Episode #14 - "Grabbing Life By The Apples"

“Give me yesterday’s bread, this day’s flesh and last year’s cider.”

— Benjamin Franklin, USA Founding Father

Date Published


Main Topic

Galway Cider


2hrs 17min

In this week’s episode, we welcome our first guest speaker to the show, Francis Kelly. Francis is the founder and managing director of Galway Cider, a craft cider company based in Galway, Ireland.

He kicks off the episode by telling us about cider itself and the difference between ‘craft cider’ and ‘commercial cider’. Between the two, the basics are the same for the most part – start with apples, ferment them over the course of a few months, balance the sweetness and ABV levels and then bottle it up. We find out however that cider production is as much an art as it is a science, so we hear about some of the finer (and differentiating) points of the process.

Life isn’t all apples and cider for Francis though, as we find out that he is also the commercial manager of Galway United FC – his local team and sporting love for the last 20 years. This is another side to him, but the same entrepreneurial spirit shines through all the same. After spending years cheering on the club from the stand, he is now in a position to make a real change to the clubs fortunes.

The conversation then moves on to running – an activity Francis turns to when he feels he needs to “decompress”. Running helps balance his busy business brain and ‘put his throughs into their different boxes’. Originally a ‘road runner’, Francis firmly views himself now as a ‘trail runner’ and goes through the many advantages of running up mountains compared to running on the unnatural surfaces of concrete and tarmac.

Main Topic Of This Episode​​

The central topic of this episode is Galway Cider. This provides us with an ideal starting point for the conversation with Francis Kelly. Francis explains the process of how craft cider is made – from picking the apples, to balancing the sweetness and ABV levels, and finally to accepting a literal truckload of packaged and ready-to-drink cider. The process is as much an art as it is a science, with Francis astutely referring back to our previous episode on crafting. This is a craft he has spent hundreds of hours with, learning at every opportunity, which results in a delicious bottle of Galway Cider for you to enjoy.

Check out the video below where owner of Tardebigge Cider (based just outside Birmingham in the UK), Steve Copper explain the craft cider making process. You will see that real passion for quality and an outstanding product go in to making craft cider.

Check Out Some Further Reading​

Found something interesting discussed in this episode? Chances are, we found it interesting too and we went off and did a bunch of reading online about it.

So why not dive further into the topic! Here are some handy links we think you might like.

In 2015, sitting in the snug of his local, a Galway City native came up with the dream of having Connachts first cider company. A voyage that would lead him to launch ‘The Galway Cider Company’.

The first port of call was to sample every craft cider from the island of Ireland. This in itself was a tall challenge, with over 25 craft ciders to sample and critique. Many Sunday mornings were spent suffering.

After a year or so, he took a more professional approach and enlisted in a Cider Production course at The Cider & Perry Academy in Gloucester, England. This gave him the knowledge to produce a quality cider product on a small scale.

The next few months were spent making small batches of “home brew” ciders with a close friend on the weekends. Much fun was had mulching apples, juicing and controlling the fermentation process. They outlined a flavour profile they wished to produce, a flavour they felt the people of Connacht would not only like but love and be proud of.

Developing a great taste was one thing but turning it into a functioning business that would stand the test of time was a whole other thing. Lucky for them, another friend by chance suggested a part time course in GMIT – Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The following 6 months were spent turning an idea into a real business. With great help from course lecturers, a business strategy and plan was formulated.

Without the required capital to set up their own cidery, they set out to find an existing quality Irish craft cider producer to partner with, a producer that spoke the same language as them and knew what they wanted. They travelled the country in search of the right person.

Lucky for them on a Sunday afternoon after a half marathon in Limerick, they ended up in the beautiful town of Dungarvan, where a man called Liam would be their man. Many long drives were spent commuting up and down to Dungarvan and again rough Sunday mornings were endured to develop that taste profile they had set out to find 12 months prior.

Roll onto early April 2019, on an early foggy morning in Enniscorty, 15,238 bottles of Galway Cider rolled off the bottling line and the dream the man once had became reality. Galway Cider is now available in all good pubs in Galway City for you to enjoy.

Galway United Football Club is a football club based in Galway City and they play in the League of Ireland First Division. They were originally founded as Galway Rovers F.C. during the 1930s. They made their League of Ireland debut in 1977–78 and changed their name to Galway United in 1981–82. After suffering financial difficulties, the club dropped out of the League of Ireland after the 2011 season but in 2014 Galway United returned, initially playing as Galway F.C. for one season. 

In August 2020, John Caulfield was appointed manager of the club. He was previously the manager of Cork City FC, where he helped them win the Premier Division title, two FAI Cups and three President Cups.

Over the last few months, he has been building the squad and signing many existing and new players. There is a great sense of excitement around the club for the new season, where John and the club will be aiming squarely at the top spot of the first division. The 2021 season is sure to be filled with excitment and cheer for Galway United FC fans.

Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) is the governing body of the sport of Mountain Running in Ireland. IMRA is affiliated through the Athletic Association of Ireland (AAI) to the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) for the purposes of competing in International Events.

As an organisation, IMRA strives to organise excellent races, with a degree of professionalism beyond its amateur status. It is run and operated by volunteers, and is an excellent source of trail and mountain races up and down the length of the country. Check out their website for more information.

During this episode, Francis talks about a course he completed (and strongly recommends) which helped him turn Galway Cider from a ‘solid idea’ into a ‘solid business’. The course is called ‘Certificate in Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ and you can find more information on it here.

GMIT developed this experiential learning course to encourage learners to cultivate and develop their own food product/business thus growing new entrepreneurs in the Agri-Food sector. 

The course is aimed at those involved in the Agri-Food sector including local/regional food producers, the wider agricultural community, rural farmers and food entrepreneurs, where entrepreneurial training has not typically been prioritised. 

The objective of the course is to provide those involved in the Agri-Food sector with the knowledge and work-based skills required to foster and develop their food ideas into successful businesses, encouraging participants to consider food entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to employment.

Springboard+ offers over 11,000 free or subsidised places on 332 courses leading to awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level. The majority of courses are part-time for a maximum of 12 months.

The Galway trail running group was set up late 2020 to bring like-minded trail runners together. But also to promote trail running as an alternative to ‘road running’. 

We meet as a group every second Sunday morning and re-connect with nature while exploring new trails. Trail running can sometimes be dangerous, as running on hills and mountains poses a range of risks. However, running as a group ensures we enjoy the sport to its fullest.

It is free to join and more information can be found on their Facebook page (although it is primarily a WhatsApp group, link on Facebook page).

Check Out Other Episodes

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