Barry Walsh looks at 10 exciting and dynamic businesses from Louth that have carved a promising future for themselves through innovation and determination.
Known as ‘the wee county’ because it is the smallest county by land area, Louth is the 18th most populous in Ireland with more than 128,000 residents.
Louth’s strategic location between Dublin and Belfast is already making it possible to become ‘Ireland’s Fintech Corridor’ because of the growing coterie of digital businesses including eBay and Gecko Governance and the area is already a magnet for inward investment from pharma players such as Wuxi.
With bustling towns like Drogheda and Dundalk as well as scenic locations like Carlingford Lough, the border county uses the natural coast line, educational institutions such as Dundalk IT, good transport infrastructure and links with Northern Ireland to build a network of successful entrepreneurs.
After more than 10 years’ experience working in the sports science industry Niamh Pentony, CEO of Boyne Ergonomics founded Boyne Ergonomics in 2019, providing on-site and virtual ergonomics consultations. When the pandemic began Niamh had been advising home workers how to set up their workstations and work day to ensure they are comfortable, safe and productive. She went on to win the Innovative Entrepreneur and Emerging New Business awards and was nominated in the coveted Business Woman of The Year Award in the Network Ireland Businesswoman of the Year awards” in 2021.
Keen athlete and brand new mum Yvonne Brady had an embarrassing moment while running in Dunleer Co Louth, where she was caught short with a sudden bathroom emergency. After getting over the embarrassment of the incident and having had a baby Yvonne was then recommended pelvic floor exercises. Yvonne found that this is a common issue for many new mums looking to get back to exercising. Yvonne spent the next while researching and networking with people within the industry, and when she exhausted all the possibilities she developed her own “stylish supportive sportswear was apparent, sportswear that would protect their core and prevent irreversible damage”. The company now has a range of athletic-wear sports clothing for women, such as box briefs, leggings, Bamboo underwear and Capri Shorts, all designs to assist women. Yvonne was also accepted into Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-up’s and is now selling to more than 40 countries worldwide.
Carlingford Oysters Company
No article on Louth could be complete without mentioning the seaside town of Carlingford Lough. With the Irish sea at its doorstep it comes as no surprise that the Carlingford Oysters Company is one of the top rated Oyster farms in Europe let alone Ireland. The 40 year-old business is run by Kian and Mary Louet-Feisser. With unspoilt growing conditions, the oysters feed on the naturally occurring plankton and unique minerals, which flow down from the mountain streams, giving them a unique flavour, colour and texture. The recently announced ‘Sea Louth’ trail aims to get passers-by off the motorway and on to the eastern coastline. In addition, the company has won many Irish and International awards, including a Guild of Fine Foods‘ Great Taste Golden Fork award, a Blas na h’Eireann Gold award and the Cloudy Bay British Oyster Championship gold medal. The awards, together with their reputation and soon to be launched panoramic visitor centre will keep visitors and locals returning to the town for years to come.
Drummond House Garlic
Based in Beltray, Drummond House Garlic was built upon 150 years of experience. In 2008 Peter and Marita Collier inherited the 100 acre family farm and began planning for the future, while leasing it to local farmers. In 2012 after extensive research, the team at Drummond House Garlic planted their first garlic crop. They updated some of the infrastructure and invested in a full irrigation system for their crop. In 2016 they planted two acres of asparagus which has been a wonderful success.
Drummond House Garlic is now the largest commercial supplier of garlic in Ireland and is available in retailers such as Dunnes Stores, Tesco, and artisan food stores nationwide.
They launched their Garlic Scape Sauce and Dip in 2020, which has been a wonderful success. Drummond House Garlic has won 14 awards over their 10 years in business, including Euro-Toques 2017, Georgina Campbell Gold Excellence in Growing, and most recently Gold – Irish Quality Food and Drink award 2021 to name just a few.
Emma’s So Naturals
Born from a passion for all things natural, Emma’s So Naturals was founded in 2010 by Emma and David Fallon, from Ardee, Co. Louth. They have grown their handmade wellness and home-fragrance collection to include three styles of long lasting, clean burning candles, wax melts, handmade palm-free soaps, and new aroma diffuser essential oil blends.
