At Cúil Aodha in the Cork Gaeltacht Peadar Ó Riada and Seán Ó Lionaird have set up Mil an tSúláin a honey making business.
His son Peadar Ó Riada established the honey factory Mil an tSuláin in Cúil Aodha two years ago with Seán Ó Lionáird. Employing twenty people, the unique Honey House is their headquarters, situated near the river Sullane which gives its name to the enterprise.
A keen beekeeper from a young age like many people in this part of County Cork which has a strong tradition of beekeeping, Peadar and Seán realised that the unique taste of Irish honey meant that they had a viable business on their hands.
Enhancing the local beekeepers' self-image was next on the agenda, and local artists were asked to decorate the workrooms of the Honey House. This was all part of Peadar Ó Riada's philosophy to
Promote a harmonious relationship between place, man and work through art.
In an aesthetically pleasing working environment, the honey is extracted, put into jars and hand-thrown honey pots made by local potter Rob Bradshaw, and labelled for sale. Bee hive frames and beekeeping equipment made from local timber is made in a workshop also on site, which will soon move to a bigger premises, such is the demand for these products.
With a guaranteed high price for top grade honey, Mil an tSuláin provides a supplementary income for farmers who keep bees, and also for town dwellers, whose hives are in their back gardens. It also reaches out to the local community as well as apiarists further afield, and encourages them to share their knowledge and offer advice and encouragement to beginners.
Honey from beekeepers all over Ireland is processed here, as the popularity of Mil an tSúláin's products in Europe and the United States continues to grow. The legend of Saint Gobnait and her bees lives on in local consciousness making this,
A modern industry rooted in the past.
Running a growing business requires total commitment, but Peadar Ó Riada describes it as a pilot project which combines
The culture of the Gaeltacht and the artistic element of life in with modern industrial production.
He is also trying to cultivate a balance between the creative ethos of the Honey House and operating a small industry, and would not like to see one or other side take precedence,
If it grows too big, it's not what I want.
This episode of 'Ireland's Eye’ was broadcast on 29 October 1981. The reporter is Pat Butler.