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Journal

Armagh the Bramley Apple County

My great grandparents on my father’s side had an orchard in Benburb just outside the village of Blackwatertown. The orchard was known as Tullylearn and my father inherited it from his mother.

Join us in Co.Armagh for a Traditional Irish Baking Experience.

Granda Mackle, who lived two fields down from us – as children we took the direct route through the three hedges and two fields – got into the apple business during the second world war.

He started out with selling Bramley apples at the market in Dublin. Armagh Bramley Apples have always featured in my life.

apple blossom bramley apple orchard bathing experience

My father had two orchards, Tullylearn and a smaller one which started at the garden fence. My five brothers and I earned pocket money picking the apples and pulling suckers from the trees.

Although my father’s orchards are long gone but the orchards of County Armagh produce 40,000 tonnes of Bramley apples annually and you don’t have to go far to see them growing.

Armagh Bramley Apples

Bramley Apple Orchard

In 2012, Armagh Bramley apples were awarded PGI status (Protected Geographical Indication). A designation given to foods that are recognised as being original and unique to a specific geographical location.

The mild, damp climate and the lower likelihood of late frosts are what make the area particularly suited to the growing of Bramley apples.

Traditional Irish Baking

My mother baked Traditional Irish apple tarts, crumbles and potato apple bread (a County Armagh specialty always served at Halloween in our house). Even my father on occasion made an apple tart. These are all recipes I continue to make and teach in my Traditional Irish Baking Classes.

Bramley apples are bitter but it is the unique texture that softens on cooking that makes them ideal for cooking and desserts and cider of course.

Bramley Apple Baking Experience

Loacl Orchard

Traditional Irish Apple Baking Experiences

Rose Mackle Bramley Apple Orchard

In my Bramley Apple Baking & Orchard Visit we visit Rose Mackle’s orchard. Named after my great great aunt, Rose Mackle, (pictured above) which is now owned by my Uncle Des (top picture) and down the road from where I grew up.

Des and Michelle Mackle will take you on a tour of the orchard and chat about the Bramley apples, the heritage and the family history in the business. This family run apple farm has been in the same family for six generations, when the land was released and purchased from Trinity College Dublin in the decades following the Land Law (Ireland) Act 1881.

The current orchards were planted in the early 1970s. The majority of the trees (approximately 4500!) are Bramley Seedling. This apple has been the backbone of the local economy for generations.

Then it’s back to the cookery school for refreshments and a hands-on baking class with Bramley apples as the star of the show.

Below are my father and grandfather with myself and two of my brothers. Apples and orchards feature in many of my childhood photos.

My Father In the Orchard
My Father In the Orchard
My Grandfather
My Grandfather, myself and two of my brothers

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