St Josephs Foundation Job Shadow Day


Over 1000 jobseekers and employers set to team up for Job Shadow Day 2017

The Irish Association of Supported Employment (IASE) is pleased to announce the tenth annual Job Shadow Day (Wednesday 26th April) and will see hundreds of people with disabilities take the opportunity to shadow a workplace mentor as he or she goes about a normal working day.

Job Shadow Day is designed to give people with disabilities the unique opportunity to get a close up look at the world of work for one day in April each year, to discover and learn about the skills and education required to compete and succeed in the work place.

Job Shadow Day brings people with disabilities and local employers together to highlight the valuable contribution people with disabilities can, and do make in the workplace. Last year, close to 800 individuals with a disability shadowed at over 500 employment sites in Ireland, with 55 securing a permanent job placement as a direct result.

Everybody is encouraged to open their doors to ability and inclusion. Previous high profile participants who have hosted a ‘shadow’ for the day are: An Taoiseach, Norah Casey, Ray D’Arcy, Ryan Tubridy, Feargal Quinn, Padraig O’Ceidigh, Neven Maguire, Brendan O’Connor, Ken Doherty.

Sean Gallagher, entrepreneur and business writer: “I would encourage all employers to get involved with IASE Job Shadow Day 2017 and to embrace a positive belief in the workplace abilities and talents of people with disabilities. As someone who has faced many challenges in business and life, I am very aware of the many challenges people with disabilities have to overcome.”

“Research continues to show that a diverse workforce leads to increased productivity, innovation and improved business performance. Supported employment only works because it makes good business sense.”

Senator David Norris: “Having participated in Job Shadow Day I know how important it is both for the individual taking part but also for highlighting the fact that a person with a disability can make a significant contribution to the work place. I encourage as many employers and job seekers as possible to take part in this year’s Job Shadow Day 26th April 2017.”

Peter Furlong, Chairman, IASE: “This event has grown, year on year, since it started in 2007. It’s been a real success in capturing people’s attention and bringing people from all walks of life together to celebrate and promote the very worthwhile contribution people with disabilities make to the workplace.  Having had people the calibre of Norah Casey (Harmonia), Orla Moran (Irish, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny amongst others champion this initiative is an endorsement of the business case of employment for people with disabilities.

“We want to build on this success and keep on breaking down barriers to the workplace which, despite much progress in recent years, still remains a significant issue for people with disabilities.”

This truly is a great opportunity to promote inclusive business and employment.

Employers and job seekers interested in participating in Job Shadow Day 2017 are invited to register their interest at

Irish Association of Supported Employment (IASE)

The IASE is the only organisation in Ireland whose unique sole function is the promotion of employment for people with disabilities. The IASE believes that everyone should experience the dignity & purpose of a job and works to inspire organisations to transform people’s lives through supported employment.

IASE Job Shadow Day

On Wednesday 26th April 2017, hundreds of individuals with disabilities throughout Ireland will be afforded a unique opportunity to shadow a workplace mentor as he or she goes through a normal working day at hundreds of employment sites/companies throughout Ireland.
































































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3 Winning Improvements for your Facebook Business Page

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What an amazing asset your Facebook Business Page is for your small business!  Consider it a ‘mini website’ if you like; indeed there are businesses who do not have a website and therefore it is, in that case, your sole or major online presence. Forget for a moment that we now see fewer of our posts appearing in the newsfeed and that we must pay for Facebook Ads to gain visibility. At its very basic, Facebook is a presence online for your business, which is editable without any coding skills, frequently updatable, which carries all your important business information that your customer may need: phone number, opening hours, location. And yes, it’s entirely free! Your business on Facebook can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world. It’s pretty cool when you think about it.

But are you making the most of this free platform? In this article I’m going to show you three easy ways to improve your Facebook Page, so read on to discover how to improve your effectiveness on your Facebook Business Page.

#1 Optimise your Cover Image for the Mobile Environment

Irish examiner facebook page on a mobile deviceWhen I recently attended a Facebook event in Dublin I learned that one of the major shifts Facebook is seeing is the shift from desktop to mobile. This coupled with the fact that mobile phone usage in Ireland is the highest in the Western World and that Facebook estimates that upwards of 80% of people now use Facebook on mobile, means that you must be designing for mobile now. In short, mobile is now more important than desktop.

