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Connacht Tribune

Hard work, hope and imagination offer recipe for success

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Kerry Leigh at the new Lighthouse Café in Terryland. She and her husband Mark have continued with plans to expand their vegetarian business in spite of Covid-19. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle – Restaurants and bars that serve food face new challenges as they learn to operate in a Covid-19 world. Stringent new safety regulations must be adhered to while customer capacity has been reduced across the board. It’s not an easy time but as they adjust to these strange circumstances, three of those on the frontline tell JUDY MURPHY how they are adapting and of their hopes for the future.

Lighthouse Café

It takes a brave person to expand their business at present, but that’s exactly what Kerry Leigh and her husband Mark have done.

The Leighs, who own the Lighthouse Café, a small but successful vegan restaurant on Galway City’s Abbeygate Street, had already decided to expand before Covid-19 shut down Ireland.

With their Abbeygate Street premises closed they had some hard calls to make, but they decided to forge ahead and open the new premises in Terryland. Although it’s early days, that space has been a godsend, according to Kerry.

The initial plan, when they signed the lease for the Terryland restaurant last November, had been for two sit-down venues.

“But Abbeygate Street is so small we’ve had to change everything,” says Kerry. Under current guidelines, only she and Mark would have been able to work in the kitchen of that café which can seat 24 indoors in normal times.

That meant running it as a restaurant when they reopened – even with extra seats outdoors – wasn’t possible.

Instead, they’ve played to the strengths of both venues. For now, all their savoury food is being made in the Terryland kitchen and ferried into the Abbeygate Street premises via e-bike and trailer. A take-away menu operating there is proving popular with regulars and visitors.

And while dropping off the savoury dishes, they collect scones and desserts which are made in Abbeygate Street, and transport them to Terryland. That means a comprehensive menu is available in each place.

Pre-Covid, the new Terryland space could have accommodated up to 35 diners; now it’s 16 or 17, says Kerry.

The Leighs, who took over the lease of the existing Lighthouse Café in 2017, showed that vegetarian and vegan food could be seriously tasty as well as healthy. It soon became so popular, customers were queuing for a seat.

“We wanted to expand, but we couldn’t go up and we couldn’t go sideways,” Kerry explains of the physical constraints they faced in the city centre space. And they needed more room. They began to discuss it seriously last Autumn and by November had the lease sorted. The Terryland Lighthouse was due to open in early June but Covid delayed everything. Their landlord was reasonable about the rent, and the couple decided to keep going.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Eyrecourt tune makes it to Hollywood in Jig time

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A tune composed to celebrate the twinning of Eyrecourt in south-east Galway with Gouesnach in France is to feature in a new film.

Written by Niall Crehan, ‘The Eyrecourt Jig’ made quite a splash when it was released in 2013 and is still popular in music sessions up and down the country.

Niall had been commissioned to write the tune for the 20th anniversary of the twinning of the two villages, Eyrecourt and Gouesnach.

So, when he had a small part as a fiddler in a TV film called Royal Rendevouz, he started playing the jig.

The producers were so impressed, they added it to the movie soundtrack and it will appear in the credits.

Niall is a member of a celebrated traditional Irish musical dynasty hailing originally from County Clare.

He is the youngest son of whistle and concertina player Vincent Crehan and nephew of renowned fiddler Junior Crehan.

Niall and his brother Kieran ran the Dublin shop Crehan Musical instruments until his early retirement.

Now living in Kildare, Niall is a cousin of publican Mick Crehan, who runs the renowned folk pub in the west end of Galway, The Crane.

Niall and the large army of musicians in the extended family are regular guests.

His brother Dermot got music playing parts on films such as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and he managed to get Niall onto the likes of Downton Abbey.

This latest TV project is the latest foray into the world of film, explains his son Brian.

The story centres on an American chef who is invited to an Irish manor to cook a feast in order to convince the matriarch not to sell the home.

It premieres on Sunday, February 26 at 9pm on the E! Network starring Isabella Gomez, Ruairi O’Connor and Ronan Raftery.

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Connacht Tribune

‘No show’ TDs criticised at County Galway policing committee meeting

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A county councillor has launched a stinging criticism of Oireachtas members for their repeated failure to attend County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meetings.

At a meeting of the JPC on Monday, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (photographed) said he believed it was time the three TDs on the committee decided if they wanted to remain, or give their place up to someone who would make use of it.

“I am asking the Council to write out to our Oireachtas members and ask them do they want to be on this JPC or not, and if not, let someone else be on it,” blasted the Fine Gael councillor.

This followed repeated non-appearances from TDs representing the Oireachtas on the committee – the three representatives are Deputy Noel Grealish (Ind), Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind).

Cllr Maher said the JPC, which sits around five times per year, was deliberately held on a Mondays to facilitate Oireachtas members who were in the Dáil later in the week. He said there were issues being raised regularly that required raising at a national level and it was incumbent on national representatives to bring those matters back to Dublin.

One such issue was the use of CCTV in the pursuit of illegal dumpers and travelling crime gangs, said Cllr Maher who is Cathaoirleach of the County Council.

“I would like our members of the Oireachtas to be taking the message back on CCTV,” he added, as representatives locally were getting no further as a result of data protection laws.

None of the three Oireachtas members were present for this week’s meeting. Chair of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy, confirmed he had received an apology from Deputy Catherine Connolly.

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Connacht Tribune

New Chief Executive for Galway County Council

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The new Chief Executive of Galway County Council is set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Liam Conneally, who is Director of Services for Economic Development at Clare County Council, is understood to be the preferred candidate following an interview process and has been offered the post.

His appointment will have to be ratified by councillors at an upcoming meeting of Galway County Council.

He will replace Jim Cullen, who was Acting CE for a number of years.

The last permanent CE of the local authority was also a Clare native, Martina Moloney who retired in 2014.

Since then, Kevin Kelly initially and then Jim Cullen have been acting in the roles.

According to his LinkedIn page, Liam Conneally was a senior planner at Limerick City and County Councils for almost three years before taking up the Director of Services role in Clare in 2016.

He was educated at University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast.

A native of Ennistymon, he is steeped in the GAA.

“He’s done a very good job in Clare; he’s very dynamic and forward-looking, he will be a good choice for Galway County Council,” said a source familiar with Mr Conneally, and the interview process.

Government completed a review in 2021 about whether it was going to appoint someone permanently into the CE role, which was filled on a temporary/acting basis for almost nine years.

It’s understood that officials in Dublin had delayed filling the role as they wanted to push for an amalgamation of both Councils.

The amalgamation, however, was rejected by local politicians, and has since been put on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, is due to retire this year. It’s understood his deputy CE, Patricia Philbin will take the role in an acting capacity until an interview process is completed.

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