Kerry chocolate factory reopens


A YEAR after a fire destroyed it, Europe’s most westerly chocolate factory, the Skelligs chocolate factory on the edge of the Atlantic in south Kerry is back in business – in time no doubt for the annual showings of Willy Wonkaand Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.The factory, situated in St Finian’s Bay overlooking the Skelligs Unesco world heritage site, is also in the heart of the Iveragh Gaeltacht and has become a tourist attraction in its own right.

The decade-old artisan chocolatier supplies some of the leading stores here and abroad, including Harvey Nichols, Avoca and the Kilkenny chains.

However, when fire destroyed the main production area last year, the important Christmas market at the Skelligs and Cocoa Bean Chocolate company also went.

“I’m glad we have come through this. It has been tough but all our old customers are back, even individuals who have ordered from us each year,” Colm Healy, its owner, said this weekend.

Mr Healy was on a marketing trip in the US when he was told of the fire.

The factory, which employs over a dozen people in the production unit, has now been rebuilt and is three times the size of the original.

“Every cloud has a silver lining. It gave us an opportunity to expand,” Mr Healy said.

An on-site shop including a cafe is to open in the spring.

The company has won several taste awards and offers over 60 varieties of truffles, some of which can take up to a week to make.

Mr Healy, a Dublin native, said the year has flown, but it has been eventful. He has married a Kerrywoman, Nickie Stephens from Milltown, and they are expecting their first child in late spring.