Laois Nationalist – SOLAS – French success, good food and fame at last

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The first ‘SOLAS French Festival’ was a huge success – beautiful weather, huge crowds, wonderful French music, history lectures and of course the unveiling of a new 440 square meter mural by Julien Bouchez, Counselor at the French Embassy.

SOLAS co-owner David Maher explains: “The Saturday of the French Festival was just a magical day here. John Carey (co-owner) and I just beamed with pride as we saw how wonderful SOLAS looked and how all the different elements here – the farmers market, the food court, the plants, the art and the events – all worked so well together. The fact that the French embassy delegation originally planned for 1 hour and ended up staying almost 4 hours speaks for itself. Our dream here has always been to create something really great to put Portarlington and Laois on the tourist map and last weekend was an important step in that journey.”

SOLAS events and news

  • SOLAS owner David Maher was featured in the Times newspaper last Sunday and in Tuesday’s UK edition of The Times
  • SOLAS is among the garden centers featured in the Autumn issue of Irish Garden magazine. This publication is the bible of Irish gardeners and is directed by gardening legend Gerry Daly. The issue is scheduled to appear in August 2022.
  • SOLAS has been selected to be part of an upcoming RTE-TV series on sustainable living…more on that later
  • Finlay’s Fresh whole milk will make its debut in SOLAS in August with the launch of the ‘Moo Cow’ range of milks and shakes in 500ml and 1 liter reusable glass bottles. Can not Hardly Wait

SOLAS food

For the weekend is the featured dish

  • Caprese Salad – Tomato Mozzarella Basil Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar on a Ciabatta and a Pulled Pork Chimichanga

Note that a major milestone was reached last week when for the first time of the 3 sections that make up SOLAS (#1 Plants, #2 Store and #3 Food), our Food Court was the largest income generator. Bow to Chef Allan and Food Manager Caoilfhionn along with the food staff.

SOLAS events


This Sunday the 24thth In July ‘Holistic Health Care’ will host their first ‘Sound Meditation’ course at SOLAS. This 1-hour meditation course costs €20

Contact details for Joan and the holistic team as well as online booking can be found at

book exchange

Book Swap Corner – Join the circular economy by bringing some beloved but read books to expand the free book swap corner in the food court. All books are welcome, but especially children’s books and those with a strong gardening or eco theme. This corner is “self-managed” and is designed to encourage a love of reading and sharing.

swap clothes

The SOLAS handicraft market on Sunday 7th In July, we’re hosting our first “Clothes Swap” event. This provides an opportunity to bring unwanted high-quality clean clothes and exchange them for something that suits your fashion needs. To be a part of it, contact Georgina at [email protected] or just come out with as much Gucci on the day as possible!

Weekly farmers market

  • This Saturday 23rd July there will be a busy market from 10am to 2pm with our range of baked goods, fresh meat, fish and organic beef. As always, the focus of the market is on fresh, regional and organic. We’re updating our in-house Farmers Market bulletin board to provide advance notice of who to expect from our team of stallholders.
  • Our new “Artisan Food Shop” and craft shop is currently under construction and will open on August 1st, 2022. This will be another big step forward on our journey to becoming a destination for all things organic, gardening and quality food.

SOLAS – Plants

This week our ‘Pot Alstroemeria’ is the focus. These make large blooms that will make a focal point in your perennial border or simply grow in a pot when space is limited. Pot alstromias return year after year, just remember to move the pots or dig up the bulbs before the winter chills set in. This product is only available in store. As always, our gardening team (look out for the green “I’m on the planting team” tips!) will be happy to help and advise you

SOLAS deal

Our featured shop product of the week is our 100% cotton ‘Solas Eco Garden Shop’ reusable tote bags. Designed by local brand guru Ryan Hoey, this bag is what we’re all about – eco-friendly, cool and local

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