Its all systems go for Ahascragh native Alison Greene who took up the daunting challenge of being Marketing and Communications Lead to Ireland’s newest Distillery Mc Allisters recently.
Alison is no stranger to the picturesque village that straddles the Bunowen – her Grandfather John ran Greene's Animal Disposal Business for years, whilst Dad Kevin and Mum Anne operate the successful Topline Greenes Hardware Store.
Educated locally at Fohenagh N.S. and later at Holy Rosary, Mountbellew Alison despite growing up in a hurling mad family preferred the stage to the pitch – being the eldest of three with her sister Sarah working in France and youngest Robert a leaving cert student! Her extra curricular interests saw her a keen supporter of Fohenagh and Galway Hurling but also finding her own creative expression on stage.
“TY , after school – the Centre Stage Youth Theatre with Majella Flanagan, Alfie Kilduff, The Pantos, the Musicals in the Town Hall and of course Fohenagh Drama Group locally gave me a huge love of theatre “, states Alison.
Little wonder that her third level choice was a BA in Theatre and Performance at the O'Donaghue Centre, NUIG followed by a Masters in Arts Management and Cultural Policy at UDC. She was accepted on a Graduate Development Scheme with Business to Arts in Dublin and eventually came back west to work as Marketing and Communications Lead with Gary Hynes’s acclaimed DRUID in Galway.
“There is something of DRUID that is so appealing to the creative, that you can be anchored in the west but that your horizon of ambition must always be the world, maybe it’s the Synge legacy “, she muses .
Whatever about the lure of thespian world there is nothing that she has not honed skills in Marketing and Communications that she will be not transferring to her new role with the Mc Allisters Distillery "if I can take a pinch of DRUID’s ambition , an ounce of Gary’s determination and boldness to what we are doing here I will be happy. “ exhorts Alison.
Her last project with DRUID was organising the tour of Gregory/Murphy around the County in Autumn of last year – including Ballinalsoe before she took up her role in early winter with the Mc Allisters Eco Distillery.
As many readers are aware ; the old 19th century Mill complex is being completely overhauled as one of Ireland first eco – (powered by renewal energy) distilleries and will complimented by “ The Old Mill Shop and Café “ directly across the road which will be renovated and open in mid - summer this year.
The distillery and bespoke visitor centre is to open in late 2022 but the Mc Allisters have been in the whiskey business in Antrim in the mid 1700s and have been sourcing and blending Irish batch whiskies and Gins for a number of years – especially for the Asian emerging markets. Clan Colla was one of the first brands produced by the family in the 1700s and this will be the name of the first source- release .
“This is a hugely exciting opportunity for me to help deliver over 70 indirect jobs and some 15 direct jobs over 3 years to my home village in a sustainable and rooted way, I will be responsible for telling people our story, explaining the products we will be making , the sustainable processes behind it and indeed the original history of the Mill complex before it’ new role “ she states.
She is genuinely marvelling at how in her late 20s and in the early stages of her professional marketing career she finds herself back in the west of Ireland and pursuing a dream job : “This just proves that with broadband, modern communications and creative enterprise my generation can dream of living in the countryside without a lengthy commute, horrific accommodation costs and a better quality of living -with clean air, great amenities and the bigger cities within easy reach. “ Alison expounds.
Her first marketing campaign is the new cask programmes which have become very popular with families, groups of friends, clubs or companies. Obviously it’s a great investment but It’s also a very special way of marking a milestone or celebrating an occasion .
This Founders Cask Programme is quite unique in that it’s customizable. The client chooses the spirit, the wood and the finish. “It really is your whiskey, made by you. You can be as involved in the process as you want to be. There are benefits including tours, discounts, a founders event and more but I think what makes this programme particularly special is that by purchasing a cask you become a Founder Member of the Ahascragh Distillery and you get to own a little piece of Irish whiskey history” , explains Alison.
Asked to what her appointment and the project signals for rural villages she is of the opinion that post pandemic many couples and professionals will be looking out for lifestyle changes and that East Galway / South Roscommon will have advantages.
“Covid is forcing us all to look differently on what is around us, and we are so ingrained in where we live, if our villages and towns can have appealing cultural , leisure, amenity, food, health and educational facilities with decent broadband and affordable housing – the trickle could become a stampede”, enthuses the daily runner and regular open swimmer – although she does admit it may be less of Salthill dipping and more Bunowen bathing on the Clonbrock estate this summer!
In describing what future success might look like she is keen to stress the importance of the project being ingrained locally and working with the suppliers, the growers, the craftspeople, the community and surrounds in a sustainable way.
“I hope to help establish a new lease of life for the Mill, the visitor centre, the village in a modern and environmentally sensitive way – we will not have Cliffs of Moher bus loads here ; we will have quality small holistic visitor experiences that will reflect the ambiance and positives of Ahascragh and our pastoral setting for domestic and international culturally curious “.
Further details on the distillery |www.mcallisterdistillers.com
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