In 2009 Cillian co-founded Loop Head Tourism to ensure that tourism development of the Loop Head Peninsula would take place in a responsible manner with the full backing of the local community. Cillian believes community involvement in tourism development is the key to a sustainable industry. He has spoken many times on this topic including at World Travel Market in London, The World Bank Group Tourism Forum in Washington, the Cross Border Tourism Conference in Carlingford and most recently at TBEXIreland.
He recently retired as chair of Loop Head Tourism to set up his own consultancy business, CillianMurphyConsulting, which focusses on ensuring tourism development primarily benefits the host communities and has worked with communities both within Ireland and internationally
Lisa Regan PR
Lisa Regan is the owner of niche Public Relations firm Lisa Regan PR. Based in Galway, the firm works with clients across all sectors but specialises in food, food tourism, hospitality, start-ups, SME’s, charity organisations, NGO’s, sporting organisations and is an image consultant and communications advisor to political parties.
Her company works in building and maintaining some of the country’s best restaurants brands and relevance as well as working with small producers in finding their voice and brand as well as a route to market. Lisa Regan has been involved with several key start-up initiatives in Galway including the Aer Lingus International Hurling Festival and her ongoing work with Galway’s westend. The importance of dovetailing traditional PR channels and the online persona for business is key to her developmental work with brands and businesses. One size certainly does not fit all.
Le Cool Dublin
Michael McDermott is the publisher of online culture guide, Le Cool Dublin, and co-founder of the Sweatshop Agency.
He also runs the Le Cool Experience walking tours. A Business and Politics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he has previously worked with the Sunday Independent and Newstalk as well as with the record label V2 and POD Concerts.
Atlantic Equipment Project
Ashleigh Smith is an industrial designer, born and raised on the side of Ben Bulben. She is the founder of The Atlantic Equipment Project, a company designing and manufacturing a small collection of natural, hard wearing carry equipment. Having completed a MSc at the Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands, Ashleigh returned home in 2013 in order to merge passion for good honest design and adventure amongst the harsh beauty of the Irish Atlantic coast.
The Atlantic Equipment Project designs and manufactures high quality adventure backpacks and other carry equipment in our coastal workshop in Sligo. Championing natural materials, small supply chains and a sustainable business ethos, the ambition is to build a manufacturing base for a outdoor carry equipment brand in Sligo. Its birth supersedes a marriage of design education and wilderness exploration. In combining the worlds of industrial design and Atlantic adventure, innovation and progress can be brought to equipment design.
Sue Raethorne, with her husband David, is owner of Hazelwood Estate. The couple intend to restore Hazelwood House to its former history glory while also establishing a craft distillery and visitors’ centre on-site in the disused factory building. Hazelwood Estate is currently hosting Magnetism, a large scale art exhibition.
George Mullan is founder and owner of SIS Group, a manufacturing and sports construction company with offices in Europe, Asia and Africa. The companies’ clients include Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester Utd and many of the top clubs in the world.
George is also a private investor in many Irish start-up companies.
Strategic Marketing Consultant
Sligo native Damian Devaney is a leading brand marketing practitioner, successfully championing marketing to transform companies and cultures from Fast moving consumer goods, telecommunication, manufacturing, packaging and sport.
Currently Director of Brand Strategy at Smurfit Kappa leading a rebranding and organisation change initiative across 32 countries. Prior to that he has been Marketing Director at O2 Ireland where he was responsible for all consumer & business products and services, marketing and communications.
During that period O2 became No 1 in post-pay, delivered best ever loyalty performance and launched breakthrough initiatives including launching The O2, and winning Best Marketing Team in Ireland. Damian has reversed category declines in a number of fast moving consumer goods markets, having previously been marketing director at Coca-Cola Ireland, where he had responsibility for the full Coca-Cola portfolio.
