Aiden Leonard has been named as Best Restaurant Manager in Galway at the Connaught Restaurant Awards.

The black-tie event, which was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa in Sligo, celebrates the best of the restaurant industry in the five counties of Connacht, from restaurants, chefs, and gastro pubs to cookery schools, cocktail masters, and local food heroes.

Mr Leonard, who manages McHugh’s Traditional Pub and Restaurant on the Tuam Road as well as Peggy’s Bar, Lounge, and Restaurant in Corrandulla & The Red Gap in Barnaderg said the news of winning this award had not registered with him yet.

“Shocked is the best word for it,” he said. “The news hasn’t really sunk in yet. I wasn’t able to attend the awards so my friend who was there took a screenshot with my name on the award and he collected it as well, so it was a great surprise.”

Although the award is an individual one, Mr Leonard says it is one that represents all the work put in by the staff at his restaurants.

“It is an award for the staff to share in. McHugh’s hasn’t been open too long so to receive an award like this is a testament to how hard the staff have worked. Without their efforts and hard work, I wouldn’t be able to perform my job to the standard I want. Hopefully, there will be an opportunity where I can take them out to celebrate the award because, in my opinion, it is a team award.”

The award will now see Mr Leonard go forward to the next stage where he will be up against the Best Manager winners of the other four counties for a chance to represent Connacht at the 2019 Irish Restaurant Awards.

McHugh’s Traditional Pub & Restaurant thanks customers for their support since last June and looks forward to seeing them over the rest of the year.