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Food from the wild: go with your gut



April Danann and husband Max with children Dara and Trevor. “I can smell it off food, if there has been plastic on it,” she says.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy talks to Nutritionist April Danann who will reveal secrets of “Energy Medicine” to a Galway audience this month

New Year, new you? If that’s your aim, then maybe it’s time to go with your gut. Scientific research shows that a healthy gut is vital to keeping the entire body and mind healthy and in a state of balance. And that involves eating probiotic food.

Vegetables, fruit and water can be turned into healthy, tasty and probiotic gut-friendly food via the age-old practice of fermenting, and a workshop being held at Galway City Museum on Monday, January 30, will give people the skills to start home-fermenting.

The Wild Fermentation Class is being given by Clinical Nutritionist April Danann, who practises what she describes as “Energy Medicine” from her West Cork home. Canadian-born April, who lived for some time in Galway, near Monivea, previously worked as a food hygiene inspector.

In her 20s she studied massage therapy, kinesiology and healing touch, among other complimentary practices, including medical intuition – a skill she says she’s had since childhood. She also has a Masters in Nutrition from the University of Chester and a PhD in Naturopathic Medicine.

“I even have a diploma in food packaging technology,” says the mother-of-two with a laugh. That’s in addition to a BSc in Food Management and Supply and a Masters in Exercise and Nutrition Science. So, she combines science and naturopathic medicine in her work as a nutritional therapist, a rare combination, especially in this country.

And she’s fascinated by food, from the humble dandelion; “immerse it in water, vinegar or brandy and it becomes a magic elixir” – to vinegar; “I make it from hawthorn, elder, red clover and other local flowers”.  Other mixtures include Turmeric and Ginger Apple Cider Vinegar, and Wild Blueberry AC Vinegar. Her Fire Tonic Apple Cider vinegar with wild herbs, garlic, hawthorn, turmeric and ginger is an ideal pick-me-up and is just one of the blend she makes for different needs.

A fermentation expert, who is revered by those who espouse healthy diets, April has made a series of Youtube videos for the Happy Pear restaurant in Wicklow, demonstrating what’s involved in the process.

Her love of wild fermentation grew organically, she explains. Cider vinegar is beneficial for the gut and when April first started taking it, she used to buy an organic commercial brand.

“But it was too acidic and was hard on my stomach,” she recalls. “Then, I was on a fast one time and decided to make my own, because commercial vinegars didn’t have the local organisms that my stomach needed.

“It wasn’t difficult but it took time and it’s much more palatable,” she says of the process.

April began by capturing what’s known as “a vinegar mother”, the starter culture for all her subsequent vinegars.

“I put open pots of liquid in our garden in West Cork, which I was able to develop into a vinegar mother. I now use that mother all over – it’s travelled to Singapore, Thailand, America, Australia and Canada.”

However, the bacteria and yeast it contains means it’s particularly well adapted to Ireland and April gives it to people who attend her classes and who want to make their own apple cider vinegar.

“Once you have the ‘mother’ the hard part is done. Then you just need time and patience to produce it the old-fashioned way.”

She does that using “pristine well-water and old whiskey barrels; no plastics or metals”.

That’s because metal can affect the taste and acidity of the finished vinegar. As for plastic, “you never want to put anything acidic near plastic”, she says firmly. “Anything with an acid base will be affected by what it’s fermented in.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised



Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Siblings find each other – and their Connemara roots – after 80 years



Reunited...Pat and Miceál McKeown outside their mother Síle’s birthplace in Carna.

By Erin Gibbons

A family separated for over 80 years was reunited at the end of an emotional journey in Connemara last weekend – thanks to DNA testing and the expert help of heritage researchers.

Pat McKeown, who lives in Staffordshire in the UK, is the daughter of Síle Gorham from Roisín Na Mainiach, Carna – but she was given up for adoption and reared for a time in a Belfast Mother and Baby Home.

Now, at the age of 81, she found her roots – returning to her mother’s native place for the first time last weekend, in the company of her long-lost brother Micheál.

It was an emotional end to a lifelong search for her roots that even led her to hire a private detective to try and locate her family and to discover her name.

All of this proved unsuccessful – and she had effectively given up her search when she was contacted unexpectedly by a man called Miceál McKeown, who turned out to be her brother.

Micheál – an artist and sculptor – and his daughter Orla had made the connection through DNA testing, after Miceál too had set out to discover more about his own roots.

That revealed that Síle Gorham had married Michael McKeown in 1939, and Síle went on to have three more children named Áine, Séan and Miceál.

Pat visited Connemara last weekend for the first time to learn about her mother Síle and the Connemara ancestry which she feels was robbed from her for her entire 81 years.

She was accompanied by Miceál, his wife Rosemary, daughter Orla and son-in-law Rueben Keogh.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Student leader’s stalker hell



Róisín Nic Lochlainn

The President of NUI Galway Students’ Union has spoken out about her terrifying harassment ordeal at the hands of a 17-year-old stalker who left her fearing for her safety.

Róisín Nic Lochlainn told the Connacht Tribune that she felt ‘such relief’ when the news came out last week that the young man who spent months putting her through hell online had been brought before the courts in Dublin for a similar campaign of harassment against a BBC NI journalist.

The 17-year-old from Malahide, Co Dublin, who cannot be named because of his age, pleaded guilty to the harassment of reporter Aileen Moynagh at Dublin Children’s Court last week.

It transpired he had used up to 40 aliases to send Ms Moynagh abusive and threatening messages on various social media platforms and by email. It is understood that the teen has a compulsive disorder and Asperger’s.

Ms Nic Lochlainn said she had sleepless nights and sought the help of Gardaí and the university’s chaplaincy service amid a slew of threats directed at her over much of 2020.

“It was actually terrifying. I know it might sound stupid, but I would check the bathroom in my room every night before going to bed. It was keeping me up at night,” she said.

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

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