What a year we have had a SOLAS garden centre. If we didn’t write it all down we probably wouldn’t believe we have achieved so much in just 12 fast months.
Below is a month by month guide, Year in review through our action packed year of 2022!
- Monthly Craft Markets: Since these were launched in February of this year the markets have been sell out events which have attracted huge crowds
- February saw a significant upgrading of the Car Park
- March: Saw a 10-Day St Patrick’s day Festival @ SOLAS with the arrival of ‘Spin City’. This truly wonderful event was so successful, we have plans to make it an annual event in the years to come.
- Car Boot Sales: proved hugely popular with 50 exhibitors it drew a crow of over 2,000 people to SOLAS
- Clothes Swap: Has been run on 2 occasions and proved a huge hit each time with almost 1,000 items of clothing being dropped over for each event
- The Book swap corner: This permanent and free facility in the Food Court and indoor café has proven a huge hit with children and adults alike
- Retractable roof on the Food Courtyard – this was only completed in February 2022 and is truly the architectural gem at the heart of SOLAS – take a bow Johnny Bracken and his team of skilled fabricators
- The Cosy Café: With a capacity of just over 50 this café has proven to be a huge boost to SOLAS by offering a 7 days a week ideal spot to meet up for coffee, sandwich or a treat
- Food Manager extraordinaire’: March 2022 saw Caoilfhionn Byrne join the team. In her 7 months @ SOLAS, Caoi transformed the food menu, the tableware, the décor and helped to design out the Cosy Café. Most importantly Caoi convinced ‘Blow-in / now a local’ chef Allan Hendry to join our team.
- June saw the launch of the SOLAS food and gift shop. And our first batch of SOLAS honey went on sale in our shop just metres away from where our busy bees created it
- July saw the visit of the French Embassy to SOLAS for the French festival celebrations and the unveiling of the 440 sqm mural with that all important 3m high French speaking Blue-White-&-Red Rooster!
- August saw the launch of this very website. we would like to say a Big Thank You to Ryan Hoey for all the great work on our branding and website design
- September saw the launch of ‘SOLAS Education for second level schools’ which lists a total of 12 courses for schools to attend with a focus on ‘Food, The Environment and Business’ see https://ecogardenshop.ie/education/
- October saw the Camera crews arrive as RTE TV came down to shoot ‘Budget 2023’ from the farmers’ market in SOLAS
- October also saw the launch of the ‘Moo-Cow’ milk and glass bottle dispensing machines inside the farmers Market.
- Halloween – saw a haunted House, stocks for the family photo and 300 strong pumpkin patch and sold-out Pumpkin carving events.
- November saw more TV coverage as the SOLAS food court featured in RTE’s ‘What Planet are you on?’ – as it was a case for ‘Love at first sight’ when the programme producers called into SOLAS for a coffee and saw it as an ideal backdrop for an environmental TV show
- November also saw SOLAS win the ‘Start Up/Emerging New Business of the Year Award’ at the Laois chamber of Commerce awards 2022.
- Santa arrived in town complete with a grotto, woodland walk and ‘Alpha the Alpaca’ with his sidekick ‘Sean the Sheep’. A total of 1,300 children got to meet Santa and his elves over the festive period.
- December also saw the completion of the ‘Seomra’ events room which being rent for use for yoga, dance classes, training events and meetings
I am exhausted just listing all the new features, events and improvements we have made this year. The constant sense of excitement and progress is central to the ethos of SOLAS, we never stop striving to be better. We believe so passionately about what we are doing here. Sure, it a business and it comes down to money, but we believe SOLAS has the potential to transform the economic and cultural landscape in Portarlington and Midlands in general.”
Finally, the Management and staff at SOLAS would like to thank their loyal customers for their support in 2022 and we look forward to seeing you in 2023.