Their beautifully scented products are available in eight inspired fragrance blends of essential oils, selected for their aromatherapy benefits that Emma has developed herself using the principles of natural perfumery, with limited-edition seasonal scents regularly being released.
Emma’s So Naturals’ candle & soap collections come beautifully packaged in an Irish designed and produced floral box, and their entire trove of all-natural products have been developed to be vegan and palm free, proving that conscientiousness can also be luxurious!
Their product is now in 70 outlets in Ireland as well as in the US, Spain and the UK.
Having qualified from NCAD in 2008 Niamh worked in the fashion business for four years before opening her own business in 2012. In 2014, Niamh was a finalist of the Best Young Entrepreneur of The Year Awards and in 2015 Niamh won Irish fashion designer of the year award. All of Niamh materials are sourced from within the EU, are ethically made and are suitable for all seasons. Niamh’s clothes can be found on her website and accessories can now be found in Arnotts, Serendipity in Kilkenny, County Boutique in County Clare and Tipperary and Isobel in County Limerick.
Based in Dundalk and a spin-out from Dundalk IT, Nova Leah was founded by Anita Finnegan, Peter Finnegan, and Fergal McCaffery. The company states: “We seek to combine our expertise and skill sets to develop industry leading technology solutions that provide the necessary knowledge and guidance your workforce needs to develop and maintain more secure medical devices in a continuous fashion.” Recognised with more than 10 international awards including from Crunchbase, EU Start-up Awards, Irish Exporters Awards and Ibec, the brand is set to grow in 2022
Dr Conor Kerley was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 16. This diagnosis inspired him to change his lifestyle and then study dietetics and nutrition at Trinity College. Subsequently, Kerley earned his clinical doctorate with the School of Medicine and Medical Sciences at University College, Dublin. Then Kerley was head hunted to a job in Washington DC. During this time he was presenting his research in Australia, Dr Kerley developed the idea to “use his research and expertise to formulate nutrition products to help millions of people around the world” and founded 100% Irish nutrition product company, Phytaphix. Having worked with the Louth Local Enterprise Office, and programs such as the New Frontiers, Dr Kerley formulated Immune Phix which according to their website “contains specific and crucial vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in specific amounts based on published human research and known to help maintain immune health.” After winning the World Food Innovation Award in 2021, Kerley then launched a second product, COVMPAQ which is a high strength, inflammation, immune, energy, psychological, nerve and muscle support formula. Both these products are plant based, vegan friendly, gluten free and low in carbohydrates and sugar.
Q-KANGAROO is an app platform for food and beverage retailers; it is a powerful tool for handling prepaid pick up, sit in, delivery and at table ordering. With commission rates at half those of Just Eat and as a marketplace app bringing customers and retailers together in one place, Q-KANGAROO looks forward to listing many more local food outlets. The app allows you you to skip the queue at your local cafe, restaurant or deli during office lunch hour. An RTE report noted: “Q-KANGAROO’s ethos is they are a local company, and they want to support local businesses at a local level hence the quick adaptation of their tech to help small businesses keep relevant to their customers during the lockdowns.”
Soilse Candle Company.
Karen Lavelle founded her Dundalk based company in 2013 after living in New York for 11 years in the fashion industry working in companies such as Gap. She named her candle company Soilse because that’s the Irish for brightness or light. Karen takes her inspiration for the scent of her candles from nature or the outdoors. The company now has six different scented candles and according to their website. All candles in its Irish candle and Apothecary Collections are lovingly hand poured and made from 100% soy wax, infused with a unique blend of essential oil based fragrances that are all naturally produced and environmentally friendly. Karen uses all natural recycled materials and is passionate about sustainability and encourages the re-use of our vessels. Soilse Candle Company was one of the companies that saw an increase in trade during Covid-19 and the candles have also been mentioned in the likes of The Late Late Show, (Irish Businesses Special), Vogue Magazine, Image Magazine and The Irish and English Times.