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Michael Curran, East Clare Apiaries, who is a finalist in the Irish Food Awards. Photograph by John Kelly

Clooney beekeeper in line for another award

A CLOONEY beekeeper is in a strong position to add to his growing collection of awards following his selection as a finalist in the Irish Food Awards.

Michael Curran’s Beekeeping and Honey Harvesting has been in operation for over 30 years and the apiary currently has in excess of 200 hives at his home and in various locations throughout East Clare.

A key member of Banner Beekeepers’ Association, Mr Curran has won a multitude of awards at national level.

Now operating as a full time commercial business in Clooney since he retired from work in 2013, Mr Curran has won awards in the Clonmel and Phoenix Park Honey Shows, fourth prize in a major show in London in a line up of a few hundred competitors and wins accolades on an annual basis.

Most of these awards are based on the overall taste, look and presentation of his honey.

In 1985, he started beekeeping as a hobby and now breeds his own bees. He said the honey making season is generally short with most of this produce harvested in June, July and August.

During the winter months he makes all his own equipment for honey making.

“My hives are scattered all over Clare, mostly in East Clare. I am depending on farmers’ goodwill because I couldn’t store all of my hives in my half acre.

“This is first time I entered the Blas na hÉireann awards and I decided I would give it a go. I submitted two jars of honey for these awards.

“I wasn’t expecting to be nominated as I believe all of the judging was done by blind tasting,” he said.

Blas na hÉireann chairperson, Artie Clifford feels that now, more than ever it is essential to shine a spotlight and give that all important clap on the back to the talented producers dotted around the island.

Faced with the restrictions around college campuses still being in place and under the watchful eye of the academic director Professor Joe Kerry of UCC, the Blas judging relocated to Dingle in July, ensuring the judging was handled with the same care and attention as always.

After the initial first round of judging, the scoring products from a number of categories went through a second round of tasting, both in Dingle and at satellite venues across the country.

In conjunction with UCC these results were studied and the findings showed that the results based on two entirely separate panels returned the exact same rankings.

The awards will be announced on October 3rd on the Blas website and across social media channels and, while the team will miss gathering collectively to cheer on colleagues and friends, they will make up for it by ensuring that #Blas2020 trends all day.

Dan Danaher

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