wdc strategy

Western Development Commission’s new five-year strategy ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ launched in Galway

Growing and developing the West of Ireland by investing in tech, connecting digital working hubs, and promoting the region’s unmatched quality of life, is at the heart of the Western Development Commission’s new five-year strategy ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’, which is launched today.

Under the strategy, almost €50 million in structured supports will be offered in investment and lending to companies and businesses, with a focus on innovative or tech businesses that are developing or have the potential to develop a global niche.

Speaking at the launch today in Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Sean Canney TD, also announced that €1m in Dormant Accounts Funding will be made available to create a network of Enterprise Hubs and Digital Spaces from Co Donegal to Co Kerry.

The centres, powered by fibre broadband, support the growing trend towards remote working, community hubs, and offer a lifeline for early stage rural-based companies and entrepreneurs

The Western Development Commission’s ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy will build on the growth of remote working and facilitate innovation within a globally competitive region that offers a quality of life that’s among the best in the world.

The strategy has three pillars; Regional Promotion, Regional Leadership and Sustainable Enterprise, with short-term, medium and long-term goals.

  • Regional Promotion will focus on the further development of the WDC’s jobs and lifestyle portal called lookwest.ie and engaging with communities in Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal
  • Regional Leadership will see the continuation of WDC policy analysis, supporting the Creative Economy and the WDC’s role as co-ordinating agency for the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) project, set out in Project Ireland 2040. The AEC covers the spine of Ireland’s western coast that includes the counties from Co Donegal to Co Kerry
  • Sustainable Enterprise will take a longer-term view, continuing to invest in new ideas and build on the success of the Western Investment Fund, the on-going promotion of Social Enterprise and over a ten year period working with higher education institutions, other agencies and departments to identify one or two sectors that will deliver a competitive advantage for the region at a global level.

Minister Canney revealed today that the WDC has grown, through investment and lending, the original state investment of £25m (€32m) in the Western Investment Fund to a current portfolio value of €72m. The organisation now has €48m of that fund available for investment and lending across a number of areas.

A key goal of the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better strategy’ will be to take a ’10-year view’ by investing the €48 million in the Western Region in early stage businesses, micro-loans for communities and significant investment in one or two key sectors – which can build a competitive advantage for the region.

The new €1m fund for Enterprise Hubs and Digital Spaces will help raise the profile of the hubs, the work they do and a build a single online point of access for public, private and community hubs along the Atlantic coast. The fund will also help Centre Managers to grow the business, learn from each other, offer clear routes to further supports and, in the longer term, build a pipeline of innovation in communities.

Commenting today, Minister Canney said: “I welcome the opportunity to launch the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy on behalf of the Western Development Commission. In particular, the establishment of the Atlantic Economic Corridor offers a significant opportunity for both the region and the WDC to grow and meet the needs of communities all along the Atlantic seaboard. I want to acknowledge the commitment and engagement of the Board and staff of the WDC in taking on this new role. This new strategy offers a clear opportunity to raise the profile of the work the WDC does for the west, in the west, and is to be welcomed.”

Chair of the WDC, Dr Deirdre Garvey, acknowledged the role played by those who engaged with the WDC in creating the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy. “This process has been very helpful in ensuring that the WDC continues to deliver for the Western Region, meeting the needs of key stakeholders, but ultimately the needs of those who live in the West, and seek to ensure that they can offer a future of equal, and greater opportunity for the next generation.”

Speaking at the launch, Western Development Commission CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin, said: “Regional development is a priority issue. In the context of significant technological change and the need to move to a low carbon economy, it’s vital that we ensure balanced development as we grow to 2040. This strategy acknowledges the work of the WDC team to date and sets out a clear ambition to position the region as global leaders in one or two key areas over the next 10 years.

“These projects are of vital national importance and the WDC welcomes the opportunity to play a key role in making these goals a reality. These goals can be achieved through continued collaboration with communities, as well as with State and industry in the Western Region. Work Smarter, Live Better aligns with the Government’s broader ambition as set out in Ireland 2040 and in particular the Atlantic Economic Corridor.”

wdc strategy

More on the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ Strategy 2019-2024  at https://www.wdc.ie/about-us/wdc-strategy/


Five EU Regions Come together to Create an International Business Mentoring Solution for Local West of Ireland SME’s

Minna Järvinen, Corporate Communications Officer at Finnish Business mentors, was in Galway to share the expertise of supporting over 1,400 clients in 2018, to access mentoring services in her native Finland with attendees from the West of Ireland and beyond.  Minna was speaking as part of the launch events for the Bizmentors EU funded initiative launched by the Western Development Commission (WDC) and SCCUL enterprises in the historic Aula Maxima in NUIG.

