Kells native Oliva Duff was announced as the deserved recipient of the prestigious Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) annual Mike Butt Award in honour of her exceptional contribution to the Irish Food & Tourism Industry.
Outgoing RAI president Mark McGowan presented the Mike Butt Award, named for one of the organisation’s founding members, at a recent ceremony in Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny. Mark praised Olivia for her “passion for developing the local area from producers, suppliers and food service level which is unparalleled… and unbelievable way of inspiring business leaders and bringing people together in making the Boyne Valley a regional powerhouse of Irish food.”
In addition to being a respected hotelier who is renowned for her innovative ideas (the Headfort Arms introduced a Takeaway Menu and added an online shop to its website during the Pandemic - to mention just two initiatives), Olivia has also been a huge supporter of local food and drink producers for numerous years. She has served as a Fáilte Ireland Food Champion, been involved with the award-winning Boyne Valley Food Flavours campaign since its initiation and was shortlisted for the Blas na hÉireann Producers’ Champion of the Year 2022.
Olivia also runs Maperath Farm near Kells alongside her husband Eoin Sharkey. The couple - who have three young children - rear turkeys and geese on their free range and sustainable farm.
Accepting the award, Olivia stated: “Thank you so much to Mark for presenting me with the Mike Butt award for my contribution to the Irish Food and Tourism Industry. I am so humbled and proud to receive this. When I look at the list of previous recipients, there are huge shoes to fill and much work left to be done. My passion for the Irish Food Story and belief in its journey are fuelled by the amazing people that I have met along the way who share the same values and the capacity to amplify and support each other; together is always stronger.”
Congratulations to Olivia.