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Connacht Tribune

Galway family thrives after life-changing relocation to France

Declan Tierney

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Declan and Emily Gardiner at their adopted home in central France.

A Galway family who ‘upped sticks’ to France to carve out a new life on the land in a move which proved such a success, they are now diversifying into the farm holiday business.

Locals in Eyrecourt had mixed views when Declan Gardiner and his wife Emily decided thirteen years ago that they were taking their young family to France where they intended purchasing a 300 acre farm which came with a 300 Charolais herd.

Declan and Emily sold their house and nine acres in Eyrecourt – to effectively cut their ties and make them focus on their new life – and move to the Nouhant region which is around 230 miles directly south of Paris.

Since 2006 they have developed the farm, purchased a new holding, increased his Charolais and Limousin herd and they are now farming 1,250 acres of land.

The couple moved with their three children Luke, William and Laura who were twelve, eleven and seven at the time.

They attended local French schools and while it proved extremely difficult for them initially, they are now fluent speakers in the language 13 years on.

Now in his mid-twenties, Luke worked in Amsterdam but is now back in Ballinasloe in the concrete manufacturing business; William (24) is in Clarmont in France where he is involved in the manufacture of cosmetics (Celine Dion is a customer) while 20 year old Laura is spending a year in Australia.

“She is the real farmer in the family,” admits Declan.

Declan and Emily Gardiner at their adopted home in central France.

Prior to them leaving, Declan, who was 41 at the time, has been rearing pure bred Limousin bulls for the previous 15 years as well as being employed as a fitter in Galmoy Mines in Kilkenny and just before his move, he had around 150 of a herd.

Emily, originally from Birr, County Offaly, worked in Chanelle Pharmaceuticals in Loughrea.

Declan admits that the first two years were difficult and a few doubts crept in during that period. Language was a main barrier and trying to get things done in the development of the farm also had its obstacles.

Having spoken to other people from both Ireland and England who had sold up and moved lock, stock and barrel to France, he was tempted by the idea and went in search of a farm of land.

He was quite surprised to discover that good agricultural land can be purchased from around €1,000 to €1,400 an acre – in parts of County Galway in 2006 reasonable quality land has achieved in excess around €20,000 an acre at the time.

In Ireland they owned a house and nine acres of land and were renting a 100 acre farm, where they had built up a pedigree Limousin herd.

But since moving to their new farm in central France they have increased their cattle herd and cereal production and since 2009 were milking 200 goats but have recently and reluctantly ceased this enterprise mainly due to the lack of availability of farm hands, particularly at weekends.

“It was turning over €40,000 clear profit alone,” Declan said.

Declan Gardiner with his Charolais cows.

In more recent times, the Gardiners have developed a unique farm holiday business which involves guests occupying the four houses on their farm to get away from it all and have a hands on experience on the farm at the same time.

It has proved hugely popular with Irish tourists who want to experience the French farming way of life and have no problem with getting ‘down and dirty’ to achieve this.

But the Gardiners have also had guests from Germany, England, Holland, Switzerland and as far away as Dubai and Thailand.

Depending on the work that the guests contribute on the farm, it is reflected on the cost of their stay at the end of the holiday.

“We had a retired couple who stayed three months on holiday and worked on the farm as well,” Declan added.

And indeed it is Declan’s intention to try something similar himself. His plan, over the next couple of years, is to travel to Pennsylvania in the States to work on farms operated by the Amish community.

He has only been home to Ireland four times since he left while Emily travels at least twice a year – but they are as determined as ever to live out their lives in France.

Connacht Tribune

Atlantic Therapeutics takes top award for medical breakthrough

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The overall winner of this year’s Irish Times Innovation of the Year award is Galway-based Atlantic Therapeutics, which also won the Life Sciences and Healthcare category. Pictured presenting the category award is Dr Ciaran Seoighe, Deputy Director General Science Foundation Ireland with Atlantic Therapeutics’ Richard Allen, Danny Forde, Dr Ruth Maher, Christina Walsh and Brendan McCormack. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

The Galway based med-tech company Atlantic Therapeutics has won the Irish Times ‘Innovation of the Year Award 2019’ – for developing a non-invasive, long lasting solution to bladder weakness and other disorders associated with pelvic floor muscle problems.

As many as one in three women and one in ten men suffer from urinary incontinence, primarily due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. The condition often goes untreated and unreported due to the embarrassment involved and the stigma felt by patients.

Atlantic Therapeutics’ innovative device – aptly called Innovo – is similar in style and feel to a pair of cycling shorts and works by strengthening and rebuilding the pelvic floor muscles.

Earlier this year the company, which is based in Parkmore Business Park, raised €28 million in investment ahead of a move into the US, just months after receiving FDA approval for its flagship Innovo technology platform.

