Internationally renowned Galway producers were among a delegation promoting County Galway at the Wine Festival d'Anjou held in Chalonnes sur Loire, France, recently.
The delegation, which was led by Galway county manager Martina Maloney and Mayor of County Galway Thomas Welby, included Connemara Smokehouse, Kelly’s Oysters, Made in Galway, and Marty’s Mussels, each promoting the fantastic seafood of the Galway region as well as food festivals, including the upcoming Galway Food Festival which takes place this Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the Connemara Mussel Festival, and Galway Oyster festivals.
Galway’s McGeough’s air dried meats and Killeen Cheeses were presented by Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, and Galway Hooker Beer served tastings of its Irish pale ale which was developed in Galway and continues to gain national and international recognition.
As well as promoting Galway food and festivals, the delegation highlighted a number of local artisan industries — O’Maille’s of Galway presented Galway craft products from Woodbofin furniture, Joe Hogan and Ciaran Hogan Baskets, and Bombyx Mori’s beautiful accessories, among others.
A formal meeting of the GMIT College of Tourism and Arts and the Saumur Hotel Culinary Art School and Centre for Adult Education was held, and initial discussions took place to examine opportunities to build relationships between the two schools. Some musical entertainment was also provided by a group of traditional Irish musicians from Ballinasloe and Athenry roots-rock band The Deans, who are currently resident in France. The delegation also answered questions on tourism in Ireland, and the programme of events for The Gathering.
The visit came about as a direct result of the long-standing town twinning relationship between Ballinasloe and Chalonnes sur Loire, and the friendships that have been developed with the Fins Gousiers d'Anjou — The Brotherhood of Knights of the Wines of Anjou. The initiative was driven and supported by the Galway County Council and received support from the Galway County and City Enterprise Board. The main objectives of the trip were to promote County Galway as a tourist destination while developing economic trade opportunities between the two regions, to showcase the fabulous food and craft products that County Galway has to offer, and to promote Made in Galway (www.madeingalway.ie ).
The event was very successful for each of the producers who took part as their products were very well received. “We completely sold out of our Connemara Smokehouse products,” said Graham Roberts of Connemara Smokehouse. “The response to our smoked salmon was fantastic and we have made some very strong connections for future business. The hospitality from our hosts was brilliant and so welcoming, we are definitely going back again in the future.”
Jacinta Dalton of GMIT added: “As lecturers at the College of Tourism and Arts at GMIT, Cormac Handy and I were delighted to be part of the Galway delegation to Challones Sur Loire. Building on the work we do with FoodieForum, we welcome every opportunity to work with and promote local producers. The trip to France was hugely successful and demonstrates how, on a micro level, small groups of people can make a difference in terms of promoting Ireland and its excellent food products overseas. Having had the opportunity to spend a day at the hotel school in Saumur, we hope to forge new international relationships in terms of creating opportunities for French students seeking internships in Galway and also for our students in the Loire region.”
The event will feature on RTE’s Nationwide on March 25, and previously featured on RTE Radio 1 programme Countrywide on Saturday March 2 (radio1/podcast - Loire to Letterfrack, and back ).
For more information on Galway food and craft producers visit www.madeingalway.ie