Born: 6th March 1966 – Local girl from Ballintra who has been involved in catering since the age of 13 in hotels, bars, restaurants. Started out as a receptionist and gradually assumed responsibility for managing Harvey’s Point.
Married: Marc Gysling
Purchased the hotel together with Marc in July 1996
Children: Carl, James & Christina
Education: Honours Degree in European Studies with speciality in French and German
Continuous Professional Development: Management Development Course, Train the Trainer, Cornell Hotel Management Programme, Smurfit Business School – Industry Leaders Programme
Accolades: Irish Hospitality Institute – Fellowship 2005, IHI Hotel Manager of the Year 2009
Associations: Going For Growth for Women in Business, Mentor for ACORNS – helping women in start-up / early stage business in Donegal and the North West
– Appointed member of Donegal County Council Audit Committee 2014
– Appointed member of Industry Leaders Group by Minister for Tourism as representative of the tourism trade in helping to shape government policy from 2015 to 2025.
Promotion of Donegal
- 3 – 5 annual sales trips to the US / Canada in association with Tourism Ireland
- 2 – 3 annual sales trips to the UK, Germany, Switzerland
- Key focus on promoting the Donegal section of the Wild Atlantic Way
- Design and print of ‘The Green Guide to Donegal and the Northwest’
- Promotion of Donegal on a national level for short breaks all year round
- Digital Marketing – collaboration with tourism industry in the promotion of all events in Donegal eg, Errigal Arts Festival, Magill Summer School, festivals etc.
Overseas Sales Trips
Tourism Ireland – trips to New York, Boston, Dallas, San Francisco – meeting tour operators who specialize in recommending Ireland as a destination.
- Tourism Ireland – CMT Stuttgart – promoting the Wild Atlantic Way, particularly the Donegal section.
- Milwaukee Irish Fest – the largest Irish festival in the US. Representing Donegal.
- Kansas Irish Fest
Tourism Leadership Group
The document ‘People, Place and Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025’ was set up by the Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohue and Junior Minister Michael Ring. Deirdre was appointed as representative of the tourism industry. The group meets once a month to outline an action plan to meet the objectives of the Tourism Policy Statement which is to have 10 million visitors to Ireland by 2025 and to increase employment in the tourist sector to 250,000. Deirdre plays a key role in ensuring that Donegal is well represented in the strategy to increase visitor numbers to the island of Ireland.
Going for Growth
Going for Growth is the brain child of Paula Fitzsimons who put it forward in response to an initiative on women and entrepreneurship proposed by the NDP Gender Equality Unit in the then Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
“The idea came from recognition that while more women are being encouraged to start new businesses, there is a need to move beyond just starting into growing. My mission in Going for Growth is to support women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions and to get more women entrepreneurs into a growth frame of mind.”
The Going for Growth initiative is funded by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG. Their continual support goes far beyond financial contribution and is very gratefully acknowledged.
Early stage female entrepreneurs, living in rural Ireland, are invited to apply for a fully funded place on a new pilot initiative, ACORNS. The intention is to provide up to 48 entrepreneurs with the knowledge, support and networking opportunities to meet and even exceed their current aspirations.
This innovative programme is funded under the CEDRA 2015 Rural Innovation and Development Fund through the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM).
Having benefited from the Going For Growth programme, this is an opportunity for Deirdre to share her knowledge of growing a business in a rural area.
Donegal Woman in Business
The Donegal Women in Business Network is aimed at providing a forum for women in business in the County to share their experiences, network and to discuss topical business issues affecting women.
The Donegal Women in Business Network runs seminars/workshops throughout the year based on the identified needs of the members. It’s not all work though, the Network also runs a number of social events, which provide a welcome respite from daily business life, and are a great way to have some fun while getting to know other members.
The Network is open to all women with an interest in business. Whether you are the owner of the business or involved in running the business either as a partner, family member or manager.
Deirdre is involved in the Annual Hospitality Charity Climb where a group of hoteliers get together to raise money for different charities such as Canteen Ireland, Hospitality Trust, Irish Cancer Society, Laura Lynn Foundation and Debra Ireland. In the past 10 years, almost 100k has been raised.
Deirdre also supports the RNLI through various fundraising activities.
Through Harvey’s Point, Donegal and North West Hospices benefit from proceeds being donated from the Annual Burns Supper. In 2012 & 2013, Harvey’s Point was official sponsor of The Donegal Bluestack Challenge, raising funds for the Bluestack Foundation to assist people with special needs.
In 2015, the chosen charities were Irish Motor Neurone Disease Ireland and Cancer Care West. For 2016, the chosen charities are Pieta House and the North West Simon Community.