Luckily, your Facebook Business Page is already mobile friendly. But is your cover image optimised for mobile? This really matters because your Facebook cover image is one of the largest pieces of ‘screen space’ you have above the fold anywhere on the internet. So read on to make sure you know how to optimise it for mobile.

guinness world records page on FacebookWith the new pages layout the cover image is not interfered with by Facebook in populating buttons or text over it. Therefore you have the ideal opportunity to send a strong message to your audience.

It’s such a pity in this example from the Irish Examiner, of an otherwise very pleasing image, that we’ve lost some of the essential text they want us to read. Notice that some of the text here is too small to be effective on mobile.

The Guinness World Records Facebook page got it just right. The old adage ‘Less is More’ was never truer than it is in respect of Facebook cover images. As you can see large text with few words will be far more effective. I like to recommend a size of 828 x 475 pixels for the Facebook cover. This will look well on both mobile and desktop.

So take a look at your Facebook Page on mobile and see if it measures up.

Optimise your cover image on Facebook for the mobile environment. Mobile is now more important on social.CLICK TO TWEET

#2 Turn on (and use) Audience Optimisation

Imagine if you could get to serve posts to the precise fans on your page that are interested in the particular product or service you’re offering (and not show it to those who are not interested). Well, in fact, you can! Take the example of a Pharmacy Page and a new nail varnish that the manufacturer is aiming at females under 25. It’s all the rage. The new brand has already done much of the legwork in advertising to their target audience across multiple platforms. All this Pharmacy needs to do is to let their fans know that they carry the brand in order to raise awareness and increase sales. A post like this will be of no interest to the 52 year old diabetic male who liked the page because the Pharmacy also posts health care tips weekly. What this functionality on Facebook will do is allow you to show this post to females under 25 only, thereby increasing engagement among this audience and eliminating friction among the rest.

Turn on audience optimisation for your posts on Facebook to reach the right people on your page.CLICK TO TWEET

“Sounds great”, I hear you say. “But how?”

Pages with 5000 fans or more have this feature enabled by default. In my experience however, many small businesses do not have sizable pages like this and therefore they need to go to the settings to turn it on. You will know at a glance if you have it available to you by looking at the icons on the window where you start a new update.

no audience optioisation

The example above does not have the feature enabled and the one below does. You’ll know by the extra ‘target’ icon.

audience optimisation enabled

If you have not enabled it before now, here’s how you do it. On desktop or laptop navigate to your ‘Settings’ on the top right of your Business Page. Ensure you are on the ‘General’ tab and look for ‘Audience Optimization for Posts’ or ‘News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts’. That’s right; Facebook has titled it 2 different things in the Pages that I manage.

how to enable audience optimisation


Click edit, put a check in the checkbox and save.


enable audience optimisation

Use this tactic on larger pages as it won’t work well on a Page with a small following because there won’t be enough fans to segment. You’d want at least a few hundred fans on the page for this tool to work well.

#3 Invite people who have Liked A Post to Like Your Page

This is a great growth hack for your page which is often overlooked by small business owners. Not using is it such a lost opportunity. If someone has seen your post in the Newsfeed and reacted favourably to it, then it’s reasonable to assume that they have liked the piece of content you shared and are probably therefore interested in your business. However, some of these people have not liked your Page and will not see your future content. You’ll wonder how did someone see my post if they haven’t liked my page. Well, firstly, this may have been a Facebook Ad that you ran or a boosted post. It may also have been a great piece of content you posted that was liked and shared multiple times and therefore friends of your fans got to see it. They liked what they saw and therefore liked the post. These are the people that I am talking about. You will ideally want to get them on to your page.

Give people the opportunity to like your Facebook page if they have liked one of your posts.CLICK TO TWEETTo do this after you’ve had a successful post, hover over the reactions to the post and click. It will bring up this window. Click ‘invite’ on those profiles who have not already liked your page.

invite people who have liked your post

They will then get a notification on Facebook to like your page. Of course they can still choose to accept the invitation or not. The ones who will accept your invitation at this stage are those who will be valuable additions to your community.


So what to do next? Firstly, take action on these three tips, if not today, make some time in your diary to do so. Secondly, consider downloading the Checklist mentioned on this page that will give you these three tips plus ten more absolutely free. And finally, do like my Facebook Page to get more tips and updates about online marketing.


