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Connacht Tribune

Top chef Kevin relishing fresh challenge

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The White Gables in Moycullen, with the shop and cafe to the right. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Lifestyle – Kevin Dunne, who runs the White Gables Restaurant in Moycullen with his wife Ann, celebrates his 50th anniversary as a chef in 2020. It’s also 30 years since the couple opened their popular business, which has since expanded to include a shop, bakery and café. This is a tough time for people in the hospitality world but the Dunnes are rising to the occasion, as they tell JUDY MURPHY.

In a cheffing career that has spanned 50 years, Kevin Dunne has worked in top establishments including the Shelbourne in Dublin, the Dorchester in London, Parknasilla in Kerry and the Great Southern in Galway.

That was before he and his wife, Ann, decided to set up on their own. They opened the White Gables in Moycullen, 30 years ago, an establishment that’s renowned for its classical food and quality service. So, 2020 is a year full of milestones for Kevin – but it’s a strange time to be celebrating.

In fact, when Kevin mentions that he’s been a chef for 50 years, you might wonder if he should be cocooning, rather than cooking meals for collection in the shop that adjoins their restaurant. Not to mention his work delivering White Gables cocooning hampers around Galway.

“Absolutely not,” is the answer as he explains he started training at the age of 14 in the Shelbourne Hotel.

From Drumcondra, Kevin knew from childhood that he wanted to be a chef. The lightbulb moment was when he joined the Boy Scouts.

“I loved going on trips and cooking outside,” he says simply, “I could pull it together.”

In the early 1960s, a talent for cooking was an advantage in a country that wasn’t renowned for its cuisine.

“I remember there was no bread in the shops,” he says, recalling there was a bakers’ strike at one point. “I was queuing with my mother for bread and said ‘what are we doing this for?’ I went from there to baking.”

He applied to train in the Shelbourne, then as now one of the country’s top hotels, and went in as a commis chef, starting at the bottom, “on the potatoes and turnips”.

He progressed and after qualifying, went on to work in London and Germany. Eventually, he returned to Ireland and one Christmas, went to Parknasilla in Kerry, covering for one of the regular chefs.  The former manor house in Sneem was the flagship hotel of the Great Southern group, where Silver Service still prevailed.

It was there he met Ann, who was from Sneem where her parents ran a garage.

“I knew she was the person,” he says, “It’s just something you can’t explain, just a feeling.”

The couple, who have two grown-up children, Jack and Molly, went on to create one of the most successful restaurants in the West of Ireland, but have never rested on their laurels.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!

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A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!

The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.

“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!

“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!

“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.

The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.

They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.

“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.

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Connacht Tribune

Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site

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A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.

A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.

Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.

It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.

“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”

Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.

“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.

“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.

Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.

“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.

“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.

“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.

“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.

“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.

Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.

“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island

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Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.

The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.

According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.

As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.

Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.

Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.

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