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Culinary Showcase Offers Solutions to Ireland’s Hospitality Staff Crisis




Apprentices from across Ireland converged at The Great Southern Hotel to compete in the National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Competition on Wednesday.

Organised by the Kerry Education and Training Board (ETB) in partnership with the Irish Hotel Federation and other industry stakeholders, this event not only displayed exceptional culinary skills but also shed light on a crucial solution to Ireland's ongoing hospitality staff crisis.

The participating apprentices represent a diverse cross-section of emerging talent from Kerry ETB, Cork ETB, Tipperary ETB, Limerick and Clare ETB, Kilkenny and Carlow ETB, Kildare and Wicklow ETB, Cavan & Monaghan ETB, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim ETB, City of Dublin ETB and promises to showcase a melting pot of creativity and passion

Beyond the competition, the event offered a unique opportunity for attendees to gain valuable insights into the world of apprenticeship.

Live cookery and display competitions were complemented by inspiring talks from prominent figures in the culinary world, aiming to address the current challenges faced by the hospitality sector.

Among the highlights were guest speakers Mike Tweedie, Head Chef of the Oak Room, and Eddie Attwell, Head Chef of Eccles Hotel Glengarriff. Tweedie and Attwell shared first-hand how the Commis Chef Apprenticeship played a pivotal role in growing their teams, offering a tangible success story for businesses considering similar initiatives.

A panel discussion featured culinary leaders John Drummond, Brendan Byrne, Emer Corridan, and Odhran Lucey underscored the importance of mentoring and training the next generation of chefs. Their insights  contributed to the broader conversation about the role apprenticeships play in ensuring the future success of the hospitality industry.

Mallory Higgins, National Apprenticeship Programme Coordinator who led the event, emphasised its significance in addressing the current hospitality staff crisis in Ireland:
She said: "The Commis Chef Apprenticeship Showcase is not just a competition; it's a celebration of the industry's upcoming talent and a practical solution to the staffing challenges faced by the hospitality sector in Ireland. By highlighting success stories like Mike Tweedie and Eddie Attwell, we aim to inspire more businesses to invest in apprenticeships and grow their own skilled teams."

Mike Tweedie, Head Chef of the Oak Room, added: "The apprenticeship programme gives the apprentice the foundations they need and what we do in the restaurant is reinforce what they learned in college. I have two great chefs from the apprenticeship programme already and I have just taken on a third. One day I hope they are better than me and  have their own Michelin star, that means I have done my job, and it is a great thing for me to watch personally.”



Black Valley broadband installation gets underway

Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry. The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland […]




Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry.

The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland to be electrified but broadband in the region is expected to be live in the second half of the year with residents already able to pre-order their connection. 
“It is well known that Black Valley was one of the last locations to get electricity due to its remoteness and challenging terrain, so we are extremely pleased to be commencing the rollout of our high-speed fibre network now with a view to connections being available later this year,” said National Broadband Ireland Deployment CEO, TJ Malone.
“We are determined to ensure the rollout is as fast as possible and connection is made easy for Black Valley residents, and we have a plan in place to work around the location’s all-important tourist season.

“Black Valley is a symbol of NBI’s mission that no area will be left behind no matter how rural or remote and we are delighted that this beautiful location moves one step closer to high-speed fibre today, with all the opportunities that will unlock for the local community.” 

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Players of the year don’t duck a challenge

They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh […]




They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh weren’t going to shy away from the latest task on their home patch.

The two top footballers in the country teamed up to launch a charity duck race which will form part of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival in Killarney, where they both live.

When the working day was done, busy secondary school teachers David and Louise had some great quack and they got caught up in the spirit of the occasion along the scenic River Deenagh in Killarney National Park.

The reigning Player of the Year and Ladies Player of the Year award winner demonstrated their competitive streak when they expressed confidence that their own ducks will win The Deenagh Duck Dash on the same river at noon on Monday, March 18.

But, luckily, festival chairman Jason Clifford was there to keep the peace and he even threatened to cry fowl and brandish a card at the star players – with duck yellow deemed the most appropriate colour.

Considered by many to be the greatest players of all time in their respective codes, between them, Fossa hotshot David and Corca Dhuibhne star Louise have an incredible nine All-Star awards.

But they might be tempted to swap one if their duck wins the fun-filled race on the day after St Patrick’s Day.

All proceeds from the event will go to St Francis Special School in Beaufort, Killarney which provides specialist education for young people with learning disabilities.
Festival chairman Jason remarked: “This isn’t just a race – it’s great fun for the whole family.
“Picture the scene with a flotilla of vibrant rubber ducks racing down a winding river, their owners cheering them on and all in the name of a fantastic cause”.
Super prizes await the winners, the cost of a rubber duck to participate in the race is just €5 and they can be bought online at

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