News & Events

Minister Breen opens biggest ever National Women’s Enterprise Day

17 events take place for female entrepreneurs nationwide

Today sees the largest ever programme of events for National Women’s Enterprise Day take place across the country.  An initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), the day was opened by Pat Breen T.D., Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, who attended the Dublin event in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown this morning.  

The theme for this year’s event is “Making It Happen” in what is National Women’s Enterprise Days’ 13th year run by the Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities and supported by Enterprise Ireland, with funding from the Government of Ireland.  

The event has grown year on year with 17 events taking place across the country today and over 1,700 female entrepreneurs expected to be in attendance.  This growth in popularity has been reflected in the national growth in female entrepreneurship.  There was an 18% increase in female entrepreneurs taking Local Enterprise Office training programmes last year as almost 22,000 female entrepreneurs engaged with their LEO on supports in 2018. 

Some of Ireland’s best known female entrepreneurs will be sharing their experience at events in Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.  Those taking part include; fashion tech entrepreneur Sonya Lennon, former world champion and digital health and wellness entrepreneur Derval O’Rourke, Sonia Deasy of Pestle & Mortar, food entrepreneur Catherine Fulvio, Caroline Keeling of Keelings, Vicki O’Toole of J.J. O’Toole, Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical and Rhona Togher of Restored Hearing. 

Pat Breen T.D., Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, said: “It is important for Ireland as a country that there should be a far greater participation of females in our entrepreneurial landscape and it is very positive to see the stats moving in the right direction. Events like National Women’s Enterprise Day play a key role in continuing that momentum.  Ireland has a marvelous entrepreneurial culture that is evident across the world and we need more females to become part of the journey.  Today is about celebrating those who have already done it and encouraging others to take the first step. I would encourage all budding female entrepreneurs to contact their Local Enterprise Office and check out the range of supports that are available.” 

Orla Martin, LEO Offaly and Chair of the National Women’s Enterprise Day Committee, said; “National Women’s Enterprise Day is an important date on the Local Enterprise Office calendar.  It gives us the opportunity to highlight the success stories of women who continue to do amazing things in business, across every sector.  The day itself is an opportunity for businesswomen to network, engage, share tips, advice and encourage each other.  It also gives those, who are thinking of taking the step, the chance to learn from female entrepreneurs who have been in that position and understand that the support is there if you ask for it.  The hardest part is taking that first step and when you do speak to your Local Enterprise Office you will quickly see the support is there to help you make your idea a reality.” 

With over 1,700 expected at National Women’s Enterprise Day, the figures for female entrepreneurship continue to rise.  Over 4,500 female entrepreneurs availed of business mentoring in 2018 up 19% from the previous year with nearly 22,000 taking part in a range of Local Enterprise Office training programmes, a rise of 18% from 2017.  The 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report also shows that nearly 40% of new business owners in Ireland are now female. 

National Women’s Enterprise Day is just one of the initiatives of the Local Enterprise Offices aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and assisting companies to start up across the country.  Others include Local Enterprise Week, Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE), the National Enterprise Awards, the Student Enterprise Programme and the Local Enterprise Village at the National Ploughing Championships.     


For further information:

Sarah Bohan – Enterprise Ireland – 087 653 9936 /

Declan Lee – Enterprise Ireland – 087 695 7451 / 

National Women’s Enterprise Day – Full Event Listing


An interactive morning event focused on networking and sales by LEO Carlow at Lisnavagh House, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, including morning refreshments and lunch. Featuring; Ambassador Kate Gaynor of Advanced Coatings and The Paint Hub and Derval O’Rourke, health and wellness advocate and former sprints hurdle athlete. 


An evening event by LEO Cavan at Hotel Kilmore, Dublin Road, Cavan Town. Including refreshments and a buffet dinner. Featuring; Ambassador Vicki O’Toole of JJ O’Toole Ltd, Patricia Reilly, Deputy Head of Cabinet at the European Commission and Margaret McKeon-Boyle of the Cavan Business Women’s Club & Extensive PR. 

Clare, Limerick & Tipperary

A full day event by LEOs in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary at Dromoland Castle, Newmarket on Fergus, Co. Clare. An interactive day with networking opportunities, panel discussions and guest speakers, with refreshments and lunch provided. Featuring; Ambassador Jean McCabe of Willow Boutique, Sonya Lennon, Designer, Broadcaster and Entrepreneur, Birgitta Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse in Clare, Florrie Purcell of The Scullery in Tipperary and Fiona Steed, Former Ireland Rugby International and television analyst. 

Cork & Kerry 

An afternoon tea event by LEOs South Cork, Cork North & West, Cork City and Kerry at the Castlemartyr Resort, Co. Cork. Afternoon tea will be provided. Featuring; Ambassador Dr. Wendy Oke of TeachKloud, keynote speaker Celia Holman Lee, stylist and businesswoman, Aisling Hurley of The Business Fairy, Aoibheann O’Brien of Food Cloud, Emily Aherne of Evolve Therapy, Jennifer Scanlon of CoCo Boutique, Hayley Milthorpe of The Cultural Food Company and MC on the night Theresa Mulvihill of Tamm Technologies.


