker of Ireland’s favourite Blackpudding, Clonakilty Blackpudding, the recipe for which hasn’t changed since the 1880s. We sat down with Colette Twomey, Managing Director of Clonakilty Food Co., to learn more about the history of the company and why she once had to carry sausages in her suitcase!

Could you tell us a bit about the history of Clonakilty Blackpudding?

It all started in 1976 in a Clonakilty butcher shop run by my late husband Edward Twomey. In buying the butcher shop, Edward also got the recipe for the Blackpudding that was made there. The blackpudding was first made by Johanna O’Brien in the 1880s, and the recipe was passed down through generations of the butcher shop owners. We follow the same recipe to this day! People would order our pudding for one another as gifts, and it became very popular at Christmas. Once people started coming into the butcher shop just for the blackpudding, it became clear that there was a business in the pudding alone. We called it Clonakilty after the town, designed a label and began selling it in small shops. After a while more and more supermarkets wanted it on their shelves. Tastings were really key to this growth – we set up stalls in stores, markets, festivals – you name it! Eventually we expanded to our range of products that people know us for today, which includes Clonakilty Whitepudding, Clonakilty Sausages, and Clonakilty Rashers.

Why is using Irish ingredients important to your company?

It’s simply what we’ve always done! We started with local ingredients back in 1976, and it’s been that way ever since. It’s important for people to know where their food comes from, so in addition to using Irish ingredients, we try to use local ingredients wherever possible. For instance, we use Guaranteed Irish member Flahavan’s Oats in our blackpudding.

Your company regularly posts recipes online which use your products in delicious and innovative ways. Where do you find these recipes?

We’ve always enjoyed a great relationship with our customers, and people regularly tell us how they use our products. Fans and chefs alike send in all kinds of recipes! So when we see one that we particularly like, we get permission to post it on our website and social media.

What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?

As a food producer the challenge is to keep price competitive. This can mean compromising on the quality of your products ingredients, which is something we would never consider.

Why did you decide to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?

The Guaranteed Irish symbol keeps customers aware of where the food is coming from, and assures them that it is produced locally. The symbol is a stamp of approval and confidence that the product and the company is not just Irish, but that the customers who buy it are supporting the Irish economy.

Are there any funny stories to share?

We were once invited to serve our sausages at a yacht party in Monaco, which was to be attended by Prince Albert. In order to get the sausages to Monaco in time for the event, they needed to leave the warehouse on the Monday and arrive on the the Wednesday. There was a mix up with the warehouse, however, and the sausages never arrived! So in the end we had to bring the meat over in our suitcases. We got plenty of strange looks at the airport! The event went quite well however – Prince Albert enjoyed our products so much that he said he would bring the leftovers up to the palace to freeze!

Why should consumers come to Clonakilty Blackpudding this Christmas?

Nothing says Christmas like Clonakilty Blackpudding! We hear so many lovely stories of people requesting a Clonakilty breakfast as their first meal when they arrive home from the far corners of the world for Christmas. I think it’s a bit of nostalgia for their childhood and the fact that Clonakilty is now seen as being quintessentially Irish. With this in mind, we do a tasting in Cork Airport Arrivals Hall in the few days before Christmas so that people can try some just as they arrive home!

For those preparing for the festivities, we also have plenty of recipes that are perfect for Christmas dinner or Christmas parties – recipes like this Clonakilty Blackpudding Stuffed Chicken Breast or these lovely Clonakilty Cocktail Sausages with Honey and Sesame Seeds.

Visit the Clonakilty Blackpudding website here and follow Clonakilty Blackpudding on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

When you purchase a gift from a Guaranteed Irish company, you are supporting a business which is committed to Irish jobs, local communities and Irish provenance. So, remember to #BuyGI this Christmas!