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On Saturday 11th March, 50 students from the Musica Fusion School of Music Orchestra in Charleville headed off to Galway to perform at the “Coole Music Festival”.  Five Orchestras from around the country were chosen to perform at their 10th anniversary concert.  The School’s two orchestras, junior (ages 4 – 11) and senior (aged 12 to adult) performed together, playing a varied 15 minutes program to a captivated audience.  They performed pieces by Tchaikovsky and Strauss as well as delighting the audience with works by John Williams and Ennio Morricone.  Entry to the festival was sponsored by Da Vinci Creative.

It’s been a wonderful 2017 so far for these orchestras.  The Musica Fusion Junior Orchestra, won the Junior Conducted Ensemble competition in St. Mary’s Cathedral at the Feile Luimni in January.

The Orchestra is free and open to all members of the public who play an orchestral instrument (grade 2 and above).  At present the Junior Orchestra rehearse on Fridays from 5.45pm to 6.15pm and the Senior Orchestra rehearses on Wednesdays from 8pm to 9pm.


Musica Fusion School will be moving in a few weeks to its new premises at the Pavillion Cinema and fund raising will begin in earnest for the orchestra.  Because the orchestra has grown so much, presently 65 members, they can no longer perform in any of the local venues so they will be fundraising to build a large stage in the upstairs of their new school where they can rehearse and perform.  They also need new instruments so as to be more inclusive of students from outside the school.  If anyone would like to sponsor the Orchestra or contribute to the fund raising effort, please contact the school  Videos of their concert performances can be seen on facebook (musica fusion school).

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Charleville Chamber Golf Classic

Cavanagh’s of Charleville, the well-known and biggest Ford Main Dealership outside of Dublin, will mark the Ford 100 centenary in Charleville by being the main sponsor of a fund raising Golf Classic in aid of Charleville Chamber, to be held over the weekend of 26th May next at Charleville Golf Club.

The event was launched at Charleville Golf Club last Thursday in the presence of Cavanagh’s of Charleville managing director Martin Condon, Cavanagh’s sales manager.  James Foley, the golf professional at Charleville Golf Club, Mark Collins and the President of Charleville Chamber, P.J. McCarthy.

Launching the golf classic Mr. Condon said that all at Cavanagh’s of Charleville were delighted to be associated with the upcoming event as they recognised the important work that Charleville Chamber was doing for the town of Charleville.

“Cavanagh’s Garage has been in Charleville over forty years and in that time we have seen our business grow and make a significant financial contribution to the local economy through the employment we have generated.

“It is hugely important that we have a business oriented and proactive body like the Chamber working to attract more business and facilities into the town., thus helping the townspeople and those living in its hinterland to prosper from the employment generated by local entrepreneurs and business people.  We are delighted to be in a position to support them in this endeavour”, he said.

Welcoming his comments the President of the Chamber, PJ McCarthy said that Cavanagh’s Garage had provided valuable employment opportunities for many people since they set up business in Charleville, where they currently have 65 employees on their payroll.  “Cavanagh’s of Charleville have won numerous national awards recognising the excellent customer care service they provide and the commitment and dedication of their staff.   They look after and value their customers and reap the rewards accordingly, and they set the bar for other industries in the town and area.  We are delighted they are our main sponsor for our golf classic especially in this year when the Ford Motor Company are celebrating the centenary of their foundation.

“Charleville Chamber continues to seek to put in place the conditions to attract more inward investment into Charleville and to create a safe and pleasant environment in which to live, work and play.  We have a great relationship with the traders and businesses of the town, and the past weekend has seen the close of the tendering process for the erection of a CCTV system where cameras will be placed strategically throughout the town to ensure the safety of traders, shoppers and motorists.  The system will be monitored at the local Garda Station and will become operational in the coming weeks,” said Mr. McCarthy.

Teams in the golf classic will consist of three golfers competing in the champagne scramble competition at a cost of €180 per team.  This also includes refreshments before the start of the game and a meal afterwards as well as a goody bag and the chance to win a top of the range Ford car at a par three feature hole.

