I’m Moving On – But You Can Come Too…

I’m moving on – and you can come too..

I wrote my first blogpost in May 2010.  Gosh I remember it well. Little did I know that when I hit the ‘publish’ button it would be the start of an incredible journey for me – and I’m not nearly finished let me add.  Six months after that blogpost I had my first feature in a national newspaper.  One year later I was approached to write in Irish Country magazine (now Ireland’s number 1 women’s  magazine). Then I started writing for Home Farmer in the UK which was an absolute dream come true for me. Three years after that first blog post, my first book (Food From An Irish Garden, 2013) was published.  Throughout the years my blog has been a Finalist in so many Blog Awards I’ve lost count.  I’ve loved every second.  My broadcasting career started in 2012 and I have either presented or have been interviewed on almost every radio station.  We’ve had camera crews come and go and they’ve been a joy to work with.  I’m still writing for Irish Country magazine, I love being the Food Correspondent for KCLR96fm and the guys at TheTaste.ie are like my second family, in fact, only yesterday #TeamTaste won a Gourmand Award for Best Online Food Magazine.  Eggs (21)

I guess my life started to change direction this time last year when I launched Freddy Buttons with his own (ahem, award-winning) garden at Bloom 2015.  My, what memories I have.  That first blogpost back in 2010 might have changed my life, but it pales in comparison to the arrival of Freddy Buttons. My boy. My brand.Freddy and Juno

I have gone from broke to blog to book to brand.  I talk about my journey at our DreamIt, DoIt events and it always serves as a good reminder to be grateful for every minute of every day.

It has  been one hell of a ride which has led to the establishment of my company Tumbledown Media Ltd in January this year.

2015 was a whirlwind.

Writing 6 children’s books.

Publishing them.

Having the unwavering support of a company like Glenisk who took an almighty chance on a mad mother who came to them with the notion that she wanted to teach children about food (in a fun way – there’s no boring sensible stuff in my head!). Watching them take a risk on a crazy garden in Bloom and then knowing it was all worth while when the President himself broke away from his convoy with his wife to come visit Freddy Buttons and his garden.  For me, this was probably ‘the moment’ of all moments. Straight up I could have burst with pride (all I can remember is telling Glenisk MD, Vincent Cleary that I was actually stuck for words for the first time in my life).

After Bloom came Enterprise Ireland who, like Glenisk, saw such potential in Freddy Buttons.  For the past eight months I have been holed up doing sensible things like writing business plans and negotiating deals for my brand and learning – in ways it’s been like returning to school.  But the sensible stuff is done thankfully and now I can let  my creativity loose once again on Freddy Buttons with an upgraded website, a Freddy Buttons YouTube channel (June 2016) and the first Freddy Buttons app (launching at the Ploughing Championships 2016).  And Gossipy Gloria is finally going to get her time to shine!

While all that is going on dear friends, I won’t have time for this little blog.  But never fear – I’m not far away and you can come on this wonderful crazy chaotic journey with me if you like.  Here’s how.

Firstly you can subscribe to the Freddy Buttons website and keep updated with our newsletter which will have lots of cool recipes and competitions.

You can pop over and check out the Tumbledown Media website for more information on the Freddy Buttons brand and the latest updates for the ‘DreamIt, DoIt’ series of events.

Keep in touch with your phone


@FionaDillonHL (my personal account)


@Freddy_Buttons – every Friday we have a #FreddyButtonsFriday and give away a book to one of our followers


Fiona Dillon – Official

Freddy Buttons

Instagram – find me at @FionaDillon1 or for Freddy Buttons news follow @Freddy_Buttons


Snapchat – come find me by typing in HuntersLodge.  Here’s where I am mostly.  Come to restaurant reviews and wine tastings with me, join me collecting eggs at Hunters Lodge and chatting to Mahatma Gander – you would be most welcome.

Thank you dear readers for being part of my blogging journey.  I’m not going away, just moving to different platforms and I hope you will join me too.

