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If you’ve spent time in Galway, you may be familiar with the Galway Chamber, a premier business organization geared at making Galway a leading location for business, investment and people. It works to provide its business members, both big and small, with local to international lobby support, advice, networking, training and much more. To be put simply, the Galway Chamber is the driving force of the West.

You may not however, be keen as to who’s behind the scenes at this world-class operation.

Emma O’Reilly has been working as a Marketing Executive for the Chamber since 2017. Though technically a Mayo woman raised in Claremorris, Emma has a strong connection to Galway that spans a lifetime. 

Her grandfather, Colm Quinn, calls Tir An Fhia home, and so it became the playground of Emma’s youth. “It’s always been one of my favorite places,” says Emma, “it’s always made Galway special to me.”  

Weekends on the Western coast and the lure of the big city made attending NUIG for third level an easy choice. 

“Galway has everything,” says Emma. “It’s accessible with culture, nightlife, third level institutions, shops, restaurants… everything!” For her, it has always provided a sense of community where you can feel home away from home. 

Working for the Chamber gave Emma the perfect space to learn through action. By providing a close-knit and supportive environment, Emma was able to grow in her own confidence and savvy, assuring herself that she was right where she belonged. 

Kenny Deery, CEO of the Galway Chamber, had this to say about Emma, “It has been such a pleasure to work alongside Emma and to see her grow and develop into a marketing professional. She is passionate about marketing and took great pride in presenting our members’ offerings through our varying channels to help those businesses develop and grow. She leaves us now after some five years as a confident professional!” 

One of the best parts of her job as the Marketing Executive is the feeling she gets when she’s helped a business, especially in the last year while most, if not all, were struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. 

“It’s incredibly rewarding when members come back and say ‘thank you, that really helped us.’” Whether it’s for multi-national leaders or start-up founders, Emma has put her nose to the grindstone to support them.

Her tireless efforts on behalf of the Galway business community during lockdown shed more light than ever on how important the Chamber is, and in return just what an impact she was making. When asked about her accolades, Emma couldn’t bear to speak of them without mention of her colleagues. 

“Everything that I’ve learned has come from Elaine, Colleen, Mary and Kenny,” says Emma. “They’ve made work an enjoyable space these last few years. I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to create such an incredible network.”

Just as lucky as Galway was to have Emma, it is now equally as unlucky to lose her. Come mid-March Emma is off on an exciting adventure to Australia. 

For Emma, the timing felt right to get out of her comfort zone and spend some time reaching towards self-fulfillment. “I think we’ve all learned during COVID that there’s a lot more to life than the rat-race, the wheel that keeps on spinning. I just want to take a chance and dive in.” 

That’s no figure of speech either, this go-getter already has plans to scuba dive up and down the coast of Australia. “It’s now or never,” she says. During the pandemic her love of adventure was reignited and she spent time surfing, cliff jumping and sea swimming, and she’s sure to find loads more to do down under. 

She hopes to build a community in Australia much like she has here, and is already reaching out to family connections in Brisbane and Sydney. In her youth she was an active participant in GAA and is even considering taking it up again to feel closer to home while abroad. 

During her final days here, Emma offers this advice to women, young and old, who are about to launch into their own business careers, “Have confidence and back yourself, no matter what. Life is too short not to go for what you want. If something doesn’t work, try again, try something else or try a different direction.”

As Galway enjoys its last few days with Emma behind the helm, we can only hope that she will return to the West with a renewed love of the Atlantic sea air and, of course, a fresh tan. Her verve and spirit are sure to be missed, but keep an ear to the wind, I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about Emma O’Reilly.

Article by Sarah Brush