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.
The timing couldn’t have been better; they arrived in Sydney as the city was preparing for the Olympic Games. All the construction work was done, but the city wanted to put its best face forward for the hordes of imminent visitors. There was plenty of clearing up work, on a gigantic scale, involving dismantling cranes and other machinery as well as making all evidence of a massive construction phase simply disappear. Plenty more work was available once the Olympics actually began, which was an experience in itself, and in the aftermath, clearing out the vast Olympic Village.
Ciaran then began working in landscaping and paving for an Australian who had never employed any Irish before – and ended up with a round dozen on the payroll. The work was good and the hours great – 7am-3pm – leaving lots of time to enjoy Sydney. It was the coffee culture which had the strongest impact on him. The coffee craze hadn’t hit Ireland and the variety and quality were truly eye-opening. It’s no wonder he spent so long perfecting the Vintage Lane coffee (Ciaran reckons it took more than two years before he let anyone else near the machine!).
Using Australia as a base, he travelled widely, touring New Zealand in a camper van, and spending months in Thailand and Indonesia. The remote Thai islands left a lasting impression on him; he loved both the food and the people. But all good things must come to an end and as the new millennium rolled around, Ciaran headed home.
Using his Olympic experience he began a removal and relocation business which thrived during the Celtic Tiger. As things got quieter, he decided to fulfil a long held dream and open a coffee shop (serving excellent coffee of course). Nearly five years on, Vintage Lane in Bramley’s Yard, Rathcormac, is open year round rather than just being a summer business as planned. Operating from the tiniest of kitchens, they serve a simple but quality menu of delicious soups, salads and treats, and do much of their own baking. Ciaran still runs the removal business and as his wife Helen also works fulltime as an audiologist, they depend on their excellent staff for Vintage Lane to thrive.
A busy craft and food market has built up around them – it seems that a rising tide does indeed lift all boats.