Springtime brings new growth and here on the farm there are definitely some wonderful new things afoot, including baby calves by the day and soon we welcome new baby chicks and bid farewell to the last group {keep an eye out for our free range whole chickens in Dunnes Stores, labelled with R. McDonnell Farm}

On a personal + creative note, I will be taking the plunge on my first assignment as a food and prop stylist as we begin shooting an exciting new cookery book by master butcher, Pat Whelan, of James Whelan Butchers in Clonmel, County Tipperary.

If you are in Ireland, you are likely aware of Pat and his dynamic business model and ebullient personality.  If not, I think New Yorker turned Londoner and Jamie Oliver business partner, Adam Perry Lang, said it best when he visited Pat’s shop this week and exclaimed, “beyond inspired in Ireland, Pat Whelan Butcher shop has lit a fire. Shop is genius. Old School meets new school answer to industry. Star!!!”  Pat’s new book project is a follow-up to his first release which came out last year and was a great success. If all goes well, this book will be printed and distributed in the Autumn just in time for the holiday gift giving season.

Pat approached me in March at the Grow It Yourself IrelandButter Live event that I participating in with Ella McSweeney and Alan Kingston of Glenilen Farm He complimented this blog and asked if I would be interested in working on his book. Flattered and thrilled, I jumped at the opportunity and also put on my producer hat to assist him in sourcing the perfect photographer to be at the helm of shooting the gorgeous, meaty recipes that he put forward.

Ironically, I had been swapping emails with NYC-based photographer, Moya McAllister, about the prospect of coming over to work on a photo documentary on Irish rural living when I discovered that she also shoots beautiful food and had recently completed a stunning campaign for Bertolli in the USA.  When I asked if she would be interested, she didn’t miss a beat and said absolutely. Moya grew up in Long Island, NY, the daughter of Irish born and bred parents. Her talent with the camera and her passion for all things Irish make up the perfect ingredients for this cookery book shoot.

Our home has officially been transformed to a production kitchen & studio which we have affectionately coined “Farmhouse Productions”. We have put together a tiny production team including a tremendous talent (and one of my best girls), Sonia Mulford Chaverri, who has a great deal of experience working in studio production. Sonia just so happened to be on an extended Irish visit to lend a hand on our farmhouse restore project and will now be assisting me with styling.

Guess it was bound to happen, you can move the producer out of the city, but you can’t take the producer out of the producer…..even if you do live on a farm in the middle of the Irish countryside. And now, I add to my treasured production repertoire, a new adventure in food and prop styling……let the journey begin!

We will be shooting for nearly the entire month of May and I will be sharing brief blog posts about my experience {tweeting too}…hope you stay along for the ride.

Slan Abhaile,


Instagram photo taken by Moya McAllister at the Whelan Abbatoire, County Tipperary.

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