Taste of Monaghan: Food Businesses to Watch

Hot on the heels of foodie destination success, where Monaghan and Glaslough placed fifth in a list of the top culinary destinations in Ireland – the county’s highest ever placing, comes Taste of Monaghan 2018. The event runs 28-30 September and will showcase the very best that food businesses in Monaghan have to offer.

Monaghan is home to world-famous produce, from duck to mushrooms, pork, poultry and so much more. Here are some of the Monaghan food businesses to watch among this year’s exhibitors:

Rucksnacks used the state-of-the-art incubator kitchen facility at the Ballybay Enterprise Park to develop their protein-packed beef bites, which are on sale at SuperValu stores and at gyms throughout the county – soon to be available nationwide. Founder, Colm Connolly, came up with the idea of turning the beef, which his family had farmed for five generations previously, into a healthy on-the-go snack.

Baked With Love recently secured a nationwide contract to supply Lidl stores throughout Ireland. The family-run food business expanded to a dedicated 500-sqm facility last year, and now boasts a separate gluten-free bakery in additional to its regular production facilities.

Blasta: Gourmet Street Kitchen is up for ‘best emerging franchise’ at the upcoming Irish Franchise Awards 2018/19. Seany and Nikita set up their Tex-Mex food truck business after four years eating their way around the world. The duo spotted a gap in the market for good quality private catering, as well as “food trucks people were not afraid to eat from”, and soon turned their passion for Mexican food into a thriving business.

Seany and Nikita of Blasta: Gourmet Street Kitchen – Best Emerging Franchise Nominees

Dairy farmer Seamus McMahon’s response to a slump in milk prices was to turn disused sheds on his property into a microbrewery. In addition to managing the dairy, which supplies the cream to make Bailey’s, Brehon Brewhouse’s beers are supped in bars up and down the country. The company is now eyeing expansion into the US, where the thirst for craft beer is growing exponentially.

Chef Martina Woods was inspired to set up her business, Harry’s Dog Bakery, when she discovered regular dog treats made her pup unwell. Martina went on to study dog nutrition before setting up her natural dog treat business. Earlier this year, Martina won a prize worth €3,000 for an elevator pitch she made at the Enterprise Ireland Fuelling Ambition road show.

Enterprising Monaghan will also be at Taste of Monaghan 2018. Pop along to our stand to meet to team, find out about the Monaghan test kitchen facility and to learn about other available supports for food businesses in the county.

Find out more at tasteofmonaghan.com

5 Minutes With… Steve Boyes, director of FUEL – High Performance IT

M:TEK has welcomed a handful of new tenants over the past few months, as businesses here thrive here and outgrow their Monaghan office space. Among the recent arrivals is FUEL – High Performance IT, a specialist consultancy headquartered in Northern Ireland and employing 16 across three locations; the company chose Monaghan as their first base in the Republic of Ireland. We caught up with FUEL director, Steve Boyes, to find out a little more about the company’s plans for future expansion and why they decided to set up an office in Monaghan.

Steve Boyes, FUEL – High Performance IT, pictured with Ann Treanor, Enterprising Monaghan


What exactly does FUEL do?
FUEL Supplies and Implements IT Infrastructure solutions. We are also both a “Sage Business Partner” and a “SAP Business One Partner”. We offer consultancy and design services for Network Infrastructures and provide full training and implementation on ERP solutions including General Financial accounting (Including Payroll), Manufacture Management and as well as frontline software and infrastructure support services. Areas of industry expertise include Manufacturing, Service Management/Customer Service, Private Healthcare Management and Wholesale/Distribution including Mobile Working Solutions.

When was the company set up?
The Company was established 25 years ago by the current CEO – Paul Trouton while studying at Queens University in Belfast.

Why Monaghan as a business location?
Having taken considerable time reviewing a number of business locations in between Dublin and the border counties, FUEL decided on Monaghan because of the welcome we received from the business community and the clear business buzz and energy that currently exists in the area. FUEL have already successfully expanded into Scotland and England, and Ireland holds an exciting prospect for the company’s plan for growth, with the arrival of Brexit on the horizon.

