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Monday, 21 December 2009

Dearbhla Lennon

Dearbhla is probably one of Ireland's best known dancers, having starred in four runs of "Celebrity Jigs N' Reels". Dearbhla Lennon began dancing at the tender age of two under the expert tuition of her mother, the legendary Móna Ní Rodaigh in her hometown of Dundalk, Co. Louth. She comes from a family steeped in traditional Irish music and dance, her entire family talented in one or other discipline.

Having achieved multiple accolades at regional, national and World Championship level, Dearbhla went on to represent Ireland at numerous International & Celtic Festivals throughout the world, from Galicia to Zambia and many in between, dancing for both Presidents and orphans.

Aged just 17, she was invited to join the original cast of Lord of the Dance, where she subsequently performed as principal dancer (in both female principal roles) for over five years, touring in such places as North/South America, Europe, The Middle East, South Africa and Australia. Her first principal role was opposite the renowned Michael Flatley.

Dearbhla debuted as principal female dancer with "Riverdance- the show" in 2005 and traveled extensively in this capacity, performing in theatres across the Far East, Europe and Egypt.

Dearbhla graduated with a first class honours degree in Journalism and Media Communications in 2004. She was also awarded "Student of the Year" at Griffith College Dublin. Later that year Dearbhla worked with Riverdance director John McColgan in his highly acclaimed production of the play 'The Shaughraun' for the Abbey Theatre Dublin. During her time at college, she worked as both a fashion model and dancing teacher, having obtained her TCRG exam in 2001 and later, her ADCRG certification in 2008. She continues to teach dancing alongside her mother and sister Ciara; their school being one of the world's most successful- last year alone, they took home 17 Gold World Medals; the success continued this year with the schools highest ever medal count.

Some of the highlights of Dearbhla's dancing career include performing on The Academy Awards, performing for Prince Charles at The Royal Gala in The Royal Albert Hall, The opening of the 2003 Special Olympic Games (in front of an 80,000 strong live audience), The BBC Proms in the Park (where she performed as a soloist), winning RTE's 2007 'Celebrity Jigs N' Reels' with her partner Gavin O'Fearraigh and representing Ireland at the 2008 Eurovision Dance Contest.

After a brief period as a print journalist, having had a number of magazine cover stories, Dearbhla began working in television in 2005, both in front of and behind the camera. Currently working as a roving reporter for RTEs "The Afternoon Show" she was also recently involved in an Irish language series for TG4 where she was followed as she learned to play the concertina! Her most recent project is on TG4 where she takes the hot seat as a judge on "An Jig Gig", an Irish Dance talent show.

One of Dearbhla's favourite pastimes, is hunting for bargains and she is a self-confessed value vixen!

1. Bray, Co. Wicklow:-

Bray's "Book of Business Bargains".

"You might have heard it before but the reality is, shopping locally benefits us all. How is this so I might hear you ask? Well, every single euro you spend in our town is re-spent seven times. This fact clearly demonstrates the importance that we as residents and consumers in Bray, have a vital part to play in the future development and expansion of the wonderful place where we live.

Local employment is a significant part of commercial activity. Whether it's part-time or full-time, lots of our friends, neighbours, students and relatives are working in our local shops and providing local services. We as a community must work together to keep their jobs in these challenging economic times.

There are 10 great reasons to shop in Bray: -


If we can adopt a conscious positive attitude towards supporting our town then we will all benefit.

To support our Shop Local Campaign, retailers in Bray have compiled a book of Business Bargains, a book of money off vouchers and value coupons from the retailers to help you to enjoy the shopping experience that Bray has to offer. "

REF:-The Bray Shop Local Campaign Committee
In conjunction with Bray Chamber of Commerce, Bray Tourism &
Bray Town Council.

Brief mention- Drogheda, Co Louth are also running a similar scheme. They have their "Christmas in Drogheda" magazine which contains discount vouchers for several local stores.

2. Dundalk, Co Louth:-

The "Nice One!" gift card

"€20,000 has been spent on Dundalk Christmas Gift Cards in the first week of the card going on sale.

