Looking West: Moving Back To Ireland After Living And Working As An Engineer In Australia

By slcontrols

The start of the last decade was a time of upheaval in Ireland. The global financial crash was practically all that was in the news and, like other countries, Ireland was hit hard. One of the immediate outcomes of this was that people in many industries chose to move abroad for career reasons.

Roll forward 10 years to today and Ireland is a very different place. The economy is strong again and there are industry-wide success stories across a range of different sectors.

However, part of the hangover from the 2009/10 financial crash remains as there is a pool of Irish talent that is no longer here. They moved away roughly 10 years ago, and many continue to work in their new adoptive countries.

Many, but not all, however, as there are some who are now looking to return to Ireland. They are returning for their careers, to raise a family, and to be back home.

Alan Loughlin is a Validation Consultant. He currently works out of SL Controls’ Sligo office, delivering solutions for pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the North West of Ireland. A short time ago, however, he was doing a similar job in Australia, so his story mirrors the description above.

Becoming An Irish Expat Engineer Down Under
Alan, a NUI Maynooth computer science graduate, worked for SL Controls for almost six years in the mid-2000s. When the Irish economy was hit by the financial crash, he started to look at his options and decided to go travelling.

He travelled around various countries in Asia before ending up in Australia where he lived the standard backpacker’s life – seeing as much of the country as possible while doing various jobs (including fruit picking) to fund the next stage of his travels.

In terms of his career, he was open as to what to do next but then an opportunity came up in Sydney to work in his chosen profession again – validation engineering. He spent a short time in Sydney before moving to Melbourne to do a similar job for a consultancy company that served the Australian pharmaceuticals sector.

Alan’s employer helped him obtain a visa to stay and work in Australia, giving him the opportunity to get further experience, expand his career, and see more of the country in the process.

Ireland Calls
While in Australia, Alan met his wife, Arita, and the couple had a son. Alan said this opened up a whole new chapter in his life.

“Your perspective changes when you have a family,” said Alan. “Your needs change over time.

“I loved Australia. The country, my employer, and the career opportunities I had were all very good to me, but when you have a family you start to miss Ireland a bit more. It’s being away from your extended family and not being able to spend time with your wife and son together with the rest of your family because they are back in Ireland.

“In terms of family, we were on our own in Australia, so we didn’t have that support network that exists when you are back home. This was a big selling point for coming back to Ireland – that support network, plus the fact Ireland is a great place for bringing up children.”

The Move Back
In making his decision, Alan also looked at how Ireland had changed since he left the country eight years previously, noting how it had gone from strength to strength, particularly in relation to the pharmaceuticals sector.

Alan said: “What’s great about Ireland is it’s a real melting pot for multinationals. This provides priceless experience for engineers as there is so much of this industry here.

“When you travel abroad you realise how lucky Ireland is to have this on its doorstep. It’s a great asset to have.”

So, Alan started looking for job opportunities back in Ireland, something which many engineers who left during the late 2000s and early 2010s are also now doing.

For Alan, he chose to take up a position with SL Controls in Sligo.

“When I did start looking back towards Ireland,” Alan said, “I did get a lot of job offers from places like Dublin, Cork etc, but it was great that SL Controls has such a presence on the western seaboard. SL Controls serves so many clients in the West and North West of Ireland that there are opportunities for engineers who want to live and raise a family in this part of the world. It ticked all the boxes for me.

“The company was also a massive help with the relocation and move back to Ireland, making that part of the process go really smoothly for us.

“It’s also really great to see how far SL Controls has come in the period of time I was away. The company has expanded and moved into other areas, including overseas, and I was impressed with the vision and direction the company is heading.

“I was also impressed with SL Control’s focus on innovation as this is a factor when looking for another career step.

“All these things were attractive to me and helped with the decision Arita and I took to move back to Ireland.

“It’s different here, of course. Everyone talks about the weather, but it’s not good to compare the two. For me, I feel lucky to have lived in both countries and I’m looking forward to a future of continuing to advance my career while living and raising a family in Ireland.

Courtesy of SL Controls 

kieran overstock

Meet the Overstock Team in Sligo: Kieran McGowan – Senior Software Engineer

Kieran Mc Gowan could not have expected that he would find himself working at the forefront of blockchain innovation in Africa from a desk in his home town of Sligo.

