The Residents Hotel Revealed

The Residents Hotel is an Ashbourne institution, with many of us being no strangers to the Living Room Bar, Bed Night Club, and the all new Library Bar. I caught up with Amanda Calahan, proprietor of the Residents Hotel, to find out what goes into running such a complicated business.

Amanda got involved in the running of the Residents in 2008 and has been the sole proprietor since 2011.  Business had been booming, but came crashing to a halt towards the end of 2008. Amanda was faced with the challenge of having to reinvent the business and keep revenue growing while cutting costs. “We haven’t a big marketing budget, so it’s very hands on”, she tells me. It’s been a team effort, with staff talking to customers, finding out what they want. Amanda’s team then watch to see what works and get feedback from customers. What worked last year won’t work this year, so Amanda does what she can to shake things up and keep the customer experience fresh.Customers and Staff in the Living Room

When asked what the secret to success is, Amanda stresses the importance of retaining customers. The Residents runs a loyalty card scheme for regular patrons and workers in the local hospitality industry. Regulars are given priority wherever possible. Amanda praises her staff, who she says are one of the Residents’ best assets.  They provide patrons with a consistently positive customer experience, knowing the customers and what they want to eat or drink.

The Library Bar is the Residents’ newest bar, catering to a different clientele to the Living Room Bar. “It’s for the customer who might have been out for a meal, doesn’t want to go somewhere loud and jammed, and wants to come someplace relaxed to have a chat with friends over a drink”. The Library Bar boasts a good selection of top shelf whiskeys, cocktails, and a full bar menu. Patrons must be over 30 years of age and no children are allowed in the bar. With the 6 Nations in full swing, it’s the ideal place to come to watch the match in peace with a good drink.

Comfortable Surroundings in the Library BarSt. Patrick’s Day and Valentines Day are two big events for the Residents. Sun or rain, the Residents will be the place to be, with traditional music, food, and entertainment and an outdoor bar, safe from the elements inside a marquee. For Valentines night the Residents are offering a late night bar and DJ, as well as over-night specials of €25 per person sharing. Produce the receipt from a romantic meal at a local restaurant and you can have a complimentary cocktail once you book your room. Amanda thinks that offers between local businesses present a great opportunity to provide better value for customers and to do more business.

You can contact the Residents Hotel on 01 8359300 or through their Facebook pages below.

Bed Night Club Facebook Page

Library Bar Facebook Page

The Living Room Bar Facebook Page

Alan Tobin

Ask not what your Chamber can do for you…

In this article we talk to Alan Tobin, Public Relations Officer for the Chamber of Commerce and owner of Ashbourne Auto Clinic about why he got involved in the Chamber and what advice he has for people interested in getting involved.

I asked Alan how he got involved in the Chamber. Alan tells me that Chamber member Syl McAndrews convinced Alan to come to a Chamber meeting. When the next AGM was called, Alan was asked to take the position of Chamber PRO. What appealed to Alan about the Chamber was the idea of the community working together to improve the quality of life in Ashbourne. He speaks passionately about businesses and residents buying locally whenever they can to support local businesses in the town.

Ashbourne St. Patrick's DayI asked Alan what his involvement in the Chamber entails. Alan attends monthly Chamber meetings and he’s been involved in the setup of the Ashbourne Business Network. Alan is also the Chamber’s festival expert, being a key figure in the organisation of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, as well as having helped organise the Summer festival in Ashbourne. He makes light of the work involved with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, praising the dedication and excellence of the organisation team and explaining that with the contacts already built up, organising the festival gets progressively easier each year.
Alan’s most recent project has been organising a committee for tenants in the Ashbourne Industrial Estate with the aim of tackling issues such as estate maintenance, illegal dumping and landscaping for the estate.  The committee has been in discussion with Meath County Council regarding funding for the upkeep of the estate, which has been lacking up to this point.  Alan makes the point that Ashbourne is the second highest payer of rates in Co. Meath, but we don’t get the full benefit of that position. It’s up to us as individuals to get organised, get involved and fight for the facilities we need and the improvements in quality of life that our community deserves.

Ashbourne Industrial EstateI asked Alan what advice he would have for someone looking to get involved in the Chamber. Alan would encourage everyone to join and to keep in touch through Facebook, email or by attending the Chamber Business Network or a monthly Chamber meeting. Alan says that the members of the Chamber are very welcoming and that new members are much appreciated as many hands make light work.

