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Cottage industry discovers the recipe for success in ice cream

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Date Published: {J}

It’s a regular Wednesday afternoon in Bríd and Roger Fahys’ farmhouse in New Quay.

Brid is dishing up a hearty dinner for their three teenagers, Máire, Tomás and Pádraic, who are just in from doing their farmyard tasks, while Roger is keeping an eye on a cow that’s calving down the field, close to the famous Flaggy Shore.

It’s normal farm life, then. Except that their youngest son, 14-year-old Tomás has just come in from a tiny shop at the front of their farm yard where he has been dishing up home-made ice cream to happy looking tourists, who are now relaxing on benches enjoying their treat while basking in rare rays of Irish sunshine.

This is the home of Linnalla ice cream which has become a small but significant success story since Bríd and Roger decided to diversify their farming operation some four years ago.

The ice cream, in a wide variety of flavours, from rhubarb and custard, to wild berry to Burren hazelnut, is now on sale in various shops and restaurants in Galway, Clare and Limerick and the Fahys are planning a move eastwards shortly, seeking new markets.

Making and selling ice cream in our Irish climate mightn’t seem like an immediate recipe for success, but this unassuming, hard-working couple are certainly making a go of their contemporary cottage industry.

The motto ‘go with what you know’ is one they started out with and have continued to follow as their ice cream business has grown.

Their current enterprise is a significant change from five years ago, when they were farming intensively, milking nearly 70 cows twice a day and sending the milk to the local co-op.

The push towards intensive farming had gained momentum in the 1970s, when Roger was young, but experience taught them that it just wasn’t suitable for their West of Ireland holding.

The farm consists of about 140 acres, which sounds very impressive but its location on a narrow peninsula doesn’t suit intensive farming.

It’s very fragmented, they explain, with some of it on tiny islands off the mainland, which meant a lot of work moving cattle from pasture to pasture. Out of the 140 acres, about 30 are suitable for grazing.

“We were running out of grass in June and feeding valuable winter fodder to cattle in summer,” says Roger. Their farm income was supplemented by Bríd’s work as a nurse with the Galway Association for Mentally Handicapped Children (now Ability West) in Salthill.

But her work commute was becoming more difficult in the Celtic Tiger era. Bríd wanted a lifestyle that centred more on her home and her children. And significantly, both she and Roger wanted to create employment which would allow their children the option of living locally when the three grew up. Farming would not do that.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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