“A favourite of the Guide’s for many years (and our Pub of the Year in 2008), The Olde Glen changed ownership in 2014” states Georgina Campbell’s citation in the 2021 Georgina Campbell Irish Food & Hospitality Awards, “but the new owners, Aengus Haughey and Cormac Walsh, kept this much-loved old world destination just as it should be and everything about it has continued to delight – including the recently-added accommodation, ‘Clara’s Cots’ and the ‘Olde Glen Bar Bia Box’, a shipping container which serves up interesting sandwiches to enjoy in the bar or garden, or to take away.
“Aengus manages the bar and the Bia Box while Cormac (chef turned front-of-house) looks after the rooms and The Restaurant – where there was a big change in 2021 when Ciarán Sweeney, a Donegal native and former head chef at Dublin’s Forest & Marcy, joined the team.
“The food has always been good at The Olde Glen and a big part of its appeal in recent years, but the lovely rooms and Ciarán Sweeney’s arrival have upped the ante, with short locally-focused menus and a very appealing new dinner, bed and breakfast package offering what may well be the best value food experience in Ireland. A triumph in challenging times and a true Donegal gem.”
From Ireland’s best hotels, fine dining and seafood to garden stays and the most pet-friendly destination, winners of Georgina Campbell Irish Food & Hospitality Awards 2021 include:
- Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen – Restaurant of the Year
- Chef of the Year awarded to Damien Grey of Liath, Dublin
- Alex & Carina Conyngham of Slane Castle receive Ireland’s ‘Movers & Shakers’ Award
- The Twelve, Galway, is Ireland’s Pet Friendly Destination of the Year
- Family Friendly Hotel of the Year is Fitzgerald’s Woodland House & Spa, Limerick
- Newcomer of the Year title goes to Camus Farm Kitchen, Cork.
Celebrating 23 years in their current incarnation, the Georgina Campbell Awards recognise and honour Ireland’s standard-bearers in food and hospitality in Ireland with particular emphasis this year on the industry heroes who’ve maintained quality and put out the welcome mat with a smile whenever permitted during the pandemic.
Celebrating the bravest and the best
Describing this year’s awards as ‘a kind of love letter to Irish food and hospitality’ Georgina Campbell, one of Ireland’s foremost food and hospitality writers, says that despite everything that we’ve gone through in the last 18 months Ireland’s food, tourism and hospitality is a very exciting and ever-developing story.
“I’m lost in admiration for all of the brave and dedicated people in the sector who’ve stretched themselves to the limit to keep their businesses (many of them family-owned) going, keep their staff together if at all possible and provide incredibly creative alternative services to customers ,” she said.
“Despite the early worries about mass closures, the most surprising thing about the last couple of years is the number of new openings, especially restaurants, cafés and of course, food trucks – alongside some superb pivoting and diversification, notably the excellent retail operations that many restaurants have developed alongside, or sometimes to replace, the core business.
“And although there’s been a lot of complaining about rising prices and falling standards, in the main, standards are holding up better than might be expected.
Sourcing and provenance
Speaking about the awards, Georgina Campbell had praise for the improvements in sourcing policies.
“The pandemic and the need to support our local communities has made provenance even more important to consumers and it is good to see more establishments highlighting the origin of produce on their menus, thereby supporting Irish suppliers,” she said.
Georgina Campbell’s rigorous programme of anonymous assessment visits is a year-round process and winners are nominated solely by an independent assessment team.