The Big Shed






The Big Shed…free entry with lots of scheduled events

The Big Shed, actually an enormous shed behind the Grainstore at Ballymaloe, is where most of the fringe events for the literary festival will take place.

There will be a host of food and drink related activities for young and old alike. Gardeners will rub shoulders with cooks, foragers with food historians, critics with musicians, artisan producers with bloggers – a melting pot of eating, drinking, speaking and thinking. A place to be quiet or to make noise. A place for new ideas, words old and new, inspiration, learning and fun.There will be food and drink to eat or take away, a chair or a straw bale to sit on, a gentle tune or a rhythmic rap to tap your toe to, a place to plant seeds, to draw a picture, to read quietly or out loud.


In the family corner there will be fancy dress and not so fancy dress, performance and painting. The area will provide a range of fun, interactive and creative activities based on the principle of food education. The design includes rural and urban areas, a music centre and trees to represent each season. Outside The Big Shed the grounds of Ballymaloe will be utilised for further fun activities including walks and games. UCC will host a couple of children’s creative writing workshops and hold story-telling sessions. A full timetable will be left at the entrance to the Family Corner.


Lucinda Robertson will display and sell her hand blown glass from Kilkenny alongside Sacha Whelan from Shanagarry with his timber chopping boards. Adrian Kinsella and Adam O Connor, graffiti artists with attitude will create works of art on site with a food and wine twist.

A cooperage display by Ger Buckley, Master Cooper, Midleton Distillery will take place also.

Kennys of Galway will sell the books of your favourite food and wine writers or even ship them to far flung corners of the globe if that is your heart’s desire. Michael Kelly will be there with his GIY (Grow it Yourself) travelling roadshow giving advice and leading practical lessons in the nation’s newest obsession – growing it yourself. Seeds will come from Brown Envelope Seeds in West Cork and Theresa Barry will have the herbs and other plants to fill your garden with all sorts of edible goodies.

Art instillations will abound and include the Cully and Sully wall and the glorious Queens of Neon doing their glamorous thing.

Interactive Presentation:  Engaging in Edible Education 
By: Ben Craig & the Root & Branch Organic Team


This interactive presentation on Edible Education will bring learning alive and showcase some of Root & Branch Organic’s innovative bespoke projects that explore where our food comes from.
The professional team of youthwork, horticultural and culinary facilitators are highly experienced and work with a wide range of clients in diverse settings.

Each Initiative is unique but the core themes are;

  • Relationship Building
  • Healthy & Sustainable Living
  • Creative Art, Cooking,
  • Gardening
  • Positive Mental Health

Ben & The Root & Branch Organic Team will be performing their interactive team style presentation in The Big Shed at the following times:

Saturday 4th May                   3pm
Sunday 5h May                     11am and 3pm


Arun Kapil will bring his magical blend of spices from India via Green Saffron, his blending kitchen in Midleton.
Fingal Ferguson from Gubbeen Farm in Schull will bring his wanderly wagon of fabulous charcuterie and cheese. He will also bring his beautiful handmade knives if you want to add an edge to your cooking when you get home.
Annie’s Roasts will roast home grown chickens on site and sandwich them between Declan Ryan’s wonderful Arbutus Bread.
Jack Crotty, aka the Rocket Man, will bring his salads which are nearly as colourful and delicious as his clothes.
Mark Kingston who roasts and grinds his coffee at the Golden Bean Coffee roaster, not 50 yards from the shed, will sate your caffeine needs.
Sinead Doran will make tea and serve it with buns, biscuits and cakes.
Lolo, our favourite Frenchman, will grill beef and bap them with mushrooms and marjoram. There will be petite treats from Treat Petite from Lower Aghada in the form of macarons and pop cakes.
Bill Casey will slice his smoked salmon and serve it on Ballymaloe brown bread or he will sell you a side of his lovely fish to take home.
Jane Murphy will tell you about her goats and her Ardsallagh  cheese that she makes with their milk.
Noreen Conroy will have her bacon and sausages from the family farm at Woodside near Midleton for you to buy and cook for breakfast when you get home.


There will be a wine & drinks area, with a dedicated area for talks and tastings, as well as a selection of drinks available to enjoy alongside the delicious food, including:

Wines from around the wine world with ‘Irish winemaking connections’ from Ballymaloe wine cellar

Beer from Irish Craft Brewers from around Ireland

A line-up of the finest Irish Whiskey from the award winning local Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, Midleton Distillery, and a talk & tasting on ‘Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey’ from Midleton Distillery, served alongside Irish Farmhouse Cheese

Wildside Catering will be serving a delicious selection of small plates in The Big Shed late into the evening.

Some of the wine and drinks talks & tastings planned, in addition to the Literary programme of wine events, so far include:

‘Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
Talk & tasting (taking place at various times over the weekend) on single pot still Irish Whiskey from Midleton Distillery, served alongside Irish Farmhouse Cheese

‘Rieslings to be Cheerful’
John McDonnell, of Wine Australia Ireland will showcase a selection of styles of Riesling, both from Australia, and from other parts of the wine world.

‘Wine and Literature’
John Wilson, wine writer, The Irish Times, will give a light-hearted wine tasting, accompanying each wine with a quote from some literary source, including Shaw, Fields, Colette, Rabelais and Pablo Neruda!’ (Details of John Wilson’s other events during the Literary Festival at this link here)

Ger Buckley, Master Cooper, of Midleton Distillery
Presentation and demonstration on everything to do with barrels and the ancient craft of cooperage

‘Fino and Manzanilla’
Dry Sherry – a tasting of Finos, including En-Rama style, and Manzanilla Sherry

‘Rewards of Patience’
A wine tasting by John McDonnell, Wine Australia Ireland

‘Irish Apple Brandy & Cider’ – talk and tasting with William O’Callaghan of Longueville House, Mallow, Co. Cork

Douro Valley – Still and Fortified’
White, Red and Port – talk and tasting on the Douro Valley, with Maurice O’Mahony, Wine Alliance

‘Tango & Malbec’  Wine talk & tasting of Malbec wines from Argentina, followed by Tango in association with the Cork Argentinean Tango Society (in the Carrigaun Room, at the Grain Store at Ballymaloe, which is adjacent to the Big Shed)

So a smorgasbord of deliciousness awaits in this shed – edible, audible, visual, sensual and practical. Come and join us for the fun of it all.