Damian also held a variety of senior marketing leadership roles in Gilbeys and Diageo, where he became well-known in the industry through his management of key brands such as Guinness and Bailey’s. Damian has studied at the University of Limerick and at Smurfit Business School at University College Dublin. He holds an Honours BA Degree in European Studies. Damian was chairman of the Marketing Institute of Ireland in 2005/06.
Damian is also a director of Connacht Rugby and a founding member of Team Sligo
Ed is the founding editor of magicseaweed.com. Schooled in newspapers he jumped ship from print to online when he saw the potential of the internet and has never looked back. Not once.
He also helps run the family Cider Bus and develops digital projects when he’s not surfing.
Ruairí & Marie-Thérèse de Blacam
Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites
Ruairí & Marie-Thérèse de Blacam are co-proprietors and managers of Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites, a unique, high-end, travel experience in the Aran Islands, Co. Galway.
Together they designed the concept and managed the build of this now internationally renowned Restaurant and Guesthouse in one of the most beautiful and remote parts of the world. Since its opening in 2007, Ruairí’s main areas of responsibility are as Head Chef and property maintenance and development, while Marie-Thérèse is responsible for Front of House, and all aspects of Marketing.
Accolades include “the most memorable” of the 12 best restaurants in the world in 2011 in The Financial Times, and multiple award wins including Best Newcomer, Best Dining Experience and Best Boutique Hotel from Georgina Campbell Ireland Guides and the National Hospitality Awards from 2008 to 2014.
The couple live year round on Inis Meáin and together with their two young daughters form part of the 150-strong island population.
Jane & Myles Lamberth
Shells Cafe and Little Shop
Surfers Jane and Myles Lamberth are living their dream – running a bustling seaside café, Shells, creating 2 gorgeous cookbooks The Surf Cafe Cook book and The Surf Cafe Living and enjoying the coastal lifestyle that goes with it.
Myles and Jane are adventurers at heart with travel, food and surf at the centre of their beings. 5 years ago they arrived in Strandhill, Co Sligo with a dream and started unpacking it.They opened the beachside cafe, Shells, in Strandhill.
In those 5 years, Shells has become embedded in the community. Their passion for baking, local produce and all things cool and handmade has shone through. Last Year Shells was voted Best Casual Dining in Caunnaght as well as Highly Commended (2nd place) in the Irish Times Best Shop awards. Not long into the life of Shells, Little Shells was born, a cute gift shop serving artisan food, amazing coffee and beautiful gifts that are always hard to part with.
Alongside running Shells, Jane & Myles have put pen to paper and released 2 cookbooks which are sold all over the world. Both books have reached the NO 1 list in the Irish Times and have received glowing reviews in nearly all national papers.
Aoibheann MacNamara and Triona Lillis
The Tweed Project, Ard Bia and AStór.ie
The Tweed Project is a collaboration between designer Triona Lillis of Astór and Aoibheann MacNamara, owner of the iconic Ard Bia Café and Restaurant, The Tweed Project operates from a small Atelier in Galway, where the garments are crafted to order, and where the pair plan to open a showroom in the new year.
From Ardara, Aoibheann grew up acutely aware of the area’s heritage and commitment to Irish tweed and knitwear. The tweed in the collection is made by Molloy and Sons in the town, a name long associated with weavers in Ireland, and the linen is from McNutts in Donegal, another company with a history steeped in quality linens and tweed.
Industry Lead, Google
Fintan Gillespie works for Google as an Industry Head leading the relationship with the largest digital agencies in the UK consulting on all of Google’s platforms, digital strategy, performance advertising, web analytics and media buying technology.
Fintan’s other passion is startups and he has mentored over 100 startups in Google Campus, Seedcamp & Sandbox. An avid bodyboarder, Fintan combined his love of tech and surf by co-founding the Surf Summit with The Web Summit bringing over 250 people to Westport for a weekend of adventure activities, talks and networking in the weekend after Web Summit.
Before Google, Fintan drove in a Hummer through 44 countries from Australia to Ireland for charity and also co-founded his own online surf shop boogtique.com.