Increasingly popular as a flexible Christmas gift that helps keep Dundalk in business by keeping business in Dundalk, the Dundalk Christmas Gift Card is now available to buy in five outlets throughout the town centre.

Endorsed within the last week by Cllr Martin Bellew, chairman, Dundalk Town Council; Irish Rugby international Rob Keraney and his brother David; musician Jim Corr and investigative reporter Donal McIntyre, the Gift Card is proving to be an excellent gift choice this Christmas season with over 100 shops taking part in the scheme.

McAteer's Food House, Clanbrassil Street; Callan's Off- Licence on Park Street; Byrnes Late Night Pharmacy and the TCCM (Town Centre Commercial Management) office at the Market Square are all selling the Gift Card which is accepted widely across the town.
Speaking on the success of the Dundalk Christmas Gift Card scheme, Fiona Cunningham of Dundalk TCCM said "The card has been on sale just over a week and it is a great to be able to say that people have spent to date €20,000 on buying the Gift Cards for family, friends and work colleagues."

TCCM staff will be selling the Gift Card this Wednesday and Thursday in The Marshes Shopping Centre .

In the week before Christmas, the Gift Card will also be available from the Longwalk Shopping Centre from December 17-24.
The Dundalk Christmas Gift Card is one of the main initiatives between Dundalk TCCM and local retailers in efforts to keep people shopping in Dundalk and, in doing so, support town centre businesses and the local workforce.

Andrew Mawhinney, Dundalk Town Centre Commercial Manager, said there has been a good response to the introduction of the card. "People are buying it as an ideal Christmas gift for family and friends while employers are buying them for staff as tax-efficient Christmas bonuses.
"I feel people are realising that money must be spent in the town if traders are to survive. In buying a Dundalk Gift Card they are supporting the local businesses and helping to keep jobs in the town.

"Also, the fact that the minimum cost of a Gift Card is €20 rising to a maximum of €150 in €5 units, means that the Dundalk Gift Card can suit all pockets."

The Dundalk Christmas Gift Card is the first phase of Dundalk's Nice One campaign, which will focus on a number of initiatives over the next two years which will benefit both local retailers and shoppers."

Ref:- Anne-Marie Eaton, Bance Nolan PR

3. Letterkenny, Co. Donegal:-

"Shop LK is an excusive branding campaign for Letterkenny with a view to giving the town a platform for future success. It has been devised for local retailers and customers alike.
Shop LK was devised in 2004 with the voucher scheme being added in 2006. The Brand has been through a few changes over the years and we have widened the various channels that we use to promote the brand and subsequently the town itself.

In recent months the Local Town Council have incorporated the logo on their town signage and have enabled us to use the town signage for our Christmas campaign.

How it Works:

Shop LK Vouchers can be used at over 80 participating stores around the town.

. Members display Shop LK Logo
. Chamber redeems vouchers quickly
. Members are encouraged to use the Shop LK Brand on their own advertising.
. Branding campaigns raise awareness of Letterkenny as a commercial centre

Each year we do a Spring, Back to School, Halloween and Christmas campaign. This involves specially commissioned radio advertising, newspaper ads, signage at town entrances and posters for participating outlets.

. This year we developed a stand alone website

In '09, €200,000 worth of vouchers were sold.
Vouchers are purchased for gifts, staff bonuses, prizes and are purchased all year round.

The vouchers are the tangible evidence of Shop LK.
We hope to create greater brand awareness for shopping in Letterkenny through various campaigns encouraging people to shop locally.

Shop LK ties together all that is good in Letterkenny. It is a product promoting local shopping, local jobs, and ultimately the local economy.

In tandem with our campaigns this year we ran Service with a Smile Awards that was designed to celebrate excellence in customer service.

As a border town we are constantly battling with value and keeping local shoppers so our campaigns are supported by editorials pictures and lots of other peripheral activities to promote local shopping. We are funding that our shoppers are county Donegal rather then local people.

All our members have worked this year to get favourable exchange rates and prices from their suppliers to be able to pass best value to their customers. One business is running ads matching perfume prices with the sterling equivalent, this has worked well for him.

