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Connacht Tribune

Ashley blazing trail in fashion and tech



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

The 50 Plus Show, Ireland’s lifestyle event for older people is returning to Galway



Michael Lyster will be interviewing a Galway GAA legend

Over 1,000 people are expected to attend the 50 Plus Show in the Galmont Hotel on the 6th and 7th of June.

The lifestyle event for older people which is organised by the publishers of SeniorTimes magazine has been running all over the country for over 20 years, but this is the first event in Galway since Covid.

The show will be a mixture of displays demonstrations and exhibits covering health checks and talks, holidays, rights and entitlements, personal finance, valuations of antiques and collectables including notes coins and stamps, cooking demonstrations and celebrity guest appearances.

A new feature to the event will be a ‘Jobs Wall’ staffed by Intreo the Employment Relations Team at the Department of Social Protection where attendees can get details on current vacancies and provide support with recruitment and training for people over 50.

Highlights of the event include cooking demonstrations with JP McMahon, baking demo’s with Kate Wright and former RTE GAA presenter Michael Lyster will be interviewing a Galway GAA legend.

Admission to the 50 Plus Show is free by registering at or calling 01 496 9028. Opening times are 10.30 -4.30 each day. Companies interested in exhibiting at the show can contact Brian McCabe at

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Connacht Tribune

Galway broadcaster Sean O’Rourke is back – exploring the world on podcast platform



For years he had mere minutes to grill the political elite or just three questions to sum up the weekend in sport – but these days broadcaster Sean O’Rourke has more time for reflection . . . and his legion of listeners can look forward to reaping the benefits.

Because the former host of Radio One’s flagship Today programme is back on the airwaves – this time in a series of podcast interviews with a host of well-known names from the worlds of politics, current affairs, culture and sport, for starters.

And the 40- to 50-minute format allows him a luxury that the speed and urgency of morning radio didn’t – time to explore and reflect on life’s ups and downs in the public eye and away from the spotlight.

“When I was doing the Today programme or the News at One, we were always up against pressure of time. Occasionally, of course, there were longer interviews – but for the most part, there were programme elements that had to fit in and it didn’t always allow for that,” he says.

Now, however, Insights with Sean O’Rourke will allow him the space and time to chat and reflect on the world with a whole host of familiar names.

The first two podcasts dropped last week; one with former Irish rugby international Donncha O’Callaghan and the other with Minister of State at the Department of Finance Jennifer Carroll McNeill, who by coincidence is married to former Irish rugby star, Hugo McNeill.

Other names already confirmed include Social Democrats new leader Holly Cairns and Fiona Mulcahy, Medical Director of the Department of Genito Urinary Medicine and Infectious Diseases at St James’s Hospital, Dublin and Trinity College Professor,.who was named Irish Woman of the Year in 1996 for her work in the field of HIV.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We’ve done a really fascinating one for example with Alan English, the editor of the Sunday Independent, where he explores the change from editing a local paper (the Limerick Leader) to a national one – as well as looking at the rapidly changing face of newspapers in general and journalism as a whole,” says Sean.

He is intimately familiar with both regional and national media, of course, having cut his teeth in his adopted home city of Galway with the Connacht Tribune, and then making his name in the Irish Press and Sunday Press, alongside his time as a household name in RTÉ.

He’s been only an occasional visitor to the airwaves since his retirement from that station at the age of 65 – a situation in part down to his attendance at the infamous Golfgate night in Clifden – but this is a welcome return to the frontline.

“I love the long-form style of interview; it gives you a chance to go a little deeper and hopefully discover more of the person themselves,” he says.

“It gives me an opportunity I’ve rarely had in the past, to conduct long-form interviews with interesting people, free from the pressures of time, the daily news agenda and hitting the next commercial break.

“The format allows for a more relaxed engagement and, I would hope, a really informative and enjoyable experience for the listener.

“For me, it’s a refreshing change from what I’ve done before, and I’m delighted to be back at the microphone.”

Most of the recordings are done ‘as live’ – with just minimal editing ‘to tidy up my mistakes!’ he jokes. That gives them the freshness and immediacy, as well as allowing more time to expand.