I make the point to Alan that many owner managers are extremely busy in the current climate and may not have the time or energy to get involved. Alan sympathises with that feeling, as he is currently running two businesses and starting a third, so he knows how exhausting running a business can be. However, if you’re struggling to get to grips with the workload in your business then you need to get out there and talk to other business owners in the same situation. He tells me that “it’s almost like being in therapy”. You need to get new ideas and see new ways of doing things. Even the smallest of changes can make a big difference. “If you’re locked into your business 24/7 then you’re not out meeting other people, you’re not seeing what others are doing and what can be done, and you’re not getting the perspective of others. You’re working for your business when your business could be working for you. You’ll never find out what could be if you don’t mix with like minded people and the Chamber is ideal for that”.

Alan TobinHow do you feel you have benefited from getting involved with the Chamber? “I’ve met some fantastic people who I would have never crossed paths with otherwise, who have massively different types of businesses to my own”. Alan tells me that having gotten to know so many people has had its own benefits for his business. Now that people have gotten to know and trust him, they are far more likely to refer business to him. He has also had the opportunity to get to know them and their businesses and he’s more than happy to refer business onto them. These are people who he would have passed on the street before, but now he would consider them friends.

If you would be interested in joining the Ashbourne Chamber or in attending a monthly Chamber meeting or in joining the Ashbourne Business Network, contact Kevin on 087 6263404, email us at or leave us a message on our Facebook page which can be accessed through the link below.

Ashbourne Chamber Facebook Page

Newe to Networking?

With the re-launch of the Ashbourne Business Network, we talked to Brendan Newe, who will be Facilitator/Advisor to the network. Brendan is a business networking expert and owner of Newe Business Networks and was able to give us the following advice for first time networkers.

I asked Brendan how he first got into networking. Brendan was introduced to organised networking by a friend who invited him to attend a meeting of the BNI chapter in Market West. The prospect of meeting so many people or having to speak publicly about your business can be daunting, but Brendan had just started his own business and realised that he needed help. What Brendan saw at the meeting were a group of people who were absolutely focused on supporting each other.

Ashbourne Business NetworkBrendan’s first thought after the meeting was “Yes, I’m getting involved in this”. Coming from a background in selling direct to retail, Brendan was now selling business to business and realised that he had very few contacts amongst business owners. He realised that a networking group would provide him with the opportunity to meet the people that he wanted to meet. More than that, Brendan also recognised that he could help the other members of the business network.

I asked Brendan if he had any advice to those who feel nervous about attending their first networking meeting. “Just be yourself. Don’t go to sell anything. Think about helping someone else. Everyone brings something to a meeting, be it knowledge or contacts, which can help someone else.”

Brendan Newe, Facilitator/Advisor of Ashbourne Business Network

Do you have to stand up and speak in your first meeting? Brendan’s answer is that you don’t have to if you don’t want to. What made it easier for Brendan was practice. “There was a worry that I was going to have to say the same thing every week, 52 times a year. The reality is that there is always something new going on in your business and you will always be looking for something new from the group itself. The most important thing is to be able to ask the group for help when you need it.”

What’s the best way to prepare for a networking meeting? Bring a prepared 60 second speech about your business. If you’re going to speak, know what you want to say. The point of the speech is to tell the group who you are, what you do, how you help others and how the group can help you. You can break your speech down into 4 parts. Firstly, tell the group who you are and the name of your company. Secondly, you might want to make your speech stand out to the group, or as Brendan calls it, “introduce yourself in Technicolor”. It’s important to get a reaction from the group to what you’re saying and one way to do this is through humour. For example, “Hi, my name is Brendan and I shoot people.” This will get a reaction from the group, at which point Brendan can tell them that it’s alright, he’s a photographer.Thirdly, explain how your product or service helps others and then ask the group who do they know who might need your help?

Finally, in your speech you should be clear about what you want from the meeting. How can the people in the group help you? Do NOT go to a meeting to sell to people in the room, but do let people know how they can help you. This can take the form of an introduction to a person or company, learning some new contacts, information on a business topic or a recommendation for a company that can provides a good or service that can help you.

Isn’t networking about selling? No one comes to a business network to buy. Where a network can help you is if you need an introduction to a business or person, or if you need a recommendation for a good provider of a specific product or service that you need. People will want to help you if they can and they know that if they help you, you’ll want to help them if you can.

Ashbourne Business NetworkShould I bring business cards? Bring business cards, but the golden rule is that you don’t just give them away. Show more interest in getting business cards from others. Ask them can you have theirs and would they like one of yours? When talking to others, show an interest in them. Always ask them what they do before they ask you.

So I have just survived my first business networking meeting, does that mean I forget all about it until the next meeting? Not at all; it’s hugely important that you follow up. If you have promised to do something for someone at the meeting, then make sure you do it. Set up appointments for one to one meetings with people from the network. Find out more about their businesses. If someone from the network does something for you, give them a quick phone call to say thank you. If you meet someone between network meetings, send them a note or a thank you email to acknowledge the meeting and thank them for it.

The next meeting of the Ashbourne Business Network is on the morning of Wednesday, the 29th of August at 7.30am where you can network with Brendan and many other Ashbourne business people. There is a €10 cover charge. More information about Brendan can be found on his LinkedIn account, which is linked below. If you wish to attend the next Ashbourne Business Network meeting, contact Brendan on 087 9980355  or Kevin on 087 6263404.

Brendan Newe LinkedIn Page

Ashbourne Fun Run Banner

Ashbourne 6km Road Race and Fun Run 2012

With the Ashbourne 6km Road Race and Fun Run upcoming on Sunday, the 26th of August, Chamber Member Alan Tobin has taken some time away from his gruelling training regime to tell us about the Road Race and fundraising for Oxfam.

Local adventurers, Michelle Mc Donald, Alan Tobin, Orla Price and Aidan Murtagh will be taking part in one of the most gruelling 2 day challenges, called the Trailtrekker Challenge, this event takes place over a maximum of a 36hr period on September 1st and 2nd. The team must hike, run and walk 100kms over the Mourne and Cooley mountain ranges. The team, aka Messner’s army (named after the adventurer Reinhold Messner who was the first person to reach the top of Everest without oxygen support and the first to climb all of the world’s peaks over 8,000metres), have been training over the last 8-10 weeks doing some 6 and 10 k challenges to increase fitness as well as climbing the likes of Carrauntoohil , Slieve Donard and Mweelrea Mountains for strength training and trekking along the Wicklow way for endurance training.

Ashbourne Fun RunThe purpose of the challenge is to raise funds for Oxfam. The team must raise a minimum of € 2,000 in order to participate. Oxfam is an excellent charity and are involved in providing aid to developing countries worldwide, examples being famine relief and emergency aid when combatting the effects of natural or man-made disasters as well as long term projects in health, education and gender equality.

As part of this fundraiser, we are delighted to be organising a 6km Road Race /Fun Run .We hope to attract sports enthusiasts from across the local community and further afield. Anyone can participate, from the serious competitor right the way through to the casual evening walker. Athletics is at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment especially with the Olympic Games taking place in London at present. This ALL inclusive race will take place on Sunday 26th August @ 11am, Starting at and finishing at the Ashbourne Community Centre.
If you would like you company to be associated with this fantastic community event, please consider sponsoring one of the following key areas on the day:

1) Main Event –Sponsor the race as a whole ,with signage at start/finish and mentions by mc on day of race (€250)
2) Sponsor a Km stage sign (€100 per sign)
3) Children’s entertainment area (total €500 or 5×100 )
4) Contribution or donation
5) Sponsor advance warning /information signs at locations near the route (€100)

Ashbourne Road RaceFor more information on sponsorship prices or if you would like to give a hand on the day stewarding the event, please contact Alan Tobin or call down to Ashbourne Auto Clinic for more information. I can be contacted on 087 611 7669 or email me I think this is an ideal opportunity for local business people to promote their own businesses especially with the Olympic Games creating such huge interest at the moment. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and we hope to see you at the event or maybe taking part in the race itself. Entries can be done on-line at or on the day entry fee is just €15.

More information can be found on the Road Race and Fun Run Facebook page by clicking the Facebook icon below. A copy of the entry forms can also be accessed below, as well as access to the online registration facility on Run

Fun Run Facebook Page

Road Race & Fun Run Entry Form

Bright Contracts Blog

Bright Contracts Banner

Are you meeting your Employee Record Keeping requirements?

Ciaran Loughran is a Human Resources expert from Bright Contracts and he has kindly allowed us to reproduce an article, “Record Keeping Requirements”, from his blog which contains information and advice for SME owners struggling to come to terms with their HR requirements.

Employers need to be aware that there are regulations which place a requirement on them to retain certain information in relation to their employees for specific periods of time. The National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) has the authority to attend a company’s premises and conduct an inspection and the Bright Contractscompany will need to be able to provide them with a number of details.

  • Employer’s registration number.
  • A list of all employees including full names, addresses and PPS numbers.
  • Dates of commencement and if relevant, dates of termination of employments.
  •  Written terms of employment for employees.
  • Employee’s job classification.
  • A record of annual leave and public holidays taken by each employee.
  • Hours of work for each employee.
    Bright Contracts Record Keeping Requirements
  • Copies of payslips and payroll details for each employee.
  • A register of employees under 18 years of age.
  • Details of any board or lodgings provided.
  • Employment permits or evidence that a permit is not required for non-EEA nationals.

A NERA inspection can be initiated:

a)        In response to complaints received of alleged non-compliance with relevant employment rights legislation.

b)        As part of NERA’s compliance campaigns which focus on compliance in a specific sector or a specific piece of legislation.

c)        Routine inspections.

Bright Contracts
Apart from the requirements of NERA, there are a number of other documents that employers are required to retain. These include details of Parental Leave, Force Majeure and Carer’s Leave.
Employers should also be mindful that there are other documents that are not covered by regulations that they would be best advised to retain. Documentation relating to recruitment, training and health and safety may prove indispensible in the event of a dispute and should be kept on file for a period of time. For example an employee may dispute that they were not trained on a particular part of his/her role or that they were not informed of a particular policy within the organisation that he/she had contravened. The employer will need to have the records in place to demonstrate that this training/informing did take place.

Ciaran has supplied us with some excellent links where you can find out more information. The links below will bring you to the Workplace Relations website, a PDF from Bright Contracts detailing your requirements and a link to Ciaran’s blog and website.

Workplace Relations Bright Contracts Summary Sheet Bright Contracts Blog

Performance Martial Arts

Mayhem in Meath!

If you’re interested in martial arts in Ashbourne then you’ll know Michael Burke, the hard working head coach and owner of Performance Martial Arts in the Ashbourne Industrial Estate. Michael has taken some time out from preparing his fighters for their next big show, Mayhem in Meath, to talk to us about his business. 

Performance Martial Arts (PMA) is all about having a positive mental attitude. This applies not only in the ring or on the mat, but also to life. Life lessons are echoed in all aspects of training within PMA.

Performance Martial ArtsThe gym is only two years old and yet it has already stretched to accommodate the growing want for K1 and Boxing classes. Not to mention the Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Kids classes already on the go here.

The Kids classes are a big part of the gym, with four classes on the go weekly, there’s no excuse for kids to be sitting at home on those late afternoons. Monday through Saturday, PMA offers a range of different aspects of Mixed Martial Arts for kids to try (first class free of charge!)

At present PMA is looking forward to a big event coming up for us. The gym will be hosting its third International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) sanctioned Show (Mayhem in Meath) right here in Ashbourne on The Attraction of PMAAugust 25th. The shows are a great way to showcase the tremendous amount of talent we have here at PMA. It also provides a chance for fighters from around Ireland to meet up and enjoy the social side to all the hard-core training! This particular show is very exciting for us as we will have the second ever Irish IKF K1 Rules Title Fight on the night. Just having the chance to host such a fight is an honour for our gym and shows that PMA is going places.

Big events with Title Fights are not the only type of show we run though. This September we will be having our second IKF sanctioned Junior Light-contact tournament in Ashbourne’s very own Community Centre. This is another exciting venture for us as we will be the first in Ireland to introduce Light-contact Low Kick for juniors. I’m very proud to be bringing this in as I am the first coach in Ireland to do so.

The gym itself always has a great atmosphere, and despite the times, new members continue to show up at the door. For many, the attraction is getting fit, losing weight or simply the love of exercise!

Rice vs. BurkeIt’s not just the guys who show up however. PMA also caters for those females looking to tone up, get fit, or drop the dress size. There’s even a few who want to compete.

Since opening the gym in 2010, I’ve become really involved in the local community. Ashbourne is a terrific area, and there’s been a lot of support for the gym. Continuous effort is always required however. For our upcoming event we have been out there putting up posters, promoting the event, speaking to people and just generally spreading the word.

Tasks such as these are not just for events however, and to keep any business running it is necessary to consistently promote and encourage new members to join up. Handing out fliers and advertising is a daily part of running PMA. Though costly, it is one of the most effective ways of attracting new interest. Word of mouth is certainly how we have most of our members.

To finish up, the last two years have been the busiest and most rewarding time of my life, and I am looking forward to a bright future in Ashbourne.
Michael Burke.

You can find out more about Michael’s business, Performance Martial Arts, and the upcoming ‘Mayhem in Meath’ show on the Performance Martial Arts Facebook page, which can be accessed through the Facebook link below.

Performance Martial Arts Facebook Page