By Caroline Lebranti
During the Fordham Galway study tour’s first pre-travel meeting, Clinical Assistant Professor Janet DiLorenzo told us that going to Galway would make us feel as if we were “coming home,” even if we’d never been to the city.
At the time I dismissed the sentiment, but since we returned from the trip, I think that she was right.
The businesses we visited, from a global tech company to a family-owned bookstore, were diverse and interesting. I learned a lot about Irish business, but each company visit also taught me something new that can be applicable in any country.
One of our sessions was at Kenny’s Bookshop, a family-owned store that opened in 1940. Over its years of operation, the bookstore has supplied Irish literature to the U.S. Library of Congress, the New York Public Library and the Boston Public Library. Kenny’s was also the second bookstore in the world to venture into e-commerce. Co-owner Des Kenny told us his family’s rags-to-riches story.
The site visit that surprised me the most was to Croí Heart and Stroke Center. Croí is a nonprofit, one of the most charitable organizations in the region. Neil Johnson, its CEO, spoke about the concerns around quality and availability of care in Ireland and about the hard work Croí puts into fundraising, business development and patient care. I left feeling motivated. I hope to someday be a part of a company that touches as many peoples’ lives as Croí does.
We also visited the Galway Chamber of Commerce. Maeve Joyce, the general manager, explained to us that the chamber’s goal is to put Galway on the map as a leading location for business, investment and people. Galway is bidding for a 2020 “Capital of Culture” award, which the European Union grants to two cities each year. With the grant, Galway hopes to improve the city’s infrastructure and draw more tourists.
As our faculty leader, Professor DiLorenzo made ample time for cultural activities in the schedule. We learned about the history of Ireland at the Galway City Museum, shopped for Irish goods at small local businesses and were treated to delicious Irish meals. We also spent time exploring the countryside and visiting places such as the Cliffs of Moher and Kylemore Abbey.
Additional corporate visits took us to TG4, the national Irish language public service broadcaster; HP, where director Chris Coughlan discussed Galway’s attraction for high-tech companies; Galway Port, where Brian Sheridan discussed the city’s thriving port system; and Galway Bay FM, where CEO Keith Finnegan recounted the radio station’s history.
While the business visits were the primary reason for the study tour, the trip would not have been complete without all of the cultural activities that really acquainted us with the country.