Food for the Soul’s Cover Model

The Story of Rose

by Chef Gary O’Hanlon, Author, Food for the Soul

She’s the cover model of Food for the Soul. I spoke with thousands of people in Donegal Town on Saturday last at The Taste of Donegal Food Festival and the venue for our launch. They didn’t ask about the beautiful Strawberry Tartlet on the cover or my lovely crazy purple floral shirt. It was Rose. My beautiful wee pal who has rarely missed a Sunday Lunch in Viewmount House.

I love Rose. She’s funny, kind and by all means a fussy customer. In fact a year or so ago she was sat at a table beside one of Ireland’s most respected food critics. I was delighted that it worked out that way because once I realised ‘said food critic’ was in the building I figured Rose would have been raving so much about lunch that the critic couldn’t but love the place.

How wrong I was. Rose wasn’t one bit happy with my portion size on the day in question and she didn’t hold back from telling me. I was in shock but I learned my lesson. No fancy stuff around Rose, give her what she wants.

As it turns out the same critic awarded Viewmount House Restaurant of the Year for 2014 and all through the ceremony all I could think about was Rose and her lunch the day the critic was there. Thank God all was well. In fact, it could well have been the way in which Rose’ complaint was dealt with that we got what we did. Either way, she’s still my favourite customer and I love her honesty.
I was a nervous wreck on Saturday, the day of the book launch. In fact I was a nervous wreck the past few weeks knowing that the book was at the printers and almost ready. I’d put lots of time and thought into it and had taken the advice of as many Bluebird Care personnel as I could. I really want them to be happy and for their clients to benefit from the book, whether it is from the little back stories or my recipes or even my cooking tips.

I love a crowd where I know nobody. In Donegal that’s not an option. Every time I glanced across the room during my cookery demonstration I made eye contact with everyone from my Mum, granny Josie, my aunt Francis, Mairead Bradley (a friend from my teenage years) to Joanne from Media Box (the lady responsible for getting Food for the Soul over the line) to big boss Eddie O’Toole (Operations Director of Bluebird Care).

Inside I was dying but that’s always the way. Dancing on the outside, dying on the inside. Quite like a manic service at the restaurant really. It’s all opera and candles in the dining room and utter mayhem behind the doors in the kitchen. Deep down I love the pressure.

I got my first copy of Food for the Soul on Friday last, the day before the official launch. I already knew who was going to get it. I wanted Rose to be the person to get the very first copy of our book.

Rose hasn’t been well for a few weeks sadly so she hasn’t made it to Viewmount House for lunch in a while. I usually cook breakfast for our guests on a Sunday and in the event Rose can’t make lunch, I will pop down the lane to visit her prior to lunch service.

This week was a special one because I’d Rose’s copy of Food for the Soul with me. Her incredible family who are always so good to her had just left for Mass so it was just Rose and I flicking through the book. She reached her favourite dish of Fish Cakes and spoke about the day, the very charming Harry Weir, (our photographer) came to the house to visit and take some pictures of Rose and I.  She had the eye on our Harry from the minute she saw him. It was great fun.

Rose has her family by her side as she recovers from a little illness and to see the joy Food for the Soul has already brought them made me very proud indeed. She flicked through the book and was picking out little dishes she planned on making her daughter cook for her.

Whether it is a Bluebird Care employee, family member or friend that is exactly what we wanted Food for the Soul to do. Bring people together in their own homes, read our little stories and bring a few laughs to dinner time.

The first of our nationwide demos takes place in Letterkenny in September and I can’t wait to bring the book to life at each venue.

I look forward to seeing you all and hearing your own little cooking stories.

Happy cooking!

Chef Gary.

Bluebird Care Ice Bucket Challenge for MND

Managing Director of Bluebird Care Brian MacGoey kicked off the Bluebird Care Ice Bucket Challenge on Monday. He nominated the Bluebird Care Ireland Network to take on the challenge. For every office that takes the plunge, Bluebird Care will donate an extra €25 to MND.

