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100 years of Irish cuisine at Galway’s historic hotels

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Michelin Star Chef Ross Lewis and JP McMahon of Galway’s Michelin Star Restaurant Aniar launch the 5th Galway Food Festival Programme which takes place at Easter (March 24-28) and celebrates 100 years of Irish food. Photo: Robbie Reynolds.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets the people behind two celebrated institutions in hospitality and tourist industries

Two of Galway’s most historic buildings will play a central role in this year’s Galway’s Food Festival, with chefs from both taking part in demonstrations to celebrate the last 100 years of Irish cuisine.

The Ardilaun in Galway City and Ballynahinch Castle were both centres of hospitality long before they became hotels – the difference these days is that anybody who can afford the price of a lunch or dinner can avail of the fare on offer in these four-star establishments. Back then, most of us wouldn’t have got beyond the servants’ quarters!

On Easter Monday, the Ardilaun will mark its link with the Boland family – of the famed Boland Mills in Dublin, which was under de Valera’s command during the 1916 Rising – with a family picnic. It will be on the grounds if the day is fine, and in the dining room if not, explains Breda Ryan, who with her late husband Paddy oversaw the transformation of the former Glenarde House into the Ardilaun Hotel in the early 1960s.

Paddy and Breda bought the house from the Misses Bolands, two sisters whose father had purchased it in the early 1900s from the Persse family.

The Protestant Persses had fought at the Battle of Aughrim on the side of William of Orange and were awarded land in Roxboro in South Galway for their efforts, says Breda. From there, they branched out into other areas and into other business, most notably distilling.

Like the Smithwicks in Kilkenny, they started brewing beer, but graduated to whiskey as it was more respectable. Their distillery was a lucrative business for many years and helped finance various townhouses in Galway of which Glenarde was one. Eventually, however, having taken their eye off the business in favour of the high life, they were forced to sell it and Patrick Boland, a Catholic, purchased it. He had been a lawyer in London but suffered poor health and was sent to the West of Ireland for its fresh air.

Glenarde House was at the heart of a small estate then, Breda explains, as she maps out where the boundaries reached. That has long been swallowed up by housing.

The Bolands were an industrious family, she says and Patrick’s daughters, Miss Eleanor and Miss Maeve, kept silkworms. They had six gardeners to maintain the gardens and they supplied flowers for free to the Jesuit church. They also maintained the woodlands, which are still there and are much loved by Breda.

The Ryans initially bought the house and land immediately around it from the sisters. They later bought the walled garden, which now supplies many of the ingredients for the kitchen.

The contents of the house were auctioned off by the Misses Bolands and Breda remembers the event, when the late Mrs Kenny of Kennys’ Bookshop, realising how valuable the library was, made a special and successful effort to acquire it.

The Misses Bolands, who “were beautifully mannered but not of this world”, initially moved to a new house on their land after selling Glenarde. Subsequently they moved to one that had bigger gardens and more space, which kept them busy. The rest of the estate was sold off gradually.

Paddy and Breda Ryan had bought the house with a hotel in mind – “Paddy was very interested in tourism and could see what was developing”, his wife explains.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Joyce’s Tribune inspiration for Finnegan’s Wake!

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James Joyce's statue in Dublin.

James Joyce copied copiously from the Connacht Tribune when it came to creating his complex novel Finnegans Wake where he intertwined events of the real world and that of his dreams.

He had relatives of his wife Nora send him over copies of the Tribune in 1924, from which he would pour over local news, sports reports, letters to the editor and even advertisements.

An art teacher in Dublin, who has spent 14 years creating illustrations inspired by Finnegans Walk, hopes to create pieces of art specifically highlighting those Galway sections of the novel.

Carole Wade is hoping people here who have anecdotes and connections with Ireland’s most famous author will relay those to her which can then be incorporated into the artwork. It will eventually be donated to the Moore Institute in the University of Galway.

Her sister Dr Frances McCormack in the university’s School of English and Creative Arts has reached out to her fellow academics to collaborate. But her sibling is urging ordinary people to take part.

“I think it’s the most amazing book ever written. Ulysses is about a specific place and time but Finnegan’s Wake is about the history of the world. If you want to know about the Crimean War, every war and every battle in Europe – they’re all mentioned, even the Maamtrasna murders are there,” she enthuses.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Little Blue Hero meets Boys in Green

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Connacht’s Tom Farrell, David Hawkshaw, Niall Murray, Tom Daly, Gavin Thornbury and Jarrad Butler chase after Charlie Quinn during his visit to the Sportsground. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht’s trio of Irish rugby internationals found themselves facing (not quite) the long arm of the law this week when Galway’s newest Garda recruit turned up to join in their training session at the Sportsground.

Charlie Quinn – Garda Number 322 – was in full uniform for the occasion, but that didn’t stop him joining in a Connacht session with captain Jack Carty and, fresh from Ireland’s triumphant Autumn Series, Mack Hansen and Bundee Aki.

The seven-year-old from Creggs is Galway’s latest Little Blue Hero, following his life-changing bone marrow transplant – thanks to a donation from dad Niall, who underwent a pioneering procedure to ensure his platelets were compatible with his young son’s.

Charlie was given a tour of the new Garda Regional Headquarters in Murrough before being ‘blue lighted’ by members of the force to Connacht Rugby to meet his heroes.

And a day later, he still hadn’t come down from the high.

“He’s gone off to school this morning, fully clad from head to toe in his Garda uniform; he’s delighted with himself,” said his mum Cathy.

Niall and Cathy revealed the rollercoaster they’ve been on since Charlie was first diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome is a rare genetic immunodeficiency that keeps a child’s immune system from functioning properly.

But thanks to the incredible work carried out at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, he’s now finally back to full health – and flying.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

GAA couple move wedding to give clear run to club semi-final

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Shauna Healy

IN the words of Shakespeare, ‘all’s well that ends well’ . . . and that’s certainly the case for the St. Thomas’ GAA club as a clash has been avoided between their All-Ireland semi-final date with Dunloy of Antrim and the marriage of one of their star players.

Originally, their match with Cúchulainns Dunloy, had been pencilled in for Saturday, December 17 – the same day that key player Darragh Burke was due to tie the knot with Galway’s multiple camogie All-Star winner, Shauna Healy from Ardrahan.

Following St. Thomas’ replay success against Loughrea in the county final on Sunday week last, the five-in-a-row Galway champions knew that they were ‘in a pickle’ with the All-Ireland semi-final fixed for the same weekend as the wedding.

Frantic behind-the-scenes efforts were made to seek a postponement of the match but with the All-Ireland club series on a very tight deadline, there was little room for manoeuvre.

Initially, Croke Park had agreed to switch the match from Saturday week to Sunday week, December 18, but this would have made for a very low-key wedding and reception on the day before at the Meadow Court Hotel, Loughrea.

Luckily though, for Darragh Burke and Shauna Healy, the Meadow Court Hotel had an alternative date available on the following Thursday, December 22, which the couple have now settled on to tie the knot.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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