With a theme to “Showcase a Unique Destination – The Boyne Valley” and an attendance of over 250 delegates, the two-day conference hosted by Boyne Valley Tourism on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th February was undoubtedly a great success. Beginning with a tour of the Battle of the Boyne, Oldbridge and a Civic Reception in the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda on Thursday 27th February, delegates were welcomed by Cllr. Richie Culhane, Mayor of Drogheda and Cllr. John V. Farrelly, Cathaoirleach, Meath County Council and Chairman of Meath Tourism. The Conference, Exhibition and “Boyne Appétit” Gala Dinner was held on Friday 28th February in the City North Hotel, Co. Meath. Organised by Boyne Valley Tourism with support from Fáilte Ireland the delegates included tour operators, travel writers, professional conference organisers, decision makers and representatives from the tourism trade within the region. The Conference and Exhibition focused on four different categories: Heritage & Culture; Leisure & Holidays; Business and Food. The Exhibition that ran alongside the Conference added an exciting element to the event with over 40 local tourism businesses showcasing what they have to offer.
The civic reception to launch the conference on Thursday was hosted by Joan Martin, Director of Services, Louth County Council in the magnificent Highlanes Gallery. Guests heard from Cllr. Richie Culhane, Mayor of Drogheda and Cllr. John V. Farrelly, Cathaoirleach, Meath County Council and Chairman of Meath Tourism. Members of the Drogheda Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann entertained the guests that numbered almost one hundred and included tour operators, tour guides and local tourism providers.
Councillor Richie Culhane said that “Meath and Louth have been working hand in hand for the past few years to jointly promote the Boyne Valley as a tourism destination. This unique approach, which ignores town or county boundaries, has without any doubt brought great results”.
Councillor John V. Farrelly said “I am delighted with the success of this, our inaugural conference. The buy-in from the tourism industry throughout the Boyne Valley Region was tremendous, the best in years”.
At the main conference, exhibition and gala dinner held on the Friday delegates were addressed by 20 speakers that include Raymond Coyle, Managing Director Largo Foods and Tayto Park; Stephen Cotter, General Manager CIE Tours International; Rosemary Stipe from USA based Travellers Inc; Mairead McGuinness MEP; Gary Breen, Failte Ireland; Kevin Stewart, Director of Services, Meath County Council, Darach McQuaid Giro d’Italia; Dr. Loreto Guinan, Heritage Officer Meath County Council; Clare Tuffy, OPW, Manager Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre; Neil Jackman, Executive Director, Travel Guides Ltd/Abarta Audioguides; Nicholas Whyatt; Senior Engineer, Meath County Council; Anna Conor, Walking & Trails Development Officer, Mayo County Council ; Paula McCaul, Acting Boyne Valley Tourism Officer; Clara Clarke, Sales and Marketing Manager, 4-Star Knightsbrook Hotel & Golf Resort: Pauric White, chef & owner, The Forge Restaurant; Olivia Duff, Fáilte Ireland Food Ambassador; Nicola Cassidy, Sales & Marketing Manager, The d Hotel, Drogheda; and Andy Greenslade, Sales and Marketing Manager, CityNorth Hotel .
Councillor John V. Farrelly opened the Conference on the Friday and welcomed the many tour operators and tour guides from all over Ireland to the showcase of what the Boyne Valley has to offer. He commended the forty plus tourism providers for their innovative approach to exhibiting what they have to offer visitors to the Boyne Valley.
Kevin Stewart, Director of Services, Meath County Council and Joan Martin, Director of Services Louth County Council chaired the sessions during the conference.
The Conference dinner called ‘Boyne Appétit’ on the Friday night was a gastronomic experience showcasing food and drinks produced in the Boyne Valley. Henry, The Marquess Conyngham, Olivia Duff, Boyne Valley Food Series and Dermot Seebery, food writer and former International 5 Star Chef spoke at dinner.
Addressing those in attendance Councillor John V. Farrelly, Catharloich and Chair of Meath Tourism said “Having Mairead McGuinness (MEP) speak at the conference and officially launch the Boyne Valley Food Series was of significant importance to me. Originally the Meath Food Series, this initiative began in 2012 after a food expo held in Kells and attended by the then Deputy Shane McEntee (RIP) who was very excited about showcasing local food producers. The Food Series has gone from strength to strength and I am sure my dear departed friend Shane would have been very proud to have seen the initiative extend to cover the entire Boyne Valley Region”.
The evening ended on a high with the Meath Harp Ensemble performing the famous Chronicles of Meath. The Chronicles include a specially commissioned classical piece called ‘The Boyne Lament’ performed by Teresa O’Donnell.
With all the produce freshly sourced in the Boyle Valley Region the “Boyne Appetite” menu included
Pre-Dinner Drinks Reception
Stameen Farm Apple Juice, Dan Kelly’s Cider
Slane Castle Whiskey
The above drinks are also available from the bar
Selection of freshly baked breads from
Sweet Pea Barn
Derrycamma Honey-Mustard Oil,
Newgrange Gold Camelina Oil,
Blást Black Olive Tapenade Butter,
In Season Farm Tomato Relish
Smoked salmon, crab & cucumber salad,
Lemon Rapeseed Oil
Coastguard Seafood, In Season Farm salads,
Derrycamma Farm lemon rapeseed oil
Honey roasted root vegetable soup,
Chive crème fraiche,
Sweet Pea Barn bread rolls,
Blást Wild Irish Garlic & Pesto Butter
Lannléire honey, Meade potatoes, In Season Farm,
Kilbeg Dairies crème fraiche
Burke’s apple sorbet
Burke’s Farm Sorbet, Stameen farm apple juice
Cider braised pork belly,
wholegrain mustard mash, thyme jus
The Whole Hoggs, Dan Kelly’s Cider, Meade Potatoes,
Derrycamma Farm mustard
Pan fried hake, crushed purple potatoes,
red pepper coulis
Coastguard Seafoods, In Season Farm, Meade Potatoes
Served with In Season Farm fresh vegetables and
baby roasters from Meade Potatoes
Buttermilk panna cotta, poached rhubarb, salted
caramel ice-cream, scrumchy muesli
Kilbeg Dairies, In Season Farm,
Burke’s Farm Ice Cream, Oriel Sea Salt
Selection of local cheeses - Boyne Valley Blue,
Bellingham Blue, Glebe Brethan
Served withSheridan’s crackers and chutney,
In Season Farm golden beetroot relish,
TEA & COFFEE
Chocolates by Ferdia Fine Foods
Coole Swan - Dairy Cream Liquer