Kilkenny Design and Diana O’Mahony Jewellers claimed the top awards at the Cork Business Association’s ‘Cork Business of the Year Awards’, which were held virtually for the first time since the annual event began 64 years ago on Saturday night, 17 April.
Kilkenny not only won the overall Large Cork Business of the Year prize, but they also picked up Best in Retail, while Diana O’Mahony was recognised as the overall SME Cork Business.
Meanwhile, Professor Mary Horgan at UCC was named Champion of Cork for her outstanding contribution to health care, in particular for her role in the Covid-19 pandemic, while Event Plan picked up a special award for demonstrating resilience and innovation in one of the most difficult trading years in Cork’s history.
Michael Magner’s boys accepted Cork’s Vienna Woods Best Family Business Award, while we saw businesses on Princes Street celebrate in style on Twitter after winning Best in Tourism Arts and Events for their Eat on the Street initiative, which is dominating the national headlines.
Best Cork VFI Pub went to Clancys Cork, Best Cork Restaurant was picked up by The Glass Curtin, Best Hotel was presented to The Montenotte, and palestinian Izz Cafe won in their category for epitomising spirit in the face of adversity.
Breakthrough Cancer Research was recognised as Best Professional Services Business for their outstanding contribution to creating new treatments for cancer patients and their innovative campaigns, while Fota Island Resort picked up the Best in Digital award for their creativity online over the past year. The region’s first design-led boutique hotel, The Dean, won the Best New Business Award.
Each winner was given the opportunity to make a 5 word speech at the online ceremony, which was MC’d by Bobby Kerr and attended virtually by the Lord Mayor Cllr. Joe Kavanagh, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, CEO of Cork City Council Ann Doherty, a string of dignitaries, and over 500 members of Cork’s business community.
Guests picked up their ‘Taste of the City At Home’ dinner earlier that day from the Imperial Hotel. The 6 course feast was an innovative chef collaboration between The Kingsley, The Imperial, The Metropole, Cork’s Vienna Woods, Cork International and Nash19, and showcased the wealth of producers and growers in the Cork region. It was paired with champagne sponsored by Centra, Heineken beer and wine.
President of the Cork Business Association Eoin O’Sullivan (M&P O’ Sullivan), said, “It was a night of many firsts – it was the first time that hotel chefs in Cork collaborated on an At Home dining experience, it was the first time that we opened the awards up to public vote, and it was the first time in 64 years that the CBA celebrated virtually. It was also the first time I saw people donn dickie bows with flipflops! I am very proud to follow in my father’s footsteps as President of the CBA, an organisation that plays a vital role for businesses in the greater Cork City region”.
The awards, which are run in partnership with JCD, Peninsula, Centra and media partner The Irish Examiner, recognise the outstanding contribution of businesses and individuals working diligently across a variety of business sectors in Cork City and suburbs.
Commenting, Marian O’Gorman who is now chair of Kilkenny Design after it was announced last week that Evelyn Moynihan would take over the role of CEO, said, “We are blown away by our win in the Best Retailer category, and winning the overall large business award. The last 12 months has been very challenging for our business, yet I’m so proud of how the Kilkenny team adapted, and maximised the opportunity to grow our online business, and launch Champion Green. Winning the 2 x awards is testament to the passion and commitment from the entire Kilkenny team. We are really proud of our Cork roots, and we look forward to working with the business community of Cork as we reopen and welcome people back into the city and town centres all over the county. The mission of Champion Green is to make Support Local a year round habit, and by working together, we will all Rise”
Commenting on the winners, President of the CBA Eoin O’Sullivan continued, “I would like to congratulate each individual finalist and winner, as these are the people who are at the beating heart of our city, driving our local economy. Each and every one of them demonstrated innovation, perseverance and overcome extreme challenges presented to them in 2020.
“A special well done to Diana O’Mahony Jewellers, who are celebrating 40 years on Winthrop Street. Over that time, they have not only innovated their offering but they have continued an exceptional level of personal family-led service. You are always greeted with a smile when you go into Ronan and Mary, they have done so much for Winthrop Street and for Cork over the years, and I am truly delighted that the judges awarded them this huge honour.
