Caroline Murphy of West Cork Eggs took home the award for Emerging New Business at the Network Ireland Business Awards in September. The winners were announced at a gala dinner in The Galmont Hotel & Spa, Galway. The annual awards celebrate the excellence, professionalism, vision and leadership of business women in Ireland.
Originally from London, born to Irish parents, Caroline moved to West Cork in 1999; she told herself for a maximum of 12 months. However, within that time she met her West Cork farmer, who she married. The couple have four children.
In 2009, Caroline bought four hens. “I wanted the kids to know where food came from and to get them involved in the farm. The eggs were just delicious and we got a few more hens, and a few more, and before I knew it we had about 200 hens!”
She then approached her local SuperValu, Scally’s in Clonakilty, and asked if they would sell their eggs to customers.
“To my great surprise, they said yes and we had our first customer. The eggs sold really well and gave me the confidence to apply for the Food Academy programme.”
Caroline learned lots about retail and food business, was successful in the Food Academy programme and given the opportunity to supply her eggs to 12 SuperValu stores in the Cork area. West Cork Eggs expanded and now has 3000 hens.
This year saw a record number of entries for the awards. Winners were selected at a regional level in the Businesswoman of the Year Awards before being put forward as finalists in the overall national awards in their respective categories. Over 200 women from the 15 branches attended the awards ceremony, which was preceded by the Annual Conference earlier that day.
Irene Twohig, owner of Educogym, Cork won the award for Large SME, sponsored by AIB. Laura Jayne Halton, Couture Designer, won the Arts Award sponsored by Blink Design. Laura Maher of Reilly’s Supervalu Sallins was awarded Employee of the Year sponsored by Peter Mark and Best Use of Digital Award, sponsored by Facebook was presented to Caroline Dunlea, Core Optimisation Ltd. Geraldine Jones of Mediskin took home the award for Best Small SME, sponsored by Alastair Purdy & Co. Solicitors.
Speaking about the Awards, Roseann Heavey, President of Network Ireland 2018 and Partner with Noone Casey said: “It was an honour to host the 11th Annual Network Ireland Businesswomen of the Year Awards in Galway this year. Our membership is growing which was reflected in the record number of awards entries this year. The independent panel of judges all agreed that there were some phenomenal submissions and the competition was very tough. It’s great to see our members being rewarded for their extraordinary achievements.”
Also awarded on the night was the Network Ireland 2018 Trish Murphy Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution, traditionally conferred by the President of Network Ireland to an Irish Woman of their choosing for an outstanding contribution to society. This year’s nominee was Limerick woman Vicky Phelan.
The sponsors for the 11th Annual Network Ireland Awards were AIB, KPMG, Noone Casey, Blink Design, Peter Mark, Facebook and Alastair Purdy & Co. Solicitors.
Established in 1983, Network Ireland has 1,000 members, with thirteen branches across Ireland. A volunteer-run network, an excess of 200 events are organised annually for like-minded people to come together to collaborate, share ideas, knowledge and support – most of which are free to members.