In 2018 the WDC and SCCUL were successfully awarded EU funding to develop and pilot an SME mentoring support project with partners from Finland, Iceland, and Northern Ireland. The project is a three-year (2018-2021), transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) with a total budget in the region of €1.3m. It is aimed at supporting SME growth in the NPA region through accessible, open access, tailored mentoring for businesses. “For the WDC it is intended that the EU Bizmentors project will result in a novel capability to provide Trans-national, bespoke, mentoring to allow our SMEs to both survive and indeed thrive”  said Ian Brannigan , Head of Regional Development at the WDC.

For more details on the NPA, see www.interreg-npa.eu

Annette Hassett, Bizmentors Programme Manager for SCCUL Enterprises CLG, stated:
This is an exciting step for Bizmentors from humble beginnings based on the East Side of Galway City with a focus on the Galway area to this collaboration across 5 EU regions providing trans-national business mentoring solutions”.

The development of such a transnational offering to local SME’s is the main deliverable. Such a model compliment’s existing national mentoring models and is intended to facilitate mentoring for even the most peripheral SME’s in the region

The BizMentors model, developed by SCCUL, has been proven to support individuals and businesses in a community setting in Galway since 2012. It relies on the local support of established business people to provide free guidance to those seeking it in a structured and low cost way. To test the new model, the partnership will focus on the Agri-Food sector. Having identified 587 existing businesses in the partner regions initially, the project will support end users to take advantage of the unique natural capital, innovation capacity and markets that remains untapped in the region. The mentoring model developed will be piloted in each region participating in the project

The project in the West of Ireland is implemented by the Western Development Commission and SCCUL enterprise CLG.





Project Officer Vacancy at the Western Development Commission

Purpose of Post (Fixed Term Contract)

Blue Circular Economy (BCE) is a new project which is funded under an EU transnational Interreg programme called the Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (NPAP) 2014-2020.
BCE aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) offering products and services within fishing gear recycling solutions in the NPA region to attain a greater market reach.

Building on the network developed under Circular Ocean (2015-2018), the project will set up a multi-level cluster to connect and catalyse SME’s in the region. The cluster formation will be used as a hub, multiplier and network enabler where knowledge and experience is developed and shared, while adopting an inclusive gender-equal approach.

The cluster establishment and operation will be done in collaboration with academia, industry and government agencies following a triple helix approach. BCE will therefore contribute to sustainable development in the NPAP region at the economic, environmental and social levels.

Key Responsibilities

The Project Officer is a newly created fixed-term post for the duration of the EU Interreg funded BCE project.  The position will last for a limited time period for the duration of the project and reports to the Head of Regional Development.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is responsible for two Work Packages (WP) in the BCE project:

  1. Clustering
  2. Communications

The WDC is also a partner in other work packages and will contribute to other project activities.  The two WP’s that the WDC will lead, and other work package participation, account for a large percentage of the total project budget and workload.

The following are the main tasks to be undertaken by the BCE Project Officer:


  • Implement the Communication Strategy which defines the methodology & protocol for internal and external communications of the project and the three year action plan.  The communications strategy will ensure that project partners disseminate its main messages and results to beneficiaries, citizens and stakeholders.
  • Measure, review & report on the effectiveness of Communications Strategy
  • Create an internal & external communication support platform across the partners
  • Build on the existing Circular Ocean approach and transition towards B2B models of engagement to raise awareness
  • Develop promotional material, website, social media channels and publications, including project reports, project newsletters etc.
  • Organise events, training, and workshops for internal and external communications
  • Adhere to EU and mandatory programme publicity requirements
  • Oversee production and financing for quality, professional communication tools
  • Identify risks associated with communication activities


  • Lead the Clustering work package, with the Norwegian partner, NTNU.  Develop one large scale, one small scale and one overarching Innovation cluster.
  • Leverage expertise that exists across the partnership
  • Secure further resources from stakeholders in Ireland
  • Conduct regional investigations & development in Ireland
  • Build partnerships & stakeholder networks in Ireland, Norway & across the partnership
  • Prepare reports on the cluster development, with a view to policy contributions.
  • Investigate the economic development opportunities for fishing net recycling with SME’s in Ireland
  • Facilitate the sharing of knowledge share by drawing on the lessons learned from Norway


