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Galway Independent


A taste of Galway Food Tours

Wednesday, 5th July, 2017 10:01am

Born out of a love for local produce and food, Galway Food Tours has quickly become a must do in the City of the Tribes. 

Established just three short years ago by Franco-Irish food and wine lover Sheena Dignam, the tour now collaborates with 100 local producers.

“I’m honoured to actually be working with so many producers,” Ms Dignam says.

“I counted them the other day and I couldn’t get over it.”

Local businesses really embraced the idea of Galway Food Tours from the get-go according to Ms Dignam who says “there’s great support on both ends which is really good”.

The Food Tour is a two-hour culinary walking tour of Galway where guests meet artisan producers and sample their products with Ms Dignam providing an insight to local favourites and all the tasty ingredients.

The tour takes in some of Galway’s most established food venues including McCambridges and Griffin’s which Ms Dignam describes as “an institution”, before moving on to the local market where you can sample tasty treats from Danny Doughnut and the Bean Tree. 

Also on the food trail is Tigh Neachtain's, Cupán Tae and Kai café.

And that’s just one tour. One of the evening tours, for example, takes in a completely different route Ms Dignam tells me, visiting Loam, O’Connell’s, Le Petit Pois and The House Hotel.

Tourists get to experience a real insight into what the locals do, sampling gems that might be off the beaten track. But it’s not just visitors enjoying the tours, says Ms Dignam, local Galwegians are also getting in on the action.

“During the day it’d be a lot of domestic tourism but also American, Canadian and French because I do my tours in French as well, so it’s a nice mixture,” she adds.

The rise of food tourism and, with Galway set to host the Region of Gastronomy title next year, as well as the European Capital of Culture in 2020, Ms Dignam says it’s an exciting time to be involved in the local food scene.

“It’s a great time to be living in Galway. There’s so much going on and such great activity and energy around the whole subject,” she says.

“I think food tourism is something that’s becoming more and more important. It’s not just pubs and the drinking aspect and music, it’s becoming more food orientated which is great.”

A career in the food industry was a natural move for Ms Dignam, who is originally from Wicklow but grew up in France.

“I’ve always been into food all my life,” she says.

“My folks used to run a guest house, and still do, in France and then I went on to study Culinary Arts in France.”

It was while running a chocolate shop in Dublin that the idea of Galway Food Tours was born.

“Fabulous Food Trails used to pop in to me at the time and they’d get to sample chocolates and the macaroons and then when I decided to move to Galway it wasn’t happening so I said ok this would be a perfect city for it to happen in terms of food tours because everything is so easy to access, we’re so blessed with the talented producers and restaurants and shops that we have here available to us.”

She spotted a gap in the market for a food tour in the West and admits she found it surprising there wasn’t already one in the city.

Since then Ms Dignam has never looked back, expanding the business to include County Galway recently. What started around Galway’s markets has now expanded to specific areas within Galway including the Westend and the East Village.

The company now also has Wild Atlantic Food Tours, Merveilles D’Irlande and food specific tours such as the Sweet Tooth food tour and a celebration of Whiskey Food Tour.

“Now we’re pushing it further. We’re going out to Connemara and also the Aran Islands working with local producers out there and getting a nice mixture of really traditional good pubs in the middle of nowhere, cheese farms etc all tied in there,” Ms Dignam says. 

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