10 wonderful west Cork businesses to watch

Barry Walsh casts his eye on 10 west Cork businesses that epitomise the county’s flair for food and abundance of natural resources.

Atlantic Sea Kayaking

Atlantic Sea Kayaking in Cork.

With the Atlantic Ocean at its doorstep it’s no surprise that sea sports are one of the biggest attractions in west Cork. Atlantic Sea Kayaking is one of the most successful businesses in the region.

The company offers tours encompassing the tranquil, sheltered bays of Glandore and Castlehaven, Baltimore Harbour and Carbery’s Hundred Isles, Lough Hyne and the Ilen River. It offfers tours during the day and at night, in addition to organising international kayaking tours for kayakers in the region.

The business was winner of Ireland’s inaugural Responsible Travel awards in their category, the overall winner of Ireland’s Responsible Tourism award and most recently won the Best Business Award in The Wild Atlantic Way, West Cork Awards of 2019. Its founders are board members and founder members of the Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism.

Castlemartyr Resort

Castlemyter Estate in Cork.

The resort dates back to the 18th century and between its manor and new additions it has 102 bedrooms and suites. The Resort is nestled in 220 acres of mature landscape, with meandering streams, parklands and a tranquil lake that is abundant with wildlife and gardens that include a reconstruction of the historical, classical parterre beds. The resort includes Bell Tower Restaurant, outdoor pursuits and activities including, archery, croquet on the lawn, clay pigeon shooting, or a game of hurling or the world class golf course. All guests enjoy complimentary use of the Health Club, offering a state-of-the-art gymnasium with fitness studio hosting up to 20 classes a week.

Clonakilty Food Company

Products from Clonakilty Food Company.

Clonakilty Food Co. is a family-business, passionate about bringing their family of great tasting products into homes across Ireland and further afield. Their story dates back to the 1880s in Clonakilty, West Cork where Clonakilty Blackpudding was first made in Harrington’s butcher shop using a secret recipe. The recipe was carefully passed down through the generations and when Edward Twomey bought the butcher shop in 1976 he inherited it along with a loyal local customer base. Thanks to Edward and his wife Colette’s passion and determination Clonakilty Blackpudding soon became a household name. Since then, they’ve grown their product range to include Clonakilty Whitepudding, Clonakilty Sausages, Clonakilty Rashers and most recently Clonakilty Veggie Pudding. Their products are available to buy across Ireland, UK, mainland Europe, UAE and Australia. They are focused on building on their international footprint and continuing to provide the highest quality of food to consumers whilst staying true to their provenance. Their awards include Great Taste Awards, Blas na hÉireann, Agribusiness Awards, Free from Food Awards, Guaranteed Irish Business Award and Commanderie des Fins Goustiers du Duché d’Alençon, to name but a few.

Future Forest

Man and woman in a garden.

With its scenic views, it’s not surprising that sustainability is a major selling point for businesses in west Cork. Future Forest is one of those companies. Specialists in mail order plants, they cater for all types of gardeners from novices to experienced professionals. They specialise in the diversity of the plants that they offer. With a in-house nursery the company offers native trees and hedging to perennial flowers and alpines their huge range caters for the new garden owner to the seasoned grower. They also work with schools, community groups, country estates, landscapers and the farming community helping to source and select the right plants for all locations and situations.

Keohane’s of Bantry

Sign for Keohanes of Bantry.

In business for more than 30 years, Keohane of Bantry is truly a family run business. Michael created the business and still runs the company, his son Colman runs the fishmongers and his daughter Anne-Marie runs the restaurant. Keohane’s insvests hugely in research to bring products to market that are often the first in Europe. They supply a a range of different fish restaurants and the company won West Cork Business of the Year at the Southern Star West Cork Business and Tourism Awards in 2019.

Lee Valley Apparel

Men and woman outside a shop.

Founded by Denis and Loretto Hurley, Inchigeela, County Cork the business began in 1986 in a former creamery. Having originally cut and designed their own fabric, they then outsource the production of their apparel to local sewers. Since then they have become known for their Grandfather flannel shirts. Since then they expanded into flannel sleepwear, organic shirts, tweed vests and more, as they mention on their website, “We now export worldwide to countries including France, Germany, UK, the US, and Canada, supplying over 100,000 customers globally.”


Neighbour Food logo.

Neighbourfood’s mission is to bring the best produce to your table, support our incredible local food producers and build a community around delicious food. Be delivering locally this drastically reduces the carbon footprint of traditional food delivery services and by using venues instead of house to house delivery it makes it faster and more efficient to deliver their products. All their produce are sourced locally and they don’t use any large farm or unethically raised animals or vegetables.They do a huge amount of marketing about the businesses they support in their local area on their popular podcast, interviewing the likes of Darina Allen, Caitlin Ruth or Dr Colin Sage.

Ocean Bloom

Ocean Bloom products beside sea.

An advantage to being near the Atlantic Ocean is easy access to natural resources. Ocean Bloom is one of those fortunate companies. The seaweed skincare company gathers its produce from the waters nearby. “Cheryl our founder is an aromatherapist with over 20 years experience who set out to create a remedy to heal a family member’s baby eczema,” the company’s website reads. “Ocean Bloom was born when news of her success filtered through the community and others began looking for Cheryl’s skincare products. All Ocean Bloom products are made using carefully selected plant oils and extracts from around the world that are combined with our own hand harvested seaweed serum. Packed with antioxidants and nutrients we hope you will feel the benefits and notice a positive difference in the health of your skin.”

With ethical standards being a core value of their business, the company has committed to planting one tree for every product that they sell

Skibbereen Rowing Club

Skibbereen Rowing Club.

We couldn’t do an article about businesses in west Cork and not include the Skibbereen Rowing Club! The world renowned rowing club was founded in 1970 and “the club caters for both male and female athletes, from 1st year in senior school upwards, and members compete at all levels from Olympic to ordinary domestic regattas. The club prides itself on its record of coaching oars-people from beginner level to world class. The club’s 186 Irish National Rowing Championship wins places Skibbereen Rowing Club as the top club in Ireland. Club members have also contributed to very many Irish National Rowing Crews at International level over the years. The club has contributed enormously to the rising standard of Rowing in Ireland, competing successfully with the best in both Europe and the World, including European Championship, World Championship and Olympic medals.” These include the O’Donovan brothers, Fintan McCarthy and Emily Hegarty.


Smoked salmon products from Ummera, west Cork.

In business for almost 50 years, the Creswell family have been known for their smoked salmon throughout Ireland and the world. Sustainability is at the core of the company, as they stock 100% organically grown locally sourced salmon. As they mention on their website: “The vitality of fine quality food producers in this area helps us maintain a vibrancy and high level of interest, maintaining quality and continually developing expertise. Ummera Smoked Products (including Smoked Organic Salmon,Organic Gravadlax, Smoked Chicken, Smoked Duck and Smoked Dry Cured Bacon – with No artificial preservatives) are available at a range of outlets in Ireland, and also for direct sales from our smokehouse itself.”

Barry Walsh
Barry Walsh is a journalist specialising in business, diversity and inclusion and is also a content marketing specialist.