Date Published: 04-Oct-2012
All power to Aniar restaurant proprietors Drigín Gaffey, JP McMahon and head chef, Enda McEvoy. Being awarded Galway’s first Michelin star is a massive achievement. While they deserve no end of credit, this success is the result of a wonderful Galway stew, with contributions from patrons, entrepreneurs and talented people from several continents.
Apologies if I forget one or two of the stew’s ingredients. This is more an anecdotal memoir than a fact-perfect account.
I’ve always got on well with chefs. Passionate, vibrant and all just slightly crazy, they speak my language.
Long-serving colyoomistas will remember my very excellent friend Grumpy Chef, who is now neither grumpy nor a chef (if one can ever truly un-chef oneself!) but happy and a father with a family in Hobart, Tasmania.
But one night back in 2000, whilst drinking in the back of the sadly-still-missed Taylor’s bar, he met another young chef called Enda McEvoy. They did what chefs do – they drank and talked about food and drank some more, so when Grumpy was heading off to India, he suggested that Enda fill in for him as downstairs chef at Harriet Leander’s Nimmos, which, with her approval, he did.
As my friend explained to me: “Over the next few years we worked together at Nimmos and became firm friends with plenty of banter and piss-taking of each other. Since my departure to Australia, I have worked with him every time I’ve been back, on weddings, game dinners and other functions. I’m also very blessed to be Godfather to his lovely boy Fin.”
Nimmos was a fantastic place back in those days. The tiny downstairs kitchen turned out great bistro food, while upstairs, chef Jacky Lelievre pretty much singlehandedly introduced fine dining to Galway City.
Jacky had already worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in France, so it must have been great for Enda to encounter such a combination of flair, experience, passion and charm as offered by Harriet’s unique influence and Jacky’s imagination and shining professionalism.
After Harriet sold Nimmos, Enda went to work for her friend and erstwhile colleague, Seamus Sheridan, at the restaurant above his eponymous pub on the Docks. Seamus could see Enda’s potential, and gave him all the staff, time and financial support he could to bring out the young chef’s talent.
By now Enda was passionate about foraging, and would be out each morning at dawn, prowling woodlands and beaches, collecting local wild produce for Sheridan’s kitchen, where he worked alongside a talented team including John McInnes, Jeremy Hunt and Pawel Karnafel, some of whom would later move with him to Aniar, when Sheridan’s was sadly forced to close.
We now take a slight sideways step to recognise the work of another young chef, Alan Williams, who years before had taken the bold step of opening his own restaurant, Abalone, in what was then the culinary desert of Dominick Street.
Williams’ success attracted JP McMahon to open the incredibly successful Spanish restaurant Cava next door to Abalone, and subsequently the street, and indeed the entire West, has become a stroganoff of culinary delight, with Rouge, Creole, La Fine Bouche and Jess Murphy’s award-winning Kai Cafe added to the mix.
When Abalone closed, JP seized the opportunity to continue the work that Seamus Sheridan had started. Aniar was born.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
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.