  • Prepare NPAP reports & funding updates
  • Draft policy documents
  • Prepare & give presentations
  • Administer procurement process for service providers where applicable
  • Organise and host at least one partner meeting and coordinate attendance at other partner meetings
  • Participate in monthly project conference calls, partner meetings and internal communication forums
  • Project monitoring & evaluation
  • Completion of all project claims, project reports and deliverables
  • Please note that this post will involve international travel.

Key Requirements

  • Experience of successfully submitting project claims to EU funding bodies
  • Experience of developing and maintaining robust record keeping and filing systems
  • Excellent organisational skills, ability to schedule tasks and meet on-going deadlines
  • Ability to work as part of a team and to use own initiative
  • Excellent interpersonal and communications (written, verbal and presentation) skills with good attention to detail
  • Experience of using modern digital communication platforms to manage and promote projects e.g. Social media channels, Websites, Webinar platforms, Dropbox etc.
  • Ability to support and interact with a diverse project team in order to achieve common goals
  • Preferably a Level 7 NFQ qualification (an Ordinary Bachelor Degree see https://www.qqi.ie/Articles/Pages/National-Framework-of-Qualifications-(NFQ).aspx for more information) in a related discipline, or equivalent experience.
  • Preferably 3 years’ experience in a similar role
  • Proven track record of working autonomously
  • Willingness to travel intermittently in support of the project

Desirable Experience

  • Previous experience of EU co-funded projects
  • Previous experience or demonstrated interest in the project subject area
  • Proficiency in MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint
  • Interest in learning from other regions and countries


This post is a full-time, fixed term contract to 30th September 2021, subject to a six-month probationary period.

The WDC Head Office is in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon. WDC staff are also located in Galway and Sligo. The successful candidate may seek to be located in Roscommon, Galway or Sligo in line with the remote working policy of the WDC.

The salary scale for this post will be equivalent to that of the Civil Service Executive Officer Standard Scale:

 Personal Pension Contribution (PPC) Pay Rate: The salary for this position, with effect from 1st April 2017 is as follows: €29,609, €31,329, €32,460, €34,364, €36,071, €37,720, €39,364, €40,974, €42,600, €44,181, €45,812, €46,891, €48,427, €48,4271 €49,9602

Please note: The starting salary for the person appointed to this post will be the first point on the above scale unless the successful application has previous reckonable public sector experience.

To Apply

Please clearly state the project name and role you are applying for in the subject line of the email, submit a cover letter and CV (of no more than four pages) detailing your experience, qualifications and any other relevant information, to:

Patricia Teatum, Head of Corporate Resources, WDC, Dillon House, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon or careers@wdc.ie  

 Applicants can also apply through www.publicjobs.ie

Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday, 1st April at 5:00 pm

Interviews will be held during the week commencing 8th April 2019.

The WDC is an equal opportunities employer

                                               Canvassing will disqualify                                                     

Ba bhuntáiste é líofacht sa Ghaeilge


Leitrim’s Lena’s Tea Rooms wins Bronze at the World Marmalade Awards

Deirdre O’Connell, of Lena’s Tea Room, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim is celebrating this week as her Pink Grapefruit and Cranberry marmalade won the Bronze Award for “Marmalade for Savoury Food” at the prestigious World Marmalade Awards. The ceremony took place over the weekend at Dalemain Mansion, a stately Georgian home on the outskirts of Penrith, in Cumbria, England.   Founded in 2005 by Jane Hasell-McCosh, the World Marmalade Awards seek to preserve and expand the tradition of making marmalade. The Artisan Awards promote small scale marmalade makers using the open-pan method and the winners were decided by an esteemed panel, which included Pam Corbin (River Cottage) and Dan Lepard (The Guardian). Deirdre was one of two Irish winners of the Artisan section of the awards.

Lena’s Tea Room is a vintage inspired tea room in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Every Christmas, Deirdre prepares a limited quantity of festive chutneys, preserves and dressings that are sold exclusively in Lena’s Tea Room. For Christmas 2018, Deirdre decided to prepare a Pink Grapefruit and Cranberry Marmalade, following an interesting recipe she discovered. This is only the second time Deirdre has tried her hand at making marmalade.

