Wild Atlantic Way Adventures is a family-run business nestled in stunning Tullagh Bay, Co Donegal.
We spoke with owner Catherine Devlin about the benefits and challenges of running a family business in the North West of Ireland.
Be prepared to be motivated and inspired by this family’s can-do attitude.
Tell Us About Your Business
Wild Atlantic Way Adventures is nestled in Europe’s finest coastal landscapes, known as The Wild Atlantic Way.
We offer Adventure, Heritage, Language and Activity packages combined with on-site group accommodation.
We are a family-run business offering safe and fun adventures in a sustainable manner in a pristine natural environment.
We work in partnership with Ireland’s most experienced English language teachers and qualified adventure sports providers to provide a vast range of activities.
All of our activities are based in the Inishowen Peninsula the adventure sports capital of Ireland. This is where Malin Head is located the most northerly point of Ireland also the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way.
It’s rugged and liberating, allow yourself to be drawn by the constant rhythm of the ocean’s roar and the consistent warmth of the people. Here you will find the Ireland you’ve always imagined.
Why are you located in Donegal?
This is where both myself and my husband have grown up. We have lived here all of our lives.
We love living on the Inishowen Peninsula.
Our family and friends are here. This is such a warm, friendly and safe environment to bring up a family.
We both worked in Fruit of The Loom and after this we took over my husband’s family farm.
When did you start your business and what inspired you to do this?
We started our original business Tullagh Bay Equestrian Centre in 2012 because as a farming family we were struggling in this hard economic climate.
We were looking to build a future for our family and also create a business that would enhance the tourism facilities available in the local area.
We love living here in Tullagh Bay Clonmany. Inishowen is truly one of Ireland’s most beautiful and unique hidden gems, it has so much to offer from a tourism perspective. From its stunning and beautiful beaches to rolling hills directly beyond.
What were your start-up costs? How did you get the money, and what did you use it for?
The start-ups cost were derived from a combination of our own savings and funding we obtained under the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) 2007 – 2013.
With this money we developed the Indoor Equestrian Centre, developed our website, purchased signage and marketing material to support the business.
With the success of this business we took the decision and expanded the operation and became a full Adventure Centre. We have invested further this year from our own savings to add group accommodation units at the centre, a new website for Wild Atlantic Way Adventures and marketing video.
Where is your market? How have you targeted international markets?
Our market is both national and international. We have a number of different market segments that we are targeting.
With the introduction of the Wild Atlantic Way we have experienced an increase in our customers coming directly from tourism.
We are promoting ourselves within Failte Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way by attending trade fairs supported by Failte Ireland.
We also focus on the Youth Market and Education Sectors both nationally and internationally.
How long did it take you to get everything your business off the ground?
Our business has been open since July 2012. The equestrian side of the business has been successfully growing year by year over this period of time.
The introduction of the on-site accommodation and the additional adventure activities during 2015 we believe has left us in a good position for a very successful 2016 and future years to come.
How do you continue to grow and learn?
Our Local Enterprise Office and Failte Ireland have run a number of very beneficial business and marketing courses that we have attended.
We have upskilled on social media and all the benefits that it can bring to your business. The power of social media can never be underestimated.
We live by the philosophy that every day is a learning day and welcome the knowledge that can be obtained by keeping abreast with technology, business and marketing.
How do you promote your business?
We promote our business on a number of different platforms. We have a very strong website and marketing video.
We not only promote our business we also promote the natural beauty, culture and heritage of this pristine natural environment we are blessed to be part of.
If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
We would not change a thing if we had to do it all over again. We never look back. Every single experience both good and bad are moulding us into the people that we are now.
Our kids are learning and developing every day being part of this growing business. They are actively planning what they are going to do in the business.
For us this is very rewarding to have them by our side. We are encouraging them to travel and broaden their experiences but believe that they will return at some stage to their home in Tullagh.
What do you love most about being your own boss? What are the drawbacks?
We love the fact that we are doing something we enjoy with the knowledge that we are building a future for our family. We love the freedom that comes from running your own business, it allows us to be creative in our strategy for the future. We love the challenges of making things work and we obtain a great sense of satisfaction when we are all working together as a family within the business.
We are the ones that are in control of our business growth. We strongly believe that if we work hard at what we do, we will achieve all of our goals.
The drawback of course are that there is no such thing as nine to five or a forty hour week. If there is work to be done then it has to be done.
What advice would you give to anybody thinking about a life in the North West?
The North West is a tranquil place to live. The lifestyle is good, the pace of life is good. This is a healthy and safe environment to raise a family.
A beach and some pretty inspiring countryside, with many unique and stand-out historical and geographical features are never more than ten minutes away.
Touring along the Wild Atlantic Way will reveal some of Ireland’s finest scenery with some new discovery every few miles.
Check out what Wild Atlantic Way Adventures has to offer in this stunning video showcasing the best Inishowen has to offer.
Find our more about Wild Atlantic Way Adventures here