Betty Smith

Betty SmithBetty Smith

A Taste of Irish Spirit is a Bandon based small business run by Betty Smith. They produce two flavours of marmalade, infused with Poitín, the traditional Irish spirit. A third new product, a  lemon marmalade is on the way. Established in 2012, Betty now supplies to 25 SuperValus in Cork, independent stores, hotels, cafes and restaurants.

“Some years ago, my husband and I, got involved with the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind by fostering pups for their first 12-14 months. One of these pups became a qualified guide dog and went to work in Dublin with a visually impaired lady. About six years passed until the lady passed away and we were asked if Kassie could live with us. Kassie joined our growing canine family.

Unfortunately,  Kassie developed cancer and though she bravely endured several operations, we had to say good-bye. We lost our dog but gained a vet's bill which as old age pensioners we could not meet.  A loan from the Credit Union took care of our debt but gave us another. Cash had to be found! 

The old saying- Necessity is the mother of invention was never truer than that day I looked round the house. I saw a tin of orange pulp and a bottle of Poitín bought the summer before in Killarney. The idea of blending the two was a eureka moment but again the cash problem presented itself. We gathered a load of collectables from the attic and sold it at car boot sales.  That gave us money for jars, orange pulp and Poitín and I was set to go. Except I knew very little about business.

Soon after, an advertisement appeared for a course run by then West Cork Enterprise Board (now the Local Enterprise Office Cork North & West) – “Start your own business programme". I signed on and was gripped by the business world. After that one, another course was advertised - "How to start your own food business". I was enthused and could hardly wait to get my marmalade out there.

Thanks to the Local Enterprise Office, I knew what to do to create a marketable product. Then came the Food Academy programme, run again by the Local Enterprise Office, Bord Bia and SuperValu. That proved to be magic and the retail world was there to explore. I cannot say enough about how the Local Enterprise Office put forward opportunities for emerging businesses, like mine. There are seminars, networking events, financial supports and food forums.

At the Cork & Kerry Food Forum 2015 (organised by the Cork & Kerry Local Enterprise Offices, Cork County Council, Cork City Council, Bord Bia and Musgraves), there were awards in the ambient, chilled and frozen food categories. A Taste of Irish Spirit claimed the ambient award and also the overall award of the show.

This year, March 19th saw A Taste of Irish Spirit claim the Silver Award in the World Wide marmalade competition held each year in UK for entrants from every country.

I owe thanks to many who I have met along my adventurous trip in the business world, but I know I could not have gone so far and done so much without my Local Enterprise Office. My advice to anyone thinking of starting their own business is to contact your Local Enterprise Office.