Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Connacht Tribune

Galway family thrives after life-changing relocation to France

Published

on

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

Just the spirit

Published

on

Gareth and Michelle McAllister pictured at the old mill in Ahascragh where the new whiskey and gin distillery will be estabished. Photos: Gerry Stronge.

A former grain mill in the village of Ahascragh is being converted into a distillery thanks to Gareth and Michelle McAllister who have big plans to meet growing demand for craft Irish whiskey and gin in the Far East as well as closer to home. They are also developing a visitor centre in the distillery and are currently offering people a chance to invest in their company as DECLAN TIERNEY learns.

A product that will be developed in the East Galway village of Ahascragh will find its way Asia and various other parts of the world following a courageous initiative by a couple who aim to become huge names in the distillery industry.

Given their thirst for the distilling of craft whiskey and gin, Dublin couple Gareth and Michelle McAllister are set to put the tiny village on the international map by transforming an old corn mill into a major employer as well as a tourist attraction as part of a €10 million investment.

Works have already started on giving the old mill, previously an ivy-clad eyesore in the village, a brand-new look and the couple hope to go into full production by the end of next year – ready for the 2022 Christmas market.

Employment has already commenced in the marketing and administration end of the distillery and when it’s in full production, Gareth and Michelle will create around 40 new jobs in the village.

They will be producing two whiskey products and one gin when they’re at full capacity but already they are bottling a single malt under their own product name. This is currently on the market . . . and is proving particularly popular, despite limited availability at the moment.

The distillery is a labour of love for Gareth, a chemical engineer by profession, and Michelle who worked as a psychologist but is now operating the café in Ahascragh that they opened earlier this year to coincide with the launch of the distillery.

Both worked in China for seven years in different roles and while there, they discovered that there was a big demand for Irish-made spirits. They are now determined to explore this particular niche in the market as well as developing outlets across Europe and in the market here at home.

“This has been foremost in our plans and aspirations for some considerable time,” explained Gareth. “Since our time in Asia and Singapore we discovered that Irish spirits were a much sought-after product. As part of my training as a chemical engineer, distilling formed part of this.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
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.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Fascinating final in store but St Thomas’ hold most of the aces

Published

on

Salthill/Knocknacarra's Niall McGauran on the attack against Luke Murray of Dunmore MacHales during Saturday's County U19 football A final at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ST Thomas’ will be attempting to achieve what has proven beyond three great Galway club hurling teams over the past 30 years when targeting a four-in-a-row of senior titles at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. During their respective periods of dominance Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna were nearly untouchable on their best days, but winning four consecutive county senior hurling championships proved a bridge too far for each of these former powers.

Athenry went the closest of them all. Heading to Duggan Park in October 2001 – the last senior final to be played in Ballinasloe – Pat Nally’s troops stood 60 minutes away from claiming a fourth title on the trot. The red-hot favourites came mightily close too, only losing by a point (0-18 to 2-11) to a Clarinbridge outfit winning their first ever title.

Portumna pulled off the title hat-trick in 2009, but didn’t make it back to the following year’s final, and while Sarsfields – under Michael Conneely – triumphed in 1992, ’93 and ’95, they came unstuck in the 1994 decider when falling to Athenry (2-6 to 0-9). These three clubs were outstanding ambassadors for Galway club hurling, but there was no four-in-a row for any of them.

It underlines how difficult the achievement is and we must go back to the Turloughmore team of the sixties for a club to enjoy such an extended stranglehold on the county championship. They ended up winning six titles on the trot, but have only won the one since – in 1985 when overcoming Killimordaly (1-14 to 1-4) at Pearse Stadium.

Given that St Thomas’ are only one hour away from a fourth consecutive title, it’s curious that they are not yet held in the same awe as Sarsfields, Athenry or Portumna when they were at the peak of their powers. Perhaps, their lone All-Ireland club success up to now may have some influence in this regard.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
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.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Students see red over in-person exams

Published

on

NUIG.

NUI Galway has moved this week to deny accusations that it is ‘playing Russian Roulette’ with students’ wellbeing by proceeding with in-person exams.

The Students’ Union blasted the university for its decision to forge ahead with examinations in exam halls amid sky-rocketing Covid-19 cases.

President of the SU, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, slammed college authorities for what she described as a ‘reckless attitude to students’ health and wellbeing’.

“The stubborn refusal by university management is playing Russian Roulette with the health of students and their families.

“We are talking about forcing people to attend multiple spreader-events right before they go home to their families for Christmas. This is reckless and irresponsible from university management, particularly when there is a tried and trusted alternative available,” said the student leader.

In-person exams for the vast majority of students were cancelled last year as the university remained closed throughout the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions.

However, students have been back attending lectures since September and NUIG plans to proceed with normal exams for the first time since Summer 2019 – albeit with a number of risk mitigating measures in place.

The Connacht Tribune has learned that following applications by in excess of 500 students for ‘reasonable accommodation’ – where certified conditions that increase the risk of adverse reaction to Covid infection – there will be 1,600 instances where exams will be sat in individual rooms.

It is understood that there are 16 exam venues this year – a much greater number than in previous years – and that additional cleaning measures including ‘air fogging’ will be carried out to sanitise large venues.

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

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending