Bobby – New years resolution 2016

Bobby - New Year Resolutions 2016

New Year is a time to reflect and take stock of what worked well last year and what is needed to happen differently for the year ahead.

I always take out an A4 page after Christmas and physically write down my objectives. I hate the term New Year’s resolution perhaps because I always feel resolutions are hard to keep and objective are something to be attained.

Yesterday I sat in my office and began to write. I lay out my objectives to gain more market share for our range of products, to add one more product to that range, to improve fish yield by 1 % and so on.   I then talked about digitizing and streamlining everything possible to reduce the time, expense, and waste, continuing to foster and build a more robust company culture encouraging personal development among staff. I suggested concentrating my energy into fewer things and I even committed to continuing the family forum sessions we begum after Christmas as a result of something I read in Orla Carmody’ s new book  “Perform as a Leader “.

I was then kicked back into reality when I received a beautiful text reply from my fellow Kilkenny businessman and friend Bobby Kerr. It stopped me in my tracks as I was engrossed in my plans.

Bobby, as you probably all know by now, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer a number of months ago. He came out quite publically to tell the nation of his plight, but a plight that befalls approximately 35,000 people in Ireland every year so he is not alone. The fact that Bobby is a much loved public figure meant that his honesty and openness just may have helped many people, especially men in Ireland, to take action and look after themselves better, something that men seem to be very reluctant to do for some reason .

So I do not want to take this opportunity to detail my objectives for the business, but to talk about what is truly important, something that has hit home for Bobby as a result of the harrowing times he has experienced over the last three months.

Bobby Kerr’s lessons in life:

  • Life goes on without you.
  • People are fundamentally decent.
  • Life is short and for living.
  • Only three things in life matter health, family, and good friends…

“So get out there, get yourself checked, Love and be loved and enjoy life to the fullest because none of us know how long we have left on this wonderful planet.”

And besides…
Bobby - New Year Resolutions 2016


Photo header: (license)

Christmas at Goatsbridge Trout Farm

Christmas at Goatsbridge Trout Farm… it’s coming!


No one knows what anticipation is nowadays as everything is so immediate. Anticipation is the electricity of childhood. I can distinctly remember one year as a ten year old asking my mother how many days left till Christmas. I then spent the next 252 days counting down until the day arrived.

I can still feel that anticipation for the hope of Christmas as I felt the presents rustling at the end of my bed at four in the morning, much to my mother’s horror. Christmas was always a long day of tinned sweets, card playing and an excess that rarely happened in our house with nine brothers and sisters.  When Christmas Day comes there is still that same warm feeling that enfolded our hearts, as we had as children.

I somehow remember the year after my father died and my mother telling me we were going to have a great day regardless because Christmas was compulsory. And guess what! Santa still came and brought his usual apple or orange which we always thought very strange. I guess it was symbolic for my mother of her Christmases long ago when an orange was a luxury and she just wanted to make her case. We did not mind as long as we did not get anything too practical like clothes as there is nothing as mean as giving a child something useful for Christmas don’t you agree?

How times have changed for me over the following 40 years. Now I spend my time obsessing as I try and persuade everyone to consider using Goatsbridge trout as part of their festive celebrations. We will find any excuse to promote our trout recipes, encourage online trout sales and insist on support for our delicious home-grown smoked fish over the holiday period.

But somehow my kids kick me back into reality and I am catapulted back to my childhood as I read my youngest daughters Christmas letter to Santa. I think Santa should also throw in a spelling book!

Christmas at Goatsbridge Trout Farm

So let’s compromise and make Christmas the keeping-place for memories of our innocence but also Goatsbridge trout!


I will live to flog another Goatsbridge Trout!!!

It’s been nine days since that fateful day in October when I had, what I can only describe as, my Near Death Experience.

The day started out like any normal day. A day packed with the expectation of any other day as I prepared to head to Dublin to do a live TV3 program for Goatsbridge Trout on The 7 O’Clock Show.

The last conversation I remember having in my home town was with my local grocer’s daughters as I collected some dry cleaning.  We discussed the funeral of a friend James McHale, an American who facing death, did not want a traditional ceremony but something meaningful to his life, times and beliefs. It was the loveliest funeral at Woodbrook Natural Burial Ground in County Wexford. James received a glorious send-off with no priestly palaver – just a harmonica, a bodhrán and the soughing of the wind in the trees.

He was a writer and wrote the following which I will never forget:

 I love my friends neither with my heart nor with my mind.

Just in case…

Heart might stop.

Mind can forget.

I love them with my soul….

As I left the shop I told the girls that if I died I would like to be remembered just as James was remembered; they were to have a big party, quote poetry and laugh.

Little did I think two hours later as I drove up the M7 motorway, my life almost changed forever. I hit a car from behind that had experienced engine failure and had slowed down suddenly. I had cruise control on and for some reason I did not react fast enough.  The car went hurdling into the air, tumbled three times before coming to a standstill.

What did I think about? How did I feel?

I remember telling myself to go with the flow, not to fight it. I felt an inner peace, calmness. Once the car stopped I knew I was still alive but I waited for something to crash into my car as I thought I had landed on the opposite side of the motorway.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and we will call it fate. I was fated to live.

Beyond that time that innate fear of death we all seem to be born with just vanished. I really believe fear doesn’t stop death but it will stop life. Perhaps all of life is a near death experience.

As I was stretchered away I hurriedly passed the bag of trout goodies I was briging to the TV station for tastings to the lovely young nurse who was by my side as the paramedics removed me from the car. I then made her promise to use trout on her wedding menu early next year in Wexford .

I smiled to myself and thought of an expression I once heard … “Only the good die young”

I guess my job is not done.

Eat Trout

Photo credit: Aquarium I via photopin (license)



Ploughing Championships 2015


#Tastekilkenny made its first appearance last week at the Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois.

We are a group of food producers from kilkenny working with SuperValu on its food academy program. Food Academy works with and nurtures small businesses through their journey from start up to getting their products on the shelves of SuperValu.

You see Kilkenny is not only the home of good hurling but also the home of good food!
kilkenny cat
What a week and what a collection of food and producers.

Costello’s Beer

Gerard and Gabrielle have a passion and a vision to build a business piggy backing on the long standing success of Smithwicks in the heart of Kilkenny city. They have plans to build the first artesan brewery in Kilkenny not far from the city centre giving them a place to tell their story and extend their offering to the masses. We certainly enjoyed a few Costello’s after the long week on Friday night.

The Devils Menu

The Devils Menu is run by husband and wife team John and Elora Whelan. Marshmallows made to perfection and beautifully packaged I know this innovative product will be a success but perhaps not reaching their target at The Ploughing Champsionships. Make sure to drop by and purchase some at the craft fair in the RDS this year. I would like the caramel flavour!

devils menu marshmallow

Mooncoin Home Grown Pickled Beetroot

Next up is the very formidable Helen Murphy and her delicious Beetroot Chutney and Relish. I was delighted to be placed beside her because our products completely complicated each other and we were able to up sell as a result. Helen is such a pro and it was obvious to me for the beginning she would do well with her quaint persuasive manner and rye sense of humour. Not sure I found her jokes as funny after 1000 times hearing it by day 3!!!

Beetroot relish

Bernie’s Sherry Triffle

Across the way were the former banker and baker supreme Bernie who mothered every man in sight while subtly selling them her amazing and very intoxicating sherry trifle. Unlike The Devils Menu Bernie had the full attention of every middle aged farmer and nostalgic housewife remembering the very traditional desert at a time when marshmallows were not even heard of.

Bernie wished all her customers the blessing of God and thanked each and every one of them for their business.

sherry trifle
Mosses Wholemeal

A well-established company new to the retail sector and their new zip seal bags of flour mixes went down a storm especially when the bread was tasted with our delicious smoked trout pate . Another food collaboration and cooperative selling opportunity. Rob will be the wiser on his next outing to make the bread from his flour and flog it to the passing trade as his bags were a little too heavy to carry around those mucky roadways back to the car . As we both agreed PR is great but you still have to pay the bill and it is important to maximise the experience for the customer to help ingrain our product offering in the brain forever.