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Charleville E Centre Facilities

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History of Charleville


CHARLEVILLE is a busy market town in North Cork, located close to the border with Limerick.  It is situated in a rich agricultural area known as the Golden Vale which spans parts of Counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.  It is in the townland of Rath Luirc or An Rath, indicating that there was a settlement here in Early Medieval times, over a thousand years ago.  The lands were purchased by Richard Boyle, one of the most successful Elizabethan adventure colonists in Ireland.  Roger, his son and First Earl of Orrery and Lord – President of Munster, founded the town of Charleville in 1661 and named it in honour of King Charles II.  The town was the centrepiece of a vast estate owned by the Earl.  The town, as it is today, was laid out in a formal plan with two parallel wide streets.  It was granted a charter in the 17th century with a Sovereign and two balliffs elected annually by the twelve burgesses.  Boyle’s principle residence was Charleville House, a magnificent manor set within a vast deerpark.  The house was located to the north of the town – it was burnt by Irish forces in 1690 and nothing of the house now remains.

Charleville, like most Irish towns, underwent a period of rebuilding in the late 18th/early 19th century and most of its elegant streetscape dates to this period.  One feature of the streetscape, now almost entirely disappeared, were the many side lanes that gave access to the areas behind the main streets.  Charleville was an important market town with a weekly market on Saturdays and six fairs during the year selling cattle, pigs, hardware and other merchandise.  In the 19th century it had a number of industries including three tan yards, a blanket manufactory, and two large flour mills.  The close relationship of the town with its rich agricultural hinterland continues to this day and is reflected in the success of the Golden Vale cheese plant (part of Kerry Group) the biggest employer in town.


The fragmentary remains of the medieval parish church that was reputedly built in 1350 by Richard de Cogan and was in ruins by 1615.  The associated graveyard, renamed Holy Cross Cemetery, has many interesting headstones and features including a monument to the Irish-language poet Sean Ciarach Mac Domhnaill (1691-1754) who was a native of the Churchtown area.


Now occupied by the Amber service station, marked the southern limit of the Borough of Charleville.


Moloney Jewellers was used as a meeting house for nationalists and was known as the Fenian Hall.  Outside the building stands The Republican Monument erected to the memory of those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.  It was built on the spot where Padraic Pearse addressed a meeting in 1913 and was unveiled in 1923 by David Kent.




Built in 1846 on the site of an earlier Protestant church built by Roger Boyle in 1663.  It is built of limestone ashlar and is a fine example of the Neo-Gothic style so popular at the time.  It was converted to a Library by Cork County Council in the 1990s.


A monument to the Bruce family who, in partnership with the Evans family, operated one of the first private banks in Charleville in the early 19th century.

  1. AIB BANK:

Built during the 19th century as a townhouse and according to local lore it was one of the first slated housed in town.  The building features a fine classical portico.


Opened in 1866, past-pupils included Eamon de Valera (President of Ireland 1957-73).  Daniel Mannix and Bishop Henry Murphy of Limerick.


Creameries like this developed across Ireland in the late 19th century to accommodate the new technology of large scale separation of milk for making butter in commercial quantities.


Daniel O’Connell addressed a Monster Meeting here, organised by the Charleville Repeal Association in 1843.


A distinctive building built in 1769 to accommodate and control the buying and selling of local produce.  The arcaded ground floor was originally open and used for the sale of farm and meat products from the adjacent Shambles Lane.  The upper floor was used as a courthouse for many years until the 1980s.


Has a notable traditional shop-front.  It is the birthplace of Daniel A. Binchy, first Irish Minister to Germany from 1929 to 1923.


This substantial three story building is one of a number of 19th century grain stores in the town, many of which were used by Morrisey Millers.


An imposing two-story building built in the 1840s for Kilmallock Poor Law Union.  It is now incorporated into St. Mary’s Secondary School and is known as the Mannix block.

  1. FORMER NATIONAL BANK (now the Credit Union):

Officially opened by Daniel O’Connell in 1835.  The Banking system developed in Ireland in the 19th century and bank buildings were usually architect designed to reflect an atmosphere of stability, prosperity and honesty.


Built in 1812 and now serves as the Community hall.  It was built following the collapse of an older thatched chapel on or near the present site.  The adjacent priest’s house was where An t-Athair Peadair O Laoghaire taught his extra-curricular and much sought after, classical studies.


A terrace of fine early-19th century townhouses.  The middle house was occupied by the Mercy Nuns when they first came to Charleville in 1836 at the invitation of Ms Mary Clanchy.  The corner house is the birthplace Eliza Lynch (1835-1886) whose family fled to Paris to avoid the famine.  A woman of renowned beauty she had an intriguing life as a Paris courtesan and mistress to the president of Paraguay where she was revered and is still regarded as a national heroine.


