Presidents Report – April

This is my second and final year of being president of the association and what a great honour it was, that I welcomed the eighth annual Connaught Regional Finals of the Irish Restaurant Awards to my hometown of Sligo.

A fantastic evening was had at all of the regionals, but I’ll be slightly biased and say I really enjoyed the last of our regional Irish Restaurant Awards event. Restaurateurs from all over Connaught descended on the picturesque town of Sligo. The Radisson Blu Hotel hosted the celebrations and the turnout was phenomenal. The venue reached capacity and the buzz in the Benbulben suite was electric. Well done Sligo! I think there will be stiff competition for hosting the Connaught awards next year. The final winners of these county and regional categories will be announced on May 16th at the All-Ireland awards – a night which I know we are all looking forward to.

I would like to acknowledge the success these awards have had in the last few years. This is down to you as members, your enthusiasm, commitment and dedication as restaurateurs to the food industry. This year, the Irish Restaurant Awards has seen the biggest number of nominations cast. Over 70,000 individual public nominations helped decide the county nominees and winners. These are the Islands biggest and best restaurant awards. They are the Food Oscars and have grown from strength to strength over the past five years. May I take this opportunity to wish you the very best in achieving acknowledgement and accolades for doing what you do so well, and remember you are only as good as your last service!

On a personal note I would like to extend our thanks to our media partner, The Irish Times, for their on-going support  and to all our new and existing sponsors who travelled the country with myself and team RAI. Please try to support them wherever you can. With their help, we have been able to increase the scale and quality of the awards so thanks again.

On a slightly different note growth is occurring across the country, particularly in the capital and tourism hotspots – but parts of the country haven’t seen this yet. We as restaurateurs have contributed to the recovery of this country while keeping our businesses open. Our new government needs to respect this and show our industry the support it well and truly deserves over the next five years. So please keep talking to your local TDs and let’s make our industry and business sector grow. Let’s educate them at every opportunity on issues we face in running a business that continuously absorbs certain financial burdens that hold us back. We have a fantastic industry and we must take pride and ensure that our voices are heard by all parties.

Local branch meetings have been taking place throughout the country. I have attended some and please accept my apologies for the meetings I have missed. As fellow restaurateurs I hope you understand it is not always possible to get away from the day job. At a local level these meetings are a great networking event and also an invaluable source of information as to what is happening locally in our industry.

The first Golf outing will take place in Corrstown Golf Club. I was recently elected as the new IRGS Captain at the golf AGM so I am also busy finalising five other exciting venues which will be announced shortly. With membership at just €99 and special discounts for RAI members, it really is great value. It looks likely to be a very exciting year for all golf fans.

To join the RAI golf society, please download a membership booking form here and return with payment details to or 11 Bridge Court, Citygate, St. Augustine Street, Dublin 8 at your earliest convenience. New members welcome. I would encourage new and existing members of the RAI to join us at our first event on Monday 11th April at Corrstown Golf Club, Co. Meath. Tee Times are from 11.00 am -12.10 pm followed by dinner at Corrstown Golf Club. Price is €60 per person which includes Golf and Dinner (Format SSF)

Call the office on 01-6779901 or email to book your Tee Time.


Anthony Gray

President of the restaurants association Ireland.

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