THE weather might be obnoxious and the world full of woe, but a good news story is boosting morale in Callan.
Fennelly’s of Bridge Street has just been nominated in the Best Café category of the 2018 Irish Restaurant Awards.
The news is all the more heartening because Fennelly’s café is one of two only businesses still open in what was once the busiest street in Callan, the other being Mickey’s Pub at The Cross.
Overall county winners will be announced at the Leinster Regional Awards gala event on March 7, but regardless of the outcome the nomination has been received with great joy.
Fennelly’s opened as a café last June, after serving for several years before that as an independent creative space that hosted many memorable musical, literary, and artistic events, and numerous Breakfast Residency gigs that brought new vitality into the street and the town as a whole.
Before that again, the building housed Margaret Fennelly’s iconic pub.
Since taking over the building, local woman Etaoin Holahan, who has a Master’s Degree in Curation, quickly transformed it into a major hub of the town’s social and entertainment scene.
She participated in the big open air theatrical event that saw Upper Bridge Street become an outdoor stage for a week.
She played a key role in the spectacular revitalization of the street, during which lively paint colour schemes were applied by artists to ‘re-imagine’ empty or unsightly building facades.
Those critically acclaimed initiatives were part of a larger and ongoing drive to breathe life back into a street that suffered the fate of many towns: dereliction, abandonment, and a measure of economic regression, following construction of the Callan by-pass and the arrival of big supermarkets.
Etaoin’s courageous decision to open a café showed great foresight that has now paid off.
Fennelly’s facebook page can hardly contain the teeming list of compliments.
Many say it doesn’t surprise them in the least, reflecting their appreciation of the food and service at Fennelly’s.
On any morning or afternoon you’ll see the counter laden with delicious treats: seasonal fruit baked cheesecake, traditional scones, or dark chocolate brownies.
Early rising coffee drinkers love the meticulously cooked old time Irish porridge with strawberries, or the sweet scones served with butter and home-made jam or cream, especially on cold wet winter or early spring mornings.
Etaoin’s sister, Aoife, is the wonder cook who has contributed hugely to the success of Fennelly’s.
She was a top notch chef at a major hotel in Melbourne, Australia, and is now making waves in Callan, where she attended school in her childhood.
Praise is also due to the hard working staff whose dedication helped to create a wonderful café that has put Callan back on the map.