Built by local business men in 1925.  It was popular venue.  Rebuilt again following a fire in 1942 and finally closed its doors in the 1970s.


Known locally as Corny Graham’s Post Office.  It has an elegant fanlight door with a key stone bearing the date 1823.


Built in 1833, it opened in 1837 with boys on the first floor and girls on the ground floor.  In the 1940’s the girls moved to St Anne’s School and the present building continued as the boy’s school until 1972.  The building is now the home of the Schoolyard Theatre.


Built in 1839 for the Mercy Nuns who were part of a wide-scale religious movement at the time to provide education for all levels.  The former convent chapel now houses the Mercy Order Provincial Heritage Museum which presents interesting information on the history and heritage of the Order.  Access on request.


An outstanding example of a late-19th century Neo-Gothic church.  The style and scale of the building reflect the growing confidence of the Catholic Church in the late – 19th century Ireland.  The foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of Cloyne Robert Browne, a native of Charleville, in 1898.  The Gothic features such as pointed windows, buttresses and finials give an air of an ancient building.


An interesting and unusual historic house built on the grounds of Charleville House.  It was the birthplace of Bishop William Reeves and of Dr Marie Ryan, the owner of the painting “The Taking of Christ” by Carravagio (currently in the National Gallery, Dublin)


Built by Roger Boyle in 1668 as his main residence, it was regarded as one of the finest houses in Ireland at the time.  It occupied one side of a large walled court and could be defended wit 16 guns.  The house was burnt in the 1690’s by the Irish under the command of the Duke of Berwick after he dined in it!  The house was subsequently demolished.  All that remains of the ‘notable gardens and fine park’ today are symmetrical fields, masonry walls and earthworks including four fish ponds.


An interesting pair of single storey vernacular houses that were formally thatched.  According to local information they were built by Roger Boyle for weavers whom he brought to work in the flax mill he established here.


Originally known as Sanders Park after the family who built it in the late-18th century.  The house is currently in ruins.  An unusual octagonal gate lodge is located near the original entrance to the house and demesne.


The birthplace of Daniel Mannix (1864-1963).  Archbishop of Melbourne 1917-53 and one of the most influential public figures in Australia at the time.







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A tradition going back 150 years was severed with the appointment of Ms Una Griffin as Principal to guide the fortunes of C.B.S Secondary School Charleville to succeed former Principal Maurice Keohane, who has taken up a similar post at Midleton, Co. Cork C.B.S.

Ms Griffin joins Deputy Principal Tracey Groome, who was appointed to this position in succession to Timmy O’Callaghan, who retired last June, to give the school its first ever all female management team since it was founded in 1866.  For Una Griffin it was a return to Charleville as she was on the staff at the CBS from 2005 to 2012 when she left to take up the position of Deputy Principal at St. Mary’s Secondary School in Mallow.

“I look forward to working with the staff, board of management, students and parents of CBS Charleville in supporting the education of our students.  It is a privilege to take up the role of Principal in such a fine school with a long tradition in the town.  I will continue to build on the hard work and dedication to education established by the Christian Brothers in Charleville and that continues under the trusteeship of the Edmund Rice Schools trust,” said Ms Griffin, who is a native of Cork City.

Both ladies come well qualified to their respective positions as Ms Griffin holds a BA Degree (1998) and Higher Diploma in Education (1999) as well as a Master’s in Education from UCC (2002), a Postgraduate Diploma in School Planning from NUIG in 2007 and Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Leadership from NUIM in 2010.

Tracy Groome, prior to coming to Charleville to replace Deputy-Principal Timmy O’Callaghan following his retirement, was a member of the teaching staff in De La Salle School Macroom from 2001 to 2016.  She also served a 3 year secondment to Waterford School Completion Project with DES.  She holds a Post graduate Diploma in Cooperative Learning from TCD and a Master’s in Educational Leadership also from TCD.

The Irish Christian Brothers first came to Charleville in 1866 when they were invited to the town by the then parish priest Very Rev. Fr. T.W. Croke in 1846.  The school was built with  money donated by local people and took two years to build.  It opened with a staff of four Christian Brothers to accept pupils on the 4th April 1866 when over 200 boys enrolled on the first day.

Over the years CBS Secondary School Charleville has acquired a deserved reputation as a centre for consistent academic excellence claiming many famous personages as past alumni, including former founder of the Fianna Fail Party,  Taoiseach and President of Ireland Eamon de Valera, Dr. Michael Mortell, former President of University College Cork, to mention but two.  Today the school has 325 students and a staff of 27.

