A Wild Atlantic Creation fit for a US President

Sligo jeweller Martina Hamilton’s pieces are inspired by the sea

The Atlantic has inspired many of the world’s finest creators including Sligo award-winning jeweller and goldsmith, Martina Hamilton.

A county of “extraordinary beauty and wealth” is how Martina describes Sligo and it’s clear to see the two are a perfect fit.

That’s because her designs are inspired by the wonderful, ever-changing Atlantic coastal landscape she calls home and by her ancestors who were once surrounded by its active shores on Dernish Island off the north west coast.

Her love of the sea is perhaps most evident in her latest Shore Collection which features imprints in the sand from the tide, periwinkles on rocks, and oysters and pearls.

Well-known gardener and RTE presenter Leonie Cornelius is Martina’s official brand ambassador, illustrating the reach of Atlantic corridor companies far and wide.

Martina said: “I grew up in Lissadell and it’s amazing to see how it has continued to resonate with me. I grew up by the water and going to the beach all the time and I don’t know why it happened that the Atlantic’s inspiration came out through my work, but it’s something that has great meaning inside my gallery.”

She added: “The support that I have received over my career has been through friends and through people with common connections. But I firmly believe that working in groups ultimately ends up being better for everyone involved. Sharing always comes back to you.”

Martina’s collections can be found at her shop The Cat and the Moon in Sligo town, as well as part of Arnotts’ Irish Jewellery Collection, Avoca Stores, Designyard, House of Ireland, Kilkenny Design, Kilkenny Shop and Steensons of Belfast.

Atlantic corridor’s deep history preserved in Tubbercurry

Dutch couple reap rewards of historic region to establish conservation business

A life changes when one moves country and the decision to do so must not be taken lightly.

But so was the pull of the Atlantic lifestyle that Dutchman Benjamin van den Wetering and his wife Ineke Scholte, made the big move to the Ox Mountains of Tubbercurry at the turn of the millennium.

It is here that their company ‘The Ox Bindery’ now offers Institute of Conservators-Restorers in Ireland (ICRI) accredited conservation services to public and private clients.

Some might say the west coast and the artistic couple are a faultless match.

Benjamin, a former art school student, has also studied hand bookbinding and subsequently book and paper conservation in the Netherlands.

Sligo is of course notable for its rich history, particularly in literature.

So when Benjamin, who comes from a family of craftworkers, took an interest in the origins and craft of books it was written in the stars that he settle in the north west.

And as Benjamin and Ineke also now run their own Airbnb, they are also reaping the rewards of the West’s growing tourism market.

“We do have tourists coming for accommodation,” said Benjamin. “I would say Airbnb creates a lot of traction for our book binding business as these people often buy some of our books, but we are aware that what we do is pioneering in the area.”

He added: “Working in the west is rewarding and we get a lot of work done because of its quiet, the peace it offers and its low overhead costs.”

The company recently took part in a project funded by the Heritage Council under the National Lottery good causes fund.

The Ox Bindery expertly conserved various raw materials such as account books from an historic family boat yard.

The notebooks are now in the care of Sligo County Council Local Studies and Archives Section.

With the history of the Atlantic corridor being written every day, its preservation is in the finest hands at Ox Bindery.

Coastal beauty and quality of life sets tone for Portwest

Award-winning Mayo company becomes a world leader, based in the heart of Ireland’s west.

Just like the Wild Atlantic Way, Westport-based company Portwest is steeped in a history and heritage to be envious of.

More than 110 years of experience has given this business a reputation of quality, value and service in a field it has proven to be a world leader in.

That is the design and manufacture of stylish, comfortable and high-quality workwear that meets recognised international standards.

But while Portwest’s hard-working team at its Atlantic corridor headquarters reflects the success the company has achieved to date, it’s hard to look past the business’ award-winning chief executive – Harry Hughes.

Hughes, who runs the company along with his brothers Cathal and Owen, was in 2016 named EY Entrepreneur of the Year, a worthy recipient in the year that the firm recorded €140 million in revenue.

He has credited operating along the Atlantic Economic Corridor as a huge reason his business is able to reap such rewards.

“Westport was built on the linen industry 250 years ago and textiles has been a key industry since then,” Harry told a conference recently.

“Some companies closed due to globalisation, such as the thread and boot factories but there are still four companies operating – Portwest, Carraig Donn, Northern Feather and Popular Linens. These companies employ over 300 directly in textiles in Westport and their off-shoot companies such as hotel and retail employ another 200.”

Among the advantages of Portwest’s location is the quality of life and work balance it offers staff.

In fact, Westport was voted best place to live in Ireland by The Irish Times in 2012. Just last year, it won Tidy Towns’ ‘Best Large Town’.

Hughes has in the past also recognised his company’s close proximity to third level institutes in Mayo, Galway and Sligo who continue to provide top graduates to his industry.

Harry said: “Most towns in rural Ireland do not have these issues. We should be encouraging Dublin companies to have a rural office or facility.

“A vibrant west of Ireland benefits everybody. Tourists do not wish to visit or stay in declining towns. Nobody will invest where there is decline.”

What happens when a big red barn meets a big blue ocean

Mayo company Big Red Barn looks to use Atlantic to its advantage as it targets US market.

The Atlantic is famous for its rough aesthetic with a beauty that both frightens and awes.

But it’s been a much smoother journey for Swinford’s Big Red Barn who design and manufacture innovative modular structures for worldwide events.

Founded by Donal Byrne in 2014, the Mayo giant has been garnering international attention for the pioneering work it does for clients such as grocery trailblazers Lidl, and even the BBC’s Top Gear franchise.

Their pioneering work includes Europe’s first ever two-storey event structure manufactured to withstand all weather conditions.