Although we’re determined to engage fully with the local business community and enjoy all the benefits of a growing economy, Monaghan is less than 30 miles from the other Irish FUEL office in Craigavon.

What is it like working in M:TEK?
M-TEK provides FUEL with a professionally managed office space that is well known to all business organisations in the area. With the added ability of hosting business meetings and corporate events, M:TEK delivers all that we need and more, to help establish our FUEL – High Performance IT brand and grow our business turnover.

What are your company’s plans for the future?
With, as mentioned before, establishing offices in Scotland and England, Monaghan is seen by the Directors of FUEL, a major area of business growth for the company. While in the early stages of establishing the FUEL brand in the Monaghan area by senior members of staff from the Craigavon office, FUEL hopes to expand its customer base in the near future, and have local professional staff managing and maintaining our Monaghan business base.

Find out more at itfuel.com and find FUEL on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Businesses Blossom in Blayney

Castleblayney is a microcosm of the Monaghan business scene; the county’s third largest town is home to a diverse mix of businesses, from the largest shoe store in Ireland to an online beauty emporium, servicing customers in the UK, mainland Europe and the US. Here are just a handful of the businesses thriving in Castleblayney:

Cloud10beauty.com has rapidly grown to become Ireland’s leading online beauty destination, combining lusted after beauty products with the most up-to-date technology; 35% of the company’s business comes from customers in North America and Europe.

“There’s a real entrepreneurial spirit here in County Monaghan – there is a legacy of many companies doing amazing things in business here and quietly getting on with it in an unassuming manner. It definitely rubs off on you! With our location, close to the border & without the same pull as other more densely populated regions in the country, you have to be innovative & customer focused to succeed,” according to Cloud10 founder, Blanaid Johnson.

Blanaid Johnson, founder of Cloud10beauty.com

Blanaid Johnson, founder of Cloud10beauty.com

Founded by Rita Shah and Oliver Brady, The Shabra Group is a global market leader in integrated plastics recycling, reprocessing, manufacturing and the supply of recycled products. What’s more, the company has a very active charity arm which has donated over €600,000 towards building schools in the developing world as well as purchasing hospital equipment for eye, heart and cancer research here in Ireland.

Owen Lynch moved from Clogherhead, Co. Louth and opened Sole and Sea fishmongers on Main Street, Castleblayney in 2017. Owen was first attracted by Castleblayney’s beautiful lakes and greenery, having heard great things about the town from family friends. He now cites the loyal local customer base and friendliness of neighbouring businesses as the main advantages of Castleblayney as a business base.

Located in Swallow Studios, Annayalla just north of Castleblayney, Liz Christy’s eye-catching, hand-woven scarves and accessories are available at selected stockists nationwide as well as being exported to the UK, Germany, the USA and Japan. Visitors are welcome to pop by the studios to see Liz in action, and perhaps pick up a scarf inspired by the poems of Patrick Kavanagh, or a ‘renaissance’ wrap based on the traditional Monaghan lace of Clones and Carrickmacross.

Shoe manufacturer Buddha Brand Industry’s best-known brands include lines designed by actress, Amy Huberman and international rugby star, Tommy Bowe. Over 550 shops throughout the country stock the Castleblayney-based family-owned company’s footwear; including their own Shoe City outlet, the largest shoe store in Ireland.

Thinking about starting a business in Castleblayney? Offices to rent are available at the Castleblayney Enterprise Centre, as well as meeting room hire, training courses and a host of business support services.

Mouth-watering Monaghan Food Businesses

A hub for food businesses, the agri-food sector in Monaghan is booming. From a concentration of complimentary businesses pooling state-of-the-art logistics and cold store facilities in Lough Egish, Castleblayney, to food start-ups making use of the cutting-edge incubator kitchen facility in Ballybay, here are just a few Monaghan food business success stories to whet your appetite:


The award-winning sausage brand started life in the 1940s as Arthur Mallon’s butchers shop in Monaghan Town. Mallon’s has grown to become the leading producer of sausages in Ireland, and the company recently expanded its product range to include beef dripping. Production capacity is set to increase as planning permission was granted last in 2017 for a new two-storey extension to Mallon’s existing production premises in Mullaghdun. 


