Creative Destinations & Interpretation

An award-winning tourism and digital consultancy delivering strategy, planning and implementation of visitor experiences and digital solutions


2016 Year of Food – Northern Ireland

By Felicity McNeice on 5th March 2015

2016 Year of Food – Northern Ireland image

This month Tourism Northern Ireland revealed that 2016 will be the Year of Food.  This means that there will be a wealth of opportunities for a range of businesses to promote not only food they produce and serve but other innovative links to the rich food heritage and offering in Northern Ireland.

You may not at first thought feel that your business is linked to food tourism – but don’t rule out getting involved in this great year simply because you are not a food producer or restaurant.  Visitors want to really embrace the food culture in the region, to find out the history and the stories behind the food. Northern Ireland is famed for its stories and the people’s ability to tell a good tale, be it as part of an exhibition, a cookbook or an audio trail.

A prime example of this is Sion Mills village where a new visitor experience is currently in development. Visitors will not only uncover a historical utopian village, but will also be able to enjoy the Sion Stables restaurant where their taste buds can revel in recipes from the 19th Century.

An original 1861 hand written cookery book by James Herdman of Sion Mills has been a thrilling find as part of the project’s development. This book was an exceptional find, and one that could not have occurred at a more relevant time for Northern Ireland.

Delicate to the touch, with aged brown pages and stunning period handwriting, it advises on the front page:

 “Read this before the Sion Mills Mutual Improvement Association on Thursday 26 December 1861.”

We might be 154 years late for the meeting but this hasn’t stopped us being fascinated to learn that:

“Tripe and boiled rice are digested in an hour ……. roast or boiled pork the longest period of time of five hours and a quarter. Whatever the nature of food the more thoroughly it is masticated the more readily it is digested.”

Packed full of recipes created to help the inhabitants of the village to live a healthier lifestyle, the cookery book is just one of many incredible artefacts hailing from Sion Mills. These historical gems highlight the importance of keeping traditions, culture and heritage alive. With so much history to this fascinating place, the Oli team has been exceptionally excited to uncover such material and also to be part of sharing these stories and materials with visitors. We are  to creating a brand new visitor experience incorporating the very latest in digital tourism technology, through a series of innovative image recognition interpretation solutions, smart phone app technology and a number of exciting new initiatives.

So we encourage everyone to embrace this opportunity for Northern Ireland. Oli Head of Tourism and Heritage, Siobhán McGuigan advises “This is a time for businesses from a range of sectors to think about how they can make the most of this opportunity.  As in recent years during ni2012: our time our place, and the Big Start of the Giro d’Italia, I would encourage businesses, individuals and local authorities to get their thinking caps on and come up with innovative ways to celebrate your local food culture. From developing food-themed events to developing your own local cookery books, exhibitions, food tours and apps, this is a time to get creative and think beyond the norm!”

Read more about the Sion Mills project and keep up to date with the latest project updates or Get in Touch with the team to find out more.

Read the official 2016 Year of Food Press Release

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