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New book for cheese lovers to be flavour of the month



Seamus Sheridan of Sheridans cheesemongers: credits upbringing with giving him a respect for food and nature. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets two Galway brothers whose book will have the critics drooling

Here’s a word of warning to cheese lovers. Before you start reading Counter Culture – The Sheridans Guide to Cheese, make sure you have a lump of Parmesan, Gouda or some cheesy nibble close by.

This new book by cheesemongers Kevin and Seamus Sheridan, written in conjunction with The Irish Times food critic Catherine Cleary, will have you drooling. Beautifully produced, with a range of colour and black and white photos, it’s a love letter to artisan and farmhouse cheese as the brothers share their vast knowledge of and passion for their subject.

And if you think that cheese is a limited subject, think again. The pair, whose business began in Galway, describe all kinds of cheeses and how they are made, as well as visiting farmers and cheesemakers throughout Ireland and abroad to give a fascinating insight into this business, which is also a way of life.

Fresh Cheeses, Bloomy Rinds, Washed Rinds, Pressed Cooked Cheeses, Pressed Uncooked Cheeses and ‘The Blues’ are the cheese varieties examined in different chapters. Best of all, the brothers include recipes for each type, as well as matching different cheeses with suitable food and drink – alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

For Seamus Sheridan, the older of the two brothers, the best part of it all is that their cheesemongers started here in Galway 20 years ago with a tiny stall at the city’s market.  Now they have a shop and wine-bar in Galway, and it’s in the wine-bar we meet on a Saturday morning, above the shop which is thronged with customers.

Sheridans also have an outlet in Waterford, a shop in Dublin’s South Anne Street, and one in Meath, in a converted old railway station which is also home to the company’s warehouses and headquarters. Seamus’s brother, Kevin and his family live in the station house which they restored.

In the past two decades, the brothers also have branched into new areas. Five years ago, realising that there were no quality Irish crackers to serve with their cheeses, they contacted baker Richard Graham Lee in Clonakilty Co Cork, and tasked him with creating a selection. The brothers and Richard worked together and now their range of crackers is sold in Selfridges, Neal’s Yard and Wholefoods in the UK, and Murrays in New York.

More recently Marks & Spencer started stocking them as part of an artisan range, and the brothers have done a deal with Dunnes which means the crackers can be found as part of the Dunnes Simply Better range.

Sheridans also make a range of chutneys in conjunction with Janet Drew in Co Wicklow. And their duck confit which Sheridans chef, David Gumbleton first created in Galway in 2002, has been produced commercially in Monaghan since 2008, using their recipe.

Their main chef in 2008 was Enda McEvoy, who amended the duck confit recipe to ensure that the quality would remain constant. Enda won a Michelin star this year for his restaurant, Loam, in Galway City, something Seamus is very proud of. David Gumbleton, meanwhile, passed away in 2005 and for the two brothers this product is inextricably linked with him.

After two decades in business, Kevin and Seamus have many stories to tell, and some are shared in the book. But Seamus is adamant that it’s less about them than the farmers and cheese-makers who produce the goods sold in their shops.

However, the story of how two brothers from Dublin City came to become central to Ireland’s growing artisan food revolution is a fascinating one. Their background is not posh – their mother Maura was a homemaker, while their father, Seamus, worked in a car-assembly factory in Dublin that first produced Morris Minors. It later became Datsun and then Nissan.

Maura’s childhood home of Donegal was where the four Sheridan children spent childhood summers, while the family also had a garden and allotment in Dublin where they grew fruit and vegetables. And Seamus Senior, a Dubliner through and through, was an avid hillwalker who shared his love of nature with his children and taught them to respect the farmers’ land on which they trekked.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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