A half day event by LEOs in Fingal, Dublin City, Dublin South and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown at the Crowne Plaza, Blanchardstown, Dublin. Morning refreshments and lunch provided. Featuring; MC Kathryn Thomas, Broadcaster, Caroline Keeling of Keelings, Melanie Boylan of Stomp Social Media Training, Krissy Gibson of Take the Cake, Siobhan Murray, author of “The Burnout Solution”, Niamh Sherwin Barry of The Irish Fairy Door Company, Jo Harpur of Jo Harper Jewellery, Emer Clery of Emu Ink Publishing. 


A half day event by LEO Donegal at the Castlegrove House, Letterkenny with lunch provided along with guest speakers, panel discussions and an interactive innovation workshop. Featuring; MC, Anna Geary, former Cork Camogie Captain and television and radio personality. Evelyn Kierans of Swan Net Gundry, Agnes Lunny of Positive Futures and Karl Thomas of Creatovation. 

Galway, Mayo, Roscommon

A half day event by LEO Galway, Mayo and Roscommon at the Meyrick Hotel, Galway City with 2-course lunch provided. There will be networking opportunities on the day and a panel discussion. Featuring; Ambassador, Elizabeth McLoughlin of Tympany Medical, keynote speaker Samantha Kelly, The Tweeting Goddess and MC Loretta Ní Ghabhain of Lorg Media. 


A half-day event at the Curragh Racecourse beginning with some breakfast networking, the LEO Kildare event will feature National Enterprise Award winner and female entrepreneurial powerhouse, Sonia Deasy from Pestle & Mortar.  The event MC will be RTE’s Lottie Ryan who will share her story while also getting insights from the likes of Maureen McCowen of Soft Skills Success and Tracy O’Brien, Managing Director of The People Password Ltd with breakfast and lunch included. 


A LEO Leitrim event at the Landmark Hotel, Carrick on Shannon. Running mid-morning until late afternoon with 3-course lunch provided and featuring a panel of speakers. Featuring; Ambassador Georgia Visnyei of GSV Coffee Ltd and keynote speaker Maureen Gaffney, renowned Psychologist, Author and Broadcaster. 

Louth, Meath

A LEO Louth and Meath half day event with a breakfast reception, lunch and networking at the Citynorth Hotel, Julianstown, Co. Meath. Featuring; Ambassador and MC Lorraine Murphy, The Ideas Coach, Margaret E Ward, journalist and broadcaster, Sarah Daly, Director of Creative Spark, Evelyn Garland, Founder of Simply Fit Foods. 


A LEO Monaghan evening event with buffet supper at Castle Leslie in Co. Monaghan, featuring a panel of speakers, special guests and networking.  Featuring; Ambassador Liz Christie of Liz Christie Hand Woven in Ireland, keynote speaker Breda McCague, Innovative Change & Transformation Specialist and Co-Founder and leader of Lean in Ireland and Olivia Cannon, Head of Marketing at Castle Leslie. 


A LEO Kilkenny evening dinner event at the Rivercourt Hotel, John Street. "Making It Happen - Like Mother Like Daughter" is the theme in which Kilkenny based entrepreneurial families will relay how they are "Making in Happen" in the world of business. Featuring; Broadcaster and journalist Dr. Ciara Kelly, Ambassador Margaret Kirwan of Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Kilkenny and her sibling, Goal Communications Manager Miriam Donohoe and Kilkenny Group’s Marian O’Gorman and daughter Melissa. 

Offaly, Longford, Laois & Westmeath

A half-day event organised by LEOs in Offaly, Laois, Longford and Westmeath at the Gloster House, Brosna, Birr, Co. Offaly with lunch provided. Featuring; keynote speaker Collette Twomey of Clonakilty Food Company, Ambassador Emma Rose- Conroy of Euro Stallions Ltd, Anna Marie Delaney, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, Celebrity Chef and food writer Louise Lennox, Ellen Gunning of the Irish Academy of Public Relations and MC Susan Keogh, Broadcaster with Newstalk. Four local TD’s from each county will also be in attendance. 


A LEO Sligo evening event at the Castle Dargan Hotel, Ballygawley, Co. Sligo. The event will include networking opportunities, refreshments and a panel discussion. Featuring; Ambassador Rhona Togher of Restored Hearing, Oonagh Monahan, Author and founder of Alpha Omega Consultants, Elaine Murphy of Live Tiles, Clodagh Higgins of Valor Performance and Growit Group and Lucia Macari of Overstock.


An afternoon tea event by LEO Waterford at The Tower Hotel, The Mall, Co. Waterford.  Including networking opportunities, a leadership workshop and guest speakers. Featuring; Ambassador Sinéad Quealy of Virtual Vet, Muireann Fitzmaurice, “Wicklow Business Woman of the Year” and Claire Dillon, Technology Evangelist and Virtual Reality Expert. 


An interactive event organised by LEO Wexford at Newbay House, Co. Wexford. Running from early afternoon to late evening covering topics on wellness and nutrition along with a pre-dinner networking reception, guest speakers and panel discussions. Includes a light lunch and dinner. Featuring; Ambassador Mary Walsh of Ire Wel Pallets Ltd, Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2017, Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical and jewellery designer Aine Breen.  


An afternoon tea event organised by LEO Wicklow, hosted by Ambassador Catherine Fulvio of the Ballyknocken House & Cookery School. Includes networking, team building exercises and a cookery lesson, followed by tasting and a motivational speech by host, Catherine Fulvio.