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.
To say Jill Barber was locally born and bred is certainly not an exaggeration. Born less than a mile from Drumcliffe where she runs the Tea House, she was baptised, confirmed and married in lovely St. Columba’s Church next door. Her family has lived in Carney for generations, farming their land near the wild Atlantic shore. Jill recalls her late father Jim, with a cup of tea in hand, at Drumcliffe Tea House remarking that he was sitting in the exact spot where he tethered the horse and trap while the family attended the Sunday Church Service. The Tea House which she has run since 1988 is located in the old stable building. Surrounded on three sides by graves, including of course, that of W.B. Yeats, it is an unusual but somehow rather perfect setting.
The Harvest Feast last Friday night was truly a triumph for Sligo Food Trail and the nearly 50 members who were involved. The feedback has been absolutely wonderful and it is being acclaimed as an outstanding achievement by one and all. From the moment guests walked in the door, they were bowled over by the reception they received. The canapés and drinks were just wonderful and the musical accompaniment from the Sligo Academy of Music perfect. The banqueting room was sumptuously set up, the Radisson Blu really outdid themselves and it was a credit to them. Kieran Quinn and Gerry Grennan provided delightful music throughout the night.
Anne O’Dowd’s youth, enthusiasm and can-do attitude are surely a recipe for success in the hospitality industry. Along with her brand new husband of just two weeks, the wonderfully named Mark Tickle, Anne runs Áit Eile restaurant in her home town of Enniscrone. The pair met seven years ago in Melbourne, where Business Management graduate Anne was waitressing and Manchester born Mark was plying his trade as a bricklayer. Anne adored the hospitality scene in Australia finding it vibrant and lively compared to home. She loved the new tastes and abundance of fresh ingredients available to chefs. When customers asked the shy Irish waitress what she planned to do with her life, she glibly replied that she wanted to open her own restaurant. Those turned out to be prophetic words.
You could say James has been steeped in beer since his childhood in Keash! Certainly his bar tending career started early enough: at the tender age of 12 he pulled his first pint and he really hasn’t looked back since. As is so often the case, chance played a large part in directing James towards beers of the craft variety. Having worked in pubs in both Ireland and England, he opted for the broader horizons of life in the USA. He moved into = beer sales and marketing, working for a craft beer distributor in Syracuse, in upstate New York. In a neat twist of fate, one of the beers on his list was from O’Hara’s in Carlow. As a committed commercial beer drinker, the taste of craft beer was a revelation to James – you could say he was smitten!
The “Secret’s is in the Mix” at the Sligo Food Trail Gala Harvest Feast, a celebration of Sligo’s finest foods. Indulge yourself in a carefully selected decadent 9 course tasting menu celebrating local ingredients, from Sligo’s finest Chefs. A must on the food lovers calendar this October.
Chris Friel is the antithesis of the popular image of a chef, fuelled by the likes of Gordon Ramsey. No out of control tantrums and certainly no storming out of one job looking for another – he’s been at the Sligo Park for nearly a quarter of a century. Chris is a guy who has worked his way up from the bottom rung of the kitchen ladder and he’s almost evangelical about helping others do the same. To the continuing surprise of his mechanic father, Chris always preferred the inner workings of a kitchen to those of an engine. Brought up outside Letterkenny, of six sisters and a brother, he is the only one who has made hospitality his career. He fondly describes his late mother as a brilliant cook and no doubt that is where his inspiration originated.