A chance pitstop in Carrick on Shannon piqued Tony Conway’s interest in coffee and paved the way for his eclectic café Hearts Desire. Up to that point he hadn’t really ‘got’ the coffee scene and certainly wouldn’t have considered the making of an espresso as art. Today, his tongue-in-cheek mission is to rid the world of mediocre coffee. The teenage Tony would never have foreseen a career in coffee. On leaving school he worked on building sites where Tony’s natural creative streak quickly rose to the fore. He began working on restorations with master craftsmen, learning on the job about techniques in plastering and other crafts. He worked on Lissadell while the Gore-Booths were still in residence, and other big houses. Chemicals couldn’t be used in these projects and restoration was painstakingly done by hand. Tony loved it.
There’s magic in the air in the lead up to Christmas in the marvellous markets on Sligo Food Trail. All the regular markets – Strandhill People’s Market, Beltra Country Market, Rathcormac Artisan Food and Craft Market and Sligo Farmers Market – have wonderful special Christmas celebrations. It’s a great opportunity to meet the maker (or [...]
Sligo Food Trail members are always at the pointed edge of innovation and have put together some superb classes and workshops in the lead up to Christmas. Here are a few places you can go to learn something new this Christmastime. A wreath making workshop at Pudding Row, Easkey A handmade wreath adorning a door [...]
The highly anticipated re-opening of the Coach House Hotel in Ballymote is happening this weekend. For the past 4 weeks they have been restructuring and refurbishing the kitchen, bar and restaurant, giving us tasters and sneaky peeks on social media.
The name ‘Vintage Lane Café’ gives a less than subtle hint regarding Ciaran’s family background - his father has run an antique business in Sligo for years. Indeed Ciaran’s fondest childhood memories are of being out in the van with his Dad, all around the country. Sitting behind a school desk wasn’t quite as attractive an option. Naturally enough he inherited an interest in art and after school studied Graphic Design, in Letterkenny and then Dublin. Actually working as a Graphic Designer was a different kettle of fish – it involved more sitting still. Three and a half years was enough for and Ciaran took the opportunity to head down under with a group of friends.
A career as a chef can bring you to some very exotic places indeed in David Doherty’s case to the tropical Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. Brought up in the slightly less exotic surroundings of Limerick City suburbs, David always had a strong creative streak. Combining this with the love for good food which his mother had fostered, the natural step was to a career as a chef. After college he worked in kitchens along the west coast – in Killarney, Baltimore in West Cork and Galway. A damp, chilly winter’s day inspired him to begin applying for positions around the globe. When offered a job in the Hyatt in the Cayman Islands, he needed no second invitation to accept! In its heyday, the lavish Hyatt Resort was famous for its exotic gardens and attracted Hollywood cameras for the shooting of the movie “The Firm.” Working in the flagship restaurant, Hemmingway’s as part of a 75 strong team of chefs in the five star hotel was wonderful experience for the young chef. After three wonderful years, he returned to Limerick where he met Cliodhna, then a journalist in the Limerick Leader but within a year or two, the young couple were back in the Caribbean. Cliodhna began working with the Cayman Compass and David returned to his old haunt. They settled into island life, adopting a stray dog which they appropriately named Coconut and enjoying a lifestyle with sunshine, crystal seas for snorkelling and swimming.
The twin themes running through Glenn Hunter’s life are clearly the sea and mechanics. Together they have combined seamlessly allowing him to travel the world and earn a living back home. The quintessential ‘boy’, Glenn was always fascinated by engines and mechanics. As the son of a dairy farmer, he grew up around tractors and agricultural machinery learning both to operate them and how to troubleshoot when things went awry. After finishing school it was a natural progression for him to study agricultural engineering and this took him to Nantwich in Cheshire (of cheese fame). Two years there left him with a qualification which would take him wherever he wanted to go.
A farmer and an economist with a passion for community development; Aidan Gillan is not easy to neatly classify. He has in some ways come full circle in his life from his early life helping his father, grow potatoes near Lissadell to running his own organic farm just a few miles down the road. The intervening years are jam packed with education, travel, marriage, children and so much more. In his earlier years, it seemed that Aidan was the most likely of seven siblings to take over the family farm. He loved learning by his father’s side and was always attracted to the magic of growing. He graduated from college in Galway with a degree in Commerce, although it was the complexities of Economics which captured his imagination. During his studies he took time out both to help at home and to spend time working in England and expanding his horizons a little. Post graduation, a job as a cash clerk in Hanson’s in Cleveragh restricted his restless soul; Aidan wanted to experience a different type of life. That he certainly did, taking on a 12 month placement in Thailand with Concern.
Big smiles all around this week for the 70+ members of Sligo Food Trail who have scooped a top ten listing with the internationally recognised travel news guide CNN Travel. Just 18 months after it was launched, Sligo Food Trail was listed at number two alongside international food trails from Canada, America, France and Germany.
Despite the ever changing face of the Irish food scene in the last few years, some things just stay the same. For preserve maker Bernie Clarke of Bramble Lodge Foods one traditional old favourite still wins out - Marmalade is consistently her best seller. She has however managed to persuade customers to move away from the seasonal Seville version to her three fruit alternative with grapefruit, lemon and oranges which she can source year round. Bernie is a wonderful example of someone who has used redundancy to springboard a brand new career. After more than three decades in banking, when most people would be considering retirement, Bernie launched herself into an entirely new career and the world of jams, chutneys, pickles and of course, marmalade.