The story of Ireland’s Artisan Pantry is one of my love of Ireland and a desire to share the best Irish artisan food.
My name is Aoife, and I am the founder of Ireland’s Artisan Pantry.
Do you love Ireland and Irish food? I do! I have made it by mission to champion independent Irish food producers and get them seen, tasted, and enjoyed by people all over the world.
A little about me…I live by the sea in Dublin and am married with 2 small children. I am the eldest of 7 children and I suppose we epitomize the traditional large Irish family! During my childhood, my parents fostered many children and passed onto me the importance of providing a warm welcome and the desire to care for others. Food was central to family life with a shared dinner around the table the heart of our day. My grandparents were foodies; Grandad Sean and Nana grew their own tomatoes, made (slightly lethal) homebrew and were famous for their ‘game dinners.’ Life was simple and you either grew your own food or knew where it came from. I have never tasted home-made soda bread or raspberry jam as good as my Grannie Rose’s and I don’t think I ever will! My mother Isobel’s flapjacks are legendary and my dad’s ‘Smokies’ are the best seafood I have ever tried. This love of food has been passed down to each generation in our family and my brothers and sisters are all excellent cooks thanks to our parents.
My husband Danny is from County Tipperary and my children are lucky to experience farm to fork as a way of life when visiting the family farm. We love being in nature with the Galtee Mountains in the distance, listening to the cattle and walking the fields. My mother-in-law Liz collects sloes and makes the most delicious sloe gin each year; it is a real treat I always look forward to.
I was inspired to start my company because of my twin passions in life – good food and Ireland’s incredible tourism scene. I spent an enjoyable 15 years promoting Ireland abroad and at home; from teaching Irish culture in Italy to working with the Irish tourist board in Canada and Dublin, sharing why Ireland is such a fantastic country to visit. I have worked at some of the biggest tourism attractions in Ireland, a pure joy and I now know Ireland’s hidden foodie gems like the back of my hand.
During this time, I attended many overseas events which showcased Irish food producers and I got to know the producers and see their raw talent first-hand. People from all over the world loved experiencing a taste of Ireland – from a County Cork black pudding to Potato flavoured Irish gin (Yes that exists!) They were amazed at the quality of the produce and saw what a vibrant food scene contemporary Ireland offers.
I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment when I received a gift from an Irish hamper company with over 15 products and not one of them was made in Ireland. I wanted to create a more authentic Irish gift using the amazing array of Irish produce on my doorstep. I set up my business because I believe in the Ireland’s independent food producers and I feel their quality products deserve to be seen and appreciated on a much wider scale. Since 2020, I have showcased 70 (and growing) small-batch food producers from across the island of Ireland.
I have a monthly subscription box which is a slice of Ireland in a box, and I like to think of it as the opportunity to virtually visit a different farmer’s market in Ireland every month. Each box will allow you to meet 7 makers from a particular Irish region, taste their products, read about their stories, and get recipes and top travel tips for their area. This is a unique opportunity to try a box of food from your ancestral county and home! I also offer over 20 once-off hampers such as ‘Welcome to Wicklow’ or ‘Home Sweet Cork’ that you can gift to anyone around the world and share a taste of Ireland.
Sustainability is at the core of my company. My family taught me to live simply and enjoy food sourced and produced locally. This philosophy is the foundation of my company – to work with local producers from across the 4 corners of Ireland and support their businesses. By doing so, local communities thrive, farmer’s markets flourish and small businesses who employ local people can be sustained. I know where and how the products I source are made which is very important to me. I keep the packaging needed to send my boxes to a minimum and where it is necessary, I avoid waste and use recyclable or biodegradable materials, all bought from Irish suppliers. By its nature, food is consumable and instead of accumulating more ‘stuff’ you are enjoying or gifting an experience that will give pleasure and be appreciated.
Ireland is a nation of storytellers and I think that the stories of Irish makers are what draws us to them – what part of Ireland do they live in and what is the food culture there? Where do they draw their inspiration from and how do they make their products? I love sharing their stories and recipes and inspiring others to taste and create at home.
I love food and my customers do too. Food to me is about togetherness. It is a passion. I feel most alive sharing a meal around a table with those that I love. I hope that a box of Ireland’s Artisan Pantry will bring Ireland to you and give you and those around you great enjoyment.