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Joining Forces

Eventful week this one, had a meeting with Údarás down in Ballymoon; undoubtedly it has brought jobs to the area over the years but it has to be one of the ugliest sheds ever built. In fact while I ponder the aesthetics of life, I am trying to understand why the council have to butcher the hedgerows and trees in such a wanton way.

Part of the signature of this landscape that brings tourists back is the verdant patchwork hill sides, divided in custom and law by stone ditches and hedgerows that secure the livestock in their rightful paddocks. The hawthorn hedgerow so rich in faeries and carrying such bounty through the winter for all manner of winged residents and the sally willows that hold the banks together, prevent erosion and dance in the wind; they add so much to the vistas that it makes no sense to manage them with a brutal flail cutter that cuts not but rather breaks and shatters all in its way and leaves the roadsides looking like a marine 15 minutes after enrolment, cropped to the point of shaven, stark, pale, lifeless, scared even. There has to be a better way, bring back fence laying, perhaps?

Anyway jump off the soapbox James, the Údarás meeting yielded a  networking opportunity with a Margaret Cunningham. Working on a similar project that had been initiated by a local man Mick McGinley on the local parish council and that she had taken on privately.

A quiet coffee took three hours, she is new to the industry, has assembled strong partners, an enthusiast and it seems a willing conspirator! Moira and I have plans that are more rounded from a brands, distribution and vision perspective, but she has local knowledge and connections and has assembled an interesting bunch James Keith a warm, shrewd guy, gentle soul and plenty of start up experience; and Oliver Hughes impressive individual, huge charisma and intellect and owns Dingle and The Porterhouse.

They have a couple of sites as do we, but one stands head and shoulders above the rest for me and they have the option on it. We agreed on the site and a deal was struck. Time will tell how close the ideas are in reality but together the two teams Moira and me and Margaret, James and Oliver have to be stronger and Údarás will probably only back one project. Will need to let the people we have been speaking to down gently, it’s a small community after all.

One distillery it is then….the Sliabh Liag Distillery.