Chef Patrick Armitage and his wife Zoe, also a trained chef, established their hot smoking business in 2017. Sheskin specialises in candied salmon, a product traditionally produced on the west coast of America. The couple recently represented the county at ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ competition. 


Hailingfrom a five-generation beef farming family, Colm Connolly and his wife returned from their world travels inspired to do something a little bit different. Connolly used the state-of-the-art incubator kitchenat the Ballybay Enterprise Park to hone the recipe for a healthy, high-protein beef jerky snack; Rucksnacks is now available in a variety of flavours at SuperValu stores and gyms throughout the county. 

“Ballybay kitchen is fully set up and it’s approved by the relevant authorities so it’s of a very high standard.  It has all the facilities you need to produce or to run trials, and that’s been so useful for us because we’ve been able to do both,”said Connolly of the Ballybay facility.


Over 50 years ago, Paddy McGuinness started delivering eggs by bicycle, whilst Bernard Eivers started business with just 150 free-range hens back in 1985. Today, managed by the next generation, the company processed over three million eggs per week at its Lough Egish facility, supplying supermarkets and businesses throughout Ireland as well as abroad. All eggs are Bord Bia approved and Golden Irish is part of the Origin Green scheme.


Silver Hill produces the best duck in the world according to the world’s leading chefs, including Heston Blumenthal. The multi award-winning Silver Hill Farm supplies duck and duck products to outlets all over the world. All aspects of production are managed on site, from breeding and hatching to processing and cooking. A team of 230 is employed at its Centre of Excellence in Emyvale and at various satellite hatching sites on both sides of the border.

“Being so close to the border here in Monaghan and having facilities both sides offers both a bio security advantage and a strategic advantage, in that UK retailers look for NI duck and ROI retailers look for ROI duck,” according to Silver Hill CEO, Michael Briody.

Silver Hill is investing in €25m in its production facilities to bring capacity from 80,000 ducks per week to 150,000 in line with increased demand from new markets including Indonesia, Malaysia and Canada. 

Do you have an idea for a food business or are you looking to take your food brand to the next level?Contact us to find out more about developing your food business in County Monaghan.

New and Improved Hot Desk in MTEK

The hot-desking space in Monaghan’s M:TEK I has been given a fresh new look!

Those currently availing of Enterprising Monaghan’s shared office space in Carrickmacross and here at M:TEK , include one self-employed indivdual  , who uses the space when necessary, and another, who works for KPMG in Dublin but opts to work remotely instead of a daily commute. The easy in/easy out system allows renters to come and go as they please, subject to availability. Flexible rental terms mean desks can be rented by the day, week or month, with no long-term commitment and considerable savings in terms of fixed costs.

Hot desk rental in Monaghan’s M:TEK includes, as standard:

* High-speed Wi-Fi.

* Use of shared kitchen facilities.

* Close proximity to Monaghan Town.

* Access to ample on-site parking.

* Meeting and board room space available to rent on site.

* Open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.


Desk rental in Monaghan starts from just €10 per day/plus VAT. We also offer shared office space in Carrickmacross.

To find out more about hot desking in Monaghan or at C:TEK, Carrickmacross, contact info@enterprisingmonaghan.ie or call 047 75255.

Q&A With Colm Connolly


Colm Connolly hails from a five-generation Monaghan farming family, and he decided to set up his own business selling a range of  gourmet dried Irish beefs snacks. Rucksnacks  is a new and promising Monaghan food businesses which has become a big hit with health enthusiasts looking for snacks with no added sugar, no gluten and no allergens. Colm uses the local state-of-the-art food incubation unit at the Ballybay Enterprise Park to develop and produce the high-protein snacks. We grabbed Colm for a five-minute chat about his food business success so far.


Q : How did you come up with the idea of “Rucksnacks”?

A: We created Rucksnacks in 2015 but we didnt have a name at that stage it was just an idea born out of frustration between myself and my wife. We both wanted to have healthy snacks but there was very little available. I come from an agricultural backround so I looked to see if we could create something from what we farm at home into a healthy snack product.