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Ditch Your Carbon Cup Print. Charleville C.B.S Secondary School T.Y Group 2017


As part of our Transition Year Programme at Charleville CBS, a number of students are involved in the “Ditch Your Carbon Cup Print” Young Social Innovators project.

The Social Innovation Action Programme for Senior Cycle is a youth-led, team based, action focused programme that enables young people to look at social issues they care about and take positive action to make a difference. Working in teams, social innovators are challenged to identify a social issue affecting them, their communities or wider society and to come up with and implement creative solutions. Each year, thousands of young people, throughout Ireland tackle issues such as health, equality, poverty, safety, and the environment.

“Ditch Your Carbon Cup Print” is an environmental project. The main aim of the project is to reduce Carbon Emissions (C02) locally and nationally by encouraging people to bring their own reusable cup and ditch the disposable paper cup when getting a take out beverage in garages and coffee outlets throughout the country. To kick start the idea, the students will organize a “Ditch Your Carbon Cup Print’ (DYCCP) week in the town of Charleville later in the year. It is hoped that, during the designated week, people will get a discount on a beverage when they bring their own reusable cup when buying a take out beverage from shops and garages in the town. To ensure the success of the designated DYCCP week the students sough the help, support and advise of the Charleville Chamber of Commerce. Mr. P.J. McCarthy and Mr. Sean Fitzgibbon from the Chamber offered invaluable advice and encouragement to the students. The Chamber will mentor the students in this endevour and lend its support to the project. The students described their meeting with the Chamber as; ‘educational, insightful, a good learning curve and reported that their confidence in the work of the project had grown.

The students intend to collect relevant data for their project by conducting a survey in the town, before and during the designated DYCCP week. The survey will address people’s attitude to: the environment, CO2 emissions, the use of the disposable paper cup versus the use of a reusable cup and the environmental cost to the planet.

In the course of their research, the students have formed links with like-minded people involved in similar projects in countries such as USA, Norway and Sweden. One of the perceived problems with bringing your own reusable cup for a take out beverage is the inconvenience of the standard available reusable cups. The students are currently researching the availability/design of a collapsible, compact, totally sealed recyclable cup. Their research, in this field, has led them to three guys in the United States who have designed a reusable, collapsible cup, which is extremely convenient when on the go.  The students hope that such a cup or similar will be available in Charleville during the designated DYCCP week.

The work is ongoing and the students would really appreciate the support of the local people in ensuring that their project is a success. People can help by; participate in the surveys and by taking a reusable cup to their favourite coffee/beverage outlet during the designated, ‘Ditch Your Carbon Cup Print’ week in Charleville. The date for this week will be announced shortly. Details, news and updates on the project are available on the following:

Twitter account @ DitchYourCCP

School website:

Why not share your thoughts, ideas and any suggestions with the students, contact:


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A delegation from Charleville Heritage Society travelled to Fishguard in Wales over the Christmas period to further discuss the feasibility of twinning the local society with that of the Croesgoch Heritage Society, which is located in the village just outside of Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Contact has been made with Martin Roberts the chairman of the Croesgoch group last October and the visit of PJ McCarthy,  Michael Donegan and Michael McGrath was a follow-up to those discussions.  The mutual reaction was that such an arrangement would be beneficial to both organisations as both have a lot in common, such as that both are located in intensive farming areas, albeit Charleville is inland, while Croesgoch is primarily adjacent to the Pembrokeshire coast.  The close-by village of Abereiddy’s Blue Lagoon is the location for a heat of the Red Bull World Cliff Diving Series, which occurs in September of this year.

Martin Roberts, a retired secondary school teacher is the driving force behind the Heritage Group and he is in much demand as a historian delivering after dinner talks and lectures to groups within a wide radius of Croesgoch.  “Our focus is on young people and we organise a local history competition titled ‘Harvesting Our Past’ among the school children, where we ask the children (aged 8 – 13 years) to complete a history project by selecting a topic such as a field, a farm, a mill or building etc., and then to research it and write up the history with assistance from their parents and grandparents so that three generations are involved.  They then submit their project, which is judged by a panel of heritage exerts.” said Martin.

The winners get a trophy and entries have also been submitted to national competition, where the entrants have also been very successful.  They have already been Highly Commended in the UK National Parks Volunteer Awards in 2013, the Age Friendly Community Awards in 2013 and were also winners of ‘The 2016 Welsh Schools Heritage Initiative.’

