Building a community: the Irish Food Bloggers Association
Belatedly, my presentation from the IFBA launch at Savour Kilkenny‘s FoodCamp. I thought, on the eve of our second launch in Dublin (come meet us in L. Mulligan Grocer tomorrow night, Saturday 6 November!), it might be a suitable time to let you know the thinking behind Kristin and I setting up the IFBA.
I first got interested in blogs around 2003, using coffee breaks in my then job to read new online food sites like Chocolate and Zucchini, and 101 Cookbooks. Not long after that, in 2004, I moved to New Zealand with the man I used to refer to the Boyfriend, now the Husband. I was far from family and friends and, in the days before Skype, Facebook and Twitter, it was easy to feel a little cut off. After a serious accident in early 2005 – I got run down by a courier truck in Auckland – a broken collarbone meant that I couldn’t work. But I could type and my techie friend back in Ireland decided it was time to get my long talked about food blog up and running.
Bibliocook wasn’t very easy to set up initially. It was still early days for many blog platforms, there was no way of networking through Facebook and Twitter and few places to go for information on things like photographing food.
At the time, there were no other Irish food blogs that I knew of and few New Zealand ones but I gradually got to know other food bloggers. People like Barbara from Winos and Foodies and Bron Marshall became online friends and they gave me a sense of connection and a sense of place in my new home. I also got the feeling – very exciting for a long-time food lover – that I’d just joined in this world wide conversation about food.
I have to say, in the early days my readers were mainly my family – when I got the first comment from someone who wasn’t related to me I danced!
Despite moving continents and more than a few houses, leaving Dublin and my job to move to the cottage and hit the freelance market, through bringing up chickens, turkeys and a toddler, I’ve stuck around ever since. I’ve been amazed and delighted at the growth of food blogging in Ireland but it was only when Donal Skehane of Good Mood Food, and Bord Bia organised a get together that I realised just how many people were out there.
As I live in the middle of nowhere, North Cork and work mainly from home as a journalist and broadcaster, blogging is a way for me to connect with the world and – or so I tell myself as I spend half a morning on FoodFight – it’s also my job!
But that’s virtual life and what I loved about the blogger meet up in Dublin was the opportunity to put faces to the names, have REAL conversations and break bread with all these kindred spirits, which included Kristin of Dinner du Jour. Inspired by that day, I organised a bloggers country outing to meet Margaret O’Farrell’s free range pigs at Oldfarm in North Tipperary. Again, it was a chance to sit and chat and laugh and photograph and – yes – eat with like minded people, which again included Kristin.
As it happened, Kristin had picked up a chance tweet from Imen at I Married an Irish Farmer and I was having an email conversation with Damien Mulley, the person behind FoodFight.ie, about the same thing: setting up a community or association of food bloggers in Ireland
So, one day I made a date to call Kristin about a food idea I had only to discover that she was already thinking along the same lines. So, in late August, we set up the Irish Food Bloggers Association…and now it’s also your story!
I wish I could be there on Sat. Best of Luck and enjoy!!
Hi there, I am a foodblogger living in Dublin and a new member of IFBA and would like to come along tomorrow. I assume its an open invitation etc – what time is it at?Thanks, Elizabeth
@Gillian we wish you could have been with us too. Hopefully you’ll be able to join us for the Limerick Milk Market Meet. I need to get a few jars of Theresa’s raspberry and chocolate preserve for Christmas presents!
@Elizabeth so sorry, only saw your text this morning. We would have loved if you had been able to join us. Mea culpa: I never put the IFBA email on the article. Hopefully you’ll be able to come along to another IFBA event in the near future.
Caroline – the IFBA is such a fantastic idea and both yourself and Kristin are so generous with your time and efforts on behalf of the Irish foodies. Thank you and congratulations x
Thank you so much for all the work you have done starting up the IFBA – it is a wonderful resource for us all.Wish I could have been there last weekend (had a family wedding) and look forward to all the future events.Is there any way to join the cookalong without a facebook page??
@TheGlutton thank you! Lovely to get such positive feedback and, at the time of typing, we have 88 members. Madness!
@Brownieville Girl I wouldn’t think that you need a Facebook page to join in. Can you post a comment on a page without being a member? I’ll forward your comment to Kristin, who founded that page and maybe she’d know. Will let you know about future IFBA events!
@Brownieville Girl I was just talking to Kristin about the cookalongs and she said that you’re best tweeting your entry to Sarah (@Cakeinthcountry or @irecookalongs) so that she can add you to the list of entries to send for judging.
Caroline and Kristin, Thanks for the mention here..but not necessary…I am just so thrilled and thankful for all the effort you both have put into making this a reality. It is truly an invaluable resource for those of us in the food blogging community. Very best wishes, Imen xx
Hi Caroline,An interesting read that prompted me to look back and see when http://www.forkncork.com was launched.I was astonished to discover we first published in January 2003, after about four months gestation, which I think makes it the earliest Irish food and drink blog by some considerable measure – indeed, I’m not sure whether the word ‘blog’ was common parlance then. Paul Clerkin, friend and one of the evil genii behind P45.net, designed forkncork on modified bulletin board software because, as you say, there were no ‘easy design’ software packages around.Early in 2002, with a food blog in mind, I bought a book on one of the big and at that time expensive web development programs, can’t remember which one, probably ‘Dream Weaver’. I don’t think I got beyond about page 24!Anyhow, best wishes and keep up the good work.
I stand corrected! Thanks for letting me know – I certainly didn’t know you were blogging when I started off. Situated, as I was at the time, so far from home I would have loved to read something from Ireland.I don’t think that the word blog started to be widely used until about 2005 so perhaps you could lay claim to being the man who inspired the people behind Chez Pim, Chocolate and Zucchini, 101 Cookbooks?!