Roscommon may be landlocked, but its creative and innovative local businesses have a broad reach, writes Barry Walsh.
With a population of 69,995 (2022 Census) Roscommon is Ireland’s 11th largest county by area.
Roscommon has the highest life expectancy in Ireland at 75.6 years for men and 82.4 years for women.
With major players like Vention Medical, Harmac and various agricultural businesses, there more than a few entrepreneurs in the county.
Based in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, Timea Kovacs noticed a growing number of people following special diets just like herself, due to allergies and illnesses and thought there was a lack of options for people from Ireland. So she made her own. The Best Free From now makes diabetic friendly, coeliac-friendly, yeast free, dairy free, soya free, wheat free low-car, keto bread and sweets with natural ingredients. During Covid-19 she moved all their services online and developed a range of allergen friendly baking mixes to cater for all the above that have brought home Silver and Bronze medals the past two years from the Free From Food Awards.
Black Donkey Brewing
Richard Siberry and Michaela Dillon founded Black Donkey Brewing in 2014. The brewery produces a core range of four artfully crafted beers, including a lager, an IPA, an amber ale and their original release, Sheep Stealer, a traditional farmhouse style ale. In 2021, Black Donkey released the “Underworld” beer series; a range of three beers fermented with a wild local yeast. This yeast, which was harvested from a cave in Co Roscommon, is exclusive to Black Donkey Brewing, and lends their beers a true sense of place. In early 2023 the first of their long-term barrel matured beers, “Phraseology” was released to very favourable reviews. There will be three additional barrel aged beer releases this year, some of which have been maturing for up to three years.
The company’s mission statement is simple: “Black Donkey is on a mission to craft world class, traditional, natural beers, valuing quality, originality and our consumers satisfaction above quantity or price”. Their multi award winning beers are stocked by all the best beer sellers in the west of Ireland, and are also available directly from the brewery’s own web shop.
Founded in the grips of the last recession, Gairdín Bia founder Maureen O’Gara had been working in the catering sector for more than 20 years when she decided to open her own business. Its website states: “Our business started in 2010 supplying shops throughout Connacht with fresh coleslaw, potato salad and pasta salad sourced from quality locally produced ingredients. Since 2011 we have developed our own soup which is suitable for vegetarians, gluten and lactose Free. Our business is growing thanks to people’s discerning taste for good quality food at a reasonable price. If you wish for a particular menu of your own choice, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help.”
Originally started in 1875, Michael Gannon is the fifth generation to inherit the farm. Having switched to free range eggs a shed was built to expand production and a new purpose-built packaging store with grading capacity for 7,000 eggs per hour. They say on the company’s website: “Based on the Croghan road, Carrick-on-Shannon, we pride ourselves in being one of the oldest businesses in operation in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon. In addition to our premises in Carrick-on-Shannon we also operate our Farm Shop based in the Square, Roscommon town.” The company is now part of The SuperValu Food Academy.
The business is located in a building that dates back to the 1870s, however, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the Gleeson family took over the building and turned it into a restaurant. According to its website: “the business carefully and respectfully into the thriving boutique hotel, restaurant and café it is today. One cornerstone of Gleeson’s is the consistently exceptional quality of their food, supporting local suppliers at every opportunity. Mary has a regular chef slot on local radio and been invited to do demonstrations at events across the globe. Gleeson’s are particularly proud of their local lamb and are heavily involved in the annual Roscommon Lamb Festival.”
Irrelevant Fish was founded by Roscommon native Niamh Cunningham and French developer Pierre Aclement The company is now in making iPhone and Android games such as Primal Flame. Traditionally, the Irish gaming industry has been very Dublin-centric. Moving to Roscommon as a cost saving measure allowed the entrepreneurs to save money and be a self-funded enterprise.
Paul Soul Entertainment
Founded in Roscommon, Paul Soul Entertainment has been in business for more than 30 years, supplying musicians, bands, DJs and other entertainment acts to various venues around the country. With clients such as pubs, nightclubs and hotels the business has packages available for weddings, birthdays and seasonal events such as Christmas, corporate events and children’s events. There are also packages for special events such as team building, game nights, karaoke and other events available. You can view a full list of their acts and services here
Founded by Wayne Auchmuty in 2015, Scaled Rigs created and designed battery operated scaled down versions of large trucks. Speaking to Atlantic Corridor, Lakeside Engineering Design, and Scania gave him a single use licence to develop a prototype. After he delivered the prototype, Scania granted a licence to produce it as an official toy and his new company, Scaled Rigs, was born late last year. Scaled Rigs then posted a high-quality video of their ride-on truck modelled on the Scania S730 on Facebook to test market interest. “We were hoping to sell maybe 30 pieces in a year, but we had 50 orders within eight weeks,” Wayne says. “We started production in March this year and have been flat out since.”
Spicy Dog Media
Founded by National Film School graduate Peter Kilmartin, Spicy Dog Media is a multi award winning creative video agency based between Roscommon and Dublin.
Its day to day work consists of producing premium video content for global brands and advertising agencies. Spicy Dog Media have also produced a number of highly successful short films including The Sunny Side Up and Sit Down And Shut Up. Their films have featured in major festivals around the world – including DOC NYC, Galway Film Fleagh, Cork International, Chicago, London and many more. A passionate young team of creatives ensure that Spicy Dog Media are always one step ahead of the ever-changing video and media landscape.
Studio Meala is a creatively led studio that delivers high-end 2D animation; founded by Sean Cunningham (Creative Director), Stephen Fagan (Managing Director) and Jerry Twomey (Financial Director) Through a commitment to building a fair and sustainable environment where people can thrive, Studio Meala stands for creativity through collaboration above all else.
That comes from the belief that by empowering creativity in everyone, we can achieve more remarkable results than anyone can produce on their own. The Studio Meala team includes expertise across Creative, Production and Financial fields to produce high-quality 2D animated content that excites audiences, including Branded Content, Music videos, Shorts, Features and Series.
Studio Meala produces content for the global market with clients in Europe, the UK and the US. The company came first in the Roscommon Enterprise awards 2022. It received a runner-up award at the national Enterprise awards and won best newcomer at the Irish Animation Awards 2021.