Noel Cunningham General Manager of Harvey’s Point Hotel. Noel is also a TV personality and recently launched his book …. Noel Cunningham’s Guide to Modern Irish Manners. The book has a perfect section on Christmas do’s and dont’s and is available to buy on O’Brien Press. Noel has also on of our most read interviews of all time, if you would like to find out more, then read “The Struggle Behind the Sparkle – Noel Cunningham Talks About Living Life to the Fullest”
What signifies the start of Christmas for you?
It used to start fir me when Mum would get her already made in September Christmas cakes out and start icing them in mid-December ! I can still still taste that icing scraped from the mixing bowl . Now the whole Christmas Season starts so early ! I try in the Hotel to resist Bridal requests for Christmas Trees in November by sticking to tradition .. that is the place decorated by December 8th and all removed on January 6th … I yearn for Christmas of old beginning with the bus loads of mainly female shoppers going to Dublin on December 8th .. to sort Santa and basically get a day away from the very hard lives they led rearing family and making ends meet in a very different Ireland ! It was a great old Country tradition and sadly we have lost some of the Christmas magic due to affluence.
What is your favourite Christmas Food?
It is hard to beat a prime fillet of beek … charred .. lathered in duxelle of mushroom onion shallots and pate … wrapped in a good pastry and baked in the oven ! Served with a rich wine gravy and traditional roasted vegetables. It is simply heaven…. and s great homemade matured Christmas Pudding !
Do you have any Christmas traditions that you have carried from your childhood or any new ones that you have started with your own family?
My tradition is to make a Christmas Trifle … secret recipe … in my own carefully chosen returnable bowls .. and I deliver to all my Family members each Christmas . Most live close to me and my Trifle is much anticipated. All I will say is think creamy custard …. My own madeira cake … bananas and assorted fruits and berries and a wee hint of molten white chocolate .. enjoyed on Boxing Day it is a perfect antidote to the rich Christmas Fayre and bowls have to be returned for following year !!
Who cooks Christmas dinner in your house?
Truth be told I have worked most Christmas periods since I was a young fella … the joys of hotelkeeping ! However I will cook a lovely dinner post Christmas for family and friends.
What is your ultimate Christmas indulgence?
Tea and Toast … kerrygold butter… the wing of the turkey … kept for me by my sister in law Margaret .. which I so enjoy with a pot of tea ! This is just the job after a long day at Harvey’s Point on Christmas day … not forgetting a huge slice of Christmas Cake ! I always did enjoy that delicious cold turkey with homemade chutneys on Christmas night with crusty bread even as a child. My Christmas wish is that somehow we can instill in children that for many Christmas is a very sad and lonely time for different reasons … that it is not all tinsel and toys !