Inistioge Food Company

One of the most creative people I know is Anneliese from The Inistioge Food Company, a company she runs with her husband Denis. It was her creative genius that helped construct the incredible stand using nothing but vision and old pallets. All you have to do is examine her beautiful standout packaging and you know for sure the product must taste as good as it looks. But what was really clever is the fact that we can now use this over and over again so you can expect to see us pop up anywhere in the world. Have stand, will travel!

inistioge food company

Highbank Orchards

Tucked in the corner were the very classy couple from Highbank, a company that had achieved all the awards possible in the business. They tasted their new apple brandy and gin but only to those serious about a purchase. Funny how experience pays off and there is no trick in the book Rod does not know about. Now that I think about it I never got a taste all week.
So’long to the farmers and a big thank you to Fiona Deegan and all at our local Enterprise Board for all their support.
And watch out for us in every food academy shelf space throughout the country. And if you are lucky enough to meet the lovey Bernie make sure she gives you that special blessing because you know what I think, it just might be real.



Turning 50 and speechless.

I have heard it all.

Today is the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be again!

Age is an issue of mind over matter and if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter!

It’s not the years in your life that matter but the life in the years.

It has finally happened and I was left speechless the other night as I walk into a room full of  friends for my surprise 50th birthday party. I think that was first time in my 50 years on this planet that I was  left speechless.

I scanned the room and saw my four sisters remembering all the good time we had growing up in the sunny south East. I remember the memories and support only sister can give and thank my lucky stars for my family. I see some of my oldest friends that I went to primary school with, then on to secondary school and finally college. We laughed at my sister Louise who took her usual turn cooking Sunday dinner in that grotty flat in Dublin and forgot to remove the innards of the chicken. It nearly killed us but not as deadly as the home brew we made to wash it down. As I walked around the table my life flashed before me. I see my new friends who have become part and parcel of my everyday life here in Thomastown. I see my neighbour who would go to the ends of the earth to help in time of need. I see my latest neighbour who moved in a year ago and finally called round last week to say hello. There she was for the evening getting a crash course on the life and times of Mag Kirwan.

I look back on it today on the eve of my 50th. The girls were premature last Friday but I did not want to burst their bubble. I feel like a young person in an ever aging body. Unfortunately age is like an airplane flying through a storm. Once you are aboard there is nothing you can do. As long as I can keep old age in my minds and prevent it form creeping down my body I will survive.

Thanks to all my friends for a wonderful evening.

Now here’s to another great 50 years !

Bord Bia Marketplace 2015

good things happen

Good things come to those who wait or to those who work their asses off and never give up! Discuss!

Board Bia Marketplace 2015 took place this week where 400 potential customers, including 300 pre-screened international buyers came to meet with Irish food and drink producer’s intent on doing business. Key decision makers from Ireland, the UK, Europe and International markets attended the event with the hope of writing new business. Goatsbridge had personally requested the presence of a number of potential customers we had meet over the past number of years while travelling abroad.

Bord Bia Marketplace 2015

After 22 meetings and at  approximately 5.35 pm in the Convention Centre an exhausted German arrived at our booth for his last and final meeting.  We were also talked out of it after a very intensive day of negotiation. Otto just wanted to talk about our Smoked tinned trout having heard lots of positive things about Goatsbridge as he toured the country in the lead up to the event. He tasted the product and looked in our direction and said it was his last meeting but his most inspiring one . It was “incredible” he said. A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue.

Great way to end the day. Good things come to those who wait?

Time will tell!

India at a Glimpse

street resized

We in Goatsbridge  are blessed to have the opportunity to experience the world through food .

In January this year we went to India with a group of like-minded food producers to experience all that India has to offer . These are my thoughts day three.

A comfortable journey on the brand new Expressway by taxi brought us to a moment I remember very little of 25 years ago. I travelled around the world and was heading back to Ireland to see my family and my now husband of 24 years. This time it was different and I shared that first glimpse of The Taj Mahal with my husband Ger and The Bord Bia inspiration team. Unfortunately the winter weather conditions brought with it fog which never really dissipated throughout the day but did not dampen our spirits.


Taj resized

Nestled in the heart of Agra it is in contrast to a city that is surprisingly as poor as Delhi itself. It felt like an assault on all senses. A city devoid of industry as the government is making every attempt to protect its prized monument which is one of the 7 wonders of the world. This temple built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal and was completed in 1653 at the cost of 220 million rupees! It is a white Marble mausoleum and is 171 metres (561 ft.) high.

