While not truly British this Irish bakery is just too good to not mention. Welcome to Irwin’s and the world of Irish breads. Irwin’s are Northern Ireland’s largest independent bakery and supply a wide range of traditional Irish breads to supermarkets throughout the UK and Ireland. If you like bread you’ll love Irwin’s! In England you can find our products under the Rankin Selection name.
Irwin’s Bakery was founded in 1912 in the Co. Armagh town of Portadown , by the grandfather of the existing joint managing directors, (Brian & Niall Irwin) as a grocery retailer. W.D. Irwin’s wife and sister-in-law were talented home-bakers, who began to bake cakes and bakery items for the shop. Soon additional bakers were employed to cope with the increasing trade.
In the 1920’s, Kenneth Irwin (Brian & Niall’s father) took over the bakery business
Buying 6 2nd hand ovens from the co-op. W D Irwin’s motto “We’ll grow to fill it”, and fill those ovens they did with the bakery business soon outgrowing the grocery business.
In 1963: Irwin’s launched Nutty Krust, their distinctive brand of plain or batch bread which has gone on to become one of Northern Ireland’s favourite grocery products.
They remained in the original premises, Woodhouse Street , from 1912 till 1994 only moving when the demands outgrew the premises. So instead of modernising they bought a field and built a bakery. And W.D’s motto came into play again!
Brian and Niall lived above the bakery until they were 4 & 7 respectively and have fond memories of pinching the bread. Having grown up in the bakery business Niall left school and did a Bakery course and Brian did Business Studies. Niall is now the technical directory and is very much hands on in the baking process and Brian the Chairman. They have a dairy on site to keep the buttermilk at its freshest!
25% of produce sold in Great Britain, 12% in the Republic and the rest is sold in Northern Ireland.
For many years, foreign bread meant french bread and maybe a bit of Indian bread, but nowadays we’re fining Irish bread is becoming more sought after & enjoyed n Britain
Brian and Niall are great talkers and very passionate about their traditional Irish lines and innovation.
Breads will be looking at:
- Soda Farls
- Potato Bread
- Nutty Crust
- Wheaten Farls
Rankin Selection is Ireland’s first celebrity chef brand. Paul Rankin has travelled the world and enjoyed the finest foods international cuisine has to offer, but he believes some of the very best is on his own doorstep in Ireland.
The range comprises four breads: Soda Farls, Potato Farls, Brown Soda Bread and Sliced Stoneground Wheaten, with each product approved by Paul Rankin himself.
Soda Bread Facts:
Hot plate products are perhaps the most distinctive offering of Northern Ireland bakeries: soda farls, wheaten farls, potato farls, pancakes, and grill packs.
These products are delicious eaten toasted with copious amounts of butter, but are most commonly enjoyed as part of a traditional cooked breakfast, known locally as ‘the Ulster Fry‘.
Soda farls are a regional variety of soda bread, traditionally a staple food in Ireland.
Before ovens and ranges became popular in the nineteenth century, most bread was baked on a griddle, which was hung over the family fire. Rolled thin for ease of baking, the bread was traditionally cut in four quarters or ‘farls’, with a cross-sliced into the bread before cooking. Rumour has it this was to rid the bread of any demons and to let it rise, thus it was considered lucky bread!
Irwin’s potato farls, are a traditional potato bread made from real potato flakes, flour and salt, shaped into rectangular slices and cooked on a hot plate. Such bread is also known in Northern Ireland as ‘fadge’ or ‘slims’. This bread started out in the late nineteenth century as a means of making use of mashed potato leftovers, the potato being a staple part of the Northern Ireland diet. Potato bread is most commonly eaten at breakfast time, fried as part of a traditional Ulster fry, but is also delicious toasted and smothered with butter.