The Croesgoch Heritage Group was formed by a group of people interested in local history in 2006 and they meet every month in the village church hall.  They organise the exhibition of the children’s local history projects in the vestry attached to the local Baptist Church where the parents and other local people come to view the work of the children.

The village of Croesgoch (which translates from the Welsh as Red Cross) is some six miles from the port of Fishguard, which will be so familiar to the thousands of Irish emigrants from the Munster area, who travelled from the Port of Cork on the ship the ‘Innisfallen.’ when they left the country to seek employment in the U.K in the fifties and sixties.

The outcome of the meeting was that both organisations decided to enter into a twinning arrangement, which will be formalised when the Welsh delegation visits Charleville later on this year.

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Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

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Seven Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

By Avril McArdle, Digital and Marketing Manager at Sage Ireland

Word of mouth marketing1. Assume a budget of zero
So you may not have a marketing degree, a marketing department or a marketing budget. Great! This means that you can start from the best possible place in terms of thinking lean and maximising the return from any spend you do undertake. Even if you do have a marketing budget, why not give yourself three months to work on the “zero budget” plan and see how much you can achieve for no cost. Establish yourself on social media with a Facebook page and Twitter presence and start sharing content and networking. Embrace the centuries old barter system and see if you can swap services or products with your new business neighbours or contacts. Offer rewards or discounts to any customers who refers a friend or for repeat purchases. Remember the old saying that your mother probably taught you, it costs nothing to be nice.

Treat every paying customer for what they are; someone who is helping you progress your business. Appreciate their business, show them fantastic customer service and a friendly manner and let the word of mouth do the rest. Word of mouth is the biggest form of zero cost advertising and managed well it can be what really sets you up in the early months and years, especially in the digital world we now live in where word travels even further, faster.

2. ABC – Always Be Closing
The oldest sales technique in the world is known as ABC – Always Be Closing. This technique has been handed down from generation to generation of sales reps and it’s the first thing every new young, inexperienced sales rep learns on their first day on the job.  In essence, it means being always switched on, asking for the sale, looking for the opportunity or creating the need.

Always be convertingThe ABC principle can also be applied to marketing strategy.  ABC -Always Be Converting. Always be converting means you too should be always on, looking for your next customer, next sale, next person through the door or onto your website. And how you do this is by converting them from a passive consumer of your message into an actively engaged state. Every single piece of communication that your company produces and every interaction you have with your target audience and potential customers should be converting them into a paying customer. Every advert should promote your website or phone number, your shop window should have your website/phone number/opening hours clearly displayed.

If you do deliveries make sure to brand your vehicle and display a call to action. If you have a social media presence make sure to put the “find us on Facebook” on every possible piece of collateral you can. If you are investing in paid advertising like print or radio then make sure to offer a discount or special offer when customers mention where they heard your advert.

Use the ABC technique to think like a salesman and ensure that every piece of marketing activity you produce assists you in also producing a sale lead and analysing where that sale originated from. This means that not only are you focusing on producing results driven marketing but that you actually know what is working for your business and you can then focus your budgets and your energies accordingly.

Sage One

3. Look after your star salesperson – your website
Your website is your hardest working sales person, the only member of your team who works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your website is your shop front and is busy providing information on your company long after the shutters have been pulled down for the day. You need to remember that your website is your window to the world and it needs to represent your brand and reflect the tone of voice, design and look of your offline business so ensure consistency of service.

Measure Website AnalyticsThe first and most important rule of managing your business website it to keep it up to date. Don’t rely on a “build it and they will come” strategy for your website. You need to put in some work to drive traffic and keep people engaged. Up skill by doing some digital marketing courses with your local enterprise board, a night course or online tutorials.

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is cost effective and measurable and is also a great tool for targeting the low hanging fruit i.e. the people who are actually searching for information on products or services that you can provide. You can assign a daily budget, no matter how small, and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website so there is a guaranteed result from the spend. Google offer a step by step guide to to help you set up an adwords account with them, find out more here.

Learn the basics such as how to measure site analytics so you can measure the traffic and visits to your site and report on it over time so you can measure seasonality and busy periods. Make sure to keep content updated and fresh, especially references to pricing or stock lists and seasonality.

