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    Áine Maguire

    Portrait of Aine MaguireChampioning honest Irish food and Irish foodways | Westport, Mayo

    Áine Maguire is a graduate of English and Sociology, but growing up in Newport, Mayo she was instilled with a love of eating and an appreciation of seasonality as “just part and parcel of the way things were”. Her father was an avid fly-fisherman and an excellent cook. Their meals included local brown trout, sea trout, salmon and crab, but also curries. Despite the ‘huge impact’ of summers working at Newport House, which introduced Áine on one hand to the ethos of using everything around you, but also to ‘exotic’ items like wine, truffles and blue cheese, cooking simply “wasn’t considered as a career”.
     
    But having gotten involved in her ‘second love’ of theatre and lost some money on productions, she spent a summer working in a friend’s pub on the Aran Islands making lunches and came to the realisation that this was what she wanted to do. She went to Ballymaloe Cookery School to train and on to gain experience in the Caribbean and France, before returning to Ireland to work at Delphi Lodge and then the Winding Stair, “a restaurant that was very much of its time and place, about Irish food done in a simple, honest way”.
     
    Having lost this job and a subsequent job to the economic downturn, she decided to take up the ‘recession-proof’ position of private chef to the British Ambassador to Ireland for four years. After this and some further time working in restaurants, catering and consultancy in Dublin, she started to look for her own premises in Westport.
     
    The Idle Wall opened in 2015 in a lovely old cottage on the Quay in Westport. Here Áine’s commitment is to cook Irish food that is grounded in ‘reality, simplicity, honesty’. She and her team are working on a number of ‘sustainability’ and culinary projects for the restaurants, including developing a roof garden and growing mushrooms using coffee grinds. Áine is passionate about the culture of food and Irish food heritage and over the past year and a half has been collecting recipes from women in their 70s and 80s.