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Connacht Tribune

Food hub tackles issues of waste and want

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Minister Michael Creed officially launching FoodCloud's Galway Hub. PHOTOs: ANDREW DOWNES, XPOSURE.

Lifestyle – Co-founder and CEO of FoodCloud, Portumna woman Aoibheann O’Brien tells Judy Murphy how good food ends up in landfill and the work done by her organisation to end this practice.

Witnessing one of the country’s top chefs standing in a warehouse, ladling out free plates of food to guests is an unusual sight.  But the official opening of the FoodCloud Hub in Oranmore on Friday was ground-breaking in many ways.

What was being demonstrated was how an imaginative chef can take perfectly good ingredients that would otherwise be dumped to create fantastic and nutritious meals.

The chef was the award-winning Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant on the city’s Sea Road, which is renowned for using seasonal, organic ingredients.

For Friday’s lunch, she made chicken and cheese pie, smoked salmon on baguettes, root vegetable curry and a beetroot salad with fresh herbs and sweet hummus.

Everything was created from ingredients that were unsuitable for sale in supermarkets, despite being perfectly fine and absolutely safe. These had all been donated to FoodCloud, a social enterprise that links food businesses and charities to minimise food waste.

And Jess was showing how Babybel cheese and tinned chicken, among other items, could be made into a meal that anyone would relish.

From floor to ceiling, the Oranmore warehouse is filled with pallets of cereals, tins of tomatoes, beans, peas, salmon, jars of jam and olives, crisps and an array of fare.

Via FoodCloud, these items, donated by supermarkets and food manufacturers, will be distributed to charities in Galway, Mayo, Clare, Offaly and Westmeath.

Charities that benefit from this network include Cope Galway, Saint Vincent de Paul and Dóchas don Óige, which works with homeless people.

All the food in the Oranmore Hub is safe and edible, but was destined for landfill because of the way our supply chain operates, explains FoodCloud CEO and co-founder Aoibheann O’Brien.

The ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date might mean that supermarkets won’t stock them, she adds. Or maybe some of the cereal boxes have been damaged. Other goods, such as sweets and crisps, are left over after Halloween – well within their use-by date.

“We have three warehouses in Ireland and our average intake per month is 80 tonnes of food that would otherwise go to waste,” she says as an example of FoodCloud’s impact on Ireland.

The Portumna woman, who graduated with a BA in Law and Accounting from the University of Limerick in 2007, began her professional career as an investment banker with JP Morgan in London.

It was in London that she became determined to take action on food waste, as “the issue was becoming very topical”.

For more,  read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Radio series a first for new An Spidéal production company

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Liam Ó Maonlaí (centre) with guests Barry Kerr and Síle Denvir from the first programme of Cuan an Cheoil.

A host of Ireland’s finest musicians gathered in Galway’s new intimate arts space – and recorded ten weeks of special programmes that will go out on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta every Thursday, starting tonight.

Cuan an Cheoil is the first radio series produced by Stiúideo Cuan, the new arts venue and production company in the heart of An Spidéal.

The new ten-part series, kicking off tonight at 7pm, will feature ten of the country’s best-known musicians, who will join Hot House Flower Liam Ó Maonlaí each week to play and to chat with him about various aspects of music and life.

Liam describes the programmes as ‘a musical conversation’ between himself and his guests.

They were recorded in Stiúideo Cuan in An Spidéal in a relaxed and open atmosphere, an attempt to recreate the informality of a group of musicians playing together at home, as opposed to a concert setting. The idea is to allow the musicians the space to be creative, to improvise and to compose on the spot, and the musicians who took part in the series got great satisfaction and enjoyment out of the process.

Síle Denvir and Barry Kerr will join Liam for the first programme of the series on January 20. Síle, from Conamara, is a member of the group Líadan, and has also performed with the Chieftains.  Barry Kerr, musician, composer and painter, is originally from Armagh but now living in Conamara.

