The Swedish King and Queen at the Burren Smokehouse

One highlight since the foundation of the Burren Smokehouse over 3 decades ago has definitely been the opportunity to provide Burren Smoked Wild Salmon for the State Dinner hosting Queen Elizabeth II in May 2011. We thought it could not get much better than that but we were proven wrong.

On 24th May 2019, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden paid a much anticipated visit to the Burren Smokehouse. Birgitta Hedin Curtin, owner-manager of the Smokehouse, and Swedish by birth, greeted the royalties outside the visitor centre when they arrived.

The royal couple went straight to three students and two teachers of the local Mary Immaculate Secondary School who explained to them their framed 3D model of the north Clare coast and the impact of climate change on the sea levels. As good timing would have it, they had just won the Junior Climate Change Award at the Young Environmentalist Awards in Dublin! The King and Queen were very interested in (and impressed by) the project and the award, and congratulated them and their teachers warmly.

Once inside, Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bía, gave a presentation on the importance of farming and producing food with sustainability in mind, and the implementation of the Origin Green initiative. She stressed the similarities between Sweden and Ireland on many levels, and said that in many cases, Sweden was a bright example to Ireland.

After the presentation, the King and Queen had a chance to meet some producers covering very different areas of the Burren Food Trail and Burren Ecotourism Network: seaweed (Wild Irish Seaweed), coffee roasted in the Burren by Anam Coffee and goats cheese by St. Tola.

Young Irish Dancer Niamh gave a wonderful solo performance to the tune of our talented local musicians (one of them being our own former master smoker Peadar Reilly!). She was rewarded with big smiles and applause, and with a private conversation with the royal couple who then moved on to shake hands with the musicians.

With the formal part of the reception over, the King and Queen had the opportunity to taste the wonderful, delicious canapes prepared by a member of staff, Sarah, and to talk to Birgitta and people from Bord Bía. An international press conference rounded off the visit.

Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife Silvia have been on a three day state visit to Ireland, where they had attended engagements in Dublin, Westmeath, Galway and in Clare. The visit to the Burren Smokehouse was the last stop on their State visit before they flew home from Shannon Airport.

Here you can listen to an interview on ClareFM with the King and Queen themselves, Tara McCarthy from Bord Bía, as well as Birgitta, Sarah and John Curtin.