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Leapin’ Leprechauns

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By Lisa King

Award-winning author Viki Pidgeon is already gaining recognition for her cookbook filled with Irish recipes, and she may soon have the opportunity to create her own whiskey.

That is, if she wins Bushmills Distillery’s contest which will fly the winner to Ireland, where they will work alongside distillery officials to create their very own special blend of Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

And Pidgeon stands a good chance at winning the international contest, especially since she is only one of four finalist from the United States.

All contestants have to do is to write an essay explaining why they should be chosen.

If love of Ireland is part of the contest criteria, then Pidgeon already is way ahead of the game.

She and her husband, Barney have been residents of Shelby County for 32 years. The couple, who both have dual citizenship, Irish and American, live just outside Simpsonville, in a house they are building that is chock full of Irish influences. She pointed out a wall in the dining room that is reserved for a special purpose.

“I am having a local artist paint a Celtic Cross right there,” she said, gesturing.

Her front door already sports an Irish door knocker, a replica of the face of Anna Livia, which is the name given to the personification of the River Liffey in Dublin.

Pidgeon said she first fell in love with Ireland when she and  Barney, traveled there in 1998 to visit his grandfather's farm.

"I have this vision of having my own little place in Ireland one day,” she said.

Pidgeon is the recipient of an IPPY Award, from independent book publishers, for her cookbook, Ireland's Comfort Food, which she published in 2007, and can be purchased at Weeds & Things on Main Street in Shelbyville.

The cover of her cookbook is charmingly illustrated  (by her sister),  and features a lamb eating a bowl of soup under a shade tree with an Irish landscape in the background. The book is filled not only with authentic Celtic recipes, but also  with color photos of Irish chefs in native dress, Irish landmarks and Irish landscapes dotted with quaint cottages and a castle or two.

Pidgeon also attended culinary school in Ireland.

"In November 2005, I enrolled at the Belle Island School of Cookery in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland," she said.  "The food in Ireland is really exceptional. The lamb stews and the fish dishes -- without question, they have some world class chefs in Ireland."

Pidgeon also loves to cook with Irish Whiskey—just one more reason why she thinks she is the ideal contestant for the contest, as she explained in her essay,

“I talked about how much I love Ireland, the land, the people, and how I went to the Belle Island School of Cookery. I even have a bottle of Bushmills in my cabinet right now,” she said, laughing.

To vote for Pidgeon, log onto http://www.facebook.com/Bushmills1608?ref=ts.