After joining the Overstock.com team just over a year ago, Kieran transitioned to its subsidiary Medici Land Governance (MLG), a Medici Ventures keiretsu company, where he is spearheading projects to transform land governance in Zambia and Rwanda.

Overstock has long operated on the cutting edge of technological innovation and its CEO Patrick M. Byrne is determined to fully explore the potential business and societal benefits of blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin.

Byrne identified six pillars where blockchain technology could be used to create a technology stack for civilization– Currency and Central Banking, Voting, Identity, Capital Markets, Land Titling and Supply Chain.

In May of 2019 MLG signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lusaka City Council (LCC) that will lead to the issuance of no fewer than 250,000 certificates of title related to real property under the jurisdiction of LCC in and around the capital city of Zambia. One of the fastest growing cities in southern Africa, Lusaka has a population of at least 2.5 million in its metropolitan district.

Through MLG’s blockchain technology, Byrne is addressing poverty in developing countries by enabling people to use blockchain technology to create a paperless land registry. In Rwanda, MLG is using a secure blockchain-based way of establishing land ownership that will allow the owners to treat their land as an asset, raising credit against it, or being able to borrow money to invest in it.

This blockchain technology will allow people to improve their economic well-being by securing their property rights and enabling them to enter the formal economy.

Remarkably, this transformation is led by Kieran and a team of programmers at Overstock’s European base in Sligo. Initially, Kieran travelled to both Zambia and Rwanda to catalogue requirements before building a team in to carry out the projects.

Overstock and MLG encourage their programmers to be innovative and explore the uses of the latest technology. Having this level of autonomy was a significant selling point for Kieran when he decided to join the MLG team.

Sligo’s prime location was another attraction. He was able to buy a house without having to compete with hundreds of other buyers and he is no longer commuting in crammed carriages on the Dart or enduring long drives home. He can enjoy the best of both worlds – the relaxed environment of his home town and the freedom to innovate using the transformative potential of blockchain technology.

tech life ireland 3

Kieran will be speaking at the IDA Ireland Tech Life Balance event at The Building Block on Thurs, 30 May as part of Blockchain Ireland Week.

Find out more on how to attend this great event or watch it live via our Facebook page.

martin mcgeough firefly

Brexit Case Study: Martin McGeough, CEO of Firefly in Sligo

‘How Brexit has made me innovate’

Martin McGeough of Firefly says Britain’s departure from the EU has opened his eyes to new possibilities for his business.

“Brexit made us sharpen our focus, that’s for sure. But it has definitely made us innovate,” says Martin McGeough, the CEO of Firefly, a Sligo-based company specialising in Podiatric Biomechanics and Orthotic Therapy.

Firefly’s customer base is spread across the UK and Ireland which means the business exports its products and sells a lot in sterling.

That means the pricing model is closely tied to the fluctuating fortunes of the British currency – and the political machinations at Westminster can have a real impact.

But Martin sees Brexit as an opportunity, not a negative pull on his business which makes custom-made foot orthoses – for sale to podiatrists, who in turn give them to patients with ankle, foot or hip problems. The firm also specialises in providing related therapies to treat people of all ages.

martin mcgeough firefly“Luckily, our products do not attract tariffs but we ship through Northern Ireland which is a logistical consideration. However, I genuinely do not believe there will be an issue for us.

“As a first step, we wrote to all our customers and gave them the reassurance that we expect little to change and told them we would absorb any extra costs that may emerge. It was important to give them that confidence.”

Firefly, which employs 25 people also provides crucial therapy and training to ensure the patients get the best possible benefit from the products it supplies.

The company is a highly respected innovator and market leader – in 2017 it brought 200 of the UK and Ireland’s leading podiatrists to Sligo for an industry summit.

“Our mantra, ‘keep moving’ is what we preach at Firefly,” says Martin. “That’s why we see Brexit as providing the impetus to keep developing, innovating and growing.”

With Brexit fast approaching, Martin is convinced that the business can withstand any bumps in the road and he has exciting plans to expand Firefly’s business to other markets and with new services – such as revenue from education and training.

Brexit, though, did make him think closely about how Firefly does business.

“We looked at how we price and what we do. In terms of innovation we asked ourselves could we create an educational revenue stream? So, for example, we looked at Pakistan as a potential new market.”

Pakistan, explains Martin, has a population of over 200 million people, of which 25pc are affected by diabetes.
That causes a lot of health complications, with obesity putting pressure on joints – ankles, feet and hips – which means there could be a massive new market and demand for Firefly’s products, therapy and training.