But the romance of the Atlantic’s beauty is never far away, represented by their “little white chapel” which caters for non-church weddings and smaller events.

It was a conscious decision for Donal to establish a global business in the heart of the west coast, originating in Ballyhaunis and working their way up to the much larger facility that they now occupy in Swinford, just minutes from Knock Airport and the motorway to Dublin.

“I’m a Mayo man through and through and I would have no interest operating this business anywhere else,” Donal says.

“I’m a big fan of the west of Ireland and I just think there is so much to offer here. Everything we need is on our doorstep and that shows in the fact that all my suppliers are local suppliers, with the exception of my timber. We have some of the biggest suppliers in the country operating out of the west coast.”

Donal credits Local Enterprise Offices, the Chamber network and Mayo County Council for giving the Big Red Barn the shove it needed to turn its idea into a viable business venture.

And as the Big Red Barn looks to set sail across the big blue sea, perhaps the US will be seeing more of the Atlantic’s economic corridor.

Writing a new story for Limerick

The Treaty city has used the power of digital to trigger a renaissance.

Publishing relevant and up-to-date content and showcasing Limerick’s unique selling points is the daily job of Limerick.ie.

Set-up to present the Treaty City in a positive light, the website gives information about Limerick City and County Council services.

It also aims to be number one when people search the internet for information on It also aims to be number one when people search the internet for information on Limerick and to showcase the city’s growing reputation as a perfect Atlantic region hub to work and call home.

And judging by how it’s been received the website is delivering in all aspects.

Laura Ryan, Head of Marketing and Communications with Limerick City and County Council explains: “The site has been designed around its users so that each can have their own private log-in and they can create an individualised profile.”

Limerick.ie is setting the foundation for what people can do with the platform and what it can do for them.

It’s developing personalised services in an integrated way so that Limerick can develop the digital city experience for years to come.

Ryan says: “With Limerick’s economic renaissance already anchoring the Mid-West as Ireland’s fastest growing region, the newly developed integrated digital platform – Limerick.ie –is a dynamic window to all key information about life in the resurgent Limerick.”

Indeed the Limerick.ie digital platform is central to building a new ‘Digital Limerick’ by providing citizens with all information about the local authority and how to access its services.

It also acts as the official guide for those visiting the city and county and for people and organisations, including inward investors who want to do business in or with Limerick.

Limerick.ie was launched in April 2017 and was followed by an extensive marketing campaign. Since then it has become a multi-award-winning platform. More than 800,000 unique visitors visited Limerick.ie in 2017 alone.

A building block to success

Collaborative workspace provides both bliss of modern offices and thrill of Sligo adventure.

Quality of life; work-life balance; short commutes.

These are just a few things on a long list of benefits enjoyed by people who work along the Atlantic Corridor.

The workforce available up and down the west coast means the region is thriving – with limitless potential
An example of this talented workforce is perhaps best seen at The Building Block in Sligo town which offers state-of-the-art co-working rental offices and connected, productive spaces.

Those who work within the building come from countries including Ireland, Sweden, Canada, the US and South Korea.

For them, Sligo, which is the embodiment of Wild Atlantic adventure, is not only an ideal location to work, it’s pretty fun too.

Denise Rushe, co-founder of The Building Block, says: “Sligo is an urban location but it also has beautiful landscape and opportunities for adventure. It’s hard to find that anywhere else.

“People who work at The Building Block are able to make the most of a small city that has a large community, and for a lot of these people, they are coming home to where they grew up which is very important.”

The Atlantic corridor also produces top quality graduates from third level institutes like IT Sligo.

Denise praises their contribution to the local workforce, as many are now interning or are employed by companies within The Building Block.

“They bring new ideas and approaches to projects,” she said. “It’s certainly advantageous and we are lucky to have that relationship with IT Sligo.”

The Building Block also provides a close-knit community for companies and remote workers who benefit from its high-speed broadband, high-spec meeting rooms and a joyful, motivating interior.

“It’s particularly beneficial to smaller companies,” she stated. “They can share resources and even share problems. A problem shared is a problem halved.”

A unique taste absorbed from a unique Atlantic climate

Clare woman, Louise McGuane, said goodbye to a life of travel to found her own whiskey business along the Atlantic Corridor.

Her career has taken her all over the world, but neither the bright lights of New York nor the romance of Paris could dwindle her dreams of opening her very own whiskey business ideally positioned along the Atlantic corridor.

Located on the McGuane family farm in Kilrush, Co. Clare, Chapel Gate Whiskey is less than a mile away from the sea and enjoying a microclimate that founder Louise, a self-proclaimed farmer’s daughter, describes as “unique”.

The distinctness of the region results in an whiskey tasting experience brimming in individuality, although Louise concedes it may not be ideal for a biking holiday.

This is just a minor consequence of the business’ special location which has a lasting impact on the maturation of its whiskey.

Louise says: “The majority of a whiskey’s flavour actually comes from the barrel it’s aged in, and the region where that barrel is stored has a huge impact.

“It takes a few years to really know how the style turns out, but I am willing to bet that this climate we have along the west coast will have a big impact on our whiskey and on our business.”

Business is already soaring for the Clare distillery both nationally and internationally.

Louise credits businesses within the Atlantic region for contributing to this, for instance there are numerous establishments that now sell the product.

But the company’s reach stretches farther with Germany in particular being a favoured destination.

As Louise explains herself, a global revival in popularity of whiskey has helped.

“Irish whiskey is geographically a protected brand,” she says, “and there has been a massive resurgence in its interest.

“What I’m hoping to do is use this to develop and build a regional brand.”

The Atlantic corridor has proved to be a successful and unique building block towards Chapel Gate Whiskey’s label, and with plans to export more internationally, the region is reaping the rewards.