“The choice of interviewee is a collaboration between myself and our producer Alice O’Sullivan. Of the first two, for example, Jennifer was me and Donnacha was Alice’s suggestion.”

But Sean acknowledges that this collaboration also plays to his strengths – in terms of politics, current affairs and sport.

“Most of all I hope it’s a good listen with interesting people who have interesting things to say . . . what makes people tick; what makes them who they are,” he says.

So, for the first two – released last week – Donncha O’Callaghan revealed what drove him to be the very best player on the pitch, the contrasting coaching styles of Eddie O’Sullivan, Declan Kidney and Joe Schmidt and why this current Irish team could go all the way and win the World Cup.

But he also explored the reality of taking responsibility for your financial decisions – and how that had impacted on his post-rugby security.

Jennifer Carroll McNeill discussed her harassment and the ensuing court case, her desire to see more women in Government – and why Fine Gael will not go into Government with Sinn Féin.

At least one new episode will drop each Thursday, and the plan for now is to do around 40 a year for each of the next two years – with the occasional dive into the RTÉ archives as well.

And, most of all, it finds the Portarlington-born, adopted Galwegian back doing what he does best – digging deep, asking the right questions . . .only now with more time for the answers.

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Connacht Tribune

HIQA report finds issues with hygiene, staffing and food at nursing home in Moycullen



Despite three inspections over the course of six weeks, a Moycullen nursing home continued to have poor hygiene standards, substandard food and inadequate staff numbers to run it.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) issued urgent orders to comply with a raft of regulations to Teaghlach Uillinn at Kilrainey, Moycullen, which was registered to care for a maximum of 75 residents. When last inspected in February there were only 47 residents living there.

In the inspection on January 11, the inspectors identified 17 different breaches, four of them deemed the most serious relating to a lack of food and drink for residents, standards for the prevention and control of infections, staff numbers at mealtimes and enough staff to give adequate care for residents.

There was a huge issue with recruiting and retaining staff at the centre. While 30 staff had been recruited since July 2022, a total of 35 staff had left the service within the same period of time.

Feedback from residents was poor, describing the care they received as ‘inconsistent’ and beset with delays due to lack of staff.

Some residents told the inspectors that they would have to shout for assistance because their call bell was unplugged or out of reach. A number of residents were still in bed at midday because there were no staff free to come to their aid.

There were just two care assistants available to support 15 residents with their meals.

Following warnings given in the previous two inspections, the third inspection found a continued lack of oversight of infection prevention and control and a poor standard of hygiene in the kitchen.

The quality of meals served to residents had remained “a very poor standard”.

“Inspectors found that the food preparation, meal cooking, cleaning and washing, storage and service areas were visibly unclean on inspection. Equipment and utensils used for cooking were also found not to be clean.

“Communal bathrooms were visibly unclean on inspection and there was continued poor practice observed with regard to the storage of equipment and supplies to reduce the risk of cross contamination,” the last report stated.

There was poor oversight over the diet of residents who had been assessed as at risk of malnutrition. Residents who couldn’t eat regular food had their meals blended together in a way that was not “appealing and attractive” “in terms of flavour, texture and appearance”.

The standard of hygiene in the kitchen and catering areas “did not ensure that food was properly and safely prepared as the catering environment was not clean”.

“This issue was brought to the attention of the management team during the inspection of January 11 and 27 and this inspection resulting in a third urgent compliance plan being issued to the provider to address the hygiene of the kitchen.”

While there was some improvement in the cleanliness of the bedrooms and communal areas, bathrooms and showers were still dirty.

“The provider had failed to ensure that robust management systems were in place to monitor the quality and safety of the service provided to residents. Following this inspection, further urgent action was required by the registered provider and the office of the Chief Inspector of Social Services issued a further urgent compliance plan in respect of food and nutrition, governance and management.”

In response, the operators, Knegare Nursing Home Holdings Ltd, said it had recruited more experienced staff, including a regional manager and a second clinical nurse manager to oversee standard of hygiene, mealtimes and kitchen activity.

An extensive cleaning regime had been devised, with a new chef appointed who would meet with each resident and discuss their preferences.

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