Firefly may soon also be making its products closer to home. The company currently has products manufactured in Vancouver, Canada and in Indianapolis and California in the United States.

“A direct-spin off from Brexit was making us think about the entire supply chain and we now have plans to bring our manufacturing to Sligo, using the latest commercial-standard 3D printing technology.”

For Martin, Brexit has meant a chance to refocus his business – and prepare for the future. “It’s about being ready and getting in front of the issues before they become problems. We’re looking forward to some great years ahead.”

More at fireflyorthoses.com

Patrick Quinn

Meet the Overstock team in Sligo: Patrick Quinn – Development Manager  

Patrick Quinn is enjoying a life he couldn’t envisage when he moved to Dublin in 2006 with a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Limerick. The Tourlestrane native moved back to Sligo in 2014 to take advantage of something he once thought would never be an option the opportunity for high tech work in the North West of Ireland.

Now four years working with technology firm Overstock as Development Team Lead, Patrick takes great satisfaction from the fact that Overstock and other companies are enabling people from the region with technology qualifications to pursue their careers in the North West. With his wife also from south Sligo, a move back home was always on the wish list, but it remained an aspiration until the arrival of Overstock altered the employment landscape. Trading a two bedroom apartment with a balcony in Dublin for a four-bedroom house with an acre of garden close to family and friends made perfect sense ahead of their eldest child starting school.  The couple wanted to raise their children with the same quality of life and sense of community that they enjoyed when they were growing up.

Patrick says: “We love the positive impact being active in our vibrant local rural community has had on our quality of life. It’s about those chance meetings, the community groups, the interpersonal relationships developed, the rural turn of phrase, the rural spirit – it’s special, it’s fulfilling.”

Although Patrick enjoyed living in Dublin, where he worked for Deloitte, he now savours the opportunity to combine a rewarding and challenging career as part of Overstock’s leadership team while having time for family life, playing hurling for his local club and coaching youth teams.

As a Development Manager on the partner side of Overstock’s e-commerce operation, Patrick and his colleagues devise solutions that help Overstock’s thousands of partners to improve their products and target improved sales. He came to his current role with plenty of experience, but Patrick says he is always learning at Overstock where staff are free to explore use cases for different technologies in an environment where innovation is encouraged.

He acknowledges that being exposed to a huge diversity of the latest technology is unusual and a huge boon to the North West not least because graduates from the region can now choose to build a career without having to move to Dublin or even further afield.

Overstock is Recruiting in Sligo:

Check out the roles Overstock is currently recruiting in Sligo for in our Jobs Section.

lucia macari

Meet the Overstock Team in Sligo: Lucia Macari – Development Team Leader

As a member of the leadership team at Overstock, Lucia Macari shares a common goal with her senior colleagues as the company looks to quadruple in size to continue delivering high-quality software while maintaining a genuine work-life balance for all Overstock’s staff.

And Lucia knows a thing or two about the benefits of work-life balance and how difficult life can be without it. Originally from Dublin, Lucia’s career in software after gaining a degree in Computer Information Systems from Trinity College Dublin saw her crisscross the globe as she worked in such diverse locations as Sweden, Germany, Finland, Japan, and Canada before returning to Dublin, meeting her future husband and jetting off to work in New Zealand for 18 months.

Working in the tech sector in Wellington, the pair embraced an active outdoor lifestyle that they simply could not replicate when they returned to Dublin and started a family. Although they had great jobs, the absence of a good quality of life amid the demands of living in Dublin meant something had to change, and they decided to return to New Zealand. However, while standing on Streedagh beach in her husband’s native Sligo, they realised that they could have what they wanted without traveling halfway around the world. So, they moved to Sligo in late 2005 determined to seek out a better life for their family and haven’t looked back since.

overstock jobs sligo

Initially, Lucia worked three days a week in Dublin, but they still enjoyed a much better quality of life than when they lived there. And, only a few years after the move, the opportunity arose for Lucia to take up a high-tech role with Overstock when they opened their only office outside of the United States.

One of the original seven Overstock staff in Sligo, Lucia has seen that grow to more than 50 employees and further expansion is on the way. Lucia is involved in various initiatives as part of the leadership team responsible for growing the Irish office. As Development Team Leader, Lucia guides the team through successful project delivery using the agile framework Scrum. She is also in daily contact with product owners to ensure the team is developing the right product in the right way.