“I would also like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Marian O’Gorman, Evelyn Moynihan and their team at Kilkenny Design on demonstrating such incredible innovation over the past year – they should be so proud of their nationwide initiative that champions all Irish businesses. Marian has done so much for the local Cork economy over the years, from employing hundreds of staff to being on the board of Visit Cork, and we are very proud to call her our own.”
The overall winners are…
Cork Business of the Year, Large Business: Kilkenny Design & Best in Retail sponsored by Cork City Council:
In response to the challenges facing retail in 2020, Kilkenny Design launched the Champion Green movement to drive the recovery of SME businesses, an initiative that was adopted nationwide. Their Green Friday campaign, an alternative to Black Friday launched in 2019, also became mainstream in 2020, while Kilkennyshop.com grew significantly. Kilkenny has 4 shops, 2 restaurants, it’s online team, a national warehouse and offices all based in Cork. The organisation is led by Cork business-woman Marian O Gorman, who is also on the board of Visit Cork. Kilkenny Design is the largest retail champion of Irish design and craft, representing over 250 Irish designers and makers nationwide.
Cork Business of the Year, SME: Diana O’Mahony Jewellers
The family run Diana O’ Mahony Jewellers, run by Ronan and Mary Kennedy, is celebrating 40 years on Winthrop Street this year and has been a Cork business staple since 1978. Dealing in antique jewellery, they are also the only retailer dealing in antique silver in the city. The store is always staffed by a family member, and you are guaranteed an authentic local Cork welcome. The retailer has responded to many challenges over the years from flooding to Covid-19 and they continue to show resilience, to reinvent and innovate. The Kennedys recently invested in redecorating their premises, they launched a new ecommerce website, and they are committed to improving their street-scape and supporting other businesses in the community.
Best VFI Pub sponsored by the VFI: Clancy’s Bar and Restaurant
Clancy’s Cork is one of the city’s oldest pubs dating back to 1824 and is a Cork landmark. Located on Princes Street, Clancy’s was completely renovated and reopened in 2019, and it is now a key dining attraction in the city. In response to Covid 19 restrictions, Clancy’s was one of main traders who came together to pedestrianise Princes Street and create Cork’s newest outdoor dining tourism experience. The owners also took the brave step and further developed the building by creating a unique rooftop garden in addition to more interior works, to ensure the safety of both customer and staff. The business employs a team of 80 employees and they are committed to a strong community presence.
Best Restaurant sponsored by The English Market: The Glass Curtain
Located in the Old Thompsons Bakery, which was once a culinary institution and part of Cork’s DNA since 1826, The Glass Curtain showcases the amazing produce available here in Cork, while incorporating influences from around the world. The Glass Curtain remodelled their offering in 2020 following lockdown and were the first restaurant in Cork to set up the “Finish At Home” service. This transition in business offering ensured that they were able to maintain 100% of their kitchen staff and 50% of service staff. In fact, this “At Home” service has increased the awareness of the business as the restaurant had just opened its doors in December 2019.
Best Hotel sponsored by M&P O’Sullivan Ltd.: The Montenotte Hotel
The family-owned destination city resort, The Montenotte, goes from strength to strength each year. In 2020, the owners continued to invest in the premises and the management team innovated its offering. They installed a new look heated ‘Panorama Botanical Terrace’, created by designer Jane Galloway, to encourage al fresco dining, and a new rooftop terrace for guests. The Montenotte was also one of the first hotels locally to diversify into a click and collect model, and they donated €5 from every afternoon tea order to Our Hospital Heroes at The Mercy Hospital Foundation during the first lockdown.
Best Café sponsored by The English Market: IZZ Café
This award-winning Palestinian café, which opened in 2019, is run by husband and wife team Izz and Eman Alkarajeh. The couple epitomise spirit in the face of adversity having overcome the odds of moving to a new country, learning a new language, and spending time in Direct Provision. Despite being directly impacted by Covid closures, they showed enormous generosity supplying healthcare workers with free food and donated in excess of 500 free face masks to the public. Since opening 2 years ago, they have attracted praise from a number of high profile food critics including McKenna Food guide and Darina and Rachel Allen.