“I thought The Pink Grapefruit & fresh Cranberry marmalade was a quirky recipe and that it could be lovely for breakfast or could go well with dark meats such as duck or pheasant”, said Deirdre. “As a small business, we can make only small batches and this marmalade is no exception. Before it sold out completely, I reserved two jars to enter into The World Marmalade Awards.   And It was a spur of the moment decision! To win an award is absolutely amazing and a huge honour. This is especially more so as in two weeks myself and my 8 team members – who are the best people to work with – will celebrate 8 years since we first opened the doors at Lena’s Tea Room”, explained Deirdre.

Lena’s Tea Room is a vintage inspired tea room, where all goods are made and baked on a daily basis.  Over the years, Lena’s Tea Room has accumulated numerous accolades, among which Goodall’s Best Scone in Ireland Runner Up – 2015 and Today FM ‘Best Café in Ireland’ – Overall winner – 2014. The Pink Grapefruit & Cranberry Marmalade is available to purchase in Lena’s Tea Room.

st patricks day

Top 10 Things To Do In The West For St Patrick’s Day 2019

It’s one of the biggest days in the calendar and a day for Irish people at home and abroad to celebrate our culture, identity and heritage.

But St Patrick’s Day is so much more than that.

We give you the rundown on the ‘Top 10 Things to do in the West of Ireland this St Patrick’s weekend’. 

1. Sunrise and Pipe Bands (17th March)

For traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day festivities there’s no place like Achill on the rugged west coast of Ireland. In many villages on Achill there is a tradition of pipe bands, and on St. Patrick’s Day these colourful and compelling bands play a central role in celebrations.

From a 6am reveille, the bands march for most of the day – surely one of the longest St Patrick’s Day parades anywhere. For visitors, a thoroughly enjoyable day can be had following the Achill pipe bands, pausing for refreshments of course and taking time to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Achill Island. In the evening, traditional and modern entertainment is offered in many of the local hotels and pubs.

This schedule allows visitors and spectators to join the bands for a while and then to explore Achill’s other attractions – for the active visitor these include watersports, golf or hillwalking, while for the more relaxed visitor there are always the restaurants and bars to enjoy.

Celebrate Ireland’s national day in traditional style, and follow Achill’s pipe bands on their annual parades.

2019 Schedule:

8.00am – Dooagh Pipe Band starts. Molly’s, Keel West.
8.00am – Keel Pipe Band starts. Minaun View Bar, Keel.
8.30am – Pollagh Pipe Band starts. Dooagh NS, Dooagh.
8.45am – Dookinella Pipe Band starts. Achill Head Hotel, Pollagh.
9.00am – Afreann Gaeilge (Mass in Irish). St. Patrick’s Church, Pollagh.
10am – all bands play. St. Patrick’s Church, Pollagh.
10.30am – begin march from Pollagh to Dookinella.
12noon – Mass @ Dookinella Church.
1pm – bands play individually, then collectively. Dookinella church. Bands then commence march back to their own villages.

>> AchillTourism.com

St Patricks Day

2. Galway’s St Patrick’s Day Parade  (17th March)

2019 marks the 117th anniversary of the Galway St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The iconic fountain in Eyre Square will even turn green as part of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.  The Parade will start at 11.30am and finish at approximately 1.00pm.

This year’s route is changed to previous years. The Parade will start at 11.30am from NUIG and wind its way down University Road, over Salmon Weir Bridge, up Eglington Street street, and past the viewing stand in Eyre Square finishing at approximately 1 pm on Bothar Na mBan.

Macnas will be bringing their magic to the Galway St Patrick’s Day Parade for 2019. Macnas Artistic Director is delighted to showcase next generation Macnas; the Macnas drumming troupe aged 15 -19 which will be led, under the stewardship of Éimhín Cradock and Debbie Wright, will perform a celebration of the dance between shadow and light to the city streets.

They will be joined by the Macnas Young Ensemble, led by Miquel Barcelo, who will bring a performance inspired by the animal energy in flight and fight with the human spirit. This troupe will pioneer new beats on the street with the Macnas signature high octane performance.

