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22 Jan 2022

Laois firm toasts getting to final of national business awards

Laois business among the  finalists in the Small Firms Association National Small Business

avid Walsh-Kemmis, Ballykilcavan Farm with visitors at Ballykilcavan Farm, Stradbally for the Ballykilcavan Brewery open day as part of Heritage Week in 2018. Picture: Alf Harvey.

A Laois brewery is among the finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2022.

Ballykilcavan Brewing Company has been nominated in the Outstanding Small Business Finalists category and in the Sustainability Finalists category.

The business was founded in 2016 by husband and wife David and Lisa Walsh-Kemmis.

Based just outside Stradbally, the couple started the brewing business as a means of diversifying the farm. Ballykilcavan has been in the Kemmis family for 13 generations since 1639. David took over the farm in 2004 from his father.

After farming here for 10 years, it became obvious that just growing barley wasn't going to give the security that he was looking for, and so we started to look at alternatives. The new brewery and visitor experience arre our attempt to keep the farm in the family.

The decision has proved to be a big success.

The company was named the most innovative business in Laois in the 2018 National Enterprise Awards and the best startup business of the year in Co. Laois in the 2019 awards. The company’s beers won 6 medals in the 2019 Dublin Craft Beer Cup, are on sale nationally and are exported to Northern Ireland, France and Italy. The firm and its products have also been nominated for other awards.

The company was delighted with latest nominations.

"Thrilled, if a little bit shocked, to have made the final of the Small Business Awards in not one, but two categories - outstanding small business and sustainability. Another round of judging to go before the results are announced in March next year," said a post on the Ballykilcavan Facebook page.

The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland, and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business sector to Irish industry.

“The response to the awards programme serves as a reminder that Irish small companies are resilient, putting their best foot forward and seeking recognition for their efforts” commented Sue O’Neill, Chair of the judging panel.

 “As well as our nine award categories, we also feature five of the best Emerging New Businesses (less than two years established) and, given the quality of the businesses represented this year, entrepreneurship is alive and well in Ireland.''
“The SFA National Small Business Awards are now entering their 18th consecutive year and are a celebration of small business owners and their achievements.

The 270,000 small firms in Ireland employ half of the private sector workforce and these awards aim to promote excellence and innovation amongst these companies in all sectors and parts of the country. The companies that have been announced as finalists this year represent all that is good about small business”, said O’Neill.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, who is Patron of the Awards, said: “The SFA National Small Business Awards acknowledge and recognise the innovation, resilience, and talent demonstrated by these companies, and their importance to the future of the Irish economy.

This is especially important as we re-open society and rebuild as we emerge from the pandemic. We need the agility, flexibility and adaptability of small business more than ever now”.

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