Ballymote-based Quickcrop was set up in 2008 by Andrew Davidson and Niall Mc Allister in a response to the growing interest people seemed to have in producing their own food.
Andrew moved his family from an urban lifestyle to country living 10 years ago and has tried to make the most of the beautiful Irish countryside where he now lives.
Their company Quickcrop, set up three years ago, is an online retailer that sells everything for vegetable growing, from seeds to clay to timber boxes.
Queens of Neon
Sharon Greene had her own free-lance Building Conservation Consultancy after working in the industry for over 8 years. However at the beginning of the recession when the construction industry was at a low she focused her energy elsewhere and co-founded the Dublin Flea Market with two friends.
She is also director of Queens of Neon who have been producing quirky, delicious and divine projects since 2008. Inspired by all things wondrous, they believe in the importance of fun, collaboration and creativity in bringing ideas to life. They break moulds and push boundaries to deliver unique, thought provoking and powerful experiences. Their attention to detail, original aesthetic and love of all things bonkers translates into their work and transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
From imaginative concept development for cultural, corporate and private events, to experiential installation art, immersive dining experiences and creative styling, every project they do is an unforgettable adventure.
Creative Director, Thinkhouse
Richard Seabrooke is a designer, creative director, curator and collaborator who has been involved in, and a champion of, the creative industries in Ireland for over 20 years. His career has seen him lead creative teams in top Irish agencies including Dynamo and The Brand Union, working for household name clients including eircom, Vodafone, Tayto, Eason and Superquinn.
In his spare time, he has also been responsible for projects including co-founding OFFSET (Ireland’s biggest creative festival which takes place in Dublin each Spring) and The Small Print, a creative events and projects business working with the likes of Absolut, Jameson, Oliver Jeffers, West Coast Cooler, 3FE and more.
Now as Creative Director of THINKHOUSE, an agency specialising in youth communications, his focus is to pursue and understand the “connect” of creativity and commerciality. In an ever-changing world, it’s never been more important to create work that not only excels creatively, but connects on a real, true and unique way through the mediums the audience is most engaged. Working with brands like Three, Heineken, Barry’s Tea, Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever, he is focussed on pushing opportunities for clients to connect with their customers in a meaningful, resonant way across social media, design, digital, brand communications, digital content, guerrilla activity, creative thinking and more.
Food Writer and Eating Enthusiast
Aoife McElwain is a food writer and eating enthusiast. She started a blog called I Can Has Cook? in 2009 to learn how to cook. Today, she writes about food for Totally Dublin magazine and has regular columns in The Irish Independent and The Irish Times, and has written about food for The Guardian’s Cook supplement. She also makes food recipes videos on the award-winning site www.forkful.tv. She always aims to make her recipes accessible as she believes a person’s happiness can be helped along by their ability to rustle up a decent meal for themselves and their loved ones.
Talk title: Loud and Extremely Dangerous Digital Marketing
Not for the weak of heart, not for slow writers, not for people that need to be told you’re doing great. You’re not. Digital Marketing changes too fast to always be on top of it. Damien will go through 13* or more things that will give you control of your digital marketing.
*note may not be 13 but will definitely be things.
About Damien: Damien Mulley runs Mulley Communications as nobody would dare employ him these days. The money the company makes seems to end up making hideously expensive money grabbing machines, comic books with bad language, sending chocolate to hundreds of people and not actually paying Damien enough.
Damien seems to have a knack for understanding that social media is about people not technology and has a feel for the best way of using tech tools in social media to talk to people and have people talk to brands. It’s also rare that he writes a whole piece about himself without saying “the C word”. Cork.
Christian McLeod Photography
Adventurer and globe traveller Christian McLeod, loves what he does and only does what he loves. Whether that is getting out in the ocean, or giving inspiring talks to other aspiring adventurers.
Having been raised high in the Rockies, and moving to Ireland at quite a young age, travelling has been in his blood. Reaching places, through photography, such as Norway, Italy, Iceland, Germany, and soon to be travelling to further afield places like Patagonia, travelling is the key to the soul for Christian.