Costume will be designed by Cherie White, makeup by Michelle Ruane. >> galwaytourism.ie/event/St-Patricks-Festival

3. May The Road Rise To Meet You (17th March)

St. Patrick’s Day, with a difference in South Sligo as athletes will once again take to the roads for the Tubbercurry St. Patrick’s Day 10K Road Race.

The first ever Tubbercurry 10K road race was planned for St. Stephen’s Day but was postponed due to snow and ice. It was rescheduled for St. Patrick’s Day 1973 and ever since it has become an annual fixture in the running calendar. Last year saw 375 runners take to the streets of Tubbercurry. >> facebook.com/SouthSligoAthletic/

4. Go Native in Donegal (17th March)

Since 2005, the people of Burtonport, Co Donegal, and surrounding areas have hosted a celebration of Irish culture on St Patrick’s day.

St Patrick’s Day 2019 will see the 15th annual community celebration of Irish culture take place between 12 – 2 at St Columbas Community Centre in Burtonport, Co Donegal.

This is an indoor event suitable for all the family. The event, which has become an annual fundraiser for 3 local causes – The Local Lifeboat fund, St Columbas Community Centre & The Burtonport Festival is packed out each year with individuals coming from far and wide to enjoy some Irish Stew, traditional music, Irish dancing, marching bands, taditional games, children’s FREE raffles & art and craft, refreshments and much much more.

Entry to the event is BY DONATION and we do encourage you to bring some money to take part in the raffles that will be going on throughout the day. >> facebook.com/St-Patricks-Day-celebration-of-Irish-Culture-319144684795563/

St Patrick's Day

5. Join Ireland’s friendliest place for the Ennis St Patrick’s Day parade

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets of the Clare County Capital on Sunday, 17 March for the 2019 Ennis St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

This year there will be prizes awarded for the entrants that provide the “Most Musical & Colourful Spectacle” (1st Prize – €500, 2nd Prize – €300, 3rd Prize – €200).

The parade commences at 11.00am from Clare County Council’s Headquarters at Áras Contae an Chláir before proceeding via New Road, Newbridge Road, Club Bridge, Abbey Street, O’Connell Square, O’Connell Street, with participants finishing in the grounds of the Holy Family School, Station Road. >> clarecoco.ie/services/arts-recreation/news/countdown-to-2019-ennis-st-patrick-s-day-parade.html

6. See the Quaker City String Band at Kiltimagh St Patrick’s Week festival:

Since 1989 in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, St. Patricks day has evolved to become a week-long celebration of Irish tradition and culture.

The Quaker City String Band from Philadelphia has visited Kiltimagh for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on many occasions, adding to the international flavour and colour of the week.

Visiting bands from Europe also join with various Irish Bands to create a fun-filled festival for everyone.

The highlight of the festival is the parade, and with over 40 floats and many bands, our St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the biggest and best in the West. 3pm, Sunday 17 March >> facebook.com/pg/kiltimaghtourismfestivals/

st patricks day

7. Join Sligo’s ‘Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Leprechauns World Record’ attempt

Sligo’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the only event which has run in Sligo every year since 1971.

2019 celebrates 49 years of Parades in Sligo Town! This year It’ll be Leprechauns-a-Go-Go on the Sunday streets of Sligo when the St. Patrick’s Day Parade joins with local volunteers in an attempt at the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Leprechauns World Record. it’s time for a new World Champion Town of Leprechauns and is calling on everyone attending this year’s Sligo parade to come dressed in a leprechaun costume. >> sligostpatricksday.com/

8. Fun for all the family at Boyle’s St Patrick’s Day Parade

Boyle St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019 will start at 3:30pm on Sunday 17th March. If people would like to enter a float, please assemble out in Mockmoyne for registration at 2:30. Best float wins €500. facebook.com/Boyle-St-Patricks-Day-Parade-1041573416026164/

9. Carrick on Shannon’s St Patrick’s Day Parade 2019

The lovely people of Leitrim can attend the Carrick on Shannon parade on Sunday 17th March starting at 12.45pm. mycarrick.ie/428/St+Patrick’s+Day+Parade

10. For something different: Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes

On Monday 19th of March at 3 pm at the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo, enjoy the wonderful anarchic work of children’s favourite Roald Dahl with storyteller and artist Wayne O’Connor as famous fairy tales are reimagined in a suitably revolting manner. >> hawkswell.com/events/event/roald-dahls-revolting-rhymes


Double Victory at the Hills of Connemara 

Unpredictable spring weather has really shown us her smile at the Gaelforce Mountain Run in partnership with John West this weekend in Leenane, Co. Galway. After thunder and lightning in the early hours of the morning, things calmed down for the race. The Mountain Run offered spectacular views of Connemara and gave runners unique access to some of the most stunning peaks in the region.