Another supplier of till rolls and cash registers came up with the idea of branded Shop LK till rolls. This has been rolled out to a number of outlets.

Shop LK is gaining in popularity every year and over the next 3 years we will have reached sales of €0.5m."
REF:- Toni Forrester
Chief Executive Officer
Letterkenny Chamber


Letterkenny Shopping Centre
Benetton, Books Direct, Carphone Warehouse, Classic Casuals, Exhibit, Greenes Footwear,
Jack and Jones, McCullaghs, McFaddens Pharmacy, McGees Butchers, McGettigans Bakery, Natural Way, Paco, Patrick Gildea, Penneys, Planet Mum, Private Collection, Proctors,
Pulse Accessories, Surprise Surprise, Trax Restaurant, Unique, XtraVision, Zone, Tesco

Retail Parks
Argos, Attiva Health Club, Breslin's Fine Furniture, Clarks Footwear, Chateau, Dunnes Stores, Evolve, Fabrics and Alterations, Flowers and, Hallmark, Harry Corry, Homebase,
Kelco Vodafone (in Retail Park only), Marks and Spencer, Menarys, New Look, Planet Baby, Premaman, Right Price Tiles, River Island, Tempest, The Streat Café, The Swing Room Café, Toymaster

Main Street area, Port Road, High Road and Oldtown
Boot's Chemist, Brian McCormick Sports, C Shoe, Classic Casuals,
CT Ball Jewellers, Doherty's Butchers, Donegal Stationery, Dunnes Stores, Ernest Speer,
Four Lanterns, Gallagher's Menswear, Greene's Footwear, Magee's Pharmacy, Mc Callion Jewellers, R. McCullagh Jewellers, McFadden Pharmacy Oldtown, Mourne Antiques,
Price is Right, Ruth's Chemist High Road, The Wine Buff, The Yellow Pepper

Ramelton Road
The Silver Tassie

Rossview Business Park
Fabric Centre, Donegal Tile Centre

Pearse Road/Canal Road
Century Cinemas, Currys, Duds 'n' Suds, Elite Brides,
Garry Clarke Solicitor, Golf USA, La Maison, Morrison Foods

Derry Road
Bronze Age, Foy & Co., Patrick Tinney Fuel Merchants

Charles Kelly & Son

Circular Road
Gormley's Centra

Grove Furnishings

4. Waterford:-

A. Member Affinity Scheme:-

"The objective of our Member Affinity Scheme is really to shop local as such. All the offers are available to the thousands of employees across our 600 member businesses which will help keep business local. For example all our member's employees can avail of discounts in local hairdressers and gyms.

The scheme is deigned to be simple, user friendly, uncomplicated and there are no hidden cost or charges. Hence, there is no card, there is no cost to take part and there is no complicated membership process. All members can avail of the scheme through the web site. We encourage members by sending out a weekly affinity scheme newsletter which details all the offers available to the members. This newsletter is always "fresh" as members continue to change their product offer. For example, a hotel may be offering special rates for Halloween, Christmas and New Year, a leisure club may offer special rate at different times of the year also, and so on. The scheme is evolving every week and offers members something different every week so that the offers do not become stale. It really is a very clever way of reinforcing the message to shop local and encouraging members to give other members constant discounts. Often the simplest message is the best message and the least complicated the process the better the scheme works. The process is driven through the web site which serves the purpose of constantly communicating with the thousands of members. If all offers were made this simple and easy what a better economy we would have."
Michael Garland
Chief Executive Officer

Participating businesses latest offers:-

Latest updates from the affinity scheme:-

Coffee Warehouse
15% discount on all Ponticelli range of coffees. 10% discount on Milano Bean to Cup machine for all orders placed before 31st December.

Grand Hotel
Free kiddies meal when you visit Santa at The Grand Hotel, Tramore this Sunday 13th December from 1pm - 5pm.
Leo Murphy Photography
Book your studio sitting between now and 24th December and get your sitting absolutely free. Gift ideas for your home or office also available.

Peter Taylor Sales
10% discounts on Christmas wine hampers and snack hampers.

