A Day at Dublin Zoo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VszWsaztL_k I’m not a huge fan of zoos, since I usually find them depressing, but I must say we had a very enjoyable outing to Dublin Zoo a few days ago, and I would rate it highly.

It was during the Queen’s visit, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves, except for a couple of families and one group of school girls. My brother was there with his kids in the summer when it was busier, and he still enjoyed it, so perhaps crowds wouldn’t make much difference. For us, the weather was sunny, the strolling was pleasant, and Róisín had a great time. So, if you have some time in Dublin and a love of animals, it’s worth a visit.

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Elderflower Champagne Sorbet?

I have this idea to bring elderflower champagne sorbet to Bloom in the Park, so today I went picking elderflowers! Sara, who will soon open Murphy’s seasonal shop in Tig Áine kindly offered up her elderflower trees, and the flowers are now fermenting in two containers in production. Fingers crossed it turns out OK! If it does, I’ll be sure to post a recipe!

A Flurry of New Ice Cream Shops?

One thing I know about this recession: everybody seems to want to open up an ice cream shop.

In the past years, I’ve had the odd request in terms of advice for starting an ice cream shop, and we’ve had a trickle of requests of people who wanted to franchise Murphys in Ireland. This year, I’ve been getting about three requests for advice a week from people who want to open ice cream shops, and we’ve quite a few people wanting to buy our ice cream for proposed new shops.

Somehow, it seems a lot of people think opening ice cream shops is the thing to do at the moment. Is it?

The market for scooped ice cream, according to data supplied by Bord Bia, is €5 million/year. That might sound a lot, but if you compare it to the estimated overall Irish ice cream market of €120 million, it’s a not a huge amount. Divide €5 by the number of scooping cabinets in Ireland, and you’d get a pretty low average turnover.

The fact is that Ireland has a very small, diffuse population and cold rainy weather, and for those places where there are tourists, the season is generally short. How all of the people who contacting us think they can make money at it is a bit of a mystery to me. Could Westport, for example, support the three people who have emailed me saying they’re going to open shops? Or could Galway support five? Could Wexford support four? I’d be amazed.

Take it from me – running retail ice cream shops in Ireland is not an easy business. I love what I do, but there are many things I could do that would earn me a far better living. If you love ice cream and wish to make a life of it, best of luck! If you want to get rich quick, I’d suggest finding a more lucrative alternative.

If you want advice, here’s what I’d say – make sure you do your homework and are certain there’s a business there before you get started. Also, you’d do well trying to find out who else is opening an ice cream shop in your town, because if our contacts are anything to go by, there are bound to be at least one or two…