With trail running and mountain running taking the world by storm the Gaelforce Mountain Run lived up the promise of a tailored race to fit a wide audience from novice mountain runner to experts with many competitors coming over from Europe and America.

The Gaelforce Mountain Run proved an amazing event for runners of many levels, offering three difficulties – 12km Introductory, 13km Intermediate, 22km Expert.

The 22km Expert route follows another ascent and a steep descent to keep it interesting. This distance is an UTMB qualifying race – The UTMB is Europe’s most prestigious trail running event through the Alps. Big congratulations to Ricki Wynne who claimed first price in the male category with a time of 2 hour 24 minutes. Rachel Nolan and Elizabeth Wheeler who finished the race together with a stunning time of 3 hours and 7 minutes. Both women decided to donate the prize money of 250 Euro to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre in honour of International Women’s day.

The 13km Intermediate offered stunning views from various peeks varying from 320 to 562 meters in elevation. Bernadette O’Neill was the first female over the finish line at 1 hour 54 mins and Aidan Buckley came first in the male category at 1hour 44 mins.

The 12km Introductory Mountain/Trail Run saw Vernon Walsh take first place in the male with a time of 1 hour and 3 minutes and Emer O’Connell being the fasted woman on the route with 1 hour and 13 mins.

As well as taking part in the event, participants, especially from overseas, had a great time exploring the West of Ireland and took in some of the famous sights between Clifden and Westport such as Kylemore and the Connemara National Park during this spring weekend.

You can find out more on www.gaelforceevents.com/en/gaelforce-mountain-run-info


Sligo Food Tours Set To Take On The Streets Of Sligo This Summer

  • New 3.5 hour tour will visit 7-8 of Sligo’s most inventive food establishments
  • Led by trailblazing husband and wife duo Hans & Gaby Wieland
  • First tour kicks off on Friday April 12th

Sligo Food Tours, a new venture by Hans and Gaby Wieland, is set to launch this April 2019. With a lifetime dedicated to real food, the husband and wife duo have set up a new tour business visiting Sligo’s most inventive and innovative restaurants and cafes over a 3.5 hour walking tour.

Having moved to Sligo from Germany in 1985, Hans and Gaby have been at the cutting edge of Sligo’s food revolution. Producers of organic vegetables, sourdough breads and artisan farmhouse cheeses for more than 20 years at their organic small-holding Neantog Farm, near Cliffony, they have developed relationships with cafes, restaurants health food and delicatessen shops across the Northwest.

Hans has been at the helm of Leitrim’s Organic Centre for over 20 years, and Gaby has led workshops on everything from fermenting to cheesemaking. Together, they bring their lifetime experience and interest in real, whole food, to new audiences in 2019.

Sligo Food Tours is their latest venture showcasing their favourite food hot spots in Sligo town which has seen an explosion in innovative eateries in recent years. Their main aim is to encourage visitors to experience Sligo’s real food offering, just like a local. They are committed to supporting family-run businesses, Sligo’s unique cultural icons and encouraging visitors to discover the real Sligo.

The first season of dates has been announced, kicking off on Friday, April 12th 2019. The Sligo Food Tour is the perfect opportunity to discover real local insights for the rest of a great trip to County Sligo. All tastings are included in the price of the tour, so all you have to do is relax and enjoy the delicious food experience with expert guides. One can expect to meet the proud personalities behind Sligo food, hear fascinating local stories and gain some insider knowledge on where the food comes from and how it is produced.

Gaby and Hans can’t wait to share their love for food and Sligo;  they will make sure visitors don’t miss any of the delicious treats Sligo has to offer. They only work with independent small family businesses and have selected them for the quality of their offering, their story and relevance to the Irish food scene.

On a gentle 3 to 3.5 hour stroll traversing Sligo town, the tour will visit seven to eight different food businesses and will include a tasting in each place, meeting the owners and food producers. As one enjoys the food, you’ll also learn a little about the culture of Sligo’s lively and charming city from your local guide.

