12 enterprises from  Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary have been selected as finalists in the inaugural LDC Mid-West Enterprise Awards which takes place this evening, May 19th, at The Inn at Dromoland, Co. Clare.

Since January 2011, over 1,800 businesses in the Mid West region have started with the support of Local Development Companies (LDC) and the Back to Work Enterprise Scheme from Department of Social Protection.  The LDC Enterprise Awards celebrate their achievements and their contribution to the economic recovery of the Mid West.  12 finalists will showcase their businesses at a gala event taking place in The Inn at Dromoland on May 19th, with the top 3 finalists being announced on the night.  These 3 overall winners will represent the Mid-West in the National LDC Enterprise Awards Final in Dublin in September of this year.

A wide range of businesses are taking part in the awards from a rural hackney service to a dental repair business, from make up and beauty to craft and childcare.  According to Elaine Mac Grath of PAUL Partnership:

“The range of business involved show that while the recovery is slow, opportunity is there. These business are an inspiration for others and the LDC Mid West Enterprise Awards are about recognising their hard work and achievements. It will also give local businesses an excellent opportunity to build their profile locally, regionally, and nationally”.

The 12 finalists are:

Daragh Murphy, Murphy Bespoke Furniture.  After finishing school in 2001 Darragh Murphy started a carpentry/joinery apprenticeship in the same year and completed this in 2005.  Since then he has worked for various companies, picking up invaluable skills and knowledge along the way.  All his life his work has revolved around timber and its uses.  With this in mind he was able to take his dream to the next level by having his own workshop and establishing Murphy Bespoke Furniture.

Judy Reardon, The Design and Craft Studio. The Design & Craft Studio is owned by artist, Judy Reardon. Judy graduated with a degree in Sculpture from The Crawford College of Art & Design in 1992. She turned her attention to batik art in the past few years and while continuing to develop her style opened The Design & Craft Studio in August 2015 with over forty stockists, selling beautiful handmade craft.  Judy wanted to create a platform where she could sell her own work while at the same time be able to give local crafters an opportunity to sell their work.

Kaye Faulkner, Partners in HomeCare.  Kaye worked in London as a hospital matron, ward sister and specialist practitioner school nurse for over 30 years before returning to Ireland in 2009 to care for both her parents. During that time Kaye identified a gap in the market for good quality homecare. Accordingly, Partners in HomeCare commenced trading in August 2014 and provides a non-medical service to clients in their own homes. The business has generated four fulltime jobs and four part-time jobs to date and Kaye believes that it has the potential to create up to twenty more jobs in the next year.

Kevin Lynch, Armid Natural Irish Skincare.  Kevin was previously a rigid truck driver before a work related injury meant that he could no longer drive commercial trucks. Whilst recuperating, he began working in his garden which he found to be therapeutic and he went on to complete an Organic Horticulture and Sustainable Living course. He subsequently set up Burren Herbs and using his wealth of knowledge in herbs and plant biology has run Airmid Natural Irish skincare since October 2015. The business manufactures a range of products suitable for sensitive skin, acne and eczema including shaving soap, solid shampoo bars and lip balms.

James Morris, Nenagh Dentures Repairs.   After 15 years working for other companies and finding work dried up, Jim decided to set up on his own. Based on his knowledge of the industry and links with Dental Practitioners he decided to set up his own Denture Repair service. Nenagh Denture Repairs is rapidly carving our a niche for itself in north Tipperary. According to Jim “Being made redundant in your 50s does not mean you have to give up”.

Yvonne Delahunt, The Little Chef.  Yvonne started her business from home, making her produce and selling it in the Nenagh farmers market. Once she started selling to shops in the area, she identified an opportunity to start her own business. Yvonne has opened a specialised Bakery that caters for a range of dietary requirements including gluten intolerance. Yvonne is also a keen supporter of local food suppliers and produce.

James Collins, Jimmy C Make Up Academy.  Jimmy was an early school leaver who discovered his true passion – makeup – when working in retail. Although he worked up to management level in his career, 2 years ago he found himself unemployed and struggling to manage.  He decided to go back to education and get a Train the Trainer qualification which kick-started his move into self employment and in less than a year has already built a successful business with potential to grow.

Laura Fitzgerald, Future Heroes Childcare.  Laura is joint owner and manger of her childcare business Future Heroes based in Limerick City. After training as a beautician she realised this was not the career for her and became a nanny after emigrating to San Francisco. On returning to Ireland she started her training in childcare and got a job working in childcare in Limerick.  Laura loved the childcare but was reluctantly moved into management. This shift was vital however when in 2014 her employer decided to close the business. This pushed Laura to make a move from worker to owner and she along with her co owner Niamh have built a successful and growing business.

Marika Dubova, Tipperary Hackney Cabs. Marika moved to Ireland from Latvia in 2001. Since that time she has worked in the hospitality, retail and agriculture sector. On losing her job in 2010 Marika successfully set up a hackney service in February 2012.  Marika’s selling point is that her service is female friendly and her repeat customers are a testament to her reputation as a reputable and dependable hackney service.

Monika Grabowska.  Monika has been in Ireland since 2007, working in the retail sector prior to her working with Abbot Vascular where she worked for 5 years.  In 2014 Monika set up her photography business. Monika specialises in photographing new born babies and family portraits while offering wedding photography and corporate photography. Uniquely, Monika makes many of the props and outfits for new-born and children photography sessions. Monika has been in business since September 2015.

Emma Stack, Divas and Dolls.  Emma Stack is a 29 year old single parent with an 11 year old daughter who was born shortly after Emma completed her Leaving Certificate in 2004. While bringing up her daughter on her own, Emma set about identifying training and education pathways that would not only set a good example to her daughter but would also allow her the opportunity to establish her own business while continuing to support her daughter in her day to day life. With the support of her parents, Emma went on to achieve certification in many areas of the beauty industry and in December 2015, Emma established her beautician business – Divas & Dolls – which not only provides regular beauty services but also focuses on semi-permanent eye-lashes which are suited to those recovering from illness and is also the only Stockist in Limerick City and County of a range of chemical free creams and oils to suit all skin types and ages.

Shane O’Connor, FealeFit.  After a long period of unemployment, Shane like so many others affected by the recession in Ireland was faced with two choices – remain dependant on social welfare payments or create employment for himself by turning his interest and hobby into a steady career.  Together with a like-minded business partner, FealeFit Fitness Studio was borne providing the public with a much needed social outlet. Shane is also involved with several community groups and projects more recently has established FealeFit Kids which offers weekly kids activity classes for children that don’t have an interest in general sporting activities.

Congratulations and Well Done to all the finalists!

The members of the Mid West LDC Enterprise Network are Ballyhoura Development, Clare Local Development Company, North Tipperary LEADER Partnership, PAUL Partnership, South Tipperary Development Company and West Limerick Resources

For further information, contact: Elaine Mac Grath, Economic Programmes Co-ordinator, PAUL Partnership, emacgrath@paulpartnership.ie, 087 6997331

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2015-2017 is funded by the Irish Government and co-funded by the European Social Fund and includes a special allocation under the Youth Employment Initiative.