We are delighted to catch up this month with Kate O Leary, Kate is current President of Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, and she is also a busy lady running the Laurels Pub in Killarney and Mum to two boys so how does she do it all?
Kate you’re a full time business woman running a busy pub in Killarney town centre, now that you have become Chamber President you must be really busy, what does the role of President involve?
I have always been a “doer” so taking on the presidency is a big challenge for me because I have had to pass on my two main projects in Chamber (town flags and July 4th celebrations) and become more of an overseer and delegator.
I am very fortunate to be part of an extremely proactive Chamber in a wonderfully vibrant town so there are always a lot of things going on. It could be a full time job so recognising the most appropriate person for everything that pops up is vital . A lot of my time is spent meeting people with a view to new events and new businesses for Killarney, following up on our sub-committees and of course I spend a bit of time stomping out fires … Metaphorically!
Killarney is steeped in tourism and one could say it often sells its self now it’s done so well for years by businesses, what do you feel could be done if indeed anything needs to be done to improve the promotion Killarney gets nationally and worldwide?
We are blessed in Killarney to be surrounded by natural beauty with our lakes, mountains and parkland, but I think it is our welcome and our warmth that sets us apart
There is beauty all over the world but a personal connection is what will bring people back to Killarney.
We can always sell ourselves better; I think a strong digital presence is essential and variety in our offering so that we have something for everyone. We are making great strides in both of those areas. The Chamber is a wonderful channel for information to potential visitors and we encourage people to keep us informed of upcoming events so that we can promote them
We have to constantly keep our eye on the ball for new opportunities and to ensure we are getting plenty of positive media coverage.
During your role as President have you any personal goals you would like to achieve?
I sure do, I would love to see more civic space developed around the town so that the centre of the town gets spread out and places that people can sit and chat. This is something that one can see in many European towns and it makes discovering the town more interesting.
I would also like to see more monuments and to have the existing monuments lit up at night. The Monsignor Hugh O Flaherty monument is beautifully lit and is a fine example of what I mean. There is a section of a very popular walk between Dinis and Torc waterfall that is totally unsuitable for cyclists and walkers and I would hope that we can encourage the authorities to develop this area. We are very excited about the opening of Killarney House this year and are very anxious that the wall that encloses it in on Mission Road be altered to increase visibility to the magnificence that is behind it. We are always looking to increase our membership so too will be a big focus of mine.
You’re a busy mum of two boys, how do they feel about Mum representing the town as the president of the chamber?
The boys are great, I would never have had conventional hours so they are used to me running and racing! They are very proud of me and recognise the honour that it is to represent Killarney in this way. I think they are secretly hoping I won’t give them too many tasks though!
What’s downtime? What does Kate do to relax and chill out?
I cook and exercise. You can’t have one without the other! I am a total foodie. There is no greater pleasure for me than to feed family and friends. I love flicking through recipes and finding a recipe that just clicks with me. I go to the gym and cycle quite a bit too so I am looking forward to the long evenings so I can get out on my bike. I have a great bunch of active friends
Finally you took to the dance floor recently for charity at the strictly come dancing event in Killarney, how was it for you?
OMG it was one of the best things I have done in a long time I loved every minute of it. From the time I walked into the room to meet the other dancers and organisers, until it all finished last weekend it was just amazing, I have never experienced such goodwill and fraternity.
Joe Burkett our choreographer was fantastic and Myra Fitzgerald the main organiser did Trojan work. I had an amazing dance partner Pat O Neill, always in good form and great fun,
But best of all is the delusional bubble you get into when dancing, every time I started dancing I forgot myself and thought I was five foot ten and 8 1/2 stone!!!! Sheer bliss!
I would do it again in a heartbeat. It’s great for the soul.
Hopefully with the money we raised from
the great support we got we may have
saved a life.