To coincide with the newly launched Cologne to Ireland West flight launching this summer direct into the Northwest, Sligo Food Tours will also be available in German on request. Special group booking rates are also available.

The 3.5 hour tour is priced €60pp plus booking fees and available to book via www.sligofoodtours.ie or through Sligo Tourist Office.

Hans & Gaby Wieland are available for interview. Please call directly: +353 87 902 9893


Best Tourism award for South and West Sligo Tourism at Croke Park National Community & Council Awards 2019 

Community tourism network South and West Sligo Tourism carried off the gold award in the Best Tourism Initiative category of the National Community and Council Awards 2019 last weekend (Saturday 9th February 2018). The award was presented by Eva Costello, representing sponsors Fáilte Ireland, at a gala black-tie event in the Croke Park conference centre.

Known as the LAMA Awards, the National Community and Council Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding work and achievements from local Community and County Councils, partnerships and projects that enhance our everyday lives. The Tourism award is specifically aimed at rewarding an initiative which directly increases visitor numbers to an area and improves the way we care for our visitors, as well the effect it is having on businesses, both new and existing.

“I cannot express how overwhelmed and delighted we are to receive this award”, said Paul Taylor, Chair of South and West Sligo Tourism (SWST) “The whole purpose was for the businesses and community to work together to attract more visitors and benefit the whole region. This is a wonderful endorsement of the vision which has now become a reality. I want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to the committee, our members, the festivals and all our supporters who have worked tirelessly to make the network a success. We look forward to implementing our plans for 2019.”

Driven by a voluntary committee of Cllr. Paul Taylor (chair), Fintan Kennedy (vice chair), Sean McDonagh/ Louise Kilbane (joint secretaries), Tony Hession (treasurer), Ray O’Grady (Sligo County Council) and committee members Geraldine Brennan, David Tuffy and the South Sligo Tourist Office. The project engages Marie Brouder of Brouder Marketing and is supported by Sligo County Council.

South and West Sligo Tourism is a 40 strong member-based network, which has put practical measures in place to boost tourism in the largely rural area. Initiatives have included annual booklets including maps and calendars of events, a heritage and historical trails video with accompanying booklet and map, a series of #MySligo marketing campaign videos, networking events, sustained social media activity, media visits and implementation of an ongoing marketing plan. Outstanding successes have included being finalists in the Pride of Place Awards and our members featuring in an impressive seven-page feature in Cara Magazine, the Aer Lingus in-flight publication.

The educational and networking aspects of the project have improved and honed the existing offerings for tourists, these have included familiarisation visits to members. Members have learned how to present and promote their businesses in a more effective way. They have access to an ever-growing photographic library and are learning techniques and strategies to utilise these effectively. The network is delighted to collaborate with Sligo Walks and Sligo Tourism.

Strategic and consistent use of social media has capitalised on the potential of the internet – introducing South and West Sligo to a huge national and international audience which would otherwise have been unreachable. The effect has been to attract the interest of bloggers and journalists as well as Sligo diaspora and potential visitors around the globe.

South and West Sligo Tourism is an initiative which resulted from the Tubbercurry Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) programme.  It is still in its infancy, but it has a strong kernel and is projected to expand in both membership and effect over the coming years. New members are always welcome and are invited to visit www.southandwestsligo.ie or email info@southandwestsligo.ie  for details.


BioExel Programme 2019 Introduces New Cohort of MedTech Companies

A new wave of MedTech companies supported by NUI Galway’s BioExel programme, Ireland’s first MedTech accelerator continues following the success of 2018 cohort

Following on from the success of the inaugural 2018 NUI Galway BioExel programme, a second successful recruitment campaign was completed last December. A high calibre of applications were reviewed from across the globe and the final eight companies are now immersed in the 2019 BioExel accelerator programme.

BioExel offers €95,000 in seed funding to successful applicants along with six-months of intensive training, mentoring, lab space and supported interactions with potential investors. The programme allows participants to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team.

BioExel is managed by MedTech Director, Dr Sandra Ganly, also a co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland and Senior Research Fellow in NUI Galway, and Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, and Innovation Operations Manager at NUI Galway.

Fiona Neary at NUI Galway, said: “BioExel’s mission is to act as an honest broker between Medtech start-ups and the investment community bridging the gap between technology de-risking and raising investment. BioExel has positioned itself as an internationally recognised Medtech accelerator with the reputation of significantly enhancing indigenous Medtech start-ups by providing attractive seed investment funding and a pipeline of next generation Medtech start-up’s for Ireland.”