Many small businesses adopt the strategy of developing a Facebook business page as their company website while they are in start-up mode as they may not yet have the resources or budget to develop a fully functioning website. This is a low cost option and can work really well but you need to remember to stay active and involved. Update your content, respond promptly to queries, thank customers for feedback and use images to promote your products/stock/offers.

4. Reward customer loyalty
CRM and Customer LoyaltyCustomer relationship management (CRM) is a marketing strategy that has been around for decades and is one which big organisations use very successfully to better understand their customers’ needs and behaviours in order to give them what they want. Advances in technology have made CRM systems even easier to use and more affordable and can really provide endless amounts of data. To bring it back to basics for a small business, the basic ethos of CRM is all about knowing and understanding your customers.

From the minute you start your business, you should have a customer loyalty programme in place. In its most basic form, this can take the shape of a coffee shop offering a loyalty card which gets stamped with every coffee you buy, buy six and get the seventh free. This principle should apply to every business, giving something back for a big order or repeat business is a way of showing your customers how much you appreciate their business and justifies why they should come back to you instead of a competitor next time (and there are many competitors out there who will take your customers business only too willingly). Everyone loves getting something for nothing, whether it’s a discount or a free coffee or an upgrade and it will make your customers feel good about spending their money with you.

To start taking your customer loyalty and CRM programme to the next level, you can start thinking like a bigger business and use data and technology to manage the process. Recording customer’s details and asking them to opt in to SMS offers or your email newsletter means you can start to measure the frequency of their business with you and how often they spend and what offers or incentives they respond well to so you can start to tailor your programme and segment your customer base by spend/frequency of business/location etc.

5. Collaborate with your customers
A good idea is always a good idea, even if it isn’t your own. A successful business person will always jump at a good idea and make it happen. This is why it’s so important to listen to your customers and really listen to what they are saying. There is no point having feedback forms or score cards if you have no intentions to ever act on the feedback. That’s why it’s also important to be hands on if you are running a small business, being present during the busy times and being there shoulder to shoulder with your staff and customers on the shop floor so that you can meet and greet and ask for feedback.

Responding to customer complaintsSometimes the really obvious things get missed because you are too close to your business and looking at it from an owner/manager point of view. By shifting your focus and thinking like a customer by listening to them and most importantly, ASKING them for their suggestions then you really are in the best place possible to start giving your customers what they really want and now what you think/assume/hope they want.

It’s also really important to have a complaints policy, no matter how small your business. You are never going to have 100% of your customers 100% happy 100% of the time so you need to be able to respond quickly and effectively to any complaint and surprise and delight them with your response. This means you can turn the situation right around and they leave with a higher level of satisfaction and a greater respect for you as the business owner/manager for caring about their custom and wanting to keep them as a customer.

Small business networking6. Work the room
When you are running a small business you need to network, network, network. Becoming part of a community of business owners in your area will help you keep on top of local issues and enable you to get involved. Join communities on LinkedIn so you can connect with similar business owners and share successes and challenges.  Remember the tip about ABC (always be converting) and remember that as the business owner you have a huge part to play in that. Always have business cards or flyers on you to promote your business.

Encourage your friends and family to be advocates for your business and promote it to their networks and think about publicity and promotion opportunities. Big organisations spend a lot of money on experienced marketing and PR teams and agencies but on a smaller scale, all you need is confidence, persistence and a bit of creative thinking. Look after your local media whether that’s the community newsletter, local newspaper or radio station. Get involved in community events and celebrations like festivals and think about giving something back through CSR activities like supporting the local school or charity.

Customer Testimonials7. Blow your own trumpet
Only you can really drive the success of your business and when it comes to the serious business of turnover and cash flow, it really is not the time to hide your light under a bushel and hope that everyone notices what a great job you are doing. You need to tell everyone what a great job you are doing! You cannot be the shy and retiring type when it comes to promoting your business. Seek out testimonials from happy customers and then shout about it, publish them on your website or your shop window or on your social media channels.

Enter awards and shout about it when you are shortlisted or even better, a winner. Never turn down the opportunity to talk about your business, whether that is a speaking engagement at the local chamber of commerce or local school. You never know where your next customer will come from or who you might inspire along the way with your journey or advice. Remember to also share your successes with your team and let them help blow the trumpet too. They will value being part of a company that has just broken even or landed a big deal or celebrated their first year in business. Remember to mark every milestone on your business journey and to shout about it as much as possible.

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