Le grá


The Irish Landmark Trust

Guys, I don’t usually share press releases with you but this is one I wanted you to know about.  Last year I had the pleasure of visiting a Landmark Trust property in Dublin and I was blown away.   I’d love you to at least consider a Landmark Trust property for your next break.  The money you pay for your stay goes into the upkeep of these spectacular properties and there are some great offers on for 2016.  Read on…



Ballealy Cottage

Co. Antrim

With Summer just around the corner why not think about taking a short stay in a Lighthouse, Castle or a Gate Lodge?

With 26 properties nationwide to choose from, Irish Landmark offers an opportunity for the ultimate escape for those looking for a unique self-catering experience in a beautifully restored heritage building. Landmark properties are ideal for special occasion breaks, family holidays, romantic weekends away, and group get togethers. With weekend breaks from €276, the properties offer excellent value in stunning locations nationwide.

Ballealy Cottage

Co. Antrim

Mary O’ Brien, CEO Irish Landmark commented

‘For over twenty years, Irish Landmark has rescued and restored some of Ireland’s most important historic buildings and endowed them with a sustainable future by letting them as holiday accommodation. Our visitors have been enchanted by these properties and frequently return to enjoy the Landmark experience.’

Mrs. O’Brien went on to hightlight the types of properties available; from spectacular Lighthouse Keepers’ cottages, to ancient Castles and romantic beautifully restored Gate Lodges all in spectacular locations.

The Landmark experience is more than just your typical break away. By staying in a Landmark property, you are helping to keep these important buildings alive. All funds from the letting of our properties goes towards the upkeep and maintenance. Therefore your stay contributes to the sustainability of these architectural gems. Staying in a landmark property gives you the chance to experience a slice of history first hand and truly live like a King or Queen for a short stay!

Special Offer: A popular property of ours in County Antrim is Ballealy Cottage. It sleeps 5. It is located close to the shores of Lough Neagh and is part of Shane’s Castle Estate (which was used in Game of Thrones).

Ballealy Cottage

Co. Antrim

The special offer we would like to offer guests is 25% off the cost of a stay in Ballealy Cottage. To avail of this offer, simply make your booking by the end of May for *stays during 2016 (*this discount does not extend to bank holidays and Christmas).

For bookings and information please visit http://www.irishlandmark.com

Email: bookings@irishlandmark.com Tel: +353 1 670 4733

DreamIt,DoIt – we’re back!

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it – you’ve heard that expression right? Well that’s our motto for the next DreamIt,DoIt on May 21st in Airfield Estate.  The feedback from our last event was so great that Nicola and I immediately decided to invite the same guests to return for our May event.  Thankfully they all said yes so we’re ‘getting the band back together’ and planning a day of motivation, fun, inspiration, food and lots lots more.


A couple of days ago I discovered that my little old media and marketing company, Tumbledown Media Ltd is one of four companies shortlisted in the Best Emerging Category of the Bank of Ireland Startup Awards.  I’m well chuffed let me tell you.  If you follow me on snapchat (HuntersLodge), Instagram (FionaDillon1), Facebook or Twitter you will know that my life pretty much revolves around Freddy Buttons and children’s food education. And my own kids of course. And my long-suffering husband. And Mahatma Gander. And eating.  You get the picture…


Freddy and Juno

Well anyway, our 2 tickets for €60 offer on Eventbrite has sold out, but to celebrate the great Freddy Buttons news, we are adding on three pairs of tickets at this special rate.  So if you want to come along with a friend and enjoy a day out with great company, tonnes of positivity, delicious food and heaps of fun, hop over to Eventbrite before they sell out.  We’ll be doing a Q&A and tutorial with one of Ireland’s most popular make-up artists, Jen Morris (TooDollyMakeUp).  Award-winning travel blogger, Corrina Stone, will share her top travel tips.  Tom & Jeeny from My Nutrition Ireland will be advising us on how to get rid of stubborn fat (I hear ya!) and uber lifestyle blogger and TV3 panelist Sue Jordan (ItsCherrySue) will share her fascinating insights into, not only the world of blogging and beauty, but life itself. 20160226070104Then there’s the powerhouse that is my #DIDI co-founder The Naked Blondie and yours truly will share my ‘from broke to blog to book to brand’ story.  Add in delightful gift bags and a scrummy brunch and sweet treats from Glenisk and you’ve got yourself a mega day out.

