With its stunning views of land and sea, Ireland has a great deal to offer, including a wealth of intriguing stories about its famous citizens.
One of my favourite places is Strangford Lough in the north, the largest inlet in the British Isles. Linked to the Irish Sea, it has attracted visitors from all around the world to sail its waters; along with the many wonderful opportunities to explore the villages and its friendly people to be found on both sides of the lough.
I live only a short distance away from Killyleagh Village and its castle on the shores of the lough in County Down, and I’m well aware of the reputation of its most famous son, Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), but there was one aspect of his fame that came as a surprise. His connection to hot chocolate.
He was renowned as an Anglo-Irish physician with a passion for building huge collections of natural and other material artifacts, which in time would become the foundation of the British Museum. Included in his collections were the flora and fauna of Jamaica, collected during his time there in 1687 as a physician to the English Colony’s Governor.
It was at this point in his career on the island, he noticed the islanders drinking a concoction of cocoa and water. When he tried the drink, he found it distasteful, but it occurred to him it might be improved by the addition of sugar and milk. And, as they say, the rest is history. On his return to England, it quickly evolved into a popular hot chocolate drink; favoured by a king to the extent that a chocolate kitchen was built at Hampton Court Palace.
In due course, the 19th century saw Sloane’s recipe taken up by the Cadbury Brothers to make hot chocolate. And now, thousands of chocolate lovers from Ireland and around the world visit Killyleagh’s Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival at the castle, which also includes raising funds for the Cancer Fund for Children.
If you have a taste for chocolate and want to find out more about this iconic event, please visit: www.hanssloane.com
N.B. Unfortunately, due to the current coronavirus pandemic, it is not clear when the festival will take place. More information/enquiries may be available at: email@example.com