Monday, November 7, 2016

Cork Digital Marketing Awards 2016

Cork Digital Marketing Awards is an annual event organized by the Cork Chamber of Commerce.  These awards celebrate digital marketing and are a great platform for businesses to showcase their digital marketing strategies.  I could not believe it when my business Issie's Handmade Chocolate was a nominee, then a semi-finalist and ultimately a finalist in two categories, Best Use of Facebook for a business in existence for over three years and Best Use of Video.

To say I was excited was an understatement!  I was so delighted to be a part of such a great event and to think that my business, Issie's Handmade Chocolate, was up for two awards made me burst with pride.  I decided to go all out for this occasion with spray tan, OPI two week gel nail polish, full make-up application and a chic up-do for my hair.  I felt like a princess heading to the ball!

The event was held in Fota Island Hotel and Spa.  Upon arrival there were plenty of networking opportunities and the pink prosecco flowed.  There was an electric atmosphere and all attendees were excited and elated.  It was fun, relaxed and everyone was buzzing with anticipation.

With Aoife Dunne of The Cork Chamber Business School

At 7pm, all two hundred and sixty of us settled into the exquisite dining room for a lavish 4 course meal.  Both the service and the meal were excellent and before we knew it KC from Cork's Red FM was announcing the winners of each of the sixteen categories.

I was gutted when I did not win either of my two categories, but in all honesty the standard was extremely high and I was delighted to have been a finalist.  I felt that all of my daily hard work grinding away at my digital and video marketing was recognized by industry peers and professionals.

As the awards ceremony drew to a close, spirits were high as everyone danced the night away to a snazzy jazz singer.  I was proud to attend the Cork Digital Marketing Awards 2016 representing Issie's Handmade Chocolate, a rural based, female owned, small business from West Cork.

Watch my preparations and how the night unfolded .

See you soon,

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

National Women's Enterprise Day

On Wednesday 19th of October, I went to the Brehon Hotel in Killarney for National Women's Enterprise Day.  This event was organized by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) of Kerry and Cork and similar events took place throughout Ireland that day.  It is a fantastic networking day and the idea is to bring female entrepreneur's together to mingle and motivate one another.

At the National Women's Enterprise Day in The Brehon Hotel, Killarney.

Upon arrival at 9:30am, I registered and then everyone was treated to tea, coffee and delicious refreshments.  There was an electric atmosphere and all of the attendees were friendly and bubbling with excitement.  Once everyone was seated, the welcome and conference open was very professionally done by Moira Murrell, Chief Executive of Kerry County Council. 

The first keynote speaker was Barbara Moynihan of On Your Feet.  She presented a "Masterclass on Mastering Your Elevator Pitch".  This was a fun and interactive educational tool full of tips and tools for perfecting your introductory pitch, and it included facilitated networking opportunities.  I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop.  It focused my mind and we all worked very hard on our pitch.

At 12 noon, there was a Workshop Series and you could choose one topic from a choice of four.  I decided to attend "Power Tips for Twitter" delivered by Greg Canty of Fuzion Communications.  Greg Canty is a marketing and PR expert whom I know since 2010 and it was a pleasure to listen to his top twitter tips.  It was informative and relevant and once again, it was genuinely applicable to your own business.

With Greg Canty of Fuzion Communications.

It was now lunchtime and the morning had flown by!  We were treated to a fabulous 2 course lunch in a private dining area.  This was another great networking opportunity.  The lunchtime keynote speaker was Clodagh McCarthy of Bright Sparks Coaching and her topic was "Mindfulness: Balance and Wellbeing".  We all participated in mindfulness meditation and it was a relaxing, wonderful experience.

The afternoon focused on an Panel Discussion with LEO clients facilitated by Liz Maher of Kerry Businesswomen's Network.  It was extremely interesting hearing the business stories of the panel.  Each had their own unique pathway to success and it was truly inspiring to listen to their business journey.  There was a questions and answers session and it was super to see and hear so many enterprising women interact.

