A new Generation of Female Entrepreneurs from the Gaeltacht of Galway and Mayo

3rd April 2023

Recently in the Connemara Coast Hotel, Gaeltacht women in business were celebrated at an event marking the conclusion of the first pilot programme for Gaeltacht female entrepreneurs, CUMASÚ.

CUMASÚ is a partnership between Údarás na Gaeltachta and EMPOWER, an entrepreneurial programme for women that has been run through the innovation hubs of the Atlantic Technological University since 2017. Women from all areas of Gaeltacht business life were present, and during the event there was an opportunity to listen to some of the pioneering women of the Gaeltacht as they described their journey to date.

Siobhán Ní Chofaigh, founder of the company Mint-Tek and Evelyn O’Toole, founder and CEO of CLS Teo., spoke about their own experience in business, as did a some of the participants in this first pilot programme.

Previously, at an event at Údarás na Gaeltachta head office, 13 women from the Gaeltacht of Galway and Mayo who took part in the first CUMASÚ programme pitched their new business proposals to a panel of judges: each woman had the opportunity to make a 5 minute presentation and then answer questions from the judges.The winner for the best pitch was the entrepreneur Margaret Leahy, who is based in Baile na hAbhann in the Conamara Gaeltacht with her project Artisan Food Tours. Katie McGreal was also presented with a prize for the best pitch opening line for her enterprise, Solas Relaxation.

Referring to the benefit she gained from the course, Margaret Leahy said: “I learned so much on this course about the importance of doing market research.” Emily Lavelle from Acaill agreed, saying: “The lectures were excellent and I learned how to break down my into manageable pieces and approach it in a systematic, step-by-step manner.

The Minister of State in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Dara Calleary T.D. presented their certificates to the participants. “The CUMASÚ programme was a wonderful opportunity for the women here today. This is also of considerable importance to the wider economy.




It is very important for us in government, that every support is given to women when they want to develop a business, for the benefit of the economic and social growth of the west of Ireland.

I congratulate these women today, and Údaras na Gaeltachta and EMPOWER for the collaboration that brought this programme into being.”

Temporary chairman of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Mary Uí Chadhain, said:

“From their work in the Gaeltacht communities, Údarás na Gaeltachta saw that there was a need to focus specifically on women who wanted to go into business and it was from this that this partnership between Údarás na Gaeltachta and EMPOWER arose.

Today it is heartening for me to see these Gaeltacht women gathered together, both women who have been in business for a long time and the women who are starting out on their journey. I am sure that we will be able to build on what is happening here today and continue to support women with worthwhile business ideas, and accordingly, support the Gaeltacht community.”

EMPOWER program co-ordinator Maria Staunton said: ‘We are very happy that we have undertaken this first CUMASÚ program together with Údarás na Gaeltachta. 15 women participated in the programme and 13 of those were with us today. These women have done a lot of work over the past 12 weeks, doing marketing research and trying to make sure their business ideas are relevant. Through the pitching process, we want to give them courage to present their proposals, a process which will help them to develop their skills.

Collaboration and getting to know one other is also central to the CUMASÚ program and I know that these women will be supporting each other in the future as they tackle the opportunities and challenges of business life.”