Monday, May 08, 2017

Business and community discussed at Expo 2017

Building a restaurant business, providing telehealth advice, exporting luxury leather craft and the use of flowers to brighten up a community were the elements of the discussion session moderated by TV presenter Daithí Ó Sé at last Saturday’s Kilcullen & Ballymore Expo 2017, writes Brian Byrne.

Georgina O’Sullivan told how the Ballymore Inn food offering was developed from a soup and sandwiches base to the much appreciated restaurant it is today.

“There were always people coming in and asking where they could go to dinner locally,” she recalled. “So we started with basic food about 20 years ago. We didn’t do any great expensive research … our customers in the local community just kept asking us to ‘do a bit more’. To decide on the menus, I simply asked myself what would I like to have, what would my Dad like, and what our friends would like and so on.”

Also relating to Ballymore, Mary O’Brien, CEO of VideoDoc, outlined how her online GP consultation service was piloting an extension of the system through Sean Fogarty’s Post Office in the village, which doesn’t have a Health Centre. The option is part of ‘The Hub’ in the Post Office and shop, where a number of other services are provided.

“It’s really about giving people access to healthcare in a locality where there isn’t a doctor easily available,” she said, noting how the service was already linked with partners like VHI Healthcare and major hospitals. Doctors sign up to be on the panel for the link, which operates 8am-10pm six days a week. A patient who wants to seek advice for common ailments pays €30 for a live consultation by video. Ms O’Brien noted that the process of ‘seeing a doctor’ hasn’t changed much in a hundred years’ up to now.

Alan McCormack of Carve On, a premium leather craft business which was begun in Kill and moved to a larger Kilcullen premises last year, explained the background to the business, which exports a large proportion of of its products to America, mainland Europe, and the Middle East. Their range of leather covered notebooks, portfolios and bags are very much in demand as corporate gifts, as are the company’s golf accessories. He told Daithí Ó Sé that Brexit might be an issue, but because they have diverse markets, their business is unlikely to be too much affected.

Eoin Houlihan of Kilcullen Tidy Towns talked about how the original Kilcullen Flowers Project had attracted him to come and live in the town a few years ago. The scheme this year is being expanded as ‘Kilcullen in Bloom’.

“It’s not just good for business, it’s for everybody who lives in or visits the town,” he said. “This year we enlisted the help of a local floral designer to decide on the arrangements, and two local landscape and gardening companies have been contracted to provide and install the flowers. It’s all about making Kilcullen a great place to live and work in.”

Following the interview session, Daithí Ó Sé toured the stands at the Expo, gaining a very good insight into the variety and extent of enterprise and community in Kilcullen.

All the pictures from the day can be viewed here.