With Christine Heffernan of the Local Enterprise Office Cork North & West.

The final item on the agenda was "Steel A Heel", a facilitated networking opportunity.  This involved taking one shoe off, placing it in a bag and putting the bag in the centre of the floor.  Over one hundred women took part!  And you had to pick a shoe and find it's owner.  It was great fun and provided another invaluable networking opportunity.  The exciting day drew to a close at 4pm.

  For me personally, it was brilliant to spend a day with like minded, driven, focused, enterprising women who all have their own businesses.  The face to face networking opportunities were endless and the atmosphere was very open and friendly.  It was professionally run and I was delighted to be a part of such a business focused event.

Here is my video documentary of the whole day.

See you soon,

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Spa Visit and Afternoon Tea at The Brehon Hotel Killarney

As the busy Summer season winds down, I decided to treat myself to a day of pampering at The Brehon Hotel.  This a wonderful 4 star hotel nestled on the outskirts of Killarney, surrounded by luscious green grass and the stunning Lakes of Killarney.

The Brehon is is owned and run by the O'Donoghue family and it certainly has the vibe of a family run hotel.  Upon arrival, I was greeted by courteous, friendly and professional staff at the stunning reception.  I made my way to the Angsana Spa and Vitality Suite and as I entered the aromas and the atmosphere were intoxicating.  Even the very gentle background music was intended to relax and nurture the soul.  

The Vitality Suite is a series of rooms designed to take your body on a magical journey from wet and dry, to warm and cold.  It consists of a 12 metre Vitality Pool, Hot Spa and Cold Spa, Tropical Rain Showers, Herb Sauna, Crystal Steam Room, Caldarium, An Ice Fountain and a Kubeldusche.  There is no precise journey in the Vitality Suite and the aim is to relax and detoxify yourself.  I tried every area and I leisurely moved around the whole suite from treatment to treatment.  I have never felt so chilled out and it gave my body a chance to re-energize.

The robes and slippers were cosy and comfy and I wore them in the Relaxation room where I felt like a Queen as I was served divine Jasmine tea and a platter of fresh fruit.  Honestly, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

After all of this relaxation and detoxification, I was ravenous.  I made my way to a private mezzanine area located beside a cosy fire and luxurious soft furnishings.  This first floor, indoor balcony  area overlooked the main reception lobby and the architecture and decor was stunning.  

I was served the most wonderful Afternoon Tea accompanied by freshly brewed tea.  The sandwiches were dainty, the scones were baked to perfection, and the desserts and petit fours were delectable.  The whole dining experience was superb and the attention to detail was meticulous.

I simply cannot express how reinvigorated I felt after my day at The Brehon Hotel.  It truly is a world class hotel.  And yet one of the things that I loved about it was how welcome I felt there.  It had the atmosphere of a stately home of a bygone era where visitors were welcomed into the home by the Lord and Lady of the Manor.  I genuinely felt as if I was a guest in a friends home.  It had a cosiness about it, and a genuine heartbeat that was palpable the minute you walked in the door.  I will forever have beautiful memories of my day at The Brehon in Killarney.

See exactly how my day went by watching the video below.

See you soon,

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Launch of The Irish Blogger Agency

In September, I travelled to Dublin for the launch of the Irish Blogger Agency.  I was super excited about the event!  I did not really know what to expect but I was delighted to be a part of such an exciting launch.

Dublin is a 5 hour drive from my home, so I headed off very early that morning.  It was a beautiful day and the journey flew by.  Before I knew it I was parking my car at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel.  When I arrived at the launch, Sinead Carroll, the CEO of the Irish Blogger Agency greeted me with a hug!  Sure where would you get it!  I felt very welcome and relaxed.

There was an electric atmosphere as everybody arrived and mingled.  There was a great mix of bloggers, and digital influencers from different categories and age groups.  The place was buzzing as we all chatted and exchanged our details with one another.  I sponsored chocolate truffles from Issie's Handmade Chocolate Shop and there was also delicious tea sponsored by Solaris Tea.