See you there!



Tickets for DreamIt,DoIt are now available HERE






Honey For Sale

Yes, the surplus stall at Hunters Lodge is back in action!  Ruth will be up bright and early in the morning (well, maybe not so early) to set up our little stall at the gate again.  IMG_5675We will have jars of honey from our own bees, deliciously fresh rhubarb and eggs from the garden when I find where the little bandits are laying them!

fionadillon (18)  As always, we will add to the stall as the season progresses.  I know the weather is a bit insane at the moment but I like to acknowledge that the summer is on the way and we do this at Hunters Lodge with our little surplus stall. Eggs (12) Of course the Honesty Box will be back in action just like past years and initially will take ‘newbie’ visitors to the stall by surprise, but hey, put a little trust in humanity and good things happen.

Back soon



  • Find the Hunters Lodge surplus stall off the Wexford Road on the L7147
  • Produce each day really depends on bees, chickens and the earth
  • To book Fiona Dillon for your event, phone Lorna on 059 9175257
  • To purchase the Freddy Buttons books click HERE




Dinner at Clontarf Castle

Clontarf Castle Hotel has recently been given a makeover. The 12th century castle, nestled in a leafy northside suburb of Dublin, has been sensitively refurbished with contemporary, boutique style interiors. They have managed a modern twist on contemporary elegance while managing to retain the classical and historical ambience of this 12th century residence. It is delightful.

We stayed in the castle recently and had the pleasure of dining in the newly renovated Fahrenheit restaurant. Under the leadership of executive chef, Stuart Heeney, Fahrenheit has recently been awarded a second AA Rosette. And well deserved it is, for chef Stuart is surely the culinary king of Clontarf Castle. Sourcing local produce is something we have all come to expect from chefs and you won’t be disappointed when you see this menu. We discovered very quickly however that, with these local ingredients, we were in for a thrilling voyage of flavour combinations throughout our evening…IMG_0993

We settled in to the cosy dining room and perused the menu over a whiskey sour and a gin and tonic. Our waiter was more than happy to help with our wine choices ( 2009 Chateau Laussac Bordeaux and a 2012 Louis Latour Mâcon Lugny) while we set about choosing dishes from a delightfully varied menu.

Our amuse bouche of a mini scallop with Parmesan foam set the scene for a most flavoursome evening.IMG_0999To start, Mr Dillon enjoyed a crispy aromatic pork belly, white crab, sweetcorn panna cotta with a soy dressing. The combinations are inspired – the sweetness of the corn a perfect partner for the pork while the salty crab works splendidly with the panna cotta.IMG_1004

I opted for the sherry glazed wood pigeon served with parsnip cream, maple pickled baby onions and baby beets. The pigeon was cooked to perfection and I have to say that I would happily eat that parsnip cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner – this, you must try.

For mains himself had the freshest grilled North Atlantic halibut served with winter veg, chicken wings (not like you know them) and a chicken reduction. If you’re a lover of crispy chicken skin, you will love this take on the traditional ‘chicken wing’.IMG_1010

I chose the tea smoked duck breast which oozed earthy smokiness and was perfectly cooked. Dauphinoise potatoes and a carrot and anise cream were accompanied by a blackberry jus, and again, the flavours worked together to create another delightful dish.IMG_1006We couldn’t resist sides of local rainbow carrots with honey and truffle butter and perfectly cooked Brussels sprouts with crispy bacon and chestnuts.IMG_1013Pre-dessert included honey and figs and then we were on to the sweetest of sweet treats. Imagine this – banana parfait, dark chocolate mousse, caramelized banana and a pecan tuile. This dish tastes every bit as good as it looks on the plate.IMG_1018 I chose a spiced ginger pudding served with a poached pear and salted caramel ice cream. Once again the flavours complimented each other perfectly. The menu also includes an excellent variety of artisan Irish cheeses served with pear chutney and water biscuits.IMG_1026

