By Jimmy Rhatigan
Pic: Martin Doheny
IT WAS akin to a changing of the guard followed by a gathering of the warriors we respectfully term the old brigade.
Our city and county meant business at the weekend.
Friday brought 130 new jobs and on Saturday came another celebration of the huge strides which local business has made in recent decades.
It was a case of mind your own business and the belief is that our local business does exactly that with a meticulousness that exudes professionalism, innovation and initiative.
Fittingly, the black tie gala evening that is Kilkenny Business Awards opened with a champagne reception at Lyrath Estate Hotel.
Champagne would perhaps sum up the current healthy state of local business, class, quality and high standards, some of the best local enterprises in our country.
State Street were main sponsors of the get-together and awards ceremony, RTE presenter, Mary Kennedy was host and Kilkenny Chamber cobbled together a pot of beauty that included four-course dining, a string quartet, a spot prize party and late dancing to DJ, Eoin O’Sullivan.
Great expectations at awards’ ceremony
For the main course there was a choice of steak and Goatsbrdge Trout.
The entertainment was perhaps peripheral, yet superbly organised and apt throughout as there was a healty mix of wining, dining and fun.
But it was the awards’ presentation in the Convention Centre that was the real focus, great expectations as business was set to honour business.
There were many fantastic winners but on an evening when 530 members of our business community sat down together, the verdict had to be that everyone was a winner.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t an award for everybody in the audience.
But there was a feel good factor that permeated through the entire event, a sign that positivity is the theme as local business looks forward to 2018.
After welcoming Friday’s jobs that will bring so many new faces to our city, it was apt that champions of local business for God only knows how many decades was feted.
The President’s Award went to dynamic and passionate business woman, Mag Kirwan of Goatsbridge Trout Farm, a pioneer of local business.
A Lifetime Achievement Award went to another wonder woman of local business, an amazing family business woman with connections to Meubles, Kilkenny Wine Centre and Garden Centre in John Street.
Maureen O’Keeffe is hale and hearty in her eighties and still active as a top class hair stylist.
Along with the hugely energetic Mag Kirwan, she is one of the true matriarchs of local business.
The accolade of the evening for Overall Business of the Year went to TransferMate, a financial technology company that specialises in global payments and which recently received major financial investment from Allied Irish Bank.
TransferMate made it a hat-trick of wins with awards for Innovation in Business and Exporter of the Year.
The evening was one of business and pleasure. A fun and games session brought prizes of hotel vouchers, coming events and hampers for guests.
Inevitably there was a dash for the stage following calls for first up with a hand-tied bow tie, a clip-on earring a pet as a screen saver on your phone would bring you a pre-Christmas gift.
It was great fun and games, a reminder of a similar event of the ago when one of our great county managers, the follically challenged, Paddy Donnelly won a hair perm as a spot prize.
A gentleman, Paddy was courteous, friendly and fun loving and, not surprisingly, he was happy to chat publicly about his rather wacky win.
Business and pleasure will always be a healthy mix.
Other award winners were: Agri Business of the Year, Brett Brothers; Corporate Social Responsibility Award, Taxback Group; Craft Producer, Artists by Night; Culture, Heritage Tourism Award, Breathnach Design; Customer Service Excellence, Madigan’s Pharmacy; Emerging New Business, Cakeface Patisserie; Employee of the Year, Newpark Hotel, Pat Hayes; Employer, Kilkenny Design; Environmental Award, Modus Energy; Excellence in Communications, The Bizlocator; Excellence in Hospitality, Zuni; Family Business, Callanan Couriers; Food & Drink,
Cakeface Patisserie; Information & Communications Technology, CipherTechs EU Ltd; Investment in Skills, Training & Development of Staff, CipherTechs EU Ltd; Retailer, Michael Lyng Motors; Service Provider, Store-All Logistics; Small Business of the Year, Optimize Recruitment.