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Connacht Tribune

Crafty lot showcase their wares at Gift Fair

Judy Murphy



Magaly Murray of Gran Grans Foods with their range of produce. Photo: Martina Regan.

Lifestyle – Up to seventy stands to show off artisan food, crafts and design at Local Food and Craft Gift Fair in Galway this weekend. Judy Murphy charts its development from small beginnings.

The sixth annual Local Food and Craft Gift Fair, organised by Galway Local Enterprise Office (LEO), will take place this weekend in the Black Box Theatre with 70 stands showcasing artisan food, crafts and design. All are for sale.  It’s one initiative of Galway LEO to support start-ups and small to medium size businesses.  The organisation also provides financial support and mentoring as well as workshops, courses and networking opportunities. The annual Food and Craft Gift Fair is one of the most popular and best-known of LEO’S events and this year’s features a mix of new and previous participants. Resin artist Ciara O’Neill is a first-timer as are Nigel and Magaly Murry of Gran Grans food, while woodturners, Ambrose and Bríd O’Halloran are veterans of the event.

Food is an intrinsic part of the LEO Fair and a new addition this year is Gran Grans Foods, run by Nigel and Magaly Murray. Gran Grans make a range of sauces, dressings, dips, chutneys, preserves in the custom-designed kitchen of their Kilchreest home.  The company’s is named for Nigel’s granny, whose passion for cooking helped inspire him to become a chef.

After training in Athlone IT, Nigel travelled the world and met Peruvian-born Magaly in Venice. He was a sous chef on a cruise ship and she was PA to the cruise director.  Nigel travelled to Peru to ask Magaly’s father for her hand in marriage, despite the fact that he spoke no Spanish and that her father didn’t speak English. But all went well and they lived in Lima for 10 years, where they ran the country’s first Irish pub, which opened in 1997.

Eventually, however, theyrelocated to Ireland so their three children could be educated here. They settled in Kilchreest, between Gort and Loughrea, and Nigel worked as head chef in the Ardilaun House Hotel and also in Glenlo Abbey among other places.

He enjoyed work, but being a chef in the hospitality industry doesn’t lend itself to family life. So, in 2014, he and Magaly decided on a new direction and Gran Grans artisan food was born.

Nigel now manages the rugby team his 17-year-old son Brendan plays for, which he couldn’t have done in his previous life.

Nigel produces Gran Grans sauces, chutneys and preserves and Magaly looks after labelling and packaging.

They grow herbs and vegetables on an acre of land and these are used in their range of foods.

Nigel’s first foray into sauce-making involved mint, apple and horseradish – they’d observed that most people were using Colman’s and felt it was a niche they could target. Since then they’ve expanded, with failures as well as successes along the way.

“We’ve trialled stuff that hasn’t worked but all our products are now tried and tested,” says Nigel.

Meanwhile, Magaly’s  “great eye for detail” is reflected in the tasteful packaging.

Their produce is free from preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings and Gran Grans also has an extensive gluten-free range.

Nigel praises LEO for its support in areas such as mentoring, grants and microfinance.

“They have skill and expertise we don’t have and it’s great to be able to tap into that.”

Gran Grans took part in Galway Food Festival earlier this year and are part of the SuperValu Academy. They are distributed via SuperValu and Nestor’s supermarkets and are in McCambridges and Morton’s in Galway City.  They’ll be available at the Black Box this weekend, as part of the annual LEO showcase.

The Local Food, Craft and Gift Fair is at the Black Box from 10am-6pm on Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sunday.  Admission free.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Connacht Tribune

Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks

Dara Bradley



Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.

Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.

Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.

Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.

The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.

It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.

That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.

Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past

Dave O'Connell



Baby clothing hanging from a tree branch in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home burial ground this week. PHOTO: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Tribune Comment

The final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes shines a light into the darkest recesses of our shameful past; young women and tiny babies neglected by Church and State – fellow, frail human beings whose lives and deaths somehow didn’t matter at all.

These women and their children were punished, hidden out of sight; mistreated at best; physically and sexually abused at worst – and way, way too many were left to die without a shred of dignity in their lives or in their passing.

The Trojan work and dedication of people like Catherine Corless lifted the stone on the shame – but it is only in their shocking stories, as we’ve read and heard this week, that we can get any sense of the depths of this depravity.

Many of the mothers were little more than children themselves, who had their little babies taken from them and given away with even a sliver of consent.

There were no records of their adoption, and no willingness, even decades later, to help those babies to find their birth mothers. Because to do so would have exposed the cruel and heartless manner of their forced adoptions in the first place.

And yet exposing this scandal is only the first step; an apology was the very least they were entitled to. Now we as a nation, and particularly those religious orders who ran the homes, must do everything to redress this wrong.

We must open the files so that they can discover their full life stories, find their living relatives, and be compensated so that at least the rest of their lives are in complete contrast to all they’ve endured until now.

We need to look at how we can give hundreds of innocent babies a proper burial – however belated and insufficient that may be.

Nothing will undo the damage – but now that the depths of this depravity have finally been laid bare, there must be no equivocation, no prevarication; just a commitment to doing whatever it takes to try and right a terrible wrong.

See full coverage of the Commission’s Report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Galway couple celebrate a remarkable 75th wedding anniversary

Francis Farragher



Martin and Kathleen McEvilly, pictured with their son John, who was home from Boston.

THEY are without doubt the King and Queen of Rosscahill – 104-year-old Martin McEvilly and his 96-year-old wife, Kathleen – who last week celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

Both Martin and Kathleen still live at home as part of the Killannin community, and although Covid has presented its difficulties, they still managed to have a small anniversary celebration on January 7 last.

The couple tied the knot back on January 7, 1946, just three months after World War II had ended, when Martin was 29 and his bride – also a McEvilly (from nearby Oughterard) – was just 21 years of age.

Seven children later – three boys and four girls – there are now also many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to carry on the McEvilly lineage, and hopefully too, the genetic gift of longevity.

Two of ‘the lads’ – Pat and Mike – still live locally as do daughters Noreen (now a carer for her parents) and Madge, while John (the youngest) is in Boston, with daughters Mary and Christina in Sydney and Australia.

Son Pat, who lives in Knockferry, said that the 75th diamond wedding anniversary, was still a very special occasion for the family and one of great happiness.

“You don’t hear of them too often – 75th wedding anniversaries – and it was a very special occasion for all of us, to have our parents still alive and well,” said Pat.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from

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