St Patrick’s Day always conjures up lovely childhood memories for me. Having grown up in Ballymena, Co Antrim, I was lucky that Slemish was in close proximity and the perfect location to celebrate the day. Slemish is the mountain where St Patrick worked as a shepherd. One of the reasons that I know the story so well is thanks to the musical “Patrick and the Bells” that we performed at St Louis Primary School. That was a loooong time ago but I remember it well nonetheless. It has amazed me that the musical has never been produced on a larger scale as, in my head, it is every bit as good as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
The Cast of Patrick & the Bells
Then there was the occasion when I was 11 years old and a gang of us cycled out to the mountain. That didn’t end so well on the return trip home with my brother lending his bike to a pal, him borrowing mine and my friend giving me a backy on, if my memory serves me correctly, her Triumph 21. However, we lived to tell the tale with a few cuts and bruises, a lost tooth and a write off for a bike…
This year was my first return to Ballymena for St Patrick’s Day in a few years. Although we didn’t make the pilgrimage to Slemish, we did pay a visit to the Ecos Centre and admired the mountain from afar. I also availed of the opportunity to buy some goodies that are due to be highlighted on Best Possible Taste in the next month or so – namely Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil and Keen Nut Butter.
Hannah, Mum & Mikey with Slemish in the Background
The visit home coincided with my mum’s birthday so it was an excuse to make the delicious Nigella Lawson Chocolate Guinness Cake that Sharon Hearne Smith recommended on Best Possible Taste last week. It turned out great despite my limited baking skills and I was confident enough to take a piece to Michael Deane. I met Michael last week to interview him for my show on West Limerick 102FM. His is a truly fascinating story of hard work, intuition and learning from the very odd mistake and has resulted in an incredible restaurant empire in Belfast. Oh and there’s a bit of Fireman Sam also! The interview will air on a forthcoming programme so be sure to tune in on line Tuesdays 8pm-9pm.