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Falafel man Flo has his finger on the pulse

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Lifestyle – It’s 15 years since Dutchman Flo Wagemakers, nicknamed Mr Falafel for his role in making this Middle Eastern food so popular, set up his stand in Galway Market. He tells JUDY MURPHY how the plant-based business has grown to include a street-food restaurant and of his hopes for the future.

Dutchman Flo Wagemakers was living in Limerick, working for a multi-national in Shannon when he first came to Galway City for a weekend.  He landed on “a miserable January evening in 1999”, but the rain and dark were no deterrent. Flo fell in love with Galway – and he immediately saw potential for a business.

“I went to that place at the corner of Eyre Square for something to eat,” he recalls, referring to Abrakebara, which is long gone. Vegetarian choices weren’t great in Galway at the time, especially in fast-food outlets, so Flo ordered a falafel.

Biting into it, he thought immediately that “Galway was ready for the next level falafel. And it was”.

Falafels are a Middle-Eastern dish, made with ground chickpeas and a mix of onion, garlic and spices, and served in flatbread.

Thanks to Flo and other plant-based chefs, they are now ubiquitous in Galway. These deep-fried patties, which in an ideal world, are crispy on the outside and moist and light on the inside, remain at the core of his food business, TGO Falafel (TGO stands for The Gourmet Offensive).  But they are just one aspect of what’s now available at his weekend food stall in the City’s St Nicholas’ Market and street-food restaurant on Mary Street.

The Gourmet Offensive also sells a variety of burgers, ‘chicken-style’ skewers, bean sausages, terrific salads, vegan breakfasts and, unquestionably, the best chips in Galway – more about them later.

“We prepare plant-based food with care,” he says simply.

Flo celebrates 15 years in business this year, having started off with a stall in St Nicholas’ Market in 2005 before opening the TGO café in November 2015. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, with the business running into problems during the downturn – through factors outside his control

These days, he’s a flexitarian (eating meat occasionally) but doesn’t want to get bogged down in any debate about the merits or otherwise of meat versus vegan.

For him, the approach to food is simple.

“It’s about sustainable production, whether it’s vegetables or meat.”

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Connacht Tribune

Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries

Enda Cunningham

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Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.

As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.

During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.

The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.

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Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy

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Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre

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Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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