B. Also in Waterford -shoppers can expect a lot more bang for their buck this Christmas as over 150 businesses across the city have teamed up to offer a better 'Value' experience to all.
Under the 'Value Waterford' programme shoppers in the city can look forward to free glasses of wine with meals out, free coffee in participating cafes and restaurants as well as an attractive 10 per cent off purchases in member retail outlets.
The guidebook is free to visitors to Waterford City and includes, shops, pubs, restaurants, cafes, leisure activities and tourist attractions all offering discounts to visitors. It is also free for businesses to list in the guidebook as long as they offer an incentive for 'Value' to Visitors to the City.

5. Town Gift Vouchers:-

Several towns around Ireland have 'voucher' schemes, whereby you purchase vouchers in denominations of €5, €10, €20 and they can be used in place of cash in participating stores.

These schemes are available in a number of towns including:-

The Castlebar Chamber Gift Voucher- Castlebar, Co Mayo
The Castlebar Chamber Gift Voucher can be purchased in the Chamers Office on Linenhall Street for any value you wish and are valid to use within one year. With over 30 outlets participating in the Gift Voucher Scheme, from great shops to fabulous experiences or maybe that little luxury, a Chamber gift voucher will never disappoint.

These gift vouchers are now available to the public to purchase and carry a safety seal to protect both the retailer and customer.

The Castlebar Chamber Gift Voucher is Available to Purchase in the Chambers Office, Castlebar Credit Union and Gift Supreme.

Ennis Gold Gift Voucher- Ennis, Co Clare
Buy your Ennis Gold Gift Card Voucher in denominations of €5, €10, €20 and €50. In addition to buying vouchers on the Ennis chamber website, you can buy them in the following locations:
. Record Rack, Market Street
. Ennis Chamber on O'Connell St
. St Francis Credit Union.

Kells Gift Vouchers, Kells, Co Meath-
"The Kells Gift Voucher scheme, is an initiative of Kells & District Chamber of Commerce and is supported by Kells Town Council and Kells Credit Union.

The Kells Gift Vouchers are available in denominations of €10, €20 or €50 and are presented in an attractive wallet. Participating retailers will also display stickers in their shop windows to show that they accept the vouchers. The vouchers are valid for 24 months from the date of issue and make ideal gifts for weddings, birthdays or any special occasion.

Kells Gift Vouchers are available to buy from O'Brien's Super Valu, Kells Shopping Centre; St. Colmcille's Credit Union in Headfort Place, or Kells Chamber of Commerce Office (phone 046 9240055)."
Ref:- Jess Olohan
Kells Chamber

Naas Shopping Vouchers:- Naas, Co. Kildare
"Naas have a fantastic scheme which promotes their "Shop Local" Message to promote Local and independent Retailers in Naas.

For Christmas 2009 we are offering 10% Extra Free . When you purchase €100 or more you receive 10% Extra Free, so buy €100 get €110 - it's simple and easy to use. The main points of the Voucher Scheme are:

1. Vouchers can be purchased from Naas Chamber or from Naas Credit Union.
2. Vouchers are available in €10, €20, and €50 denominations
3. Vouchers can be used in participating Outlets throughout Naas. Visit Naas Chamber Website for further details.

REF:- Ann Sugrue
Chamber Co-Ordinator

AND on a different note- but really worthy of a mention!!!:-

Live4Less discount card for social welfare recipients:-

Thus far we have over 60 businesses on board and have sold a couple of hundred cards having been in business 3 weeks. We are adding new businesses all the time and are in discussions with some large organisations who we are hopeful will be on board with Live4Less in the new year.

The card is only available to people in receipt of a Social Welfare payment, de facto this includes everyone on the Live Register.

We have a verification process as part of the card application wherein users have to supply us with verification that they are in receipt of a Social Welfare payment. This can take a number of forms:

. Weekly Post Office Receipt
. Bank Statement - if paid electronically (we do not need to see transactions, just confirmation of payment by the Department of Social Welfare)
. Cheque - those in part time work receive their payment in this format
. Reminder notice to sign on
. Recent correspondence from the Department of Social Welfare regarding persons status