Creating Community

Neo Ireland is all about growing a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem regionally.  We do that by creating community.images

We provide a physical and virtual space for curious and interested people who want to experiment with entrepreneurship and social enterprise. We inspire by telling the “good news” stories and letting entrepreneurs lead by example. It’s an incubator and a “launchpad”.

Our first outreach was BizCampNI since 2012, we’ve run in them Newry, Belfast & Craigavon.

BizCamp provides an entire day of inspiration and education as volunteer speakers, accomplished in some aspect of running an SME or microbusiness take to a podium to share their experience. It’s continuing education to teach what we didn’t know we didn’t know about marketing, PR, finance, innovation and business development.

Beyond that it has created a community of “BizCampers”. When you leave a BizCamp you don’t just have a pocket full of business cards. You have potential relationships.

We offer a microbusiness support group in Newry. Moms that Work and Women that Work were the original day and evening groups. Merged into one and meeting monthly, on line and now informally over the course of three years, relationships have been established and new businesses formed. More importantly the group now exists as a safe place to ask for help and advice, test new ideas and get the word out about new products, opportunities, craft fairs and available business development courses.

The Drone Academy and After School Coding Club are perhaps the best example of what happens when you simply make the space available. This ground up effort by a resident programmer with little more than his ambition to teach young folks to code – has resulted in about thirty people through the doors and 3 full time programmer/app developers added to the region.

10511220_317915241715885_7337605097432165033_nNewry Creates is our latest endeavor. Re-united with BizCamp co-founder Chris McCabe we’re happy to support this bi-monthly, evening meeting at Amplified Bar. Chris is leading with his same passion for building community as when he helped introduce BizCamp 5 years ago. Local entrepreneurs, creatives and technologists are invited to give a 10 minute lightning talk on their success story. The ups & the downs.

We’re a dynamic and entrepreneurial region already – come find out who is making all that happen and how! Perhaps become inspired to take a leap yourself.

2015 promises to be a banner year continuing these endeavours and adding more. We’ve moved to smaller quarters, created a “hacker space” to invite more techies to hang out and share their wisdom. There’s a regular Coderdojo back on the roster. We’re taking the Women that Work group to a new level, rebranding as in order to offer a crossborder reach to men and women.

Let us have your feedback, add your name to our mailing list, or just let us know how we can help you make 2015 a prosperous one.



This blog is a relaunch of one that I started in 2009 in support of an enthusiastic mid-life relocation to Ireland while embarking on the path of a reluctant entrepreneur.

Reluctant because in 2008/09 there were few other choices – and because the gods have a sense of humour. I began training for the work I do now during the great recession of the early eighties when career development work was ‘teaching entrepreneurship’. I’d never expected to be taking my own advice – thirty years later.

You can learn more about my ongoing work, find out about our courses and workshops, and join the conversation at

Why have a separate blog?

The change I encourage there is an invitation to repair and restore your own sense of self and to bring those lessons and habits into an effort to repair and restore your world.

Globally we’ve seen a post-pandemic shift. There’s less of a call to return to normal than there is a demand for a new normal. One that is focused on the environment, wealth inequality, the millions displaced by climate and conflict – in short the needs of the many over the tyranny of a power elite.

What you’ll read about here are reflections by and about empowered citizens and servant leaders.

My story, other people’s stories, observations about Ireland and Northern Ireland from the lens of this blow-in perpetually frustrated that so many of my neighbours can’t see the possibility and potential of a prosperous future on this island.

More importantly through the lenses of native changemakers who believe that were we to embrace diversity, demand transparency and accountability, and excellence from both taxing authorities things would improve economically, politically and socially.

When we’re less angry about the failures of systems and leadership we can begin to concern ourselves -with a shared future to benefit every citizen rather than fear monger over a need to share an identity or nationhood.

A Culture of Recovery

In a 2012 TEDx talk I related the experience of being shamed by a butcher because my order was not to his liking. Oh, I pushed back, got what I wanted and I do business with his shop this day.

At the time I could often be heard suggesting that what the island needed was its own 12-step program – rooms in which I had learned to unapologetically assert my position and invite further conversation.

The lessons of recovery are developmental and universal.

Well-reared children in all cultures come of age with the skill to live at peace with themselves.

They move from dependent infants to terrible toddlers, to determined and rebellious teens. Through the course of adulthood, they evolve into confident, consensus-seeking adults who negotiate calmly, personally and professionally, to establish their place in the world.

Sadly, most of us don’t experience this ideal and uninterrupted progression. We reach adulthood struggling with dis-ease or discontent.

At best, we wish we were happier at work or at home, at worst we self medicate our dis-ease with substances or behaviours to numb it.

Thankfully if motivated by our discontent, we can all choose change.

Catalysing Conversations & Connections

If you can see it, you can be it.

The first time I heard that it was powerfully uttered by Irish Senator Lynne Ruane.

The occasion was an event convened to honour the memory of a young Irish mother who succumbed to the despair of homelessness – the legacy of an economic recovery that focused on preserving the wealth of a few over the needs of women, children and families.

Notably in direct contravention of the one of the founding principles of the Republic.

Her own story – and book – People Like Me gave voice to the experience of being marginalised – and it gave me hope that a generation of truth tellers was emerging here.

