“Sisters are special, the bond is special”: Aoibhín Garrihy gushes about her daughters’ special bond

Rosaleen Prendiville; @rosieprendeville

Aoibhín Garrihy is a busy woman. In fact, we catch up with her after she’s coming home from the school run. Like many mothers she wears many hats.

From her lifestyle brand, Beo to her poetry collections, there’s never a dull moment for the former Fair City actress.

But she still takes time to enjoy the little things, something she credits to her slower pace of life out West. We caught up with Aoibhín to chat about the importance of a home-cooked meal, sisterhood and what’s next for the entrepreneur.

Pic: Julien Behal Photography

Hello Aoibhín! You’ve partnered with Bord Bia, why did you choose to get involved?

I’ve been involved with Bord Bia for a few years now. We’re such a wonderful island we have incredible produce. It’s a way to champion that and celebrate it. Working with Bord Bia my eyes have really been open! There are so many recipes that are so easy to make and quick. They’re so handy for busy families!

Do you have a grá for cooking? 

I’m always looking for inspiration with the kids. I was never a cook! My mother is responsible for that because she is an amazing cook. And sure John is great, he’s involved in hospitality and was trained in college with chef skills. So I fell between a rock and a hard place, with my mam and John. I wasn’t the best. But now I have kids and I wanted to do better for them and make sure that they’re getting the best in terms of nutrition. Over the past few years, I’ve upped my game significantly and I’m really starting to enjoy it now! It’s a process and when you put love into the dish and plan the meal, it’s great to see everyone enjoy it.

You’re so right. There’s nothing better than getting together over a delicious meal and chatting!

Getting everyone around the table is a great segue into conversation. Getting people to communicate is key. When we were younger we were all busy but mam and dad always made a point of getting us together at meal time. Screens were off and we were all there together. A problem shared is a problem halved. Communication was everything. Instilling that in the girls is really important, I want them to know that there is a support network there. Meal time is a great time to do that!

We’re sure your dinner table at home is full of chat. You’re eldest daughter, Hanorah must have loads of stories now she’s in school!

She’s settling in great! Hanorah is in Junior Infants and Liobhán is in pre-school and Isla will be pre-school next year! So we’re coming out of the fog a little bit. But it’s out of the fog and into the fire. It’s so busy! They’re getting involved in activities, so they’ve got gymnastics and they’ve dance and they’ve swimming! I now know what my mam means about being a taxi service. She was like, peel a carrot, bring you to dancing, peel another carrot, being Ailbhe to speech and drama. You’re literally going from A to B constantly! By the time Friday comes, I’m looking forward to relaxing with a glass! [Laughs] It’s a busy week but it’s great. I try to work around their schedule, but I’m also working on my business, Beo. But we’re all healthy and happy so that’s the main thing!

Aoibhin Garrihy Pic: Brian McEvoy

Do Liobhán and Isla miss Hanorah when she’s at school or are they happy for the time apart?

They’re still in each other’s pockets. We do everything together outside of the school hours. You still see that connection which is so cute. Liobhán’s preschool is connected to the primary school, so Hanorah walks her to her room every day. I collect Liobhán first and she always asks when Hanorah will be finished. There are little things like they had a school book fair recently and they came home with their lists of books they wanted. Liobhán had thought of Isla so she put on her list a Peppa Pig book for Isla in brackets beside it! It was so cute that she was thinking of her. Sisters are special, the bond is special. I know that. I just love to see them so close! They kill each other too, as all sisters do! But it is really lovely to see them really interact now and play away together. They’re less dependent on me, they’re always with each other playing! I love listening to it, it’s just so cute!

That’s gorgeous! And speaking of books, congratulations on the release of your second poetry book, Every Night is Full of Stars. Tell us a bit about working on that.

It was such a passion project from the beginning. To think there’s another one out there is hard to believe. It didn’t feel like work at all. The first book came out around this time last year and it was the feedback from people that was amazing. People have used it as inspiration for their nuptials. I’ve had yogis contacting me saying they use extracts in their practice. I got a message from a girl saying that her father was suffering from Alzheimer’s and they bond over the book. They gather around and he reads a passage from the book. They’re able to chat about the book and he might remember things from his past. It’s so lovely. I think it’s broken down the barrier that some people have had to poetry. I know some people think poetry is a thing of the past or it’s pretentious or that you need a degree in English to really understand it. But I wanted to create something that shows you don’t. For the second one, I just kept finding more and more gems that I wished were in the first one. I knew those poems needed a home too. It’s been great to release it. It’s such a passion project! I loved creating it and love hearing the feedback!

Now for a very important question – what is the best thing about living in Clare?

I can’t imagine it any other way now! It’s so funny because I never saw myself down here. Growing up, Clare was a place we went for holidays and we loved it. But the thought of settling here wasn’t on my radar. Then you meet someone and the rest is history… But it’s just incredible to have what we have on our doorstep. The slower pace is lovely. I love the sense of community and that’s what Beo is based on. That’s what I love about being in the West. People have time to stop and chat, they’re not in their own lane as much. There’s a lot more collaboration and people working together. We’ve been really lucky to work with local businesses and the incredible Irish businesses that we have. The idea of cross-pollination as well. That all comes back to community again.

Pic: Julien Behal Photography

That sense of community is the most important thing in life. And something a lot of us are missing!

You saw that gorgeous Rose of Tralee from Clare. She spoke about when her mother and father passed away it was their community that kept them going. They dropped dinners at the doors. It’s tribal almost and we’ve lost a sense of that in the modern world. It does take a village. If you’re under pressure people will give you a dig out. That’s what I love about being in the West.

You’re already a busy woman but you teased your next venture with your brand, Beo. Can you tell us what that is?

The big project is the flagship for Beo here in Ennis. Myself and my partner, Sharon [Connellan], have small families, we both have three young children. We did the events all over and we have travelled North and South of the border, we have pop-ups in Kildare Village, Arnotts and Brown Thomas, we’ve been all over. But the idea of putting down roots and making our home place, the place that inspires what we do, a destination and making Beo a destination has always been a dream. This opportunity came up with a beautiful, old building the heart of our hometown in Ennis, we just had to jump at it. It felt like Everest when we first viewed the building, it was gutted and it dates back to the 1700s, but we brought it back to life. It’ll be a place for community. It’s going to be a coffee house, a studio space where we’re going to have regular classes every day, from breastfeeding classes in the morning to sound bathing in the evening, you name it and we hope to have it there. That’s the dream and it is a huge undertaking but we’re really excited for it. It’s what we’ve been working away on in the background for the past year. It’s really exciting and ultimately where the big focus will be.

Bord Bia has partnered up with author and entrepreneur, Aoibhín Garrihy, to encourage Irish consumers to ‘Crack On’ in the kitchen with Bord Bia Quality Assured Eggs. By choosing eggs with the Quality Mark, consumers can trust that they have been produced to the highest Bord Bia standards which are verified at every stage. Eggs are full of nutritional benefits and are a versatile ingredient that are quick and easy to prepare for a large variety of dishes, especially for lunch and dinner and provide a natural source of protein. 

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