The idea for the Gourmet Greenway food trail actually came from Dermot Madigan, the General Manager of the four star Mulranny Park Hotel in Mulranny, Co. Mayo. Just past Newport, it is on the way to Achill Island - the three places which, along with Westport, make up the backbone of the Greenway.
“When I joined the Mulranny Park Hotel eight years ago it was clear that the location and facilities alone were not going to deliver the number of visitors that the business needed,” says Dermot Madigan.
“We had an excellent food product from our kitchen team, superb quality ingredients such as Achill Mountain Lamb, Kelly’s Pudding, Keem Bay Seafood and Croagh Patrick Seafoods. They are all within a 15 minute drive of the hotel. We needed a ‘hook’ to put us back on the map as a food destination. At the same time the arrival of the Great Western Greenway was being planned and the first section was from Newport to Mulranny.
“Our aim was to offer a real experience to the visitors to the area and give them a real taste of Mayo and in particular this area. So, with the help of a PR firm, we decided to combine the arrival of the Great Western Greenway with food and came up with the Gourmet Greenway. This was essentially a selection of award winning food producers and the Mulranny Park Hotel offering a unique experience where visitors could meet the producers, taste the produce, and connect with the food they were eating.
“Our 14 local member producers are highlighted on all menus, particularly in our Nephin Restaurant under our Head Chef Chamila Manawatta, from Sri Lanka.
“You can see his influences in dishes like turmeric & tamarind cured Clare Island salmon or his Ceylon spiced tomato chutney. His use of Ceylon flavours never overpowers but enhances and engages with our wonderful local produce.”
The hotel has also introduced The Gourmet Greenway Events Guide. Member venues create and host an event during the year highlighting one of the Gourmet Greenway suppliers. These include Kelly’s Gourmet Greenway Afternoon Tea, Idle Wall Food Tours, Grainne Uaile Beer & Seafood Week, Murrevagh Honey Open Day and Traditional Musical and Poetry Afternoons at The Blue Bicycle Tearooms. The hotel also hosts a showcase dinner each May.
Dermot says the initiative has given them valuable exposure that as a standalone hotel they would never have achieved.
“We have had media coverage from RTE Nationwide, RTE’s At Your Service, features in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, New Zealand’s Women’s Way and Annabelle White’s New Zealand radio show as well as recommendations from key Irish food writers,” says Dermot.
Future plans include an extension of the Gourmet Greenway as the cycle path is connected from Newport to Castlebar and is joined to Belmullet.
“We have membership guidelines such as access, location and uniqueness. Adding to our membership and enhancing the experience for return or new visitors is what we want to achieve.”