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Relatively Speaking: We chat to partners Sean and Ramune

By Kerry McKittrick

Sean and Ramune Farnan own The Moody Boar restaurant in Armagh, which is currently taking part in the city's first ever Restaurant Week. They live in the city with their three children, Caoimhe (9), Grainne (4) and Vaiva (3).

Name: Sean Farnan

Age: 34

Occupation: Head chef, The Moody Boar

Relationship to Ramune: Husband

When Sean and I started planning to open our own business we went to as many business courses as we could - that was important for me to do so I could learn the right English vocabulary. There were plenty of courses available for new businesses and young people back then as it was before the recession.

There was so much going on in the south at the time - it was very hard to start a new business, especially when you didn't have much experience - that opening a restaurant up here seemed like a more sensible idea.

Our eldest daughter was almost two when we opened Priory House. She was in a creche during the day and in the evenings we would take it in turns to look after her, plus we had a lot of help from Sean's family.

Moving to Armagh to open The Moody Boar was a good move and I am really enjoying it. We work very long hours but at the same time we get to come home to our kids and that makes it worth it. It's testing but we make it work - so long as we're very well organised.

At the moment we're still trying to settle in. There's a very strong sense of community here and we've had a lot of support from Armagh council. Northern Irish people are very welcoming, too.

When I met Sean it was like finding two halves of the same whole. My dad was really excited when I brought him home because he was the first - and last - guy I've ever brought to meet my parents. Sean was a little scared, though. It was a new country for him and all his friends kept winding him up and telling him he was going to be shot by a Russian.

Now Sean always comes back with me whenever I go home to Lithuania. I come from the countryside, too, and we have our own traditions.

Sean is very open to trying new things, he goes hunting with my dad and is always trying to learn about the different dishes and flavours there are in Lithuania. He brings them back here to use in the restaurant.

Name: Ramune Farnan

Age: 33

Occupation: Front of house manager, The Moody Boar

Relationship to Sean: Wife

I trained at catering college in Armagh before spending time in Dublin working in a hotel and a vegetarian restaurant.

After a while I felt a bit burnt out - working in kitchens means very late nights and very early mornings. I decided to take a step back for a while and started working as a truck driver.

That was when I met Ramune on a night out, about 10 years ago. I hadn't even wanted to go out, but a friend of mine had dragged me out to a place that I would never normally go to. I saw this girl on the other side of the dancefloor who was a head taller than everyone else and she looked different.

She was over here from Lithuania on a student visa and our first dates were accompanied by an English-Lithuanian dictionary as she only spoke about 100 words of English at the time.

After finishing her degree in hotels and tourism back home, Ramune returned to Dublin, but we began to talk about what we wanted to do together. As we both come from a hospitality background, opening some kind of restaurant or cafe seemed like a good idea.

We hadn't planned to open in Northern Ireland as we were living in Dublin at the time, but with my family living close by we decided to pack our things and open a little restaurant called Priory House on the Priory Estate in Tyrone.

We ran our restaurant there for five years - it was even featured on the BBC's Northern Exposure programme with Gary and Danielle Lineker.

Then two years ago we opened The Moody Boar, using traditional British and Irish ingredients but applying French and European cooking styles to them. It's been more of a challenge this time round as we're juggling three children. There are a lot more staff and more customers to deal with but it has an exciting buzz around it.

Working together was a learning experience for both of us, but we learned how to use our individual strengths and make them work for the restaurant.

Event serves up feast for foodies

  • Armagh Restaurant Week is running until this Saturday, November 8, and offers food lovers an exciting opportunity to sample local hospitality at its very best
  • The week features specially designed theme menus, food promotions, cookery demonstrations, entertainment and more
  • For details on the restaurants participating, visit www.armagh.co.uk/food

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