Beechlawn Organic Farm won the Best New and Innovative Product Award at Bord Bia Food Awards on Tuesday 10th October. Well done to Una Fahy for leading the way with new Biobags and reducing our use of single use plastic.
Padraig and Una met in 1999 while both studying organic horticulture at The Organic College, Dromcollogher. In 2001, they started growing vegetables on Padraig's parents farm. The following year, Beechlawn Organic Farm was established.
The business grew year-on-year, and the couple gradually gave up teaching horticulture to work full-time alongside other staff members, growing and selling organic vegetables.
Starting with a box scheme, the business moved into farmers' markets. In 2009 it started selling to supermarkets. Over the following years, Beechlawn Organic Farm gradually gave up the markets and now focuses on the veg box delivery scheme alongside sales to shops, restaurants, supermarkets and larger wholesalers.
You can find out more and order your box of seasonal vegetables by visiting their webpage
PS: EuroSpar in The Square stock Beechlawn Organic Veg as well!
Venezia Ristorante has been awarded the best Italian restaurant in Connacht, From the prestigious Yes Chef magazine at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sliglo.
This is great achievement in such a short time, and Venezia Ristorante would like to particularly thank all its customers for their continued support as well as their staff for their hardwork and dedication!
You can book a table by visiting the Venezia Facebook page here
One of the town’s most popular clothing and home décor department stores, Utah, in Society Street, are celebrating 10 years of business this winter season. The store was set up in late 2008 at the beginning of the economic crisis by 47-year-old Val Colleran from Beagh, who has over 30 years’ experience in the retail sector. The shop now employs 8 staff members from the local area.
At the age of 17, Val began his working life in the old Londis supermarket on Society Street. During the 90’s he managed several Penny’s stores throughout Ireland and the U.K. After leaving the popular retail chain, he went on to manage the very successful midland based department stores ‘Texas’. Utah started off in Marina Point in a 2000 sq. ft. premises with only 2 staff members. With the success of Marina Point and customer demand, Val needed to expand his business. Once the opportunity arose to open a new 10,000 sq. ft premises on Society Street in 2011, where the old Central Cinema once was, he took it with no hesitation. The expansion allowed Val to stock a diverse and exclusive range of products while not losing the street value ethos Utah carries, and helped him create five new jobs for locals. Val says that starting his own business in Ballinasloe was a no-brainer. “We live and work in a great business town with a catchment area of over 14,000 houses. I want to be part of the town’s resurgence and help bring it back to the ‘go to town’ of the midlands like it once was.
Ballinasloe desperately needed a department store to compete with other neighbouring towns, and that’s where I got the idea of Utah. “I noticed a market for top brands at discounted prices, where I travelled all over Europe to top fashion houses to get the best deals on all clothing products. We now have extensive ranges in men’s, ladies’ and children’s fashion and footwear, along with outdoor clothing, curtains, blinds and bedding. Our store also offers a call out measuring and fitting service for blinds and curtains. ‘Value Val’s’ Bargain Basement offers up to 75% off all fashion brands all year round”. Coming from a family of ten, Val’s late father Bill (who ran a successful wood mill business off Main St.) and some siblings also have/had businesses in town such as An Táin Bar (Ger Colleran), The Bread Basket Café (Martina Reynolds), and Tranquility Beauty Clinic (Olivia Kelly). Setting up a business in Ballinasloe is a good idea once it’s done right according to Val. “To start a business, you must identify a niche that you love, and that people can/will benefit from and pay their hardearned money for. Be ready to invest 24/7 in the initial few years and go beyond the expectations of your customer. Never be the bad guy, always love your customers and your staff, as they say you get what you give. Create a business plan that you can work on, and never thrash it, just stick to it”.
Utah wouldn’t be open today without all the support they have received says Val. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our loyal customers for the last ten successful years and hope to serve you for the next ten and beyond. “A big thank you also to my loyal staff team (Cathy, Bridget, Vera, Brenda, Tammie, Conor and Liam) for the hard work and commitment they have shown over the past couple of years, and to my wife Kellie and two sons Fadlán and Éanna for their patience”. Utah opens from 9am – 6pm from Monday to Saturday and will remain so throughout the Town Enhancement Work on Society Street
Visit Utah Department Store on Facebook
by Colm Croffy
After some five decades on Dunlo St. and nearly two decades on Main St., brothers Pat and John are hanging up their business boots and retiring. Both men were raised in a family farm in Aughrim. John the elder went to farming with an uncle while brother Pat decided to lease a going concern business, known as “Holloways Restaurant” in Dunlo St.
