Once a year, a group of old friends meet in Co Galway, and it was at one such evening two years ago that an idea met an opportunity, and Ireland’s first and only charcoal company was born.
Irish Artisan Charcoal, which made its debut at last week’s Local Enterprise Village Ploughing 2017, is co-owned by Colin O’Loan.
O’Loan had studied science in what was then RTC Galway, but felt it wasn’t for him. It was 1999, he had been accepted into the Garda but when he got the call to train in sales with Renault, he chose that and spent the next decade selling cars. “Then came the downturn and in 2009 myself and my wife were about four weeks back from our honeymoon and the garage closed.”
Their first child was due in March 2010 and he went to work for a different car firm. “When you work all your life, you just want to get back out there. I did six or eight weeks in another dealership and it was real high-pressure selling and I had nightmares for about two years afterwards.”
His wife, who was still working, encouraged O’Loan to relax and consider what he wanted to do. He took over caring for their baby and started working several evenings a week in Sheridan’s Cheesemongers and Wine Bar in Galway. “It was nice and relaxing, and I was seeing all these…