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Margaret Kirwan

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

It's become fashionable for Irish governments to give Ministers more than one portfolio. If you get Agriculture, then Marine comes with it. The Justice portfolio might be paired with Defence.
This is a good idea, up to a point.
And the point is this: if you appointed Mag Kirwan to the dual-portfolio gig, then all would be well. The people could relax. The system would work. Ms Kirwan, with her colossal energy and creativity, would have the work of two departments done lickety-spit, and would be back off home to Kilkenny to run Goatsbridge Trout farm by Thursday morning.
Back at base, with her partner Ger, she would be firing off more ideas, plans, developments, schemes and concepts, all the while producing the best trout in Ireland.
Cross the energy of the Duracell bunny with the energy of Darina Allen, and the result is Mag Kirwan, of Goatsbridge Trout Farm. Ireland's culinary culture is full of formidable girls who can mix polemic with their potato gratin, who can do inventiveness and innovation with their morning coffee, who can shepherd interns and students at the same time as running a business that employs loads of people, who can speak at a conference in the morning and then head back to the farm. But even amongst that formidable sisterhood, a sisterhood that is the bedrock of Irish food, Ms Kirwan is something else. She's the woman who sells caviar to the Russians, remember.
Coming from a family of ten kids might explain the alpha-female skills, but there is also the fact that where Ms Kirwan farms trout – around the corner from Jerpoint Abbey, on The Little Arrigle River – is a site in County Kilkenny with a food history going back 800 years, and the modern day Goatsbridge operation extends back more than half a century. History weighs heavily here, and you have to be up to your mark to match it.
In recent years the Kirwans have expanded out their range from the original trout, and there is now smoked fish, pates, and their award-winning trout caviar, all of them crowned by funky packaging that shows their ability to make a simple core product into a luxe experience.
But Ms Kirwan's energy means that any new venture or project or initiative at Goatsbridge is just the latest manifestation of a hyper-creativity: there will be something new coming along shortly, as she builds Goatsbridge into a mega-brand. Just watch her.

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