It is not only a symbol of love but also a symbol of possibility.

George Eliot once said the world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome, dubious eggs, called possibilities and remember the only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the buts you use today.

inspiration group resized

Indian cuisine is historically global so we head to Dasaprakash in downtown Agra for lunch to sample some South Indian food. As we make our way through the narrow streets lined with dirt and squalor we notice  a community where everyone seems to have a role. A man may have a job holding a rope tied to a lawn mower being pulled by another man, his business partner! Two hands are better that one. I see a man painting the local road signs with a tiny paint brush where thousands are waiting along the road in expectations to be brought back to life. Will it be complete in time for The Obama State Visit next week to celebrate India day.


I ask myself are these people happy. I imagine my life here and cannot help thinking that  these people are in fact rich. Rich with things that money cannot buy because they certainly have none of that. These people are very proud of their nationality. Remember Indian economic Liberalisation is only 60 years old and with such a short time under their belts to get this county back on its feet what can you expect. The federal system of governance seems to be the only way forward and is working well in the USA. All they need is time. Some day they will be a superpower just like China as long as they can contol the corruption. Just watch this space and watch out Britain!

We arrive at our lunch destination and get another informative talk about what we are about to consume. Orio explains the multifaceted food culture and melting pot that is Indian cuisine and how south India cuisine is a much different taste and texture that the food we had being exposed to from the north. The food is less stodgy, fresher and more flavoursome. Like the entire country Indian food is very much linked to its religion. In fact they go hand in hand and South Indians are primarily vegetarian.

We samples many dishes and tried A Thali for the first time. It is basically a food format or vessel that can constitute an entire meal that represents many flavours and textures of the region. Not sure the boys were entirely satisfied without their quota of meat!

grubbean salade

We moved on to see the Marble skills of the craftsmen who build the Taj as it is called locally. Tom from Bord Bia gave it a go and was a dab hand in fairness .

Tom At work web

Having listened and watch the demonstration of how each piece was carved out painstakingly by hand I understand why it took so long.  However I was less that impressed with the fact that the people in the shop tried to part us with our money having ushered us into a room full of some incredible pieces They eventually decided we were not going to purchase in that room and miraculously opened a false door to reveal another room with a less prized pieces to purchase. Do they not understand that The Irish are a genuine people and we did not appreciate this blatant intimidation? Needless to say we did not purchase.

While we were there we did get to try the Tea from the Kullad .

Kullad tea

It is basically a handle-free terracotta cup who is an Eco-friendly terracotta utensil, one of the oldest inventions of ancient India. And is a loving artefact of ancient times. I noticed the tea mingles gently with the terracotta giving it a complexity of fragrance and taste, similarity like whiskey draws it its flavours from sherry caskets

We leave to Town after another day of intrigue. It was the little moments seeing a number of monkeys reputed to be carrying aids on the rooftop of the local temple that I remember.  Also remember the father and man of the house bringing his entire family by bike to the market with his wife, his 2 sons, his daughter and baby girls plus the family dog. Funny enough no one is hungry here least of all the many dogs you see wondering the streets and motorways day and night.

dog resized

Back in Delhi we go to the hipster part of town. We have no problem indulging in the luxuries the rich of Delhi have on offer. It seems this divide between rich and poor is very much accepted. They has a sense of fate based again in religion, you we either fated to be rich or fated to be poor and such is life.

And so our journey continues.

Variety is the Spice in Mag Kirwin’s Life!

A day in the life of Mag Kirwin

A Day In The Life of Mag Kirwin, Goatsbridge Trout Farm


They say love what you do and you will never work a day in your life. Well I never work. Never ever.

They also say that variety is the spice of life and I am certain my life is full of spice!

Take today for example:

8 am: I set the kids off on the bus at 8.50 making sure Pauric has his jumper on; Orlaith has eaten her breakfast having checked herself in the mirror about 10 times to make sure she was still perfect and Aine has her gear bag and knows which one of her many activities is taking place today after school . It is always a hectic few minutes.

