Mayo join celebrations for National Women’s Enterprise Day

Open doors to new markets

‘Open doors to new markets’ was the theme for this year’s National Women’s Enterprise Day (NWED), which was celebrated by local entrepreneurs at an event in the Lodge at Ashford Castle.

Organised by the Local Enterprise Offices, including Local Enterprise Office Mayo, fifteen events were organised around the country with over 1,200 entrepreneurs participating.

The Local Enterprise Offices invited 60 successful female entrepreneurs, including Caitlin O’Connor of Accelerating Performance, Orla Cunningham of All in Print and Design and Ursula Kelly of Cormac Tagging, to share their business stories at events in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Carlow, Laois, Tipperary, Cork, Cavan, Monaghan, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Waterford.

The NWED event held at the Lodge at Ashford Castle welcomed the opportunity to hear from female entrepreneurs from the West region, as well as further afield. Caitlin O’Connor of Accelerating Performance is widely acknowledged as one of the leading experts in networking, lead generation and marketing; Orla Cunningham of All in Print and Design, a Mayo based graphic design and printing service business and Ursula Kelly of Cormac Tagging, a Department of Agriculture approved supplier of cattle, sheep, goat and pig identification tags for the Irish farmer, all shared their experiences to date and how they have opened doors to new markets through the power of networking.  

In 2016, the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) across the country jointly supported 14,300 female entrepreneurs and the National Women’s Enterprise Day initiative is still as important as ever, according to John Magee, Head of Mayo Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Mayo. He said: “Studies show that women still have a higher fear of failure when it comes to starting a business and can lack confidence in their own skills and knowledge. To help address this, the Local Enterprise Offices teamed up with sixty successful female entrepreneurs all over the country to share and celebrate their stories and to demonstrate how every woman can open doors to new markets and what supports are there to help.”

An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D. said: “The events taking place around the country are a true celebration of the potential and achievements of women in business. Women can get close to, and examine, real stories and successes of other female led start-ups.  National Women’s Enterprise Day, organised and run by the Local Enterprise Offices, is the ideal opportunity for those female entrepreneurs thinking of starting or expanding their business to learn from other successful businesswomen. Women make a huge contribution to business in Ireland, creating innovative enterprises that are focused on growth and exports in every town and village across the country. I want to encourage more women to set up businesses across our regions and I would encourage you all to avail of the many supports available from your Local Enterprise Office”.    

Minister Mitchell O’ Connor, who officially opened the NWED Regional Event at the Leopardstown Pavilion in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown said: “As we celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day across the country, our vision is for Ireland to be among the most entrepreneurial nations in the world and to be a world-class place for women to start and grow a business. The Government, through the Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland, have put a suite of supports in place to help achieve this vision. These include the Competitive Fund for Innovative Micro Enterprises, a new Technical Assistance for Micro Exporter grant and the Lean4Micro programme. My message for female entrepreneurs is that when you’re opening doors to new markets, find out how supports from your Local Enterprise Office can ‘unlock’ your company’s growth potential.”

Preparations for Brexit were at the fore at several NWED events around the country and the Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit, Anne Lanigan said: “Brexit is a very significant challenge to Irish businesses. We expect long term, structural and disruptive change. Our strong recommendation is to prepare for a hard Brexit and prepare now by taking actions that will strengthen your business irrespective of the outcome of Brexit. Diversification or expanding reach is a key element of Enterprise Ireland’s 2020 strategy and is a very effective way to strengthen and grow your business. To mark National Women's Enterprise Day, we are encouraging more female-led companies to start opening doors to new markets and have a wide range of comprehensive supports in place to assist client companies in doing this.”

Other entrepreneurs sharing their success stories at National Women’s Enterprise Day events included Caroline Keeling of Keelings, Erica Sheehan of Homespun Foods,  Ramona Nicholas of Cara Pharmacy Group; Róisin Hogan of HIRO by Róisin; Sonya Lennon of Courtney Lennon;  Niamh Sherwin Barry of Irish Fairy Door Company; Margaret O’Connor of Quigleys Bakery; Moira Dunne of; Gillian Doyle of Cerebreon Technologies and Deirdre McGlone of Harvey’s Point Hotel.

Information on the supports on offer through the Local Enterprise Offices is available through


From left to right: Loretta Ní Ghabháin of Lorg Media, Caitlin O’Connor of Accelerating Performance, John Magee Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Mayo, Orla Cunningham of All in Print and Design and Ursula Kelly of Cormac Tagging.


From left to right (back row): Orla Cunningham of All in Print and Design, Anne Browne LEO Roscommon, Caitlin O’Connor of Accelerating Performance, Ursula Kelly of Cormac Tagging, Diane Gallagher LEO Galway, Elaine Moyles LEO Mayo, John Magee Head of Enterprise LEO Mayo,

From left to right (front row): Loretta Ní Ghabháin of Lorg Media, Louise Ward Head of Enterprise LEO Roscommon, Pamela Conway LEO Mayo.