There is a wonderful walled garden in the grounds of Rathmullan House in Donegal, Ireland. The gardens supply the hotel with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Naturally the food in the hotel is superb with all this organically grown produce to choose from. Most of the walls are covered with espaliered fruit trees like this conference pear. I could not recommend this hotel highly enough. It is a favourite place to stop for coffee, hot home made scones with home made jams from the garden and loads of clotted cream from a local dairy. Then you are ready to explore the gorgeous county of Donegal.
Conference, with its distinctive long, tapering shape, is the most popular pear grown in Britain by a long measure, in commercial orchards and domestic gardens.
Unlike most fruit varieties, which have occurred as chance crosses, this pear was bred by Thomas Francis Rivers at his family nursery at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire.
He first announced it to the public at a ‘Pear Congress’ in 1885, which had been advertised as a ‘Pear Conference’, and which is the name he plumped for – although it seems our best-known pear could just as easily have been called Congress.
The meeting was a bit of a wash-out, partly because it rained throughout the two-day event, and partly because pears did not summon the same interest in the public as apples.
It remains true today, perhaps for the simple reason that pears will not store so easily.
Conference, however, was an immediate success, hailed for its taste, texture and keeping abilities, and was awarded a first-class certificate.
It is largely self-fertile, crops very heavily and seems to fare better in wet, cool weather than most other pears.
Is it any wonder that it thrives well in Ireland?
Panasonic Lumix TZ30
Straight from the camera