Q : You have travelled around the world and experienced  many cultures and lots of exciting food, why did you return and decide to base your food business in Monaghan?

A : My wife and I had always planned to return back to Ireland after backpacking around the world for seven months. We always knew we had the family farm, and being a 5th generation beef farmer, I liked the idea of coming back to my roots. And terms of agri-food, Monaghan is very strong as a county.  When I returned home I didn’t really know how it was going to work, but that’s when I started to look into things. I found the supports and availability of help across the county to be very good and it was a huge bonus.

Q :  What use do you get from using the state-of-the-art food incubation unit in Ballybay Enterprise Park? What are the facilities like?

A : We are still involved with research and development at this stage. Even though we have products launched we’re still at that stage as a company. The Ballybay kitchen [facility] is fully set up and approved by the relevant authorities so it’s of a very high standard.  It has everything you need to produce or to run trials and that’s been so useful for us because we’ve been able to do both. It has allowed us to test products and make any mistakes on a smaller and it’s been very handy to have such a well-equipped facility nearby.

Q : We can find Rucksnacks in various gyms and SuperValu stores across the county. Are there any plans to expand distribution in the future?

A : We started off by supplying local. First off we supplied the local SuperValu, just two minutes away from us. That went well and so ee started to then increase the number of places stocked. Ultimately we need to scale up. We want to expand out to all counties in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and hopefully then the rest of the UK. We have already started to export to Europe. Beef snacks are very popular in Countries like Germany. We will also continue with research and development to add to our range of products”.

Follow Rucksnacks on Twitter and Facebook for the lastest on their tasty ‘made in Monaghan’ beef snacks!


GDPR :  general data protection

On the 26th of  May 2018, new laws regarding data protection will come into effect for all EU member states.    The General Data Protection Regulation or (GDPR) introduces some significant changes to our current data  protection rules. It will be important for Businesses of all shapes and sizes to be aware of these changes.

This simple guide will help you understand some of the most important changes to the Data protection laws.



It will now be more difficult to rely on consent as a legal basis for data processing. Consent must be ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’. Basically, your customer cannot be forced into consent, or be unaware that they are consenting to processing of their personal data. They must know exactly what they are consenting to, and there can be no doubt that they are consenting. Obtaining consent requires a positive indication of agreement – it cannot be inferred from silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity.The GDPR is clear that controllers must be able to demonstrate that consent was given.


Processing Children’s Data:

If your work involves the processing of data from underage subjects, you must ensure that you have adequate systems in place to verify individual ages and gather consent from guardians. The GDPR will introduce special protections for children’s data, particularly in the context of social media and commercial internet services. “Consent needs to be verifiable” which means that consent must be requested in a language they can understand.


Data Breaches:

You must make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

Breaches that are likely to bring harm to an individual must also be reported to the individuals concerned. For example identity theft or breach of confidentiality! Now is the time to assess the types of data you hold and document. Any breach must be reported to the data protection commissioner. This will be new to many organization but its very important to be aware of it. GDPR introduces significant increases in sanctions if there is a data breach.  At their highest, the fines can reach up to 4% of an organisation’s annual worldwide turnover or up to €20 million!



Enhanced rights for individuals such as:

·The right to access data

·The right to rectification ·

·The right to erasure (to be forgotten)

·The right to restrict processing

·The right to object to processing

·The right to data portability

These are just some of the basic changes coming with GDPR. If you want further information make sure and watch the video below by the Data Protection Commissioner or visit their website by clicking here.


Board of Directors

Get to Know the Directors

Paul Shortt – Chairman :  

Paul originally trained as an accountant with PWC and served as financial director at Norish Plc for 18 years. He formed Castlecool in 1994  and the company has since expanded to become the largest temperature controlled warehousing company in Ireland; Castlecool was sold to US company Agro Merchants Group  in 2014. Paul now provides business consultancy to various companies in the county. He is a mentor for Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, as well as director of  Castleblayney Enterprise Centre.

Claire Cunningham :

Claire is director of Aura Internet, an IT company offering web development and training which recently celebrated 20 years in business.    She is  a member of the Monaghan  IT Forum, Carrickmacross Chamber of Commerce and the Patrick Kavanagh Society.

