Brilliant Business in Donegal
Moira Ní Ghallachóir of mng.ie, a bilingual company which is working to develop and promote tourism in Donegal tells us her story.
Name of your business and description of what you do.
mng is a tourism enterprise, supporting local service providers, festivals and events. We also organise bespoke activity and cultural breaks in the stunning Gaeltacht region of Donegal. My business is bi-lingual, using both english and gaelic.
What is your connection to Donegal?
My father is from The Rosses and my mother is from Clochaneely, I was raised in Edinburgh till I was 8, then moved to Donegal, where both my brother and I started in an Irish school.
When did you set up your business?
I moved home from London in April 2012, registered my business in Feb 2013 and haven’t looked back. This year has literally flown and the future looks bright.
Who or what is your main market?
My market is local services, festivals, events and SME’s as well as a national and international tourist market.
How do you run your business from Donegal? Give us a feel for how it all works.
I began working from an office at home. I also hot desk in organisations I have worked for such as the Earagail Arts Festival and An Crannog. I now have an office space in the local development centre, Comharchumann Forbatha Gaoth Dobhair.
This area is broken up into parishes that are about 30 km’s apart. I spend a lot of time on the road, meeting business owners and service providers. A lot my time is spent really getting to know the area and appreciating all it has to offer in its outstanding natural beauty. This in turn gives me constant inspiration for new business ideas!
Doing business in Irish has also been challenging. Although I went to an Irish school, when I left home at 18, I never really used it again as I wasn't round other Gaeiligors in any of the other cities I lived in. To be able to pick it back up and use it every day has been both amazing and challenging. Even though I am fluent, I didn't talk much about business, tourism or arts and culture growing up you know, so its a whole new vocabulary I've been learning. I feel very lucky to be able to speak Irish.
Why choose Donegal as a place for business?
I left home when I was 18, only returning for holidays, never really wanting to stay too long and eager to get back to whatever city I was living - Dublin, New York or London. At the beginning of 2012, I just felt like I really needed a change of career, direction, life in general. I did a bit of research into different places like Berlin, Canada, Australia and nothing felt right.
The only peace I felt was when I thought of moving home to Donegal. Even though I had grown up here, it’s like as if I had never really looked around, or appreciated or even considered it as an option.
Does doing business in Donegal differ from doing business in (wherever you came from/ worked before)
Yes and no. There is a familiarity about working with people from Donegal which I love. I’ve found people to be really interested, supportive and informative. There is a real “can do attitude”, nothing is a problem, if someone can’t help they’ll put you in touch with the person who can. Growing up I didn’t like the way everybody seemed to know each other, but now, I see it as part of the attraction. The fact that you are somehow connected to everybody whether through work, friends, a course you did, family, school, neighbours, well it's a huge resource, something to be valued and worked with.
Describe your work / life balance?
Depends on the project I’m working on, although I do try and keep a 9-5 schedule, but that can go out the window and become all the hours in a day if I have a deadline. Since moving home, I’ve gotten into lots of different things like gardening, decorating, yoga and music. I find Donegal really inspiring. Compared to when I lived in the city, I think I spend more quality time, my life feels more real, and ultimately more beneficial on every level. Better for the soul.
What has been the biggest challenge you faced and how did you meet it?
The biggest challenge was giving up my income and the security of all that entails. In London, I had worked for 5 years in the same organisation. We all know that London is an expensive city, and there is no shortage of what to do with your disposable income, after work - cocktails in Angel, sushi in Soho or shopping on Oxford street / Spitalfield market. Not to mention trips to Ibiza or Berlin.
When I thought about what I did with my income, I realised I could live without those things for a while and build it up again, on my terms, in a place I love and feel totally inspired by. These days I’m more excited by finding wee bargains in charity shops and taking breathtaking walks in the hills - a huge difference to what my work/life balance was before, but a welcome change.
What are your hopes for the future here and for your business?
Growth and more products. I am super excited for 2014 and onwards. I did a lot of groundwork in 2013 working on projects with Earagail Arts Festival, Loinneog Lúnasa and the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry to name but a few. I feel really confident and well-equipped to plan for the year ahead and beyond. I see where I would like my business to go and most importantly, I see that it is fundamentally possible.
I know that what I am doing will not only benefit mng, but the local community and Donegal as a whole, that makes me feel proud. I’m giving something back, as well as gaining a lot!
Since moving home, I’ve started my own business, moved into and renovated my Grandparents old home, completed a gardening course and grown all my own vegetables, learned to play an instrument, rekindled friendships from my teenage years and got to know one of the most amazing places I have ever lived - Donegal.
Any advice for someone looking to set up a business in Donegal?
Talk to people, share your ideas, think outside the box, do the Fas course in Start Your Own Enterprise (a priceless resource) what you put in you will get in return. Say yes to every opportunity and always do your best. Take notes!
With Donegal Aiport and the City of Derry on our doorstep, not to mention Co-lab and the local community centres, Ionads and Aislanns, the potential, accessibility and resources are all around us.
There are endless opportunities for business here in Donegal, it’s still relatively undiscovered.Donegal can compete with the rest of the world on so many levels, there has never been a better time.
I think the growth in SME’s in Donegal, are what will ultimately save our county and country. I am really proud to be a part of that.
To find out more about Moira and mng, click on her website below. And if you have a story to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.