The conference room was beautifully laid out and there was a gorgeous goodie bag from Blank Canvas.  As the opening speeches began, it became clear that we all had the same goal, to professionalize blogging.  It was amazing to be in a room full of like minded people and the energy was so positive and motivating.

We had a tea break in the afternoon and enjoyed entering great selfie competitions sponsored by Sundial Watches and David McConville Orthodontics.  It really was great fun.  The remainder of the afternoon flew by with inspiring and motivating speakers.

Before I knew it, it was time to head home again.  I was on a high after such a wonderful day.  I felt focused and inspired.  I learnt so much from the day and I met brilliant people that I have kept in touch with across all social media platforms.  The concept that Sinead Carroll has is excellent, and it is to connect brands and influencers.    As a networking opportunity, it does not get better than this.  We even got #irishbloggeragency trending on the day!  I am very proud to be a member of the Irish Blogger Agency.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bantry House And Gardens

I recently decided to treat myself to a day in Bantry House and Gardens in West Cork, Ireland.  I have always loved it there and I have fond memories of walking in the gardens with my Grandfather many years ago.  It is a beautiful, old stately home but what is truely unique about Bantry House is that the desendents of the original family still live there and run the house and gardens.

The setting is truely amazing, overlooking Bantry Bay and the gardens are luscious and well maintained.  I started my day by doing a Live History Tour of the house.  This involved taking us back in time to 1860 with a maid in costume and we had to solve the mystery of the hidden treasure within the house.  It was fun, interactive and interesting.  The tour lasted an hour and we got to see many rooms throughout this fine house.

I was then treated to a private, traditional Afternoon Tea in the Drawing Room.  The setting was exquisite, the service was excellent and the food was exceptional.  They even had the fire lit for me!  I felt like a true Lady of the House.  And the attention to detail was astounding, right down to the engraved silver spoon and the original bone china teacup.

After all of that fine dining, I went outside into the beautiful gardens and I walked up the legendary one hundred steps and took in the breath taking views of Bantry Bay.  It was simply amazing and well worth the climb!

The atmosphere of the whole place is laid back, friendly and decadent.  The house itself is a treasure trove of historic artifacts and the garden is a relaxing oasis where you will be charmed and left wanting more.

I absolutely adored my day in Bantry House and you can watch the whole experience on my youtube channel Issie.  The title of the video is Irish Stately Home Visit and Afternoon Tea at Bantry House with Issie.

See you soon,

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Triple Positive

When my cancer results came back, my particular cancer was triple positive.  It was positive for estrogen receptor's, positive for progesterone receptor's, and positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor's.  Without going into too much medical detail, I was just delighted that my cancer was triple positive.  It certainly sounded good to me.

In life, I believe that you have to stay positive, regardless of your particilar situation.  Have an "Always look on the bright side of life" type of attitude.   Admittedly, some days can be harder than others but have little sayings or mantyras that you can say to yourself to motivate you and keep you going.  Basically, I believe that you have to pull yourself together, put your lipstick on and face the world smiling!  Plan nice treats and events for yourself, go somewhere beautiful for a day trip, have a freshly ground coffee and eat that creamy cake!  Life is short and many of us take our health for granted.  Enjoy every minute of every day and love those around you with all of your heart. 


Friday, June 17, 2016

What Happened Next

It has been a while since I have posted a blog.  So I decided that I better give you all an update on where my life is at. 

Firstly I want to thank you all sincerely for reading my blog, 17,000 reads so far.  I hope that I have helped somebody out there who many have been struggling with a cancer related issue.  It is coming up to my 5 year cancer anniversary and I have never felt better!  I am concentrating on my work, my family and my friends.  Live is completely back to normal and I can honestly say to anyone going through treatment that it won't go on forever.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.

I promise that I will try to become a more regular blogger and for anyone who wants to see what happened next, please check out my YouTube channel Issie's Chocolate.
Bye for now,

My shop Issie's Handmade Chocolate in Castletownbere, Co. Cork, Ireland.