Joined by the funding partners last month at NUI Galway, the programme officially launched the new cohort of BioExel 2019 and enabled a great working session where partners and participants came together to share experiences and business opportunities.

BioExel 2019 Companies:

  • Áine Behan and Fred Herrera, CortechsConnect Ltd, an Irish based company developing a non-pharmacological Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) intervention. Visit: cortechs.ie
  • Declan Trumble, Kudos Health, an Irish based company developing a Health and Wellness engagement platform. Visit: kudoshealth.com
  • Idicula Mathew, Hera Health Solutions, a US based company developing a Biodegradable Female Contraceptive Implant. Visit: hearahealthsolutions.com
  • Chris Duke and Michael Newell, Lifestyle Medical, an Irish based company developing Knee kinematics performance and rehabilitation technology.
  • Liam McMorrow, Adelie Health, a UK technology and new Irish start-up, developing an innovative Smart Insulin Pen. Visit: adeliehealth.com
  • Blaine Doyle, Glow Dx, an Irish company with an export market in place developing an Infectious Disease Diagnostic Platform. Visit: glowdx.com
  • Rory Clerkin and Morris Black, Holywood Medical, an Irish based company developing Migraine prediction assay (predicts the onset of migraine) for preventative medicine in this space. Visit: holywoodmedical.com
  • Damien Kilgannon, Sula Health, an Irish based company developing a solution in the area of Circadian Rhythm (Sleep) Disorder Treatment. Visit: sulahealth.com

This new cohort of companies will take part in the BioExel accelerator programme until June 2019, preparing them to be investor ready or to have investment in place.

BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, Galway University Foundation, Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, and hosted by NUI Galway.

For additional information please contact the BioExel team at bioexelinfo@nuigalway.ie or phone 087 6226240 or visit: www.bioexel.ie.


Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway


Western Development Commission Publishes Draft Strategy

The WDC has published a draft of its 5 year strategy to seek input from stakeholders and the public

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published a draft of the organisation’s strategy for the coming five years. The WDC is a state agency established under statute to promote the Western Region, (Donegal to Clare) to analyse and advise on policy and to support, through investment and lending, enterprise in the region. The strategy is available to view and download here; https://www.wdc.ie/about-us/wdc-strategy/

For the past number of months the staff and board of the WDC have been preparing a new strategy for the period 2019 to 2024. This process has involved a detailed consultation with a group of stakeholders, involving one-to-one and group interviews. These have been externally facilitated and resulted in a report being provided to the board. There was also an online survey that was sent to larger group of stakeholders.

WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said, ‘this is an important step in the evolution and renewal of the Western Development Commission. Twenty years after its establishment, the organisation has considered the changed and changing environment, and formulated strategic aims accordingly. These primary driver remains fostering the social and economic development in the Western Region, but the strategy enables the WDC to do so in a way that best meets the dynamic needs of the region.’

Those participating in both these consultations were provided with a detailed consultation document that you can read here. Building on the external consultation, both the Board and staff of the WDC considered the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to both the Western Region and the WDC itself. Based on these, they identified three strategy themes for the organisation, with key projects identified under each theme:

  • Regional Promotion
  • Regional Leadership
  • Sustainable Enterprise

 Have your say

A summary draft of the new strategy is available here. The WDC welcomes comments on the strategy, including the proposed new vision, strategy themes and proposed projects areas from all interested parties. Comments received will inform the final version of the strategy that will be submitted to the Department of Community and Rural Development for approval.

Please email comments by 14th February to strategy@wdc.ie

Further information contact: Claire Normanly, WDC 094 9861441 |info@wdc.ie

Note for editors:

The Western Development Commission, established by statute in 1998, advises the Government on policy for the western region, plays a key role in regional development, supports small and medium business through the Western Investment Fund and raises the social, cultural and economic profile of the west through lookwest.ie and other initiatives;

  • Investment in the region
    • €51m invested in growth since 1999
    • 5,000 jobs supported in 155 projects since 1999
    • Policy analysis
    • Output in 2018; 10 reports | 9 submissions | 7 insights
    • EU project work
    • €13.5m in ongoing EU project funding

Read more about the work of the Western Development Commission at www.wdc.ie