Other musicians taking part in the series include Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh & Nia Byrne, Peadar Ó Riada & Mick O’Brien, Mary Bergin & Conor Connolly, Johnny Óg Connolly & Liam O’Connor, Róisín Chambers & Maitiú Ó Casaide, Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich & Niamh Varian-Barry, Rónán Ó Snodaigh & Myles O’Reilly, and Caoimhe & Séamus Ó Flatharta.

A visual stream for this programme will also be available online every week.

Stiúideo Cuan is a new creative arts and music centre based beside Ceardlann an Spidéil craft village in An Spidéal.

Founded by composer, fiddle-player and pianist Charlie Lennon and his daughter, fiddle-player Éilís Lennon, the studio has recently been redeveloped to enhance the facilities there which now include a performance venue, with rehearsal and production space, as well as recording and audio-visual post-production facilities.

Cuan an Cheoil will be broadcast on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta every Thursday from 7pm to 8.30pm, starting tonight.  See www.rte.ie/rnag for further information or to listen back.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Athenry student makes wheelchair waves to create unique artwork

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Joshua Whelan proudly poses beside his artwork, an abstract interpretation of the Athenry town map.

A young Athenry student has been making waves after his artistic endeavours endeared him to the nation.

Joshua Whelan, a First Year pupil at Clarin College in Athenry, has cerebral palsy – and a passion for art, which was revealed when he joined Serena Joyce’s art class a few months ago.

And he has now produced his first large artwork – an abstract interpretation of the Athenry town map, which he produced by using the wheels of his wheelchair to apply the paint.

It was testimony to Serena’s determination to find a way for him to make his mark – and she found inspiration from other wheelchair artists, like American artist Tom Hollenstein.

Serena enlisted the help of Martin O’Connell, Joshua’s special needs assistant, to produce the painting which now hangs proudly in Clarin College for all to see.

Martin steers the chair, but at Joshua’s direction as he tells Martin how he wants the wheelchair to move across the canvas.

When the painted was posted on social media, it drew a huge reaction and led to Joshua featuring on RTÉ News last week.

And Joshua’s mother Ingrid was understandably proud of her son.

“He’s amazing. It’s a credit to the school and Serena and Martin, and the support he’s had to help realise his skills and abilities,” she said.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

NUIG distributing Covid test kits to students

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Breda Smyth, HSE West Director of Public Health Medicine and Personal Professor of Public Health Medicine, NUI Galway pictured with Professor Charles Spillane, Director of NUI Galway's Ryan Institute and PhD students Lorene Lefebvre and Gilles Dupouy and Master's students Killian Marlborough and Brian Joyce at the launch of UniCov in semester one 2021. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

Tens of thousands of antigen test kits are being provided to NUIG students alongside Project UniCoV as part of public health efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.

From Monday 17 January, students will be able to collect packs at four locations across campus.

Professor Breda Smyth, Chief Investigator of Project UniCoV and HSE West Director of Public Health, urged students to avail of the kits as well as additional testing, by signing up to take part in Project UniCoV.

“Everyone attending campus needs to adhere to the basic public health measures in the first instance – including not coming to campus if you have symptoms and are supposed to be self-isolating or restricting movements.

“Being able to offer free antigen test kits on campus at NUI Galway and giving students the opportunity to take part in Project UniCov demonstrates how we can take a layered approach to public safety and the welfare of students and staff.”

Students can collect five tests at a time. They are being advised to test twice a week, three days apart. They are also being advised to self-isolate if they test positive or develop symptoms and to follow public health advice.

Students are also being encouraged to avail of the option for further free antigen and/or salvia PCR testing for twelve weeks in semester two. A special QR code is being made available to students to support the research.

NUI Galway students are also encouraged to get the vaccine booster, to continue to wear face coverings and sanitise hands. The University saw high levels of compliance from students with public health guidelines during the academic year and we thank them for that.

The distribution of free antigen test kits is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

 

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