BY SIOBHÁN CRONIN
IT was a busy week for Ahakista’s celebrity resident Graham Norton, who performed two high profile functions in the area, and also won some top awards for his gins.
There was great excitement in the village on the Friday night when the BBC presenter was joined by local rugby heroes, Fineen and Josh Wycherley, as he hosted the annual fundraising community quiz.
Raffle prizes on the night included two tickets to a recording of the BBC’s Graham Norton Show, won by local couple John Joe and Karen Bowen, and the ever-popular ‘meal for six’ cooked by local PP Fr Galvin, won by Niamh Goulding and her partner Amy DeMarco, who have a house in the area.
On Tuesday morning, Graham interviewed Rowa managing director Brigitte Wagner-Halswick, to mark the Bantry pharmaceutical firm’s 60 years in the town.
At a recent West Cork Literary Festival interview, the best-selling novelist also admitted that he was attempting to write some of his third book while at home for the summer in Ahakista. But this week a new career was hinted at, when Ms Wagner-Halswick referred to supporting Graham’s ‘art’. At the time the German pharma boss was speaking about the Bantry Hospice project, of which Norton is a big supporter. ‘Please continue to support us,’ she urged him, adding: ‘And I will support your art.’
And later in the week it was announced that the presenter’s range of gins had scooped top awards in a blind tasting.
Two of his gins, both born in Skibbereen, took gold and silver at the prestigious Gin Masters 2019 competition in London recently.
Judged alongside industry peers, Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin scooped a coveted gold medal, while his popular Graham Norton’s Own Pink Gin landed a silver award.
In a hotly-contested competition, over 300 of the world’s favourite gins were presented to the experts.
Created in collaboration with West Cork Distilleries on the Marsh Road in Skibbereen, Graham Norton’s Own Irish Gin is a combination of juniper and coriander, with hints of locally foraged rosehip, fuchsia petals and gooseberries, rounding off the special blend of 12 botanicals.
The award-winning gins are currently available at SuperValu, O’Briens, Carry Out, Spar and also at a number of independent off-licences nationwide.