Best in Professional Business Services Sponsored by ETC: Breakthrough Cancer Research
Breakthrough is working hard to make sure our family, friends and communities across Ireland have access to the best treatments for cancer and never have to hear the words, there is no hope. They work to significantly impact the number of children and adults who can survive this disease by funding world-class research for new treatments that currently have very little treatment options. To recruit the next generation of donors and to raise funds, this Cork-based charity created The Shop that Nearly Wasn’t in February 2020. This pop-up shop in Temple Bar was 100% stocked and staffed by cancer survivors. Half of the shop remained empty to highlight the urgent need for more research to create more survivors to fill that space.
Best in Digital sponsored by B2B Signs and B2B Print: Fota Island Resort
Nestled at the heart of a tranquil island on a 780acre estate, Fota Island Resort with its breath-taking scenery and leafy woodlands is an idyllic location. In 2020, Fota digitalised as many services for guests as possible as part of their innovative new safety procedures. They also increased engagement with customers on digital platforms when they were closed with a virtual Easter Egg hunt, an online Halloween RiddleQuest, and various classes including recipe demonstrations, at home spa treatments, and fitness classes. Staff were offered virtual at home care, including at home facials and fitness, in addition to online upskilling opportunities. Fota’s lodges also remained open to provide accommodation for essential travel.
Best in Tourism, Arts, Events sponsored by Irish Hotels Federation: Princes Street – Eat on the Street
Princes Street Eat on the Street is a project inspired by the resilience of restaurants, stakeholders and Cork City Council working together. In response to Covid-19 restrictions, traders came together to pedestrianise Princes Street and reimagine it as Cork’s newest outdoor dining tourism experience. The positive impact of this initiative has seen the project mirrored in other parts of Cork and indeed throughout the Country. The transformation of Princes Street has without doubt been one of the stand-out responses to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and demonstrates true community spirit and commitment to business in Cork.
Best New Business sponsored by the Local Enterprise Office: The Dean Cork
The Dean Cork is a wonderful new asset to Cork and is the region’s first design led boutique hotel. The 6th floor of the fun and daring property is home to Sophie’s rooftop restaurant and bar, which boasts 360 degree views from the River Lee to the city skyline. 2020 was an extremely tough and challenging year for the hospitality industry, however nothing was going to stop The Dean Cork from opening its doors to the public in December 2020.
Best Family Business sponsored by AIB: Cork’s Vienna Woods Hotel
Set in beautiful woodlands on the peak of Glanmire, Cork’s Vienna Woods is a listed country house with a rich dramatic history which has been uniquely preserved. Since taking ownership in 2006, Michael Magner, his family and his team have worked tirelessly and invested significantly in rebuilding the property and offering. It is now known for fairy-tale weddings, spectacular corporate events and an award-winning restaurant. In 2020 during the first lockdown, the Magners bravely invested a further €500k in a new ‘Glass Room’ conservatory space and a private dining room with its own kitchen, a first for Cork. The team at Vienna Woods is committed to driving tourism in Cork and to supporting local, from sourcing local produce to hiring locally.
Special Resilience & Innovation sponsored by Fáilte Ireland: Event Plan
Event Plan, a leading Cork-based conference and event management company, was one of the first in the country to adapt their events business model following the devastation brought to the sector by the Covid-19 pandemic. The creative team, who used to work on high profile events like the National Ploughing Championships and UCC’s CUBS Conference, quickly diversified by collaborating with audio visual and digital specialists CAVS to establish Munster’s first virtual events studio, VE Studio Cork.
Champion of Cork sponsored by Munster Technological University Professor Mary Horgan
Professor Horgan was awarded for her outstanding contribution to health care, in particular for her role in the Covid-19 pandemic. She was quoted recently by The Irish Examiner as one of the ‘Women changing Ireland today’. Professor Horgan is President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, the first woman President since 1654 and the first Cork-based person since 1818. She is a consultant in Infectious Diseases at Cork University Hospital, is a member of NPHET, is on the advisory board of the GAA COVID committee, and the World Rugby Return to play strategy. Professor Horgan is also Chairperson of the National Research Ethics Committee for COVID19, is a member of the Report for Rapid Testing COVID19 for the Minister for Health, is a Professor in the UCC School of Medicine, and is former Dean of Medical School in UCC. She is a role model for women in health and a fantastic ambassador for Cork.
For more see CBAAwards.ie CorkBusiness.ie #CBAAwards #TasteoftheCity