9 am: I then head off to Graiguenamanagh to pick up the student who is coming to Goatsbridge Trout Farm to work for a few weeks. What a lovely young man, full of enthusiasm as he talks about his regret not studying for his leaving certificate a few years before. He talks about his interest in business and believes it can be a very important tool for life as well as the foundation for a good job. I am impressed already.

I drop him back to the office and give him two jobs.  Firstly to look for software for timetable scheduling for The Town Of Food project and secondly to look up as many cookery courses in the UK to add to our many ideas for the project which will be under way early next year . That will keep him busy for the day and it will also give me a chance to test his ability to work independently.

10.30 am: I head to Piltown to meet my web designer Ger Foster from Box Creative. He spends the next couple of hours showing me how to edit our new WordPress website, how to resize and crop photographs, to edit text and how useful keywords are for maximising the search engine. As I drive away I cannot wait to get back to the office to make all the changes necessary to satisfy my desire to showcase our business to the best of our ability.

2.15 pm: I arrive home just in time to meet Liam who has come to reprogram our print labelling scales with our new EAT TROUT labels. I haven’t eaten yet but that will have to wait. I decide to shadow Liam as I really need to understand how this program works. Nothing worse than ignorance when it comes to something as simple as labelling a product when everyone else has gone home.

3.20 pm: Time for lunch. Ella has cooked my favourite! Trout of course. Honestly I have not had a trout for months. Ella is a Godsend and the kids adore her. She is dating our farm manager so God forbid they fall out of love as I could not bear to loose either of them.

3.40 pm: I want to review the week’s factory costings with our supervisor Liam. We map 3 KPIs each day:

1. Yield

2. Giveaway

3. Cost / kg for labour.

We have to get this right as we make decisions based on these figures as we drive on with our new contract for Perch in Switzerland, where Irish perch commands the highest price on the fresh fish counter. A good yield can make a difference between profit and loss especially when dealing with fillets as small as 10 Gms. It is very easy to be a busy fool.

4.50 pm: I review the contracts for the new operatives in the factory before they head home. Cannot say I love HR but it is an important part of my responsibility.

5.30 pm: I sneak up for my daily walk in Mount Juliet. It’s my Valium and always a good time to catch up on phone calls. I decide to ring Francis Nesbitt to catch up on a fantastic event we are organising for the Kilkenny Savour Food Festival called A Night of 1000 Feasts. We are hoping every household in Kilkenny will host a Feast on 26th October as a Fundraiser for The Town of Food project. Always hard to get people to commit to do anything and at this stage in my life I feel you can take the horse to water but you cannot make him drink it .

6.40 pm: I arrive back in the office in time to see my husband take the four kids off in the car to the Greyhounds in Waterford where we have a dog running. Funny that but I thought our last greyhound was sold last year !  Ned informed me that  Daddy’s greyhound buddy had a new litter of pups a year earlier and they has decided  they were going to give me a surprise and produce a Derby winner. Oh I wish I was a greyhound all the loving and rubbing I would get.

At least I had the place to myself and into the office I went to update our new website and and contemplate yet another crazy but fulfilling day.

A Day in the Life!

Que Sera Sera

What will be will be

What Will Be Will Be


In twenty years from now I do not want to be sorry for the things I did not do. This is why I suggest we all throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbours. Catch the trade winds in our sails, explore, dream, discover.

We have had a couple of disappointments in the last few weeks. Nothing life threatening but disappointing nevertheless.

My 11 year old daughter fell at the start of the All Ireland 600 metre race final in Tullamore and unfortunately she broke her arm. She had qualified as one of the fastest and was expected by her coaches to do very well . What turned out to be a disaster turned out to be a blessing in the end. Susan, the girl responsible for tripping her, came to the hospital bringing food and drinks as we waited for the results of the X-rays. In the end she came home to Kilkenny with us to stay for a few days and ended up staying for 10 days. Aine has now made a friend for life and is back training for next year .

Just last week I failed to deliver a project I had my heart set on. As I tried to make my case I realised you should never have to force anything that is truly meant to be .In the end everything will be okay, if it is not okay, it’s not the end.

Always fight until you cannot anymore, and then be fought for. And remember what is meant to be will always find a way.

Que Sera Sera…