Motor Rallying enthusiast Pat married his love Ellen – a domestic Science Teacher, and between them and six of a staff they managed and ran the Restaurant from 1968 to 1973.
The town of the 70’s was a shopping spot and there were some 3,000 people directly employed in factories and healthcare. Jim Burke returned from the States in the 60’s and opened the town’s first dry cleaning business and Pat saw the need for another similar business. “People can’t imagine the level of commercial activity that was here in the 70’s, 80’s and much of the 90’s – we can remember queues of customers in a line, on a Friday evening out the door, collecting garments. We’d be working till the early hours of the morning to cope with demand” states Pat.
Over the decades they reared a family of three, Paddy who manages the Locksmith business in Athlone, assisted by Niamh and Owen. In the early 90’s Pat expanded the business into key cutting, as well as specialising as a locksmith lock and installing alarms. He developed that aspect of the business so much so that they expanded to another outlet, choosing Athlone as their new base. Two things in Pat’s view took the footfall off the principle streets by at least 50%. “The moving of Tesco from Sarsfield Road to Dunlo Harbour in 2004 and the introduction of pay parking when customers can rock up for free to new Multiples, have decimated numbers” states Pat.
He is sad to look out at the current state of Dunlo St. during the Big Dig and hopes it will come back to its former glory. “Planners are hell bent on fads. I can see it again in Athlone, where they are pedestrianising the main street. Our town is not for strollers - it’s for the Rural hinterland to come to get their messages and services in their car. I hope they return the streets back sympathetically to the heritage and find a new parking system that allows the down town business to compete fairly with the out of town multiples.”
Looking back, he laughs at being 50 years this Autumn, in business seeing off three bank strikes, three currencies and numerous recessions and highs “My favourite currency was the LSD, but seriously for this town to get moving with its centre it needs jobs – some cluster of new factories or a Govt. Agency is vital” urges Pat. Pat will continue helping out his son Paddy as a Locksmith consultant but is really looking forward to spending more time on the golf course and with his family in the years ahead. John, after years of farming went into a forecourt business, first in Roscommon in 1995, but diverted his energies to a business that could co-exist with the Computer Training College that his wife Christina had built up. In 1999 he rented a premises off Mrs. Rothwell in Dunlo St. which became the town’s first Internet Café, with 10 computers, a small stationary store and some book binding. “People don’t recall but a computer weighed nearly 25 kgs, a printer machine could cost anything from £300 upwards and cartridges and toners were a scald to buy; there was no data roaming or emails coming into house never mind a basic phone less than 20 years ago” states John.
In 2002 he moved the business to Main St. (Rafter’s old store) and has remained there since. For John, not alone has the technology changed rapidly in the space of two decades, but those who are his core customers have as well. “I still get my students wanting their CV’s done or reports bound but what is most striking of all is the wonderful new nationalities that make up my customer base – Brazilians, Filipinos, Polish, Indians, Pakistanis and nearly every national from the EU have crossed my door in numbers these past few years” states John.
Over his time he and Christina reared their three offspring from their business in the town centre – Andreanna (Mallow), Natasha (Wexford) and Alan living locally. Whilst John is known and respected for his role in business in the town, it’s his association with the Agricultural Show for nigh on 60 years that singles him out. “Martin Joyce in Aughrim brought me to my first show in 1962 and got me on the committee in ’63 and don’t ask me why but I can’t seem to get away from it since” says John, who is current Chair of the Show Society.
For John looking back changes in on-street parking and customer use of online shopping have been huge stumbling blocks to. “Since 2011 the footfall has really gone off the streets and I don’t know if it will come back for our provincial towns but I had an enjoyable time meeting customers and providing services. I am looking forward to caring for Christine, keeping an eye out for the kids and the Show for the next few years” smiles John. Both men warmly thanked their hardworking staffs and loyal customers down through the years.
The 4th issue of Volume 8 of the 'BALLINASLOE LIFE' magazine is now available. It is published to promote Ballinasloe and its environs, highlighting what is happening in the locality and the amenities it has to offer. This is a FREE 48 page glossy magazine that is distributed to every household and business in Ballinasloe town and to various locations within a 10 mile radius of the town. The current edition is the October - November 2018 publication and each edition will be bi-monthly thereafter.
You can download the magazine by clicking here
The weather played its part in a very successful first day of European's Oldest Horse Fair in Ballinasloe yesterday. To find out more about the October Fair and Festival and all its events visit www.ballinasloeoctoberfair.com
Great article here from The Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/higgins-is-no-dark-horse-amid-fawning-crowds-in-ballinasloe-1.3646930
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