Overstock is Recruiting in Sligo:

Check out the roles Overstock is currently recruiting in Sligo for in our Jobs Section.

david kenny overstock

Meet The Overstock Team in Sligo: David Kenny, Director of Software Development and Site lead Ireland

David Kenny – Director of Software Development and Site lead Ireland

‘Career progression’ is important to David Kenny, Overstock’s Director of Software Development and Site lead Ireland. For him, that’s what a technologist gets when he or she joins Overstock a technology company brimming with opportunity. “We want to attract people who are looking for high-quality work and a high-quality lifestyle” says David.

If you can match that with a workplace that offers solid career progression which increasingly matters to people, we think that’s a pretty unique selling point for us here in Sligo.”

David is himself from Sligo, hailing from Ransboro under the shade of a stunning mountain and local landmark called Knocknarea. He went to university in Limerick and Galway. With international IT experience under his belt including stints at ING in the UK and Netherlands as well as working for global banking giant HSBC, he set up Overstock’s Ireland office in 2013.

“We started with a suitcase full of laptops, a company credit card and a bunch of great ideas. The growth has been very pleasing to a point where we are on track to have a staff of over 120.”

David says Overstock’s vision is to develop its Sligo base as a centre of excellence in software development by adding high-end, quality roles. The roles include backend, frontend, full stack, architecture across the Fintech, Supply Chain and E-Commerce domains. The company is hiring at various levels from junior to senior in areas such as software automation testing, machine learning, and data analytics. Overstock offers all of its employees’ career progression as well as opportunities for continuous learning. David adds: “Our mission is to continue developing cutting-edge, disruptive technology.”

With Overstock working across online retail, blockchain and other disruptive technologies, the future is an exciting one for the Irish teams in Sligo, a place of majestic beauty dubbed by some travel writers as Ireland’s ‘adventure capital’. David and his staff are frequent visitors to Sligo’s surf spots while the Overstock office itself in the heart of a spectacular urban park ringed by mountains and the famed Lough Gill. Ireland’s national poet WB Yeats found inspiration among the waters there. It’s an exciting place for younger people as well as those with families.

“We set the bar pretty high for recruitment we love being able to offer that cutting-edge tech work environment and Sligo’s natural charms which allows people to enjoy life inside and outside of work.“

At Overstock, we go above and beyond to deliver. I guess that’s what we are all about creating great solutions for the company as a whole and a great environment or the people who work here.”

Job Opportunities:

Check out the roles Overstock is currently recruiting in Sligo for in our Jobs Section.


Fergal and Kevin Quinn, HensandStagSligo.ie

The Quinn family is well known in Sligo for their entrepreneural spirit and Fergal Quinn is no different. Fergal and his brother, Kevin, got their first taste of running a business when they were teenagers and helping out in the family businesses, which now includes The Embassy Steakhouse Restaurant, Lola Montez niteclub, Hen and Stag Sligo, a snooker hall and three pubs (the Bourbon Bar, the Belfry and Kennedy’s).

However, initially Fergal decided to pursue a different career. After studying Maths and Economics in Trinity College, he worked with Deutsche Bank in London before coming home to Sligo in 2000 to work in the family business. He had a few great years in the nightclub, pub and restaurant during the boom times, but after the recession things began to change. This encouraged Fergal to add a new business-generating wing – a hen and stag party booking service – to the family business. Fergal and his brother Kevin set up henandstagsligo.ie

In May 2014 and it has since established itself as a one-stop-shop for hens and stags coming to the North-West.

1.     Can you tell us where you live now and why you like it?

I live in Sligo now after spending nearly eight years between Dublin and London. I was born here and moved to Dublin for college when I was 18. It’s a great town with loads to do for those who like the outdoors. I am a keen mountain biker and there are lots of great trails all over Sligo. I also enjoy running and it’s great to have two fantastic beaches less than 10 minutes away where I can run.

From a business perspective, there is a lot of ‘working together’ here which is great to see and probably a lot more than a few years ago. The economic downturn was a great catalyst to get people collaborating on events and projects that would bring people in to town so that we all benefit. We have numerous great festivals each year like Sligo Summer Festival, Strandhill Surf Festival and the Yeats International Summer School to name a few.

