Griffin’s Bakery, one of the oldest bakeries in the west of Ireland, looks set to close when the building it occupies in the centre of Galway is sold early next year, writes Hugh Oram.

The bakery occupies a prime high street location and a guide price of E10 million has been put on it for the sale by tender at the end of January.

The bakery employs 27 people, full-time and part-time. All its breads, including Irish batch, Irish soda bread, baguettes and rye bread, are made without additives or preservatives. It uses a sourdough system, with a long fermentation time, baking in a stone-soled oven. Griffin’s also does a wide range of confectionery products.

The business was set up as a wholesale concern in Galway in 1876 by John Griffin and moved into retailing in the current premises, which are owned by the third generation of the Griffin family, Anthony and Eithne. One of their sons, Jimmy, runs the business. He explains: “My parents, who are elderly, want to realise the value of the buil-ding.” The bakery needs investment, and that pedestrianisation of the area has caused problems, he adds. “It’s becoming impossible for bakeries to function on the high street any more. It has long been a problem in the UK, but I never thought I’d see the day when the same thing happens here in Ireland.”

Rates have also increased substantially and it is becoming increasingly expensive to employ people, adds Mr Griffin. He says that if the building, which is a protected structure, is sold, it will depend on how long the purchaser takes to get planning permission for any redevelopment as to how long the bakery can operate. But he concludes: “We’ve no immediate plans for relocating the bakery and it is an awful pity.”

The bakery has won many prizes. In the European Bakery Championships in Denmark last year, the Irish team, coached by Jimmy Griffin, won silver.