Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny announces the County Recipient of the National Enterprise Awards

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11th March 2022

Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny announces the County Recipient of the National Enterprise Awards

A local craft manufacturing business from Graiguenamanagh will represent County Kilkenny at the National Enterprise Awards. Philip and Mary Cushen along with their daughter Miriam from Cushendale Woollen Mills have been nominated to represent Kilkenny at the National Enterprise Awards which will be held in the Mansion House, Dublin on 2nd June.

NEA Cushendale

Presentation of County Enterprise Award to Cushendale Woollen Mills, Graiguenamanagh, pictured from left to right: Cathaoirleach Cllr Fidelis Doherty, Miriam Cushen, Philip Cushen, Mary Cushen from Cushendale Woollen Mills and Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny

Cushendale Woollen Mills based in Graiguemanagh, Co Kilkenny is the sixth generation of the family business and one of last remaining mills in Ireland who continue to operate as a vertical mill, working with the sheep’s fleece and processing it, all under the one roof.  Cushendale Woollen Mills has unique distinguishing characteristics by way of it's rich & authentic heritage, using a distinctive process including traceability & sustainability and its ability to position itself in the bespoke luxury market.  It also offers a unique and authentic "mill retail experience" where visitors can view a range of exceptional textiles showcased against the backdrop of the historic mill. They have a strong Irish customer base and also export to Japan, whilst the US and Canadian markets have been growing significantly in recent times. 

Since the inception of the Local Enterprise Office and formerly the County Enterprise Boards, Cushendale Woollen Mills has been supported with grant assistance towards salary costs and capital investment. In recent times, they have also availed of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to enhance their online presence and ecommerce website.  The Technical Assistance for Micro-Exporters Grant has supported the business to attend international trade fairs and developing marketing material specifically for their targeted export markets.

At the presentation Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Cllr. Fidelis Doherty said: “The Local Enterprise Office support hundreds of small businesses and start-ups every year, as the first stop shop in the County. The National Enterprise Awards highlight the achievements and contribution of small business and showcase their success”. She added “We would like to congratulate Cushendale Woollen Mills on their achievements to date and wish them all the best in the next stages of the competition”.

Cushendale Woollen Mills will now compete against 30 finalists from each Local Authority for a share of the €35,000 winner’s prize fund as national judging gets underway in May” according to Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise with the Local Enterprise Office.  “Categories this year include ‘Best Export Business,’ ‘Best Start-Up’ and ‘Innovation,’ in addition to eight regional awards.  There are also two new National Enterprise Awards this year with a “One to Watch” award and a “Sustainability / Green” award”.

Run every year by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in the Local Authorities Network, the National Enterprise Awards were set-up to celebrate the achievements of Ireland’s micro-enterprise sector. Previous national winners from Kilkenny included companies such as Mileeven, Mechanical Modular Solutions and MyBio.

Further details about the supports available to local start-ups and small businesses are available through www.localenterprise.ie/kilkenny. Updates around local companies competing at the National Enterprise Awards are available by searching #NEAwards on social media.