Global Product Manager Danny Forde said the company was proud and humbled to be chosen as the Innovation of the Year for 2019.

“This win is recognition of the enormous collective effort our team has made around the world; from our Galway HQ to our offices in the US, UK, France & Germany, together with the strong support of our suppliers, partners, distributors, investors, advisors and most importantly of all, our customers,” he said.

“It’s a significant milestone in our mission to help millions of people restore their pelvic health and thereby their control, confidence and active lifestyle.

“We’ve heard from previous winners about the amazing impact that the Innovation of the Year Award can have, and we’ve already had an overwhelming reaction – it’s been a whirlwind!” he added.

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Connacht Tribune

MedTech recruiters are Guaranteed Irish

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Pale Blue Dot Recruitment on a recent visit to Cope Headquarters on the Tuam Road. The team raised over €1000 running the Streets of Galway and through various social media competitions. Pictured are (from left) Lynia O'Brien of Cope Galway, Anthony Griffin, Patrick Hughes, Olivia Kennedy and Sohini Mitra.

A Galway-based recruitment agency has been awarded the Guaranteed Irish symbol – following its pioneering partnership with COPE.

Pale Blue Dot Recruitment currently operates from Galway city centre and has become heavily involved in the local community. This year, the business partnered with COPE Galway as their Charity of the Year. A number of fundraising events for the charity were sponsored by Pale Blue Dot Recruitment, who also donated generously to the charity throughout the year.

Pale Blue Dot Recruitment works in professional placement for the MedTech industry, and is now connected with more than 50 percent of the professional MedTech workforce in the country.

Pale Blue Dot Recruitment joins 16 other Guaranteed Irish business members in Galway, including Stira, Revive Active, Hatman of Ireland and the WifOR Institute.

“Playing a role in the community and supporting local is something that Pale Blue Dot Recruitment holds very highly,” said MD Anthony Griffin. “COPE Galway provides so many services to the local community, supporting those who are in need most. We are delighted to support COPE Galway for the foreseeable future through various fundraising and awareness initiatives,” he added.

Guaranteed Irish is one of Ireland’s most enduring, recognisable and authentic symbols of trust. The business membership organisation has a network of 600+ members nationwide across various sectors, supporting over 71,390 jobs with an annual combined turnover of €11.2 billion to the Irish economy.

The Guaranteed Irish symbol helps Irish consumers identify products and services that are a better choice for jobs and local communities in Ireland.

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Connacht Tribune

Silke’s runs and scores proving a trump card for Corofin

Stephen Glennon

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Corofin's Liam Silke, in action against Matthew Kilgannon of Claregalway, has been central to the club's ongoing great success story.

IF there is one player who can light up a game — or turn said game on its head — then it is Galway’s and Corofin’s attacking defender Liam Silke.

A medical student at UCD, Silke undertakes his forays up field with surgical precision, underlined when he cut in behind the Ballintubber defence to goal in Corofin’s recent Connacht SFC semi-final victory. In a game that finished 1-10 to 0-11, Silke’s strike proved to be the deepest cut.

In many respects, the score summed up Liam Silke and what he brings to the game. So many times, he has done this for Corofin and Galway that it marks the designated defender out as one of Gaelic football’s most exciting players.

“Yeah, it is definitely something I try to do,” acknowledges the 24-year-old. “To be able to attack as well as defend is very important, to be able to contribute at both ends of the pitch. It just comes naturally to me; it is not something I think of too much. It is just something that happens in that I start making a run and I am happy enough to keep going forward.

“Thankfully, the (Corofin) players around me are able to cover and we are able to interchange. That makes it a whole lot easier. It can be a little bit of a gamble, but sometimes it pays off. Kevin O’Brien (manager) will always say when we have the ball we are 15 attackers, and when we don’t have the ball we are 15 defenders.

“So, it is encouraged by the management; they are always encouraging everyone to go out and play and express themselves. Also, I think the days of playing at corner back and just staying in the corner are kind of gone. Players can be coached and can be encouraged to be more attack minded, and can be given the licence to go out and do what they think is right.”

While Silke is enjoying his football at present, there are times when he finds it difficult to balance all — be it club and county, or football and his studies. These days approaching Christmas exams are always demanding.

“I am in college in UCD — I have two years left; I am on placement at the moment — and I have exams next week. So, the preparation isn’t ideal,” he notes. “You do get sick of the motorway after a while, but when you are coming home to play with Corofin and win county championships it makes it worthwhile.”

Whenever he finishes up with Corofin in this current campaign, he will return to inter-county duty with Galway. This, too, will place its own demands on him. He admits it can be difficult to carve out a little time and space for himself.

“It is not easy to get a break. It is just the way the GAA season is. It is not ideal, but there aren’t many clubs still going at the moment. So, it is kind of hard to find the right way to manage the calendar that it will work for everyone.

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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