Julie Gilhooly :

Julie is the managing director of the Nuremore Hotel and Country Club, a 4-star hotel and golf course in Carrickmacross, which has been in business since 1962. She is a graduate of Shannon College of Hotel Management. She is also a director of Monaghan Institute, and Lady President of Nuremore Golf Club.

David Johnston :

David is a qualified chartered accountant and fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland. He worked as financial controller of Smurfit Robinson Ltd and served as director and financial controller at Samuel Graham Ltd followed by Ballybay Meats Ltd, until he set up his own accountancy practice in Monaghan. Additionally, David is a director of Monaghan Credit Union Ltd.


Allen McAdam : 

Allen is an experienced rural development consultant and part-time farmer. A former national chairman of the Irish LEADER Network, he represented Ireland for several years at EU monitoring committee level. He serves on the boards of the International Fund for Ireland, Enterprise Equity and the Ulster Scots Agency, among others.

Denise McCormilla :

Denise is CEO of the National Childhood Network. She established one of the first pre-school services in Co Monaghan, which she managed for fifteen years. Denise was instrumental in establishing the Border Counties Childcare Network. In 2002 she became the first Chairperson of Monaghan County Childcare Committee. She has also worked with a number of agencies in Northern Ireland to secure EU funding for the delivery of cross border projects that enhance the delivery of pre-school and after school services in the Southern Border Counties and Northern Ireland.

Pat Moran :

Pat is a qualified cost and management accountant, with over 30 years’ experience working with companies including Greenmount & Boyne and IGM. Most recently, he served as group financial accountant for Monaghan Mushrooms.

Brian Morgan B.C.L, Solicitor : 

Brian is the Clones town representative of Enterprising Monaghan. He is a partner in the firm of Morgan McManus Solicitors, where he specialises in litigation (health and safety law), accident claims and employment law. He was founder chairman of the Clones Regeneration Partnership and is a current member of the Clones Town Team. Brian is also a director of the €8m Peace Link sports stadium.


Declan Nelson :

A native of Ravensdale, Co. Louth.  Declan studied Environmental Science in the Dublin Institute of Technology and worked for a number of years as an Environmental Health Officer in the Eastern Health Board.   He also graduated with a B. Comm from UCD and worked for a number of years as a College Lecturer in D.I.T.   His career in local government began in Louth County Council where he was appointed Housing Officer..Subsequently he was appointed County Secretary in Offaly County Council, Assistant County Manager in Galway County Council and County Manager in Monaghan County Council.   He has served as a board member and chairman of numerous boards at local and national level, and is currently a board member of the National Museum of Ireland.

Pat O’Brien :

Pat is a self-employed Publican and the Enterprising Monaghan representative for Ballybay. Pat has spent the last 30 years involved in Community Development in his local area.

Des Sheridan :

Banking and investment specialist Des worked with Ulster Bank for 40 years until his retirement in 2002. Des has been a part of the Enterprising Monaghan Board for Approximately 25 years and served as chairman for at least 10. He is a past Member of the Monaghan Rotary Club.

Padraig Watters :

Padraig is a self-employed Machinery, fuel sales and property development professional.  He resides in Muckno parish and is a board member of the Castleblayney Enterprise Centre. Padraig devotes his spare time to helping the homeless, needy and unemployed in his local community. In addition, he serves as a Peace Commissioner.

Noel McKenna : 

Noel is a chartered surveyor, chartered building engineer and architectural consultant professional with over twenty years’ experience at senior level. He set up his own practice, Noel McKenna & Associates Ltd, in 1996. He is currently head of the Department of the Built Environment at the Dundalk Institute of Technology (Dkit); the department delivers honours degree programmes in Civil Engineering, Building Surveyor and other related subject matter.

John McEntegart :

John holds an honours degree in Business Studies plus an M.B.A. He worked as financial controller for a multi-national firm, before joining the Monaghan County Enterprise Board as CEO in 1996. He is now head of enterprise with Monaghan County Council Local Enterprise Office. He has served as secretary of Enterprising Monaghan (formerly the Monaghan County Enterprise Fund) since 1998.