2.     When did you start your business and what inspired you to do this?

Our core business was started by my parents over 30 years ago and has grown to now include three bars, a restaurant, snooker rooms and a nightclub. Myself and my brother Kevin run the day to day business now and we started the website Hen and Stag Sligo henandstagsligo.ie back in 2014.

The pub and nightclub business has changed quite a bit over the past decade and we were looking for new avenues to generate business. We noticed that some towns like Carrick-on-Shannon and Westport weathered the downturn a bit better than Sligo due to them being quite popular hen and stag destinations. Sligo was not seen as a ‘go to’ destination for this market but we knew it was perfectly positioned to capitalise here given the huge amount of activities you can do in the adventure capital of Ireland.

 3.     What were your start-up costs? How did you get the money, and what did you use it for?

Start-up costs were about €20,000 and it was financed through our main business. We used this primarily for the front-end website, back-end database systems and payment processing. The website is where all the content is and it’s our shop window for the customer, so we had to make sure it was designed right. We were conscious of having the right content to attract customers and the right structure for search engine optimisation.

We also had to design a bespoke database system that managed all our bookings. This is probably the most important spend for us as it contains every single piece of information relating to our bookings from accommodations to meals to transfers. We got a company in Pakistan to build this system. Lastly, we have a system to manage the online payments for all our groups. This has proven really popular with our customers as it really takes the hassle out of collecting money from everybody going on a hen or stag party.


4.     Where is your market? How have you targeted international markets?

Our market is primarily Ireland and Northern Ireland. We get about 50% of our business from the Northern market and 50% from Ireland. It used to be slightly higher from the Northern market but I think the recent move in the value of sterling may have impacted here. Our target market is really about 150 miles radius of Sligo so it’s great to be able to target this exact area on both Google and Facebook.

We are considering targeting the UK market, particularly the cities that fly into Ireland West Airport which is only 35 minutes away from Sligo. Once again online advertising makes it quite straightforward to target all the major cities that have routes to Ireland-West.

5.     How long did it take you to get your business off the ground?

Our first year was 2015 and it was really a case of learning the business. We were fortunate that bookings started as soon as we launched the website and have being growing since. In our first year, we would have had some weekends managing 100 people coming in to Sligo. We thought this was a lot at the time. This is now a quiet weekend for us and we hope to be bringing 400-500 people in on peak weekends this year. We have had extremely strong growth from the start and the first quarter of 2018 is looking like it’s about 50% percent ahead of 2017, so the momentum is continuing.

6.     How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful?

I always had a strong interest in computers. My undergrad in Maths included some programming courses which came in handy. However, the biggest part of the hen and stag business is customer service which is the same foundation as pubs and restaurants. We are in the business of customer service as we try to ensure the customer experience with us is fantastic from start to finish. It’s the fundamental principle of the service industry – we work very hard on ensuring our customers are happy.

7.     How do you promote your business?

Since our business is online, it is natural that most of our marketing efforts are focused online. Our two main advertising platforms are Google and Facebook. We had a small amount of radio advertising in the past, but we now just focus online. We probably use Facebook more for brand awareness and Google for the more targeted advertising. The combination of both are best for any online business.

8.     If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?

There is a huge amount of support for new business and it’s something we weren’t fully aware of in the early days. We have taken on employees through the JobsPlus programme and developed software solution with assistance from the Local Enterprise Board. We have also had huge support from Sligo Leader for a large marketing campaign. There is a huge amount of support out there – I wish I knew about this at the start.

9.     What do you love most about being your own boss? What are the drawbacks?

I suppose the fact that it’s easier to run with your ideas rather than get them passed by someone else. Drawbacks are higher stress levels and it can be difficult to switch off.

10.  What should happen in the West of Ireland to support self-employment / entrepreneurship?

Financial supports are an obvious area that helps business. We have got a lot of support from various bodies which has really helped us develop our business. From a business owner based in the North West of Ireland, I think the single most important issue is infrastructure. Whether it is for attracting new business to the area or attracting tourists to our town, Sligo requires a motorway from Dublin.


11.  How does the cost of living in Sligo compare with where you previously lived?

It’s definitely a lot more affordable in Sligo compared to Dublin or London. Property prices are much more affordable here. It’s gone mad again in Dublin and it’s very difficult to get a foot on the property ladder. There’s loads of great properties in Sligo.

