Amy takes on role as marketing manager at Breaffy Resort
By Tom Gillespie
COUNTY Cork native Amy Horgan has taken up the post as marketing manager at Breaffy House Resort, Castlebar, with the task of promoting the 106-bed Breaffy House Hotel and the 100-bedroomed Breaffy Woods Hotel.
Post-Covid, her task is certainly daunting. But she is optimistic for the hospitality sector and believes the reputation of Breaffy Resort will continue to attract visitors.
Amy started in the hotel business about 10 years ago. She was based in Middletown Park Hotel where she was marketing executive.
Amy took up the story: "I stayed in that role for about a year and I then moved onto management level. I was manager of sales and marketing.
"In 2014 we were bought over by the Talbot Collection and they kept me on and I became an area sales and marketing manager and then I managed all their properties in Cork, Wexford, Dublin and Carlow.
"It was great exposure and a great experience. They were really a very good company to work for because they moved me through the different areas.
"Over the 10 years I worked for them I would done operations, sales, marketing, weddings - everything."
However, due to Covid she was made redundant. All the group roles were removed from the company, forcing her to start her own consultancy business.
She continued: "That is how I got chatting to Wilson Bird, the general manager here at Breaffy Resort. At the time they were closed and he said they needed someone to do their digital marketing and I took on the role.
"I knew Breaffy House Hotel very well as my husband is a Mayo man - Sean Corcoran from Cloona, Westport.
"We came here in December and I took on the role as digital manager and then I started as director of sales and marketing in October. I am really enjoying the role."
Mid-week business at Breaffy is usually corporate and they still have a lot of people coming for staycations.
Amy added: "Post-Covid everyone wants to get out. Our biggest selling point is that things are safe here. We have 101 acres on the estate that visitors can enjoy. We have plenty of space. You are not in a built up area."
But the challenge facing the entire hospitality sector, she said, is what is going to happen over the next few weeks.
Amy continued: "We are confident for next year and we have a lot of strong wedding business on the books already.
"The biggest thing is just wondering will people go on foreign trips or will they staycation here to the same level as before.
"We have a fantastic return reputation here. We have a lot of people that come back year after year and they book before they leave.
"During Covid and post-Covid new people started coming because Breaffy Resort was on the map. Fáilte Ireland did a lot of work where they really put the different areas on the map. The Wild Atlantic Way and the greenways are also a huge attraction."
She added: "We worry about our wedding couples where some people have changed their wedding dates three times. We are advising couples to have the church ceremony earlier. We have a fabulous wedding business because of our reputation."
Amy studied in CIT in Cork where she did a business and marketing degree. She then went on to do her masters in NUI Galway. She said: "That was where I met my husband and we lived in Galway for four years. I worked in Smyth’s Toys head office where I was a buyer for a while."
South African Dean Diplock is the new head chef at Breaffy Resort.
Said Amy: "He is a regular on Ireland AM and has brought some flair with the food, including some South African dishes."
Looking to the future, Amy said: "We have huge plans for next year. Our restaurant is getting a complete facelift. We hope to make it more glass-filled by bringing the outside in. We have a polytunnel where we are growing our own bits and pieces and we have established loads of new local suppliers.
"We have just been given Good Food Ireland membership which is a huge achievement for the resort."
Amy gave me a brief history of Breaffy House: "Dominick Browne of Breaffy was born in 1701 and died in 1776. It is possible that this man was behind the building of the first Breaffy House.
"The style of the architecture is Victorian. No place here for the even skyline and straight facades which would be a feature of the Georgian style. Instead, we have the typical rambling asymmetrical style of the 19th century.
In 1927 we find some notable changes to the estate - two new avenues leading into the house from the Castlebar road, with a new gate lodge at each entrance, one of the lodges still standing at Lally’s house, the other lodge removed when the new road was built. You can find a man-made pond to the right of the bridge on the avenue into the house, dug after 1900.
"In 1928, 400 acres, including the house, was sold to the Land Commission for division for local farmers. Part of the land went to the Forestry Department and in 1962 the house and 40 acres of woodland were brought by Una and Michael Lee. The house was opened as a grade A hotel in 1963.
"It was partly burned in a fire in 1969 and rebuilt with additions for an expanded hotel.
"The Lynch Group bought Breaffy House in 2001 and traded very successfully with the additions of fitness club, spa and pool and 60 bedrooms in November 2002.
"The Breaffy Woods was built in 2006 and includes the well-known Breaffy Sports & Events Arena. The resort now comprises two properties on 101 acres of forest trails and beautiful woodland walkways which collectively are known as Breaffy House Resort.
"On August 21, 2014, Breaffy House was purchased by Tirawley Ltd. The new owners recently carried out an extensive refurbishment programme."