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CIELS: A Carlow Local Enterprise Office ‘Making It Happen’ story

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Making It Happen - Local Enterprise Office - Carlow County Council CEILS - YouTube

People tend to think of family-run businesses as farms and corner shops, not language schools. For Danny Barron, however, teaching English is a family business, and one that’s scaling fast.

The Carlow International English Language School, or CIELS as it’s better known, is an Askea-based English- language academy that teaches conversational and professional English to international and Irish students.

“My mum and dad founded CIELS over 25 years ago,” says Danny, Director of Studies at CIELS. “It is the longest accredited English-language school in the South East region. My dad was a vice principal at the CBS here in Carlow. He has an active mind, so he set up a junior summer programme for Spanish, Italian, and Greek students.”

It grew from there. The summer programme became a summer and a winter programme. Then, when Danny joined CIELS on a full-time basis more than a decade ago, the Barron family developed it into a year-round school.

Now CIELS provides cultural as well as language programmes, so students can learn English from native speakers and experience Irish culture while immersed in an authentic environment.

“There was great scope to develop CIELS,” says Danny. “Carlow is an education centre with IT Carlow and Carlow College. We saw an opportunity to develop Erasmus+ programmes and inviting Northern European students over.”


Danny was eager to bring CIELS to the next level by further building out the school’s e-learning platform and expanding its online reach, but he didn’t have the necessary expertise to do it. A meeting with the Local Enterprise Office in Carlow, was his first step.

“When CIELS ran its traditional programmes, they were all face to face. We decided that we wanted to deliver online, but we didn’t know how. The Local Enterprise Office supplied me with a brilliant mentor, Eugene Grey from the European Institute of Communications. Eugene has been delivering online strategies and solutions for the past 20 years. I really appreciated the Local Enterprise Office’s efforts in finding the right person to mentor me.”

The Local Enterprise Office in Carlow also offers numerous financial supports for new start-ups and established businesses. These include the Trading Online Voucher, which provides funding

for the development of an e-commerce-enabled website, and, as a response to Covid-19, the Business Continuity Voucher was available, which provides businesses with Covid-19 strategy consultancy to the value of €2,500.

“Most recently, CIELS availed of financial support in the form of the Business Continuity Voucher and the Trading Online Voucher. The Local Enterprise Office has been fantastic in terms of giving me support and guidance in where I need to go in terms of face-to-face classes through to delivering online.”

With support from the Local Enterprise Office, Danny has been able to grow CIELS into a modern, digital business with global reach.

“We’ve developed our online learning platform, and native speakers, Irish people, are using that to upgrade their business writing skills, essay writing skills, and presentation skills,” says Danny. “It’s come a long way.”

For other local businesses thinking of reaching out for assistance and mentorship, Danny encourages them to take the next step.

“If you approach the Local Enterprise Office for assistance, they’re very open, very helpful. They will meet you and let you know what services and facilities are available. They’re very positive and constructive in their interactions with the local business community.”

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