12.  What are the main advantages and disadvantages of relocating / living in the West in terms of working and living?

The main advantage has to be quality of life. Commute time to work is nearly non-existent and there is a huge amount of things to keep the work-life balance in sync. While the scope to scale a business within the pub/club scene is clearly greater in big cities, I think the business is more personal in smaller towns like Sligo. It’s also great to be able to finish work and be out surfing or mountain biking within 20 minutes.

13.  How do you find accessibility to where you live and access to public transport / road networks / airports?

There is no doubt accessibility to Sligo needs improvement, particularly the road network. The train link between Dublin and Sligo is good but there is scope to re-introduce the Western Rail Corridor. Ireland West Airport is a huge asset to the area and it really opens up the UK market to Sligo – we just need to advertise effectively to capture this market.

14.  Why do you love Sligo? What are your top tips for any visitors to where you live? 

I love going out on a Sunday to Strandhill. It’s a really popular area with some great pubs/restaurants/walks and they have a fantastic market every Sunday in one of the hangers of the Airport.

Surfing at Strandhill

15.  What advice would you give to anybody thinking about a life in the West?

If you have an opportunity to move back to the west, I would definitely highly recommend it. For me, Sligo has some fantastic opportunities and a real vibrancy about it. We have an incredible Institute of Technology that is expanding every year and a host of great primary and secondary schools. We’ve a newly built centre of excellence for GAA and a great Rugby Club that has numerous players representing Connacht. There is an endless amount of things to do for the adventure enthusiasts like surfing, mountain biking and coasteering – it’s easy to see why Sligo is known as the Adventure Capital of Ireland.

For more about Kevin and Fergal’s business, visit henandstagsligo.ie


Creative Entrepreneur: Tríona O’Donnell, Jewellery Designer TRíONA

TRÍONA is a new Irish design brand encompassing a life-long appreciation of Irish craft and design, and a commitment to quality craftsmanship.

Inspired by life along the Northwesterly edge of Ireland, where the beauty of rugged landscapes and seascapes dictates her daily musings and adventures, TRÍONA works with a community of like-minded designer-makers, creative trailblazers and collaborators to bring you designs du dernier cri.

Founded by Creative Director Tríona O’Donnell, a keen linguist and educator, the Sligo native has spent time travelling the globe to far-flung places like South America, Africa and Europe, collecting inspiration and ideas. Read more

Prannie Rhatigan

Prannie Rhatigan, Irish Seaweed Kitchen

Prannie Rhatigan is a medical doctor with a lifetime experience of harvesting, cooking and gardening organically with sea vegetables. Born and raised in the North West of Ireland where she still lives, she has a lifelong interest in the connections between food and health.

She holds a BA Honours degree in psychology ( NUI Galway), a medical degree, (NUI Cork) and is a qualified General Practitioner. She has worked on the National Cardiovascular Strategy programme and represented the Irish College of General Practitioners on the National Steering Group for the implementation of “Smoke Free at Work” in Ireland. She was a tutor with the ICGP for many years, training GPs in the skill of Brief Intervention and Motivational Interviewing. An experienced GP she now works mainly in Public Health.

Hailed as “Ireland’s leading seaweed expert” in Food and Wine in June 2012 she has represented Ireland’s finest food abroad on many occasions and has given workshops and lectures on sea vegetables and cooking. She delivered the President’s address to the PSA (Phycological Society of America, Seattle) in 2011 and facilitated a workshop on seaweed cooking with seaweed researchers in the USA. She shared her knowledge and gave a seaweed cookery demo at the Nordic Food Lab in Denmark when it was the research arm of Noma (awarded Best Restaurant in the World on three occasions). She has been featured on many TV and radio programmes both nationally and abroad. Read more

Barry Mottershead

Barry Mottershead, Sligo Kayak Tours

Sligo Kayak Tours is a small, locally-owned and operated business which strives to be an industry leader in sustainable tourism.

Owner Barry Mottershead grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. His life revolved around the outdoors and the ocean and at the age of eighteen he came to Ireland on a surfing holiday and fell in love with the culture, waves and scenery of Co. Sligo.

He has lived in the area for 10 years and is passionate about exploring the coastline and mountains that are on offer. An enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable attitude makes Barry the perfect guide for your sea kayaking adventures. Barry is also a big wave surfer, he is a regular fixture at Mullaghmore and the local reef breaks of County Sligo.

Barry Mottershead joins our schedule of Creative Entrepreneurs speaking at SeaFest. Barry speaks on Friday, 30 June at 3pm.

Read more