After studying Engineering and having a moment of self-realisation, Christian decided to pursue his young lust for photography and make it his living. Starting full-time since May 2014, he has been creating articles worldwide, generating strong social influencing projects and even doing large campaigns for the likes of Ford and Tourism Tropical North Queensland.
Annie West has been living and working in Sligo since 1992. She left secondary school with a terrible Leaving Cert, and a note from her head teacher to say “You’re not much good for anything except messing so you may as well go to Art School”.
After five years in Dun Laoghaire, now known as IADT, she began her somewhat unplanned career in Television and movies, starting with RTE Design department and on to Tyne Tees TV. There followed a decade working freelance in the Art Department on movies , music videos and album covers. She also worked as a Graphic designer.
In 1991 she went to Sligo for a couple of weeks break with her daughter Amy who is now a Graphic Designer. Annie has been working full time as an illustrator and cartoonist for 20 years. She works on many and varied projects from walking maps to childrens’ fiction and newspaper cartoons to special commissions.
She has three of her own books published and has illustrated around two dozen by other authors. Annie has just published a book of her series “Yeats in Love” with New Island Books, based on the series of illustrations started in 2006. The book received favourable reviews and the first edition sold out before Christmas. A second edition is being planned.
Annie is a former director of the Illustrators Guild of Ireland and is interested in starting a Sligo based group of graphic designers and illustrators.
She is working , independently, on several events of her own for the International Year of Yeats 2015, as well as several new walking maps of Sligo in association with Sligo County Council, as well as commissioned work and a new book being produced with television comedy writer Colm Tobin.
Annie uses Twitter where she now does most of her business as well as having conversations with people far away from Sligo. She is an enthusiastic supporter of Sligo as a tourist destination as well as a place to live and work.
Storytelling is in Ciaran’s blood. As a writer and editor, he’s worked at senior executive level for the biggest names in Irish and UK media including Guardian Newspapers, Independent News & Media (INM), and the Telegraph Group.
As deputy news editor of The Observer, he helped shape the paper’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks in America, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Human stories are at the heart of Ciaran’s work and at StoryLab that tradition continues with unique storytelling and original content.
Most recently he was associate editor of the Irish Independent, a position he held for eight years. He was editor of the paper’s influential Saturday Weekend Review and produced award-winning special supplements including Titanic Stories and Con Houlihan’s Ireland.
Ciaran worked in the UK for 11 years, occupying positions at different newspapers including reporter, feature writer, news editor and foreign correspondent. He reported from Kosovo in 1999 as NATO removed Serb forces and covered the US presidential election in 2000.
David is a Sligo native who returned home in 2012 looking for fresh challenges after a number of years working overseas as a freelance software developer in the UK, Netherlands and India.
After a period spent managing the development for local software healthcare provider Socrates Healthcare, he helped attract US online retailer Overstock.com to setup their first overseas development centre here in Sligo, which he now manages.
Rob is co-owner and CEO of fiftyone (formally Infacta). Based in Sligo, their flagship newsletter software GroupMail is available in multiple languages and is used in over 160 countries throughout the world. Some of their better known customers include Yale University, Booking.com, Microsoft, Adobe and many more.
In addition, their second major success Polldaddy, is an advanced online poll app which was launched in 2006 and sold to Automattic (People behind WordPress) in late 2008 – it is the number one poll app on the Internet today.
Originally from Limerick, Rob now lives with his wife and two young boys in beautiful Strandhill. He’s loving life in the north-west and spends most of his time in technology or sport. He also loves coffee.
Together with partner, chef & Strandhill native Christina McCauley, Simon manages Coopershill near Riverstown, Co. Sligo. This family business provides high-end accommodation in a historic house, fine dining with local produce and award winning venison from the farm for national distribution. The focus is on delivering a unique experience for discerning travelers by celebrating Sligo and keeping it real. Key to this are local staff, produce and activity providers. And most importantly making sure that Simon & Christina have fun too!
