Unlocking Entrepreneurial Spirit: A Thrilling Day of Inspiration for West Cork's Future Leaders

Local Enterprise Office Hosts Annual Student Conference

Lisa Finn, Local Enterprise Offices; Deputy Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Kelly; Tim Casey, Cork Grassland Services and Judie Russell, Vidacademy with TY students Aaron Murphy; Emilia Danes, Schull Community College; Abbie McCarthy, Clonakilty Community College; Aleksandrs Sahous, Schull Community College and Christopher Harrington, Clonakilty Community College.  Unlocking Entrepreneurial Spirit; Over 300 TY students from schools around West Cork attended a special Student Enterprise Conference

Over 300 enthusiastic transition year students from schools throughout West Cork came together for a memorable day of learning and inspiration on Tuesday 14th November at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery. Hosted by Cork County Council’s Local Enterprise Office, the aptly named "Igniting Entrepreneurship," event marked a grand milestone in a two-decade tradition that has transitioned from physical to virtual realms over the past number of years, showcasing the ever-evolving spirit of innovation and adaptation.

Throughout the programme, students are tasked with creating and managing their own small business ventures, with a focus on demonstrating the viability of their products or services through actual sales. 

Students were treated to an engaging line-up of guest speakers who took to the stage to tell their own personal stories to fuel their dreams and passions. Colin Murphy, The West Cork Beard Company, along with Judie Russell from The Vidacademy, Tim Casey of Cork Grassland Services, and business and mindset coach, Aisling Vaughan of Ayrie, took centre stage. Each speaker shared their invaluable insights on resilience, perseverance, and the uncharted journey that leads to a life defined by fearlessness, creativity, and authenticity.

The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Frank O’Flynn, said, 

The Student Enterprise programme has been shaping young minds since 2004, with schools in West Cork consistently earning national acclaim for their innovative projects. This programme is a holistic experience, immersing students in the realities and challenges faced by entrepreneurs at every stage of business development. From market research and production to sales and marketing, they experience it all.

Addressing the students Lisa Finn, Local Enterprise Office Cork North and West highlighted how, "You are at the beginning of your entrepreneurial odyssey. You are future business and thought leaders. This programme is your gateway to self-discovery, a path less trodden by traditional school subjects. With the unwavering support of your dedicated teachers, who've brought you here to broaden your horizons, you will find your own unique strength and resilience. The speakers today are living proof that life's journey is not linear; it's filled with twists and turns that you too possess the courage to navigate."

As the day concluded, the students left with a newfound understanding for entrepreneurship. The journey continues, as the ten participating West Cork schools will compete in the regional finals next February, where one exceptional team will earn the honour of representing West Cork in Mullingar next May. The future of business and innovation is in good hands, and these students are poised to take the world by storm.