Over coffee we reflected on what made this menu so delightful. Yes it has great locally sourced ingredients. Yes it is beautifully presented. But what makes this menu really stand out is the flavour and texture combinations. Hot and cold, sweet and salty, smooth and crispy – this menu has it all. Each dish is interesting, each dish bringing you on a little flavour adventure. Indeed, chef Stuart takes you on a voyage of flavour combinations that is not to be missed. If you haven’t eaten in Fahrenheit or stayed in Clontarf Castle I recommend you do both. As well as enjoying dishes from the culinary king of the castle, you’ll get to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of all the staff. From the minute you walk through the door of this establishment you will be enveloped in warmth and thoughtfulness.

Go try it!


*We ate from the A La Carte menu.
Early Bird Menu runs Sunday-Friday until 7pm and is €23.95 for two courses and €27.95 for three courses.
Set menu is €33 for two courses including tea/coffee or €39 for three courses including tea/coffee.

  • Use #didI to get 5 off the full set of Freddy Buttons books
  • Check out Fiona’s latest feature on butter-making in Irish Country Magazine
  • Limited tickets available for Dream It, Do It in Cork & Dublin over on Eventbrite.ie 
  • This article first appeared in TheTaste.ie 

I’m Dreaming It & Doing It

I have been missing in action on this little old blog – not because I’m too lazy to write but because I’ve been too busy!  Snuggle up there in your chair and I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to.  As I write, I’m snuggled up myself in my bed dosing myself with antibiotics, steroids and inhaler in an effort to get rid of a horrible sinus/ear/bronchial nightmare.


Got lots of snapchat love – find me at    Hunters Lodge

Could be worse right?  Anyway, where was I…

You’ll see from my last post that the first #DreamItDoIt of 2016 went really well and Nicola and I have been very busy working on the next couple of events.  To help us, the lovely Linda Ahern has joined us as our #DIDI events manager which will give you an idea of how crazy busy we are.  Our next event is on March 12th and Linda has everything under control with a super line up of speakers, a delicious brunch and delightful gift bags.20160226070104.jpgWe are now delighted to announce our speakers for our very first Cork event on Sunday April 17th – broadcaster Deirdre O’Shaughnessy (96FM), Katie Higgins (My Curvy Closet) and make up artist Dawn Ryan-Fahey.20160226063520 Tom and Jeeny from My Nutrition Ireland, will be joining us for both events and I just love their take on “healthy sexy food”. Tickets from €30, not bad for a day out!  So that’s my #DIDI  news – I really hope to see you at one of the events.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

I’m still out and about reviewing for The Taste and I’m going to pop up one of my latest reviews here over the weekend. (I have more food news but I can’t say right now, so watch this space). IMG_4851

My beloved Irish Country Magazine is now Ireland’s No.1 glossy magazine and is available monthly.  Check out the latest edition to see how you can amuse the kids for hours over Easter painting eggs..

And then there’s Freddy Buttons.  My darling, darling Freddy.  Well, this week I have finalised the logo for my media company that looks after Freddy and I’ll introduce you all to my new Tumbledown Media website shortly when it’s up and running.  I’m working on the narration for the Freddy Buttons app at the moment and thrilled to be launching World Book Week next Tuesday in Dubrays, Kilkenny – maybe I’ll see you there? Freddy and JunoSo there’s Freddy Buttons, DreamItDoIt, restaurant reviews, KCLR96fm, my husband, four children, two dogs, three pet geese, hives of bees, not enough chickens and a garden to fill with food for the Summer.  Yes, I’m a bit busy..

Back soon!

