Ardrahan, IRELAND — At Rathbaun Farm in County Galway, guests are always welcomed like family – and KING 5 Evening’s visit there with Adventures by Disney was no exception. After all, it is a family home: shepherd Fintan Connolly grew up in the thatched-roof farm house, and Connolly’s partner for many years, Frances Thompson, runs the farm tours.
Rathbaun Farm is one of several hidden-gem activities on the Adventures by Disney group tour of Ireland. What makes this place special for visitors are the people: Thompson, Connolly, and their team are authentic, inviting and exceptional.
Our visit to the farm began with an Irish cheese tasting, where we tried Five Mile Town Boilie from Northern Ireland. It could be the best goat cheese you’ll ever taste. We also tried creamy, semi-soft artisan cheese called Gubbeen from County Cork, Ireland.
Then, we made a farm house favorite for dessert: scones (scroll down for recipe).
"When we're making scones what's the first thing we do?” asked Thompson. “Turn on the oven,” she said, before she offered up another tip: “I have learned that if you pre-heat the baking sheets as well, it speeds it up.”
After putting scones in the oven, our group headed outside for fresh air with Fintan the shepherd, who told us sheep in Ireland are raised for their meat, not for wool. The wool that is sheared from the sheep is too coarse to use in clothing, so it doesn't fetch a good price. It’s instead used for rugs and other non-clothing items.
Perhaps the highlight of the group farm tour was our opportunity to bottle-feed baby lambs. Children and adults alike enjoyed being so close to the tiny livestock.
Fintan also demonstrated his working dog’s ability to herd sheep. Our tour group cheered when the Border Collie chased his sheep into a nearby pen.
After the hard work outside, it was time for dinner. We enjoyed home-cooked beef stew, cabbage and Irish bacon – which we’d call ham – and of course, potatoes.
For dessert, we enjoyed the fruits of our labor – fresh-baked scones with cream and rhubarb-ginger jam (recipe below). It was a sweet ending to the perfect day.
Rathbaun Farm’s Home-Made Scone Recipe
- Self-raising flour – 2 cups
- Sugar ½ cup
- Butter ½ cup or 1 stick
- Eggs 2
- Buttermilk 1 cup
- Dried Fruit (your choice) ½ cup
Preheat oven to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Place baking trays in oven for pre-heating.
- Put flour and butter into mixing bowl
- Rub butter into flour using finger tips
- Add sugar, mix together
- Beat eggs and add buttermilk (separately – this is your liquid mix). *Tip* you may not use all of the liquid mix, so therefore use just half the mix to start and make dough in stages
- Make well in center of dry ingredients
- Add liquid mix
- Using a spoon, mix the ingredients together until the dough forms
- Lift the dough out and place on to the lightly floured surface for kneading
- Knead lightly and bring to circular shape
- Turn over, smooth side on top and press to depth of scone cutter – two inches
- Dip cutter in flour before cutting scones to prevent sticking. If you do not have a cutter, a glass will do the job.
- Grease baking sheets. Place scones on baking sheets and place in oven. Check after 20 minutes.
Scones are baked when they are a golden-brown color. Serve with jam and freshly whipped cream.
Handmade Rhubarb and Ginger Jam Recipe
- Frozen rhubarb 2lbs
- Sugar 2lbs
- Piece of peeled root ginger (1)
- Place frozen rhubarb in a pan
- Add sugar and ginger
- Allow to thaw
- When thawed, stir and bring slowly to a boil
- Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Remove ginger before canning