Sliabh Aughty Honey
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A Chat with Nollaig Ó Laocha From Sliabh Aughty Honey

A family-run small business in the West of Ireland, producing 100% raw honey and skincare products – that’s the aim of the game at Sliabh Aughty Honey and Leahy Beekeeping!

We had a chat with Nollaig Ó Laocha all about how they started the business and everything in between.

Sliabh Aughty Honey are part of the Euro-Toques Ireland community of Irish producers.

Can you tell me about your own background in the food industry?

Bees have been in my family starting with my Grandfather, all the way down the line to my daughters. The bees have been in our family for four generations now and they have become part of our family history. 

What inspired you to set up your business? Did you notice a gap in the market? 

I was a bricklayer by trade for years, but when the recession hit in the early 2000s, we went back to focusing on farming. Our family have been farmers as far back as I can remember, so it was the natural choice when looking for something else to do. 

How did you set up the business and how has it been growing over time? 

We have always had the bees around in my mother’s house, so we decided to fix up the hives and started from there. The bees have been in our family for four  generations now and they have become as much part of our family history as anything else. 

Where do you source the ingredients used to make your product?

The only ingredients we need for our honey are strong healthy bees and the diverse flora of the mountain. Anything else we need we get from other local producers. 

Can you tell me about some of the benefits associated with your product? 

As well as being a natural sweetener, honey has naturally occurring anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agents. Raw honey can be used to treat  coughs and topically to treat burns and promote wound healing. We have seen this ourselves recently when we had to take care of some injuries on our elderly dog. The benefit of the honey is his recovery was astounding. 

How has working with Euro-Toques Ireland impacted your business?

Working with Euro-Toques Ireland has really helped us grow as a business and helped our brand recognition significantly with chefs and customers, not only locally but around the world. Being part of this community has given us the drive and opportunity to develop new products and for collaborations.

What has been your favourite part of working with Euro-Toques Ireland? 

Being able to meet so many chef and other producers, and seeing all the different and creative things they are creating with such high-quality products and ingredients. 

How important has social media been for you in spreading the word?

It has been vital to our business in helping us to promote our products and build awareness in the bees. It allows us to share the importance of bees and how they  affect our ecosystem and our food chain. 

What makes your product unique? 

The mountain, the clean environment from Galway, east and the west of Ireland, and our drive to keep the product as natural and unprocessed as possible. Since our hives are tucked away in the mountain and are so isolated there is very little interfering or polluting the land that the bees are foraging from. 

Where can people get your product (shops, restaurants?)

Dough bros in Galway have been using our Hot Honey for a while now, as well as the Kings Head who uses our Wildflower. La Rousse Foods would be our main distributor when it comes to selling to commercial customers. Other than that we also sell online, where we can ship to nearly anywhere in the world, and we supply local artisanal shops and delis. You can find the full list on our website. 

Are there any other small Irish food producers you admire?

Grá Chocolate, Wildwoods Balsamic, Aran Goat Cheese, and Tribal Food. We have known and worked with these producers for years now and they all produce truly excellent products. It’s always a pleasure to work with them at markets and to see their products in stores or being promoted online. 

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced since going into business?

The weather really effects how much we can get done in a day. Bees prefer warm weather but nothing too hot or too cold. Global warming is causing a lot of problems for us and the bees since it makes it even harder for them to survive and even harder for us to help them. 

What do you feel is your biggest achievement to date with this business? 

Winning a Euro-Toques Ireland award was a huge achievement for us. Having the quality of our products and the work we have done formally recognised has made us feel very proud of our business.

Could you ever have imagined doing anything else with your life?

Having started as bricklayers and now doing this instead we can confidently say we would never go back.  

What does the future hold for your business? 

We recently started doing custom wedding favours so we are planning on further developing our range of what we can offer people. We are also planning on creating some more infused honeys like maybe elderflower, citrus, or even garlic! 

Anything further to add? 

When possible, people should try to support their local businesses. It supports local  jobs, helps build a stronger community, and helps producers like us keep old  traditions alive. People can check us out on our website, Instagram, and Facebook.  

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