Fiona x


Find Fiona:

Twitter: @FionaDillonHL

Instagram: FionaDillon1

Snapchat: HuntersLodge

Facebook: Fiona Dillon Oficial  & Freddy Buttons 





Dream It, Do It – the magic is back

We kicked off the 2016 ‘Dream It, Do It’ events in Airfield on January 23rd.  It really was something special.  I suppose it’s fair to say that I’m an old hat at the old Mcing and interviewing lark, but I never tire of it.  How could anyone tire of listening to inspirational women.

Real women.

Real stories.

Real problems.

Our guest speakers captivated us with their uplifting tales.  Some were excruciatingly painful to hear,  some were hilarious – all were insanely motivational and inspirational.  Take Niamh, diagnosed with viral encephalitis at 19 years of age, put into an induced coma to save her life, having no recollection of any of this and ultimately learning how to speak again. She touched all our hearts with her openness and honesty.DIDI_Final_Logo

Then there was author Fiona Uyema – she talked about her love of Japan and how that love has culminated in her recently published book ‘Japanese Food Made Easy’.  You could have heard a pin drop when she talked about dealing with ovarian cancer, chemotherapy and being told at twenty eight that she would never have children.  She shared with us how she got through this terrible time and went on to have two beautiful boys.


Fiona and Fiona!

But it wasn’t all tragic tales – Karen Constantine (aka Lovely Girly Bits) talked to us about her very successful beauty blog and youtube channel.  This girl knows her stuff.  Karen was open and upfront when asked questions about the negative side of social media.  She had lots of good solid practical advice.  I want Karen to be my best friend so she can share all those beauty product secrets with me (could someone send her this post??)

Noella Geoghegan from The Brow Artist in Ranelagh gave us a tutorial on shaping those pesky brows.  Believe me, she was in great demand on the day and gave us the low down on threading.  Jennifer (aka The Style Shaper) gave us a powerpoint presentation on how we should be dressing for our shape.


Noella working her magic on Niamh

Probably the most powerful story came from Noreen Doyle of The Irish Billtong Company.  A successful business woman, great husband, four lovely children, fab house – perfect right?  Her advice to us all was to NEVER take anything for granted.  Why?  When Noreen was pregnant with her third child, her second child was diagnosed with leukaemia. The diagnosis was followed by a battle that was to last six years before her son James was finally given the all clear.  It was a hard subject to tackle.


Never take tomorrow for granted – sound advice from Noreen Cahill

How could this topic ever be easy, but isn’t it best to talk about these things? Isn’t it better to get them out there in the open? To share and support and learn from each other?  I think so.IMG_4410IMG_0946

There were a few moments for tears, but for the most part we laughed, chatted and shared our little nuggets of wisdom with each other.  And we ate -oh boy did we eat.  We were treated to a super array of savouries from a new catering company, Wild Blue Food Co., based in Co Laois. They really did a super job.  Glenisk were on hand to provide us with deliciously healthy sweet treats. #DiDiI’m loving the fact that I’m still getting messages from guests who are now making the healthy Glenisk desserts at home themselves.


Sexy heels from Rock Frocks

Promotional stands on the day included The Dotty Lemon, Pop-Chic, Irish Billtong Co., Kellylou Cakes and Rock Frocks.


All the #DIDI goody bags had Kellylou cookies – yum!

With mega goody bags for everyone and lots of spot prizes, the day was a huge success.  And Nicola and I will do it all over again in Airfield on March 12th and May 21st.  We are also thrilled to announce our first #DIDI event in Cork on April 17th.

Fancy coming along?

Get your tickets HERE for Dublin.

And HERE for Cork.

We’d love to see you!


Le gra


Check out Fiona’s latest feature in Irish Country Magazine.

Visit www.freddybuttons.com for fun games for the children.




Sunday Lunch – a family tradition

I like a bit of tradition me.  I believe that creating memories for my children just like my parents and grandparents did for me, is really very important.  Regular readers will know from this past year that my love of afternoon tea stemmed from a tradition of tea and cream cakes with my grandmother Stella.  Afternoon tea has become quite the trend in Ireland over the past year (for which I take my share of the responsibility) and I have had a ball reviewing so many afternoon delights.  So what’s my plan for 2016?  Well, of course I will still continue to love my afternoon tea, but another thought occurred to me recently.

