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100 years of Irish cuisine at Galway’s historic hotels

Judy Murphy

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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Army removes explosive device in Knocknacarra

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An army Bomb Disposal Team was called to Knocknacarra last night to deal with a ‘viable’ explosive device.

Following a request from Gardai, the unit was tasked with investigating a suspicious device in a laneway off Cappagh Road at around 10pm.

The area was cordoned off and following an examination, the device was deemed viable and made safe.

It was removed from the scene shortly after 10.30pm and was taken to a Defence Forces location where it will undergo further examination.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.

The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.

The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.

According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.

The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.

“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.

According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.

Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.

This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.

When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Leisureland sinks with €20,000 per week losses

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The plug is being pulled on Leisureland – leaving hundreds of swimmers, mostly children, and trainee lifeguards, high and dry.

Galway Salthill Fáilte CLG, the company that operates the publicly-owned facility, has confirmed it plans to shut down its swimming pool and gym, leaving members of six aquatic clubs, hundreds of schoolchildren, and the general public, without an amenity for the foreseeable future.

Swimming clubs fear they will lose a whole generation of young swimmers in Galway if the pool closes. And they have warned that it could end up costing €1 million to repair and reopen the pool after a prolonged closure.

Leisureland blamed the impact of coronavirus for its financial woes, with losses running at an average of €20,000 per week.

The company said that by August it had already spent its annual €300,000 subsidy subvention from Galway City Council, and the local authority has indicated it is not in a position to increase the subsidy further in 2020.

The planned closure – which could result in the furloughing of over 20 staff from next month – has shocked the local aquatic community.

A lengthy hiatus with Leisureland closed will mean Galway will lose a ‘whole generation’ of swimmers, according to Eamon Caulfield, President of Galway Swimming Club and member and former chairperson of Corrib Water Polo Club.

“We’re particularly upset and aggrieved that this is going ahead, it’s shocking. They should be looking to reverse this decision,” he said this week.

The majority of the five aquatic clubs that use the facility (Galway SC, Shark SC, Laser SC and Tribes and Corrib water polo clubs) are made up of children aged 10-18, including some international athletes. Hundreds of children from Galway schools also learn to swim there.

A water safety group has been using the pool every Sunday morning since it opened in 1973, he said.

“Historically it is where Galway gets its lifeguards from. How can you not have swim lessons in a public pool? How can you not have water safety taught in a pool in Galway?

“It beggars belief, we’re on the sea. The water safety people, where are they going to go, how are we going to get lifeguards for beaches? How are we going to get teachers for teaching swimming?” asked Mr Caulfield.

The clubs have roughly 150 members each and generate €150,000 revenue annually for Leisureland.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full version, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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