West Living Case Studies
Roscommon Case Study: Deirdre Cunningham
Deirdre Cunningham describes herself as Owner, Manager and Instructor of Coothehall Adventure, which she established in 2000 just outside Boyle, Co Roscommon.
A native of Dundalk, Co. Louth, Deirdre says “I had no connections with the area, but I was in search of a better life style and I have certainly found it here in Roscommon. A lot of artists have settled here. The cost of living is lower; the pace of life is slower. You can escape urban advertising and the mind is free to think independent thoughts”.
“I run the Outdoor Activity Instructor Training course and train students to qualify for work in Adventure Centres and to go on to do degree courses in Third Level Colleges. Every year more and more people hear about what I am doing and want to train with me; the students enjoy the course as it opens up a whole new life style to them”, she explains.
Deirdre has also seen growth in corporate business in recent years; “The business of taking groups on adventure is growing thanks to word of mouth referrals. I have taken on various projects for other companies, sports groups, scouts and National Governing Bodies to promote outdoor adventure to schools and youth groups. From these contacts and the regional need for these activities - word of mouth continues to spread. I don’t think about money; I think about a quality life style, quality instruction and I enjoy what I do. I face the challenges that this presents and the money comes later!” Deirdre adds philosophically.
Deirdre currently employs 4 people on a part-time basis and she is very positive about the growth prospects for the business over the coming years. “I think my experience would have been different if I were located elsewhere”, she explains. “I believe that a business will survive if there is a need for what you are offering in the area and, here in Roscommon, I identified a need for an outdoor adventure business and now I am fulfilling that need.
“Working from home, overheads are manageable and I don’t need a huge amount of money to cover them. The general cost of doing business - things like security, services, waste collection etc. is lower here and although we have to tighten the belt and be careful about spending just like everyone else within the current climate, the business has not been adversely affected. Because my overheads are lower, I can afford to give my customers a better price and they naturally appreciate the value for money!” says Deirdre.
The local infrastructure is perfect for Deirdre’s needs and the needs of the business. “The public bus network provides very inexpensive transport to Dublin and all over – which is important for the profile of many of my younger customers” she says. “The trains are more comfortable now and although we don’t currently make much use of Sligo Airport which is just a 45 minute drive from us, I do believe it will be an advantage to us in terms of saving time in the future”.
Deirdre lives rurally, just 3 miles from the nearest town and her students travel from a radius of 30 miles. Amongst the key benefits of living in Roscommon, Deirdre cites the local community. “The western people are helpful and honest. We moved west without any prior contacts and integrated really well with the local community. People are sociable and have a natural curiosity to get to know you”.
Deirdre highly recommends a move to the West of Ireland and her advice to those thinking of making the move is simple; “Research the move. Success is 99% planning. There are a lot of niche areas of business that would benefit the west and as a result could thrive here. A business that is based on customer demand will have a better chance of survival. Start small. Work from home. Be sociable”.
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