North Clare Entrepreneur named Clare IBYE Winner

Clare’s best young entrepreneurs have been honoured at the County Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition, which took place in the Buttermarket Building in Ennis tonight (Thursday, 14 December 2017)


IBYE, which has a €2 million investment fund, is run by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and is supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.


Local Enterprise Office Clare named Ciara O'Halloran of Redbank Food Co as overall “Best Young Entrepreneur”. The New Quay-based entrepreneur also won the ‘Best Established Business’ category and an investment fund from LEO Clare worth €15,000.

The other main category winners were Cristiona Ni hIcí of Ceile (Lahinch) in the ‘Best Start Up’ category and Ciara McGuane of Rathú (Ennis) (  in the ‘Best Idea’ category. The top prize in the ‘Best Start Up’ category was €15,000, with a top prize of €7,000 for the ‘Best Idea’ category. All three category winners will now be representing Clare at one of eight IBYE Regional Finals, taking place during January and February 2017.

Meanwhile, the category runners-up also shared a combined investment of €13,000. They were Barry McMackin of in the ‘Best Business Idea’ category, Oonagh Minogue of Classes 4 Kids in the ‘Best Start Up Business’ category and Conor Murray of Kilkee Forge in the ‘Best Established Business’ category.

“The vast majority of all businesses in Clare are micro-enterprises and it is reassuring to see that the strong entrepreneurial spirit that has always existed in Clare is continuing to produce ambitious and competent young business people,” stated Cllr. Tom McNamara, Mayor of Clare.

The Mayor continued, “Supported locally by Clare County Council – through Local Enterprise Office Clare - I want to commend each of the finalists who collectively have shown their ability to generate a range of new business ideas and new employment opportunities for the wider community.”

Pat Breen, TD. Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, said: “The success of the IBYE competition since its inception in 2014 and the wonderful young entrepreneurs who have used the competition as a platform to success is truly inspiring. Clare has been successful to date in the competition, with Damien Mason of Flexibod winning Runner Up in the Best Idea category at the National IBYE competition in 2016. Damien has continued to build his business and is achieving great success in the US to date.”

“I have no doubt having met with all the young entrepreneurs here tonight and heard about their businesses that this trend will continue,” he added.

Commenting on the role played by Local Enterprise Office Clare in supporting small business, Minister Breen said, “The LEO’s have a broad remit to disseminate all information in relation to State supports for small and micro businesses and deliver quality access to several national and local programmes focused on new business start-ups and micro business in a pro-business environment. The quality of the businesses being showcased here today demonstrates that the support structure for enterprise development at local level is having a significant impact.”

The primary purpose of the IBYE initiative is a springboard for young entrepreneurs in Clare who want to start or expand a business,” explained Padraic McElwee, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Clare

He added, “We are committed to providing a ‘first stop shop’ for enterprise supports and sign-posting to start-ups, micro enterprises and small businesses locally in one easily accessible place. Our role in coordinating IBYE locally is part of our ongoing efforts to help Clare’s young entrepreneurs progress their business aspirations and to create much needed employment in Clare.”

“I congratulate all of this year’s award winners and wish the category winners every success as they progress now to represent Clare at the upcoming Regional finals in late January,” concluded Mr. McElwee.

In Clare, 32 applications to IBYE were received by Local Enterprise Office Clare. The list was later shortlisted to 19 competitors. The competitors attended an Enterprise Day in November in Ennis where they were introduced to the LEO supports and workshops on Marketing your Business; Value Proposition and Pitching.  They also attended a Bootcamp run over two Saturdays in Ennis with the finalists receiving training including pitch training and mentoring.

Adjudication took place on 4 December in Ennis with finalists being judged on a range of categories, namely Promoter, Market Opportunity, Ability to Deliver, Innovation, Economic Impact, Quality of the Business Proposal and Pitch Interview. The judges this year were Ned Toomey (ex-CEO of Limerick County Enterprise Board), Kieran Sheehan (Business Owner of Ascent Associate) and Mary Rogers of Enterprise Ireland.

Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through and from the IBYE website at

IBYE County Final Winners 2017