Last Saturday, Sonairte, the Eco-Visitor Centre in Laytown, Co. Meath, hosted a National Potato Day. It was well publicised on Peter Donegan’s podcast ‘Sodshow’, by Terry Flanagan on the Mooney Show (RTE Radio 1), by NEAR FM and by Gerry Kelly’s ‘Late Lunch’ show on LMFM local radio – as well as Fionnuala Fallon of The Irish Times and a number of other esteemed publications. Denise Dunne of also invited her local Naul GIY and other GIY enthusiasts.

As a result, potato enthusiasts, farmers, gardeners, chefs and journalists (plus their children) from all over Ireland beat a path to the old 18th century farm centre on the banks of the River Nanny estuary, which is Sonairte. Dave Langford from Mayo displayed a sample 100 or so varieties of potatoes which can be grown in Ireland, all shapes, sizes, colours and flavours. Dave also presented a passionate potato themed slide show mixing facts with fun.

Dermot Carey from Sligo demonstrated the Aran Bed method of growing potatoes. (Some folk call these ‘lazy beds’, but that name does not reflect the work involved!) I’ve never seen such a fast and neat operator with a spade. Dermot’s reputation as a master gardener is well deserved. Janet and team in the Sunflower Café served a number of delicious potato dishes for lunch. Caroline and team welcomed all visitors in to the Ecoshop to buy gardening or other products, or just to warm up! Déirdre set up a Kids’ Activities corner in the Bee Museum where potato pots were made from newspapers and potato printing art was created with bright paints and smiley faces!

Peter Donegan and his able young assistant Katie, wowed the crowd in the Big Hall (a former Cow Byre). Peter demonstrated ways of growing potatoes if space at home is in short supply, while Katie made some of the pots for the demonstration before our very eyes. Countrycrest and Meade Potatoes and their friendly ‘baked potato’ dishes Spud Wagon all added to the sights and appetising smells on the day.

Passions ran high when it came to selling seed potatoes. Over 20 varieties were on sale, but some punters nearly came to blows fighting over certain varieties! Thanks to Penny for serving the paying customers buying seed poatoes on the day – and for keeping the peace!

Trying a hand at planting potatoes using 'Aran Beds' in Sonairte's organic walled garden supervised by Dermot Carey (Sligo/Donegal)) & Denise Dunne (Naul GIY)

Trying a hand at planting potatoes using ‘Aran Beds’ in Sonairte’s organic walled garden supervised by Dermot Carey (Sligo/Donegal)) & Denise Dunne (Naul GIY)

There are still a  few bags of organic seed potatoes for sale after the day. They are for sale in Sonairte Wed – Sun or at the Dublin Food Co-op , Newmarket, on each Saturday. For €6 a bag or €10 for 2 bags, one can pick up the following varieties: Colleen, Toluca, Sarpo Axona, Bionica, Charlotte, Remarka, Sante, Sarpo Mira, Cara, Desiree, Robinta.

See you in Sonairte. Dermot’s Aran Beds are a work of art, well worth a look as the Orla potatoes he planted on seaweed start to grow in the next few weeks.


2 responses to this post.

  1. So sad to have missed this event! Would loved to have had the opportunity to hear Dermot & Peter share their expertise and to pick up a different variety of potatoes than the norm! Hopefully it will be repeated next year and will definitely add to the diary. Look forward to your progress reports.


    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on April 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Hopefully next Potato Day will come to your notice in good time. From Feb to December, Sonairte has events which may be of interest. Take a look at the calendar on If you want to get involved or perhaps help in organising another event, let know. Good growing. T


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