Louth-based Curio PR founder Aoife Finnegan returned from Sydney to start a business in Ireland.
Curio PR’s founder Aoife Finnegan is a recent alumni of the Irish Government’s Back for Business programme.
The Back for Business programme was created in 2018 to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among Irish emigrants returning to Ireland. Now in its seventh year, Back for Business has helped entrepreneurs to significantly grow sales and employment.
“I wouldn’t have set up my business anywhere else because there’s so much culture, there’s so much happening”
Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Back for Business is seeking up to 50 applicants from returned and returning Irish emigrants that wish to start and develop businesses in Ireland. They are invited to apply to participate in the development programme which is tailored to their needs. There is no cost to those selected.
This cycle will run from February to June 2024. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 15 January 2024. Those interested in learning more about applying for Back for Business 7 can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by visiting www.backforbusiness.com.
Prior to emigrating to London in 2008 Aoife Finnegan from Dundalk had been working in HR and marketing for Douglas Wallace Architects in Dublin while simultaneously pursuing a career in acting.
Aoife moved to London to work as an actor but took a job in the PR department of Tourism Ireland, which ultimately changed the course of her career.
“I absolutely loved it. Great Britain would have been the biggest market for Tourism Ireland. I worked on media familiarisation trips and promoted Ireland as a leading holiday destination,” she says.
She had been living in London for five years when an opportunity arose in Tourism Ireland’s Sydney office. “So, I moved to Sydney. I went from a busy PR team in London to being the sole PR representative in Sydney. It was a busy five years,” she says.
“I went over not knowing anybody. My mantra was if you don’t like it you can always come home. The first year I told myself to say yes to everything – if people ask you to go out or to do something just go and do it because you won’t be asked again. I found Sydney very friendly, a very welcoming city.”
After five years working in the Sydney office, Aoife decided to move back to Ireland in 2019. “I loved my time in Sydney, and I was also very lucky to get home at least once a year, but I’m very close to my family and I felt like I had served my time,” she says.
On her return, she was approached by Diageo and took a contract role in Dublin as a brand manager for the Roe and Co Whiskey Distillery, the Guinness Open Gate Brewery and the Smithwick’s Experience in Kilkenny. When her contract ended just as the pandemic started, Aoife moved back to Dundalk.
Setting up Curio PR in 2021 happened organically after Aoife initially volunteered to help with communications for Dundalk’s SEEK Contemporary Urban Arts Festival, which her brother was involved in.
Having succeeded in getting media attention for the festival, Aoife began consulting for some local creative businesses and her client list grew through word of mouth. “I love that that is how it has grown. I haven’t really had to go out and promote myself – I’m too busy promoting other people,” she says.
Since returning to Dundalk, Aoife has found that it has a vibrant cultural scene and a community that embraces it. “I wouldn’t have set up my business anywhere else because there’s so much culture, there’s so much happening. I’m working within the arts and culture space, and I’ve been very lucky so far to work on some amazing projects,” she says.
Aoife found the Back for Business programme gave her a laser-focus on her business, while the participants became friends and a source of support for each other. “It was fantastic, such a great programme to be part of. Our Lead Entrepreneur, Hannah Wrixon, wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions that working on your own you might sidestep. She would really make you focus on all aspects of your business and address things that you might not be good at,” she says.
Aoife’s plans for the future of Curio PR are to hire a public relations executive to assist her in the day-to-day running of the business, which will allow her to focus on business development and broadening the client base.