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Foodies Fight Back with Lucinda

Foodies Fight Back with Lucinda

Thursday 25 March 2021

The Crowning Touch
We've had a week of bombshells from the royal family, on both sides of the Atlantic. One man who's seen them up close, including Christmases at Sandringham and summers at Balmoral, is Christopher Murphy, director of food and beverage at Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo.

"My background has been in luxury hospitality, having worked at many leading establishments including the Royal household, The Dorchester and Mosimann's in London. I have looked after royalty, presidents and leading industry figures, whose demands were simple - they wanted the best, yet there was very little opportunity for forgiveness when this was not met. I felt I could bring this experience to Ashford, where the philosophy is 'no request is too large, and no detail too small'.

"With Mosimann's having been granted a Royal Warrant by HRH Prince of Wales, I've organised many events across numerous royal households. My wife actually went into labour on the day I was doing a book launch for the Duchess of Sussex, and I had to make my apologies!" laughs Chris.

"It was a cold January afternoon in 2020 that I crossed the Irish Sea to join Ashford Castle. It was somewhat of a homecoming, with my grandmother having moved from Co Galway to London in the 1950s. I was excited to be joining this prestigious hotel and looking forward to the challenges it would bring."

Little did Chris know that the greatest challenge hospitality has ever faced would be just six weeks away. Although the year was difficult, they've taken the opportunity as a team to review how the operation could be improved for their guests. While there's still no solid date for reopening, hopefully it will be soon.

"We have certainly seen a wave of bookings at the castle to give us hope and optimism for the second half of 2021. While the international market will leave a void, the domestic market will no doubt support us, and the many other hotels, and realise they do not have to go to far-flung lands but can appreciate what is closer to home."

The Family Business
With their ever-expanding FXB empire, the Buckley family has become a household name over the years. Spearheading the operation since 2002 are fifth- and sixth-generation father and sons Des, Stephen and Brian Buckley. Their impressive collection of steakhouse restaurants and bars are in Dublin in Pembroke Street, Crow Street and in Monkstown, plus the Bull & Castle at Christchurch, and Ryan's Victorian pub & steakhouse in Parkgate Street.

"Before Covid hit, we'd just launched our Victualler & Grocer store beside our flagship restaurant in Pembroke Street," says Des. "We're delighted to see it grow from strength to strength. We are masters at meat and that's at the heart of the store, but customers will find a small grocery stocked with farmers' market-quality produce such as local vegetables, artisan cheeses, pates and terrines, charcuterie, smoked salmon and fresh bread.

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First Published In The Sunday Independent