Cork farmer targets international wellness and fine dining market

The Cork farm family that hosts the Indiependence music festival on its land annually, is planning to launch a high-end residential retreat, targeting the international fine dining and wellness market.

Pat and Miriam Mulcahy of Ballinwillin House are all set to host Indiependence on their deer and wild boar farm in Mitchelstown on August 3,4 and 5.

They have been hosting the festival which is organised by a local committee since 1992. Miriam runs a B&B in the 18th century house and courtyard wing of Ballinwillin.

The Mulcahy family recently hosted a weekend of dining and mindfulness events to celebrate the Old Butter Roads Festival.

This event was established in 2017 by a group of family-owned and run restaurants, producers and activity providers to promote the culinary attributes of the Avondhu, Blackwater, Dunhallow and Muskerry areas of Munster.

The programme at Ballinwillin included: an outdoor pop-up ‘Bao Boi’ supper; a long table dinner by Bryan McCarthy from Greene’s Restaurant and Cask, Cork, and a ‘Slow at Work’ workshop by food writer, Aoife McElwain.

The award-winning chef used organic farmed venison and wild boar from Ballinwillin as well as ingredients from the locality to create memorable dining experiences for guests. Wines from the Mulcahy family’s vineyard in Hungary were matched with dishes.

Garden

One of the highlights was the unveiling of a holistic garden which has areas devoted to mindfulness and meditation.

Pat Mulcahy developed the garden in the grounds of Ballinwillin as a result of the mental and physical aftermath of the worst winter he has experienced since his move to Mitchelstown 40 years ago.

“Burnout is becoming increasingly prevalent in society,” said Pat who grew up on a small farm in west Limerick and who now farms 200ac between owned and rented land.

“There is a great atmosphere of tranquility and peace at Ballinwillin which guests often remark on, particularly those with demanding jobs and busy lives,” said Pat who keeps 800 deer and 350 wild boar.

“We are very excited about developing new experiences that focus on good food, health and wellbeing – and we are collaborating with various partners in the industry to create a suite of unique retreats.”

Also Read: Cork farmer responds to ‘worst winter’ with mindfulness garden

Pat, who worked as a Garda by night and a horticulturist by day after leaving school, recalled how as a child he was always trying to think of ways to help his parents generate a little extra income on the farm.

He recalled disappearing for hours with a stick on the farm to reflect, and it was taking that time out that led to his interest over the years in mindfulness and meditation, he said.

Aoife McElwaine, who conducted the wellness workshop at Ballinwillin, said that livestock farmers are at particular risk of burnout.

“There is a social pressure on farmers not to let the land go,” she said. Farmers need to find some ‘leaning on the gate’ time, she contended.

Farmers and other people need to develop “safety valves” and techniques to deal with stress and to learn to appreciate what is around them, Pat said. More information is available for those interested on the Ballinwillin house website.