“Few voices ring out as clearly as those who have long been oppressed or silenced. In her heartfelt memoir People Like Me, author Lynn Ruane tells the gripping story of her working-class Dublin life, the kind of life that rarely gets a hearing elsewhere and so she does it with the kind of detail those who have been waiting years to speak up bring to a written work.”–Irish Voice

Her story powerfully illustrates that witnessing our personal stories of change is where societal change begins.

I have been privileged to know changemakers on both sides of the Irish border – and there is power in connecting them with constituencies that can amplify their messages.

We don’t know what we don’t know

It’s an invitation to become curious.

However, a post-conflict society requires more than an invitation.

What’s needed is the kind of relationship building that introduces the safe space that gives over to brave space where trust and compassion can overcome the wilful blindness wrought by generations of the wilfully blind leading the wilfully blind.

Empowering Changemakers

I’m convinced that you can’t teach or evangelise about excellent leadership – but you can witness and celebrate it.

If you recognize the dysfunction of our social, economic and political systems rooted in the dis-ease of our leadership, then we must share the stories to inspire and empower each other to challenge that leadership.

That is the call to “servant leadership”.

And please – email to share your stories.

On Communities Growing Professionally…

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

People often ask me what BizCamp is. An unconference. What’s that? Quite simply: it’s a labour of love.

Congratulations to the BorderBizCamp team; the day was brilliant, every detail was attended to and operations ran like a well oiled machine. The speakers were outstanding, the range and quality was excellent.

It was as it should be everywhere. A small group of motivated and determined business people took what works best about their relationships with each other,  the local enterprise agency and the M:TEK  location  and modeled it for the world. You genuinely brought the best out in everyone.

Thank you also to the Monaghan Enterprise Agency staff for volunteering on the day; business is business and I have often heard it said that agencies “don’t get it”.

Not this MEA team; look at enterprise defined and it could be seen in the energy and enthusiasm of every volunteer.

[ √]  A project undertaken, especially one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy;

[ √]  The participation in such projects;

[ √]  A company organised for commercial purposes

[ √]  Boldness or readiness in undertaking; adventurous spirit; ingenuity.

Among the synonyms suggested:

[ √]  plan, undertaking, venture

[ √]  drive, aggressiveness, push, ambition

They definitely ticked those boxes.

Thank you to the sponsors who fed us and to the young volunteers. In the end it’s about the children. They watched more than 100 people come together to create a prosperity to allow for enough jobs on this island. They’re entitled not to have to leave home!

That’s leadership.

On…a New Year’s Revolution

Tangible Ireland’s  first of 2012’s eight Leadership Seminars focused our attention on a shared vision for the island of Ireland: “proud, peaceful & prosperous”.  Ray Sexton said we were Plotting the Evolution in Howth; “Revolution” was the slip of an eight year old!  We’ve elevated it to our 2012 mission.

As usual, in venues from Dublin to New York, Belfast to London, Limerick to South Armagh, the agenda begins with what is happening locally.

  • Volunteers at the Howth Phoenix Project are leading the way in proposing a property redevelopment scheme
  • Friends of Balscadden Bay have a focus on renewing local interest in and use of the beach and bay. Perfectly suited to dovetail with the promotion of regional travel and tourism.
  • The privately run Healthpro organization has evolved their corporate vision to include a community effort. They run triathlons and activities which showcase the beauty and amenities of the area.
  • The forward thinking folks at Howth Castle’s Cookery highlighted the modern use of an historic venue as a magnet for locals and tourists to gather.

Our professional moderator, Carol Conway, kept our passions reined in to the allotted time and all this was delivered in the first hour!

Grounded in the beauty of the land and sea we moved to cyberspace!

  • A review of the entrepreneurial evolution of the Irish island’s economy at This initiative pairs an incubation centre on the Newry border between Dublin & Belfast with a private inward investment effort, education and engagement with the global Irish village.
  • “Plotting the Digital Future” was an update on a private effort to write a meaningful National Digital Policy for the Republic. Finally, joined up thinking from the ground up!
  • Insights, evolutionary and revolutionary of a serial tech entrepreneur closed the Technology Evolution hour. An overview of business start-up successes with an optimistic review of the benefit of living and working abroad and returning the wiser.

Closing the day with an overview of the Global Evolution we heard two of the most powerful presentations:

  • Matters of the Diaspora
  • Go, Educate all Nations

What do a college president and professional fundraiser have in common?  Passion and commitment to prosperity achieved by harnessing the energy of the Irish at home and abroad.

“It takes community to form people” in the words of the educator. “Moving our minds from getting to giving” in the words of our expert on networking with the Diaspora.

Redefining our community, leading by example and creating alliances with like minded people around the world will involve committed ambassadors trained to network and lead.

The remittances of a century ago, the investment we sought in past decades were a hand up. These relationships allowed us to engage in the global economy and we learned.

Now our technologies, our businesses and our children are able, willing and ready to fully participate in global markets. We are able to provide opportunities here and create them for ourselves abroad.

We have established networks to share in a global economy. Our 21st century task is to leverage them.

This is the message of Tangible Ireland. I and Empowering Change are always grateful to be recharged by them!

For details of the agenda and future meetings: