As Network Ireland – Galway Branch entered its 31st year in existence this year, 2021 President Gemma Ní Chionnaith took time to reflect on the year that was: “There is no doubt that the past 18 months have been challenging for everyone but I’d like to think that Network Ireland – Galway Branch was a source of connection and support for our members. We hosted some wonderful events throughout the year, and the move to online enabled us to open our events to a much wider audience.”

In terms of events, Network Galway kicked-off the year with an ‘Energy, Immunity and Vitality Boost’ with Miriam Kerins-Hussey of Soul Space; Gerry Duffy of Gerry Duffy Speaker School delivered a session on ‘Communicating in a Virtual World’; Carrie Budds of Quokka Wellness advised on how to ‘Disconnect (from Technology) in an Always-On World’; Jacqui McGovern and Breda Kyne from MindEd delivered a session on ‘Burn-Out Awareness’; Aisling Kiloran from Accomplish Change advised on ‘The Importance of Sleep’; and, Cepta Mahon of Cookalicious prepared all of the members for the party season with a Christmas themed cook-a-long!

Another noteworthy event was Network Galway’s International Women’s Day Event which took place last March. As part of IWD, Network Galway celebrated the achievements of four phenomenal Galway women who are making waves on national and international stages; Niamh Fahey (Captain of Liverpool F.C. Women), Eimear Noone (the first female musical conductor at the Oscars 2020), Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill (on TG4’s commitment to the coverage of women’s sport, and their increased visibility of female presenters, analysts and commentators on our screens) and Ríona Ní Ghriallais (biomedical engineer and co-founder of ProVerum, EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist 2020). 

The highlight of the year however, was the Businesswoman of the Year Awards and this year, Network Galway had a very special reason to celebrate! The Network Ireland Galway – Businesswoman of the Year Awards are designed to recognise the achievements of talented and dedicated female professionals across Galway City and County. 19 applicants competed in 6 categories and an expert panel of judges were on-hand to adjudicate.

The winners of each of the six categories were as follows:

  • Emerging New Business Category: Cepta Mahon, Cookalicious
  • Solo Businesswoman Category: Sinéad Carroll, Mini Media and Irish Blogger Agency
  • STEM Category: Aveline O’Sullivan, Bloom in a Box
  • Employee Shining Star Category: Natallia Chuyeva, Connacht Hospitality Group
  • Creative Professional Category: Sarah Mason, Sarah Mason Professional
  • Power Within Category: Lorraine Lynch, Child Psychology Institute (CPI)

These six local winners went on to represent the Network Ireland – Galway Branch at national level. The winners of each of the 6 categories were announced at the National Conference and Awards Ceremony in October, with Lorraine Lynch of the Child Psychology Institute claiming the national title in the Power Within category. 

Network Ireland Galway President, Gemma Ní Chionnaith, reflected: “I’d like to congratulate all of our applicants and to thank them for representing our Galway Branch with such distinction. I’d like to congratulate Lorraine Lynch in particular on winning the National Title in the Power Within Category. It’s our first National Title in 11 years so that in itself demonstrates the standard of the applicants that are involved each year.” Gemma also noted the hard work and contributions of those involved in making the awards a success: “In relation to our local awards, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our official partner AIB, our awards sponsor the Local Enterprise Office, our media partner the Galway Advertiser and our wonderful panel of judges for their support and contribution to our awards. And, my sincere gratitude to our local awards co-ordinator Suzanne Ryan, Managing Director of Home Instead Senior Care who put a huge amount of time, effort and energy into our local and national awards.”

“Finally, I would like to thank our Vice-President Treasa Hanniffy from Key2You for everything that she has done over the past 12 months and I wish her the very best in the year ahead as President of Network Ireland Galway.”

Lorraine Lynch, the Network Ireland Power Within Champion 2021 reflects on her recent win in the Network Ireland Businesswoman of the Year 2021 awards. “To be the first Galwegian to take the prize home in 11 years, has left me speechless after what has been a tumultuous time for us all to start and grow our businesses. The level of competition was intimidating and awe-inspiring at the same time because the standard of female entrepreneurship in Ireland is extremely high. I won the Power Within Champion award, which recognises the journey of the women from adversity, through resilience and towards creating something much more powerful as a result of the challenges.” To find out more about Lorraine and her inspirational work check out Child Psychology Institute.

Treasa Hanniffy, the incoming president for 2022 is looking forward to building on the determination to thrive within the Network Ireland Galway branch. 

“We all have been on a rollercoaster of uncertainty for the last two years. Our lives both personally and professionally have been affected in some shape or form. However, it has not all been negative. On reflection there have been some great positives as a result of being forced to slow down. Some of our members were forced to take their business online and as a result of this transition, they have transformed how they operate while reducing their costs. While others had the time to consider career changes or setting up their own businesses. So, it is amazing seeing the strength and determination of these ladies to thrive and make a positive impact and I look for to leading these ladies in 2022.”

Treasa is a well-being coach and trainer in her business ‘The Key to You’. Her background is public health and health promotion, with a great passion for mental health and well-being. So, it is very fitting that this year her chosen charity, she has selected ‘Let’s Get Talking’ Galway branch. Let’s Get Talking is a non-profit Counselling & Psychotherapy Service providing accessible, professional, non-set fee therapy nationwide.

This year we are challenging the professional women of Galway to take a step outside their comfort zone and we are daring you to network. The benefits of joining this dynamic organisation are tremendous; from opportunities to expand your network, meet like-minded people, grow your confidence and also make great friendships. Monthly events with keynote speakers and experts will help you grow, sustain and thrive in your career or business. We also have a free mentorship programme so you will have access to local and national talent with a broad range of expertise including leadership, health & wellness, HR, sales, communications, finance and marketing. Whether you are self-employed or an employee there is something for everyone at Network Ireland Galway. If you or a friend are considering joining, please join us on Wednesday 26th January at the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit or check out Network Ireland


Noreen McKenzie, is taking over the National Presidency of Network Ireland for 2022. “I look forward to leading this dynamic and supportive organisation. I hope I can build on the incredible work of the Presidents who have gone before me and provide some inspiration to our amazing members. Plans are well advanced for an In- Person Network Ireland Celebration of International Women’s Day so please “Save the Date, Tuesday 8th March 2022. My theme for 2022 centres on “Belief” and most importantly “Self-belief “.  With strong Self-belief, we can achieve anything and overcome any obstacle”.