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Connacht Tribune

Keeping Sonny’s spirit alive



Bar-owner John Mannion and Jack Kenny of J & C Wine and Spirit Distributors with one of the limited-edition presentation boxes of the Sonny Molloy’s Redbreast 16-Year-Old Single-Cask.

Lifestyle – As sales of whiskey soar, Irish Distillers have embarked on a unique project with one of Galway’s best-known pubs. JUDY MURPHY hears how the glass is half-full for Sonny Molloy’s.

Just a few short years ago, anyone walking into a bar in Galway wanting to sample Irish whiskey would have met with slim pickings.  In the country that had given this spirit to the world, whiskey seemed to be dying a death. But fast forward to 2018 and all has changed.

Pubs such as Garavan’s in Galway City have won numerous awards for its whiskey selection, while the Galway Whiskey Trail, launched five years ago, means that every decent pub and off-licence in the city has a selection of Irish whiskey that could have you sampling for a week . . . if your wallet and your liver could cope with the challenge.

Irish whiskey is increasingly being sought after as a collector’s item and this has led to new, ground-breaking partnerships between Irish Distillers – the company that produces labels including Jameson, Powers, Midleton and Redbreast – and Galway’s leading whiskey bars.

Earlier this month Irish Distillers launched a Power’s 15-Year-Old Single Cask whiskey, specially bottled for Garavan’s.

And just last week, the prestigious Redbreast label teamed up with Sonny Molloy’s Whiskey Bar to launch a unique one-off whiskey, produced especially for the pub. It’s the first time since it was first distilled in Dublin more than 100 years ago by Gilbey’s that Redbreast has entered such a partnership.

For Ger Garland, who has the enviable job of Brands Ambassador for Irish Distilleries, it’s vital that the company forges the right relationships with the right clients.

“Garavan’s is a pub that goes back for three generations and has had a connection with Powers through those years, so that was a perfect fit,” he says, referring to the era when John Power was an independent distiller.

That ended in 1966 when Powers joined forces with two of the country’s other main distilleries, Jameson and CDC, to address the challenges facing Irish whiskey. It was a bleak outlook then, compared to 100 years previously when Ireland sold 80 per cent of the world’s whiskey – by the 1960s that was down to just two per cent.

The consolidated group, which settled on the title Irish Distillers, moved to a green-field site in Midleton, County Cork, because the farmers who supplied its grain were located in the South East and all the raw materials were available locally. It’s now part of the Pernod Ricard Group, which operates a decentralised model, giving the Irish operation great autonomy, Gerard explains.

In 1984, the Master Distiller at Midleton, Barry Crockett, created the first of what became the Midleton Very Rare Vintage Whiskeys, a premium blend of rare, top-quality whiskey that’s been released annually since.

For more,  read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base



The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.


Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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