Sunday Lunch.Roast Beef

Growing up, pretty much every Sunday revolved around family lunch, except during the summer when we made piles of egg and tomato sandwiches, bought a large bottle of Coke, packets of Tayto, fruit and biscuits and piled into the car to picnic and swim the day away on the golden strands of Bearna in Co Galway – blissful. I’m sure we had lots of other goodies, but I’ll never forget the taste of those egg and tomato sandwiches.  Perfect. But I digress….so back to the sunday lunch.Beef

Roast beef, roast potatoes, delicious gravy and the all important apple tart that was popped into the bottom of the oven while the beef sizzled above it.  That’s how it was in my house.  To this day when I recreate my grandmother Stellla’s roast pork and gravy, I am taken back to her dining room in south Co Dublin on a Sunday afternoon.  These memories are so precious.  I’m delighted to report lots of oohs and aahs at my most recent sunday lunch here at Hunters Lodge so here’s hoping my children will one day pass on this simple deliciousness to their children.  It’s nothing fancy, all you need is good old top quality Irish ingredients and lots of loved ones to eat them with. roast potatoes

During 2015 I spoke to lots of chefs who continue to get right back to basics, and offering their diners a good old sunday roast is on their agenda.  I think it will catch on.  Do you?  I also think I am going to have a lot of fun finding out during 2016..

Happy New Year folks!


Tickets out now for DreamIt, Do It in Airfield House on January 23rd and March 12th. Get your tickets HERE

* Buy the full set of Freddy Buttons books (signed) over on http://www.freddybuttons.com

* Read Fiona’s feature on wreath making in the current edition of Irish Country Magazine – in shops now

* Fiona’s interview with JP McMahon for TheTaste.ie can be read HERE

* To book Fiona for an event click HERE

Note: Photos from pinterest.com

Dream It, Do It 2016

I am delighted to announce that Dream It, Do It is back for 2016.  To  kickstart the year, myself and The Naked Blondie have secured six Dublin dates in Airfield Estate, Dundrum.  We plan to announce venues countrywide early in the New Year, but in the meantime, if you’ve been looking to buy tickets as a Christmas gift, you can do so now HERE.thumb_IMG_3426_1024The feedback from our 2015 events has been so positive that it has spurred us on to create an even bigger and better programme of events for 2016.  We will continue to motivate, inspire and advise; there will lots of time to focus on our physical and mental health; beauty, make-up and fashion tips; tasty brunches and sweet treats and most importantly, lots of laughs. Each event will be an intimate affair and our #DIDI girls will have the opportunity to explore the iconic Overend House and tour the estate gardens after the event.



Guest Speakers: Ellen Kavanagh, Cofounder of Waxperts Wax (left) and MUA, Grace Mongey aka FacesByGrace – and they didn’t just talk about beauty. Marital breakdown, anxiety, building your own business and depression featured in these captivating stories.

Next month we will announce our sponsors and some of our 2016 speakers, (we have some fantastic speakers lined up already) but for now, head on over to Eventbrite if you would like to secure your place at our next event on January 23rd 2016.

Back soon


Use the discount code #DIDI over on http://www.freddybuttons.com to get €5 off the full set of FreddyButtons books.  


Win a Family Trip to the Panto!

Hey guys, if you are thinking of buying a set of Freddy Buttons books for the little ones for Christmas, check out the cool competition I have over on the FreddyButtons website for everyone who buys a set of books over the next while.  I’ve teamed up with the Limerick Strand Hotel and they are offering an overnight stay for a family of four with tickets to see Keith Duffy and a super cast in Sleeping Beauty followed by a sumptuous breakfast the next morning for one lucky Freddy Buttons family.

Check it out over on www.freddybuttons.com

Back soon


SB Cast Pic A HR

Freddy and Juno