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Connacht Tribune

Ashley blazing trail in fashion and tech

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Ashley was a keynote speaker on innovation and sustainability at the 2019 Vogue Business Conference.

Lifestyle – Well-travelled Craughwell woman Ashley McDonnell has held pivotal roles in leading design houses including Dior and with top technology company Google. Now based in Geneva, working with Puig, the 27-year-old tells STEPHEN GLENNON how her childhood athletics coach helped nurture her tenacity, an invaluable quality in the competitive luxury fashion industry.

At just 27 years of age, award-winning digital media manager, fashionista and university lecturer Ashley McDonnell has achieved more than many would in a lifetime – including visiting 60 countries!

Having studied and worked in Paris for seven years, the Craughwell technologist was employed at the headquarters of LVMH – a multinational corporation responsible for brands including Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Kenzo, Moët Champagne and Hennessy Cognac – before she joined their subsidiary, Christian Dior.

In April 2019, she moved to Google’s luxury accounts department. Within a year, Google elevated her to global manager and recognised her ability with an EMEA Impact award. Last December, she received further acclaim when Digital Business Ireland presented her with the Next Generation accolade.

Ashley is currently based in Geneva, working as Global Digital Media & eCommerce manager with the fragrance and fashion house Puig. Their brands include Jean Paul Gaultier, Paco Rabanne, Caroline Herrera, Nina Ricci and Charlotte Tilbury, which Puig recently bought a majority stake in.

Yet, for all Ashley has achieved, she says her story could quite easily have been one of rejection. She estimates that she applied for 100 jobs before getting inside the door of LVMH. It was the same with Google.

“If I had given up after getting one rejection from LVMH! It took 99 more applications to get in. The same for Google, it took nearly 10 years; I started applying when I was 17 for internships and I only got an offer when I was 26,” she says.

“Anything I have got to do in the last 10 years is purely down to perseverance. You have to keep trying. People who preserve will get in the door.”

Ashley is not one to take ‘no’ for an answer, as Puig found out. After applying for her current job, she received a ‘rejection email’. However, she felt she could play a big role in taking the company into the digital age and duly let them know.

“I’m always being rejected,” she laughs. “So, I was like, ‘no, this is not possible’. This was the first time ever I saw a job where I did actually have those qualifications.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Wave goodbye to City Bypass as long as Greens are in Government

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An artist's impression of proposed Galway Ring Road.

PEOPLE in the West of Ireland should not be ‘fooled’ into thinking that vital infrastructure projects like the Galway City Bypass will get the go-ahead while Eamon Ryan remains in charge of Environment, a former Fianna Fail Minister and West Galway TD has warned this week.

That’s despite Tánaiste Leo Varadkar re-iterating on Galway Bay FM this week that the funding for the project has already been allocated – although he admitted that planning was the final hurdle.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív told the Connacht Tribune that the proposed bypass of Galway city, which has a Bord Pleanála decision due by November 19 next, would end up being choked under the headings of ‘carbon proofing and carbon rating’.

“Make no mistake about it but the word on the ground that’s filtering through to local Green Party representatives is that this project will not go ahead, and will be stopped because of carbon-proofing regulations.

“This is no red herring – over the years, I’ve seen so many road projects in Connemara that were given the go-ahead in principle but have never happened because of so-called processes and procedures,” said Éamon Ó Cuív.

However, he pledged that the six Fianna Fáil representatives across Connacht, would fight ‘tooth and nail’ not to see the West ‘left behind’ with roads projects that were vital for the future of the province.

“We will be meeting directly with Taoiseach, Micheál Martin on Wednesday next [October 20] to stress the importance of a number of roads projects across the West of Ireland, including the Galway City Bypass.

“And I would also stress that we are committed fully to environmental and carbon reduction measures, but the way to do this is not by preventing people in the West of Ireland from using their cars – the cars aren’t the problem – it’s the fuel that’s used to power them,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Connemara coffee couple are now well grounded!

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Aoife Geary and James Elcock on their opening day, with their first customers - and landlords - Roundstone natives Michael John and Catherine Ferrons, sitting outside.

Aoife Geary always felt like one of the locals in Carna. Even though her parents were living in Galway City, she was largely raised by her granny and grandad Barbara and Coleman Geary. Her first job as a 13-year-old was in the local shop in the Connemara village.

“I know it sounds a bit romantic, but I felt like I was raised by the community, not just in the community. I knew everybody in the shop and everybody knew me,” she reflects.

So, when London was about to go into the first lockdown in March 2020, she and husband James Elcock made a split decision to hop on a flight to Galway armed with two carry-on suitcases.

“Granny was terminally ill with cancer, and I wanted to help out with her care and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to travel. Little did we think we weren’t going to leave.”

Aoife was the live entertainment manager for billionaire Richard Branson’s private members club called Roof Gardens in Kensington while James, a native of Shropshire, was running a restaurant in the bank area of London. She had lived in London since 2013, her husband four years longer.

When he was made redundant, he bought himself a vintage sewing machine in Castlebar and taught himself to use it in an afternoon, setting up his first Irish business making and selling cotton face masks.

They then realised that a takeaway unit in Roundstone had become free, which was overlooking the picturesque pier and with views of the Twelve Bens. They opened My Coffee Cottage in mid-August and business was brisk from the get-go.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Budget’s grant break for college commuters

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NUI Galway.

Grants for some third level students living in certain parts of County Galway, who attend college in the city, could more than double as a result of changes in Budget 2022.

Undergraduates and students on post leaving cert courses living in areas such as Tuam, Loughrea and An Cheathrú Rua will all benefit from an adjustment to the eligibility to the non-adjacent rate for maintenance grants.  Some could get a grant boost of €1,800 next year due to the changes announced in the Budget.

People eligible for a maintenance grant are paid at either a non-adjacent rate or an adjacent rate – determined by measuring the distance of the shortest direct route from your normal residence to college.

Currently, the adjacent rate – which is lower – is paid when your college is 45km or less from where you live. The higher non-adjacent rate is paid when the college is more than 45km away from an eligible student’s home. The non-adjacent rate has been adjusted in Budget 2022 to include 30km to 45km.

This means that eligibility for the non-adjacent rate has been widened, and many students who were previously on the adjacent rate may now be eligible for a higher non-adjacent rate. It means that third level students living in Tuam, Loughrea and An Cheathrú could be eligible for the higher non-adjacent rate next September.

Get the full details on this and the impact of Budget 2022 in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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