Previously Simon worked for 12 years in tourism in Africa & Mexico.
David O’Hara is the founder of SUPforall. SUP (Stand Up Paddling) is set to become the biggest water sport in history and SUPforall is intent on establishing Sligo as the SUP Mecca of Europe. Through its activities SFA has introduced over 3k persons to SUP and has attracted paddlers from across the globe to visit Sligo, Ireland’s adventure capital. The marketing strategy employed by SFA is to promote Sligo as a top destination for soft and extreme adventures. SFA is totally focused on social media for marketing and has built up a loyal following in over 40 countries.
Sligo LEADER Partnership
Deirdre’s role as Rural Recreation Officer involves the development and support of a vast range of Recreation initiatives in Sligo and Leitrim. Deirdre has been responsible for developing and promoting walking infrastructure and the walking product on local and nationally significant walking routes (such as the Strandhill/Kilaspugbrone Loop).
She also works with a large number of start-up and existing adventure tourism businesses. She has spear-headed a number of initiatives including the Community Tourism Initiative in Strandhill, walking guides and websites.
She is currently working on a social media campaign to promote Sligo as Ireland’s #AdventureCapital in conjunction with tourism businesses. She is passionate about the development potential of tourism for the region. Deirdre is keen to collaborate with local businesses and communities in this pursuit.
John G Coaching
After moving from Edinburgh to Dublin 9 years ago (mistakenly under the impression the whole of Ireland was going to be like Electric Picnic) John has recently set up home & work in Strandhill.
As the founder of John G Coaching he works with companies to help get the most from the talent they have. Outside of corporate life John helps people create a life of confidence, calm, love, creativity and happiness regardless of their life situation.
Whether its corporate or not, John helps people see the it’s the relationship people have with their own thoughts and feelings, and not the situations they are in, that determine the experience they will have. So, rather than constantly trying to change emotions and thoughts, John helps people make peace with them, which in turn will grant them the opportunity for unlimited positive experiences.
John’s session ‘Mind Calm’ will be about the hidden causes of a busy mind and what to know to make life that bit easier.
Martina Hamilton Collection, The Cat & The Moon and the Hamilton Gallery
Martina Hamilton is a jewellery designer and craft retailer in Castle Street, Sligo. Her jewellery collection Bean Rí – Woman King, commissioned by the National Museum of Ireland received the coveted jewellery award by Showcase and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland in 2015.
Throughout her own design career Martina has drawn on the Sligo landscape and the poetry of W.B Yeats for her inspiration. Her craft outlet The Cat and The Moon named after a Yeats poem and play celebrates 25 years in business in 2015. The Cat and The Moon, is one of Irelands leading studio craft outlets and stocks only 100% Irish made jewellery, fine art and handcraft. Hamilton Gallery located on the first floor of No. 4 Castle Street, was established by Martina to promote emerging and established Irish artists in 2010.
Martina is a member of the Yeats Day committee and programmes the annual Lily & Lolly craft festival. 2015 is the 150th anniversary of WB Yeats birth, it promises to be a significant year for Sligo culturally.
Recently elected to the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, she is also a member of Made in Sligo Network. 2015 is the Year of Design.
Christian Talbot is a stand-up comedian from Dublin, based in Northern Ireland.
In 2012 he was one of the finalists in Amnesty International’s Secret Policeman’s Ball “World’s Shortest Gig” and came runner-up in the Galway Comedy Festival “Comedy Slam”.
In August 2013, he brought his show “Funeral Addict” to the Free Sisters at the Edinburgh Free Festival Fridge and was runner-up in the Edinburgh Heat of the BBC New Comedy Award.
In August 2014, he brought his show “Hello Cruel World” to Underbelly at the Edinburgh Free Festival and won the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.
In November 2014 he was seen in Neil Delamere’s “Holding out for a Hero” on RTE television.
“He is an absolutely engaging performer. He has lots of lovely little bits and pieces.” – (The Scotsman)