Sarah Quain: Overcoming Hurdles

This year has been one that many of us would like to forget. Granted, we had a few glorious summer months during which we appeared to be on the right track. Unfortunately, it did not last. However, despite the doom and gloom of the pandemic, many entrepreneurs and business leaders were enthusiastic about sharing their personal stories. The positive feedback I have received both from interviewees and readers has greatly touched me. It is evident that our community needed little persuasion to support local businesses.

Meet Sarah Quain, a horsie fanatic from Drum, Athlone, who returned home 5000 km after quitting her dream job last year. In the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York, she ran a horseback riding business which was adversely affected by Covid-19, which in turn prevented her from obtaining permanent US residency. Despite the disappointing turn of events, she and her boyfriend Luke returned to Athlone to live with her parents, Willie and Angela. Within a few months, she started her own small business, Craic Galore Prints, and reinvented herself by making some quirky prints and greeting cards.

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The Pantry: Mother Knows Best

In the true spirit of Irish hospitality, the only job requirement is to provide excellent service in the hope that your paths will cross again. Add to this mix, a large helping of generosity, delicious food and a quaint notion that any favour is never too big or too small to ask. So, when a guest walks away feeling that the staff went above and beyond, they will keep coming back, again and again. Annette Dalton, the proprietor of The Pantry on Main Street in Moate and The Pantry Dún na Sí could write a book or two on this subject.

Born and reared in Moate, Annette was one of six children and freely admits to being someone who has always preferred the sunshine and fresh air of outdoors life. This suited her in spades, when aged 13, her family moved further into the countryside and took over Coolatore House in Rosemount. Coolatore is now forever linked to the late singer Michael Jackson, who stayed there with his family in 2006.

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It’s Magico from the first bite to the last crumb.

There is nothing more delicious than the distinctive aroma of freshly baked bread that has come straight out of the oven without preservatives and additives. I’m talking about artisanal bread which is made at the hands of a skilled baker in a traditional way. Bread is one of the fundamental foods of a balanced and healthy diet and can be found right across the world in many shapes, sizes, textures, and tastes.

For baker Matteo Zanardo the smell of Sourdough takes him back every single time to his roots in Pordenone, Italy. As a boy, Matteo watched his grandfather bake naturally leavened Sourdoughs that are the mainstay of every Mediterranean dinner table. With his wife Giulia by his side, Matteo brings the art of good Italian food made by hand from his Moate-based family business, Magico Food.

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Abi Howe: The Bride’s Best Friend

2020 is a year that billions of people across the world will never forget. Our lives were unceremoniously turned upside down by a disease that demanded changes. Face coverings, hand sanitisation, social distancing and lockdown have become everyday terms. In Ireland, businesses have been forced to close, jobs have been lost and the economy is on life-support. Extended family relationships have been strained and any plans for the future have had to be put on hold or cancelled altogether.

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Kilbeggan: Whipping Up a Chocolate Delight

Chocolate is one of the few foods that has a universal appeal. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a simple chocolate bar or a delectable, unique masterpiece of confectionery. At both ends of the spectrum – blissful, indulgent pleasure is likely to be the verdict by whosoever is eating.

Referred to as the ‘food of the gods,’ by Swedish botanist, Carl Linneaus in the 18th century, chocolate and confectionery production in Ireland is worth €239 million Euros to the Irish economy and employs 1,725 people. In 1933, Cadbury opened its Ossory Road factory in Dublin and ever since the nation has taken the beans of the tropical cacao tree, named Theobroma Cacao, to its heart.

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The Refill Mill – Our Planet in Your Hands

For almost 70 years, we have been soothed and enlightened as a tv audience, by the voice of legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough presenting natural history documentaries. Now, aged 94, his distinctive oration gives a sombre warning to reverse a devastating trajectory the planet is headed on. Or, as he eloquently puts it, ‘The human race will regret it if we don’t act on plastic now.’

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