International Women’s Day, which falls each year on 8th March, is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. It is an official public holiday in many countries, and in some has a status somewhat equivalent to Mother’s Day here, but without the commercial trappings that go with it. With attitudes toward women changing a lot in Ireland over the past twenty years, the Inishowen Independent would like to recognize the achievements of local women who have set up their own businesses and who are an integral part of our local economy.
MacBride Conaghan Solicitors, Moville
Geraldine Conaghan from MacBride Conaghan Solicitors in Moville appreciates that women in business have a lot to offer. “Women are good at business,” she explains. “We like to give people support, we care about our customers and staff and we cooperate with our colleagues, passing on opportunities and getting good support for ourselves.”
With the economic downturn, Geraldine’s practice is seeing new demands from the local business community to provide a debt collection service as well as for advice on how to restructure and survive in these challenging times. “Of course, our services encompass all aspects of the legalities people need to deal with from time to time as well, and we are happy to give advice on all official matters, including family law, wills and probate, conveyancing, criminal and road traffic, personal injury litigation and tax planning.”
Geraldine Conaghan, originally from Ballyshannon, qualified in law in the 1980’s. With little work available in Ireland during this time, Geraldine immigrated to America where she spent ten years in New York putting in long hours and gaining plenty of experience. Ten years later, following the birth of her son, Geraldine returned to Donegal, moving to Newtowncunningham, her husband’s hometown. Geraldine had always wanted to have her own practice and on her return she felt she was returning to a whole different Ireland. She explains, “When I left Ireland, it was very hard to find a job and get paid. You were expected to work for the experience. There were very few role models of women in practice unless it was a family company. Coming back in the nineties, it was much easier to break into practice and there were women out there, running their own practices, working hard and being successful.”
Geraldine bought Seán MacBride’s practice when he was appointed a judge in 1998. “It is a great career and I would encourage young women into the profession.” She says, “You can combine long hours with family commitments.”
You can contact the office on: (074) 9382184
Amanda’s Cots N Tots
Amanda Kelly from Clonmany has been providing childcare services in her local community for the past eleven years. She had always been interested in setting up a crèche and after qualifying and working for a while in Derry, she felt the time was right to branch out on her own.
“At that time Clonmany didn’t have a crèche and being from the town where people knew me and my family, I felt there it would be a good opening.” Amanda has taken a little time out from her young charges to talk to us and she is remembering the challenges of the early days. “The Health Board regulations were just coming into effect at the time, they were finding their feet as was I. After I had established the need for the service, I applied for a government grant to get a new purpose built centre and once again I was working closely with the HSE to get the plans right. It took three or four years to get organised but it was worth it.” Amanda smiles.
At Amanda’s Cots N Tots they provide childcare from newborns upward, as well as an after-school service. With eleven years experience behind her, Amanda has established a high quality childcare service and places importance on working in co-operation and partnership with parents and guardians. “We provide a safe, clean and friendly environment where we can care for and stimulate the children.” Amanda says with pride “We have all sorts of activities to support the individual learning of each child in line with the national curriculum, e.g. when children use playdough and draw, they develop their motor skills, sharing toys they learn social skills.” She continues.
Amanda sees the benefits of networking and is part of the Inishowen Childcare Network and the Donegal County Childcare Committee. “I find these networks very useful for meeting with others and sharing ideas. Childcare providers are often women and we co-operate well and get a lot of support from each other.”
The centre can be contacted on : 074 9378737
Glenview Boarding Kennels
Mary Margaret (Maggie) McDaid from Clonmany set up the Glenview Boarding Kennels seven years ago. She always had dogs when she was growing up and after she got married, she and her husband had dogs of their own. “It was always a problem getting some-one to look after our dogs when we went on holiday so we felt there was an opening to set up kennels here in Clonmany” Mary Margaret tells us. “It is very handy as a woman to be working from home as the business and family commitments can be worked around each other.”
With new dog training classes both group and private, running every night of the week, this works out particularly well as Maggie is able to bring her children to the classes. “Puppies and older dogs really benefit from the training which helps puppies with socialising and older dogs improve anti social behaviour such as jumping up and excessive barking. Having the children there is great for the dogs as part of the training is to become used to children and distractions. Training, particularly for puppies helps dogs become more able to read situations and is also great for getting good habits established and breaking bad ones.” Maggie explains.
Glenview Boarding Kennels are now taking bookings for your pets summer holidays so that you can have complete peace of mind for your dog’s need while you are enjoying your own break. Maggie takes great pride in taking care of every pet she looks after. Dogs have a large safe caged area and a run, warm kennelling, plenty of food and are given daily exercise. Kennelling costs are kept to a minimum and owners can opt for two or more of their dogs to share a kennel space at a reduced rate or for their pets to be housed individually. Top dogs and under dogs are all welcomed and lovingly cared for, whatever their breed, age or gender at Glenview Boarding Kennels. Contact : 074 9376058
Nicola Baldrick set up THairapy hairdressers 4 years ago and has been working in the business for the last ten years. She always wanted to set up her own business and felt very encouraged by other local women in Buncrana who were successfully running their own salons. THairapy has recently moved to new premises at the Dunree Shopping Centre near Eurospar in Buncrana. “”This has been a great move for us” says Nicola “It means we have had room for our expansion into the whole beauty therapy area. “
Having recently been awarded five stars, the highest accolade in the industry by the Good Salon Guide, Nicola isn’t content to stay still and rest on her laurels. “It is easy to stay interested and motivated in the hairdressing and beauty industry as it is always changing,” she explains. “There is always something new to learn about and myself and the therapists regularly attend courses to ensure we keep up to date with the latest trends.” Nicola continues. “The organic movement is affecting hairdressing and we are delighted to offer organic hair products such as colours to our clients. Other recent courses have taught us new dermatological techniques in facials and anti-aging treatments.”
