Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Urney Chocolates grew out of a jam pot

I've been so busy in the garden this summer that my Urney blog has been sadly neglected. My poly tunnel is producing courgettes to beat the band- suggested uses for same are very welcome. I've been sneaking courgettes into most of my dishes and even tried my hand at a courgette sorbet which my family very politely ate with approving gestures. I'm touched by their tact but I promise, I won't be making any more. *sighs of relief all round..* 
I'm sure great-granny Eileen Gallagher would know what to do with a glut of veggies. A chutney-making enterprise perhaps? Afterall, it was the jam that she made from the excess fruit in her garden that launched a cottage industry that later became Urney Chocolates. "Urney Chocolates grew out of a jam pot" as Eileen's husband Harry was fond of saying.
I often wondered what it was that made Eileen such an astute business woman. Her determination and practical nature would have helped. Early family life would also have shaped her thinking. She was the youngest of 16 children and despite both her parents coming from well-off families, Eileen saw her mother struggle financially. Her father John had been destined to take over the family business in New Ross, Co. Wexford but preferred to spend his time playing the organ while the family's fortunes dwindled away. It's safe to say Eileen didn't inherit his business acumen (or lack of..). Eileen's mother, Mary Ellen, on the other hand became an adept seamstress and frugal housekeeper and managed to keep up the illusion of comfortable living. She was fortunate to get annual income from her own family, who were related to MP John Redmond. While the allowance would have helped enormously it must have been difficult. No doubt it would have strengthened Eileen's resolve for financial security in later life. And the instilled notion that you couldn't always rely on the traditional bread-winner to provide for you, may have made her more independent and unconventional? Well, we can only speculate. Now...anyone for a slice of courgette cake?

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