Here’s Brian’s #IceBucketChallenge

Kevin McMorrow, Director Bluebird Care Sligo & Mayo took on the #icebucketchallenge. Watch the video here:

Michael Corcoran, Director of Bluebird Care Wexford, took on the #IceBucketChallenge at St Martin’s GAA Club. Watch the video here:

Jackie O’Neill and Luan Lyons, Care Supervisors with Bluebird Care Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford, took on the #icebucketchallenge. Watch the video here:

Brian Egan, Director of Bluebird Care Carlow, Kilkenny & Waterford took on the #icebucketchallenge for IMND.  An extra congratulations to Brian who had to do it a second time as the camera wasn’t rolling the first! Watch the video here:

Bluebird Tipperary & East Cork took on the  #icebucketchallenge. Andrew Jones, Hannah Harney Nevin and Margaret Kennedy do it in style! Watch the video here:

Here is Trish Kavanagh, Care Coodinator, taking on the #icebucketchallenge for Bluebird Care Kerry/West Cork. Watch her #icebucketchallenge here:

Daragh McGlynn, General Manager Bluebird Care Limerick takes up MD Brian MacGoey’s #icebucketchallenge. Watch the video here:

Staff at Bluebird Care Kerry/West Cork take on Brian MacGoey’s #icebucketchallenge. Watch the video here:

Operations Director of Bluebird Care Ireland Eddie O’Toole takes on the #icebucketchallenge Better late than never! Watch the video here:

Sally Madden Director Bluebird Care Cork takes on the#IceBucketChallenge. Watch the video here:

JJ Fay Director of Bluebird Care Meath takes on the #IceBucketChallenge. Watch the video here:

Paul O’Reilly, Director Bluebird Care Dublin North takes on the #IceBucketChallenge.

Director of Bluebird Care Cork, Don O’Riordan takes on the cold #IceBucketChallenge! Watch his video here.

Don’t forget to donate by texting MND to 50300.

Bluebird Care Short-listed for the 2014 Blog Awards

Bluebird Care is delighted to announce that we have made the short-list in the 2014 Blog Awards Ireland!We are short-listed for Best Corporate Blog as well as Best Health/Wellbeing Blog.

View the shortlist here.

We are also nominated for the Best Blog Post – so don’t forget to vote for us:

Read our best blog post here Growing Old Gracefully – A How to Guide

The finalist list will be published on the 19th of September. The awards ceremony takes place on Saturday the 4th of October in the Westgrove Hotel in Clane, Co. Kildare.
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Food for the Soul Launched at A Taste of Donegal Food Festival

Ramelton-born celebrity chef Gary O’Hanlon, Head Chef at Viewmount House in Longford was back home at the weekend to launch his debut cookbook.

Food for the Soul is a collection of Gary’s favourite home-cooked recipes. The cookbook is published by homecare company Bluebird Care which has an office in Letterkenny and 23 others nationwide.

The cookbook will raise money for Active Retirement Ireland, which has 24,500 members across Ireland.

Food for the Soul could be described as ‘food for the soul, stories from the heart’ as Gary has a personal back-story for each recipe and putting his unique stamp on the book.

Speaking from the Taste of Donegal Food Festival this week Gary says, “We have four sections in the cookbook – Starters, Snack, Mains and Desserts. We also have a ‘How-to-Guide’ for the more difficult recipes. I am really excited to partner with Bluebird Care on this project. They are a company that spends lots of time, energy and investment on projects to benefit other people and other organisations. I am pleased that my very first cookbook is one that is going to raise money for Active Retirement Associations across Ireland.”

Not only has Bluebird Care produced this cookbook for sale nationwide they have also commissioned a series of complementary online videos showing Gary cook each dish which are available to view on their website.

Director of Bluebird Care in Donegal, Marty Kelly says, “We have long-held the view that good home cooking is very important to our customers who live in their own homes. We are in the homes of thousands of people every day right across Ireland and we understand the importance of a healthy and balanced diet. We asked Gary to write the cookbook for us and to devise recipes that had home-cooking at the heart of them. There are dishes for everyone – the beginner, intermediate or advanced home-cook.”

The cookbook was designed and edited by Media Box owned by Joanne Sweeney-Burke also from Donegal. Joanne and Gary started off their careers together as dishwasher and potwasher at the award-winning Rosapenna Hotel in Downings so this collaboration is a special one for them.

The cookbooks are available for sale at €10 from Bluebird Care Offices nationwide or online at