Workbench driving enterprise in Letterkenny

After opening earlier this year, Letterkenny workbench is now becoming a hub for business in the Donegal town. 

Bank of Ireland workbenches were established to modernise the use of Bank of Ireland branches and to promote enterprise in communities across Ireland.

There are currently 11 workbenches spread across the country with four in Munster, four in Dublin, and one in Connacht, Ulster and Leinster. They consist of a co-working space, event venue and meeting rooms, along with offering free coffee and WiFi.

Bank of Ireland opened their workbench in Letterkenny earlier this year, and we caught up with Bank of Ireland’s head of county for Donegal, Barry Gallagher, to find out more about the facility.  

Why have a workbench in Letterkenny?

Well Letterkenny as a town has very ambitious plans to grow the population from 20,000 people to 35,000 people, so that alone will mean that enterprise will be required to do that and if we can play a small part in that enterprise here in the workbench, we will be serving our purpose as a bank in terms of supporting our community.

Workbench users enjoy a coffee while chatting in the kitchen area

What’s the catch to using the space?

The biggest surprise to people when they come in the doors is that there is literally no catch to using the space. It is a free place to work and the idea behind it is to promote enterprise and to get like-minded people working together to make progress. It’s not just for Bank of Ireland customers, it’s for anyone so you don’t need to be a customer with us. The only thing we ask is that when you come through the doors, you come say hello.

Progress since opening in Letterkenny

When the space first opened here, it was very quiet and uptake was slow, but we have about ten different companies working here now. It’s a great place for people to come and work, have a coffee and build relationships.

Throughout the week, a number of startups and SMEs work in the Letterkenny workbench, and here’s what some of the people using the space had to say about the facility:

Seán Ó’Brógáin – Seán Ó’Brógáin Illustrations

I run a freelance illustration art company and I supply artwork to museums, government bodies and publishers based on historical events and other things. It was actually another workbench user that suggested I try working here and since day one coming here, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s great to work alongside people who are on the same journey as you and share knowledge. I find that when I’m away from my studio at home that I get a lot more work done.

Susan Stevenson – Travel consultant

I’m a travel consultant based here in Donegal and previously I would’ve worked at home which can be very isolating. I wanted a facility to conduct my business and having this space allows me to do that and supplies me with free Wi-Fi and free coffee. I have a pop-up of my business here so it’s also a great way to advertise my business. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people and develop a strong network. I recently held an event here as well, and it was completely free so being able to do that has been crucial. By using the workbench here in Letterkenny, it has increased my business and I have made several sales out of it.

Heather Peoples – Minding Me

My company is called Minding Me and I focus on a person’s health and wellness. I offer holistic therapies and I try help people come off medication as I don’t believe in the benefits of them. I run a number of different workshops and classes right across the community, working with people from all ages and so far, it has been very successful. I have been using the workbench for ten weeks and it’s a great space that allows me to meet clients. Coming here actually motivates me in my work because it gets me out of the house and forces me to switch my mindset.

Donnan Harvey

We are a community group with a mission to restore the historic church lane and to create a vibrant historical quarter in the heart of Letterkenny. As a group we’ve been working towards this for about five years but I’m only using the workbench a few weeks now. It’s a great place to be able to work out of and from a location perspective, it’s perfect for us. I find I can get a lot more work down when working here and the people that work here are so supportive.

Amanda Clarke – Travel Donegal

I am a tour guide here in Donegal and my business is called Travel Donegal. I started the company three years ago and I’ve found the workbench to be amazing for my business because it gives me a professional space to have meetings in, and my tour starts almost directly outside the door so it’s a great location. I’m currently working on a website at the moment and because this can be used as an event space, my plan is to launch the website here which is something I’m really excited about.

Kickstart your business journey with the financial support to succeed

 

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 18 December, 2019