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Connacht Tribune

Crafty lot showcase their wares at Gift Fair



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

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base



The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.


Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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