Nicola feels that women are the backbone of the hairdressing industry particularly in small towns. Male hairdressers may become better known in the profession but it is women who are the day-to-day faces for customers and Nicola enjoys working in a predominantly female environment.
“I am really happy with my clientele. I have been hairdressing for ten years and have a very loyal customer base which is wonderful” Nicola concludes.
Contact : 074 9361649
The Village Kitchen, Carndonagh
Edel Burns has been working in the catering industry for the past twenty-five years after qualifying as a chef. She started her latest business venture, The Village Kitchen in Carndonagh nearly five years ago. “I always wanted to work for myself and my family were very supportive of me going into business.” Edel says, “In fact this business is a partnership with my brother Shane.”
The Village Kitchen was originally set up as a coffee shop but a few years ago Edel received her first contract for providing lunches for a local school. “After the first contract we got another, and another,” Edel explained. “Then that side of the business just snowballed and in the end we decided to close the coffee shop to concentrate on fulfilling the school contracts.”
Edel and her brother also provide chocolate fountains for weddings and parties. She had seen a chocolate fountain at a wedding on a trip to England and decided to look into the possibility of expanding the business. Now if clients want a chocolate fountain for their wedding or party, they will find that Edel’s prices are the best value about.
“I believe our prices are the best value for money in Ireland for the chocolate fountains –they haven’t changed in the past four years and they were good when we started”, she declares. They certainly provide good service as well, taking the fountain to the wedding, setting it up and staying with it to ensure the guests enjoy the delicious chocolate covered goodies.
Edel feels the world of business is more equal for men and women these days. “The hours can be long, but I really enjoy working for myself, being my own boss and not being told what to do.”
Contact: 086 865 9708
Daisy Fresh Dry Cleaners, Muff
Daisy Fresh Dry Cleaners in Muff are celebrating their first birthday this week. Local entrepreneur Sara Plower is delighted with how the business has been going in its first year and is very appreciative of all the support she has had from the local community.
Sara had been involved in a family business, which had been sold a few years ago, and she decided to take a year out as she had young children. When she decided to go back to work she felt she would rather be her own boss and looked around for a business opportunity.
That opportunity presented itself when premises became vacant on the Main Street in Muff. Sara had already spotted a gap in the market with nowhere locally to take her dry cleaning. It took her a year to set up the business, what with buying the machines, going to England for specialist training, getting her suppliers in place and kitting out the shop.
Daisy Clean Dry Cleaners offer a friendly, efficient service specialising in dresses and formal wear. They also provide other services including, wash and folding, drying, ironing, repairs and alterations. All the work is done on the premises by the staff -Sara brought the specialist trainer over from England to ensure all her employees were fully trained.
Sara loves being in business but admits that for some women with children there has to be a bit of juggling going on. “I’m really lucky though, my husband and mother are very supportive with the childcare,” she admits. “Female entrepreneurs aren’t so unusual these days,” she continues. “There are a lot of women running businesses on the Main Street in Muff. When I started last year they all came in to welcome me to the village and wish me the best of luck.”
Daisy Fresh Dry Cleaners are open Monday to Friday 9am –5.30pm and Saturdays 9.30am – 5pm. Contact 074 9327070
Patricia Barnett, Podiatrist and Chiropodist, Buncrana
Patricia Barnett set up her clinic in Buncrana fifteen years ago, not long after graduating in podiatry from Queens University. She started the business on the Main Street sharing a waiting room with Dr Cully the dentist and then moved to an office in the Lower Main Street. Now she operates from the old family home, Aisling House on the Crescent which she has renovated creating a modern clinic.
“I absolutely love what I do and I don’t even think of it as work” Patricia really means what she says. “It is very satisfying helping people and seeing the relief that they receive.”
Patricia helps her patients with all their foot problems. These can include the removal of corns and callouses, nail problems and verrucas. There are specialist areas of work too and Patricia can perform surgery under anaesthetic (saving a wait for ingrowing toenails), can help with sport related injuries and she also has a lot of patients with diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. “We also get clients who like to get cosmetic work on their toe-nails,” adds Patricia.
As well as the services, Patricia has a full range of products for the feet including creams and appliances such as insoles and arch supports for people with flat feet.
As a woman, Patricia feels that being a podiatrist and chiropodist is a lovely profession. “Having the option to work at home means the family aren’t too far away and although I work long hours, I can be flexible if I need time off for a parents teacher meeting” she tells us. This flexibility is great for Patricia’s clients too as she offers evening appointments as well as house calls. With the increase in demand for her services, she has also set up a satellite practice from Dr Devlin’s surgery on the Mill Brae in Carndonagh on Friday afternoons.
Contact: 074 93 63282