Board of Directors
Brian Keyes (PRESIDENT)
Brian Keyes is the Editorial Operations Director at Iconic Newspapers Ltd. . A graduate of College of Commerce Rathmines, he is a native of Goresbridge and lives in Kilkenny City. Brian has extensive media experience, having edited two regional newspapers. He has worked at a number of newspaper titles throughout his 25-year career including the Kilkenny People, and was Editorial Director with Johnston Press Ireland.
Anne Barber (VICE-PRESIDENT)
Anne Barber is the owner and manager of Butterslip, an award winning gift shop in Kilkenny. Originally from Fermoy, Co. Cork, Anne is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the Michael Smurfitt Graduate School of Business at UCD.
After a career in marketing and event management, punctuated by several bouts of travelling, Anne launched her business, Butterslip in 2005 in Kilkenny city centre. In 2007 the shop moved to a larger premises and has grown from strength to strength. The shop has received extensive coverage in the national press and in 2012 won the Irish Times Best Shop in Ireland Award.
Having grown up in a family retail business, Anne is passionate about city centre retailing and working to maintain a vibrant city centre for everyone to enjoy.
COLIN AHERN (EX-OFFICIO PRESIDENT)
Colin Ahern is a native of County Limerick and has been living in Kilkenny with his family since 2006. He has been a Hotel General Manager for over 15 years, working in 4 and 5-star hotels in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and mainland Europe and he has been General Manager of the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel since 2009. A graduate of TCD and DIT, Cathal Brugha Street, Colin is completing a Diploma in HR Strategy at the IMI.
Colin is a current board member of Kilkenny Tourism, BITA, and Trail Kilkenny and is a member of the IBEC Regional Executive Committee in the South East. He has previously served on National Council of the Irish Hotels Federation and was Chairman of Kilkenny Tourism from 2013-2016.
Owen Sweeney (Company Secretary)
Owen Sweeney is a native of Kilkenny. He is a qualified solicitor (E2007) who has worked with Poe Kiely Hogan Lanigan since 2004 having commenced his Indentures of Apprenticeship with the firm. Since qualification Owen has specialised in the area of Commercial Law and has gained significant experience in various aspects of Commercial Law and Commercial Property with particular emphasis on commercial acquisitions and disposals, insolvency matters and renewable energy. Owen is Secretary of the Kilkenny Bar Association and was co-opted onto the Chamber Board in April 2013 and was elected Honorary Secretary and Company Secretary of the Chamber in May of that year.
Gordon Murphy (Hon. Treasurer)
Gordon Murphy is originally from Sutton in Dublin, and lived in Meath for 20 years before moving to Kilkenny in 2013 when he joined Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) as Chief Financial Officer. GII is the milk ingredients business of Glanbia in Ireland with a turnover of over €1 billion and employs over 700 staff in four milk processing plants, two of which are in Co. Kilkenny (Ballyragget and Belview). Gordon previously worked as Finance Director with RPS Group (an engineering and environmental consultancy group), before which he was Finance Director with Bord na Móna plc, and prior to that was Group Financial Controller with Kingspan Group plc. He trained as an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Dublin office.
Mary Brennan (Assistant Honorary Treasurer)
Mary Brennan is a native of Kilkenny. She holds BA (hons) in Accounting from Waterford Institute of Technology and completed her ACA qualification with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She currently holds the position of Senior Manager in PwC Kilkenny specialising in Asset and Wealth Management working with a large number of International Investment Managers and Fund Administrators. She is also the Team Leader in the PwC Kilkenny office with responsibilities for 60+ employees. She has lectured in Financial Accounting with the Accounting Technicians of Ireland for a number of years and is a member of a number of voluntary committees. She is married to Kilkenny native Fionán and has two young children.
Marion Acreman is the Centre Manager at MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre in the City. She comes from a background of commercial property and retail management. She has worked in the City for over 20 years. Marion, a graduate of University of Commercial Estate Management (UCEM), Carlow IT and UCD and is a co-director of her husband’s business Kilkenny Fast Fit Service Centre. Marion enjoys spending time at home raising two sons. She is a member of RICS (Assoc), ICSC and SCAMI (Shopping Centre Managers Association Ireland).
Her focus is on enhancing the customer journey and leading a strong staff team. Her long term objective is to help carry the City forward and improve the overall retail experience and offer to customers in the County and surrounds as well as enhancing the attractiveness of Kilkenny as a retail destination for domestic and overseas visitors.
Paschal Bergin is a native of Kilkenny City. He runs Paschal Bergin & Co., Chartered Tax Advisers and Accountants at 10 Ormonde Street, Kilkenny. His firm provides tax advice and consultancy on all aspects of tax and also provides accounts and payroll services and it is in business since 2001. He is a member of the Kilkenny Business Club. He is also fixtures secretary for the Kilkenny & District Soccer League for the past five years.
Michael Brannigan is native of Kilkenny and Executive Chairman/ Director of the PRL Group Limited, specialists in logistics and supply chain solutions. The business was founded in 1932 and since its foundation it has become one of Ireland’s most successful supply chain logistics companies. He is a member of the Brannigan family who have been involved in the road haulage and distribution business for many decades in Kilkenny. The PRL Group specialise in the fmcg (fast moving consumer goods) specialising in chilled frozen ambient and pharmaceutical sectors providing multi-temp Warehousing, multi-temp Distribution, Retail Sales Services including van selling and cabinet management, Re-packing /Co-packing and Added-Value Management services. A private company, founded in 1985, and are entirely Irish owned and managed. The PRL GROUP was formed from the amalgamation of Roadload Distribution, Packaging Resources, Brannigan’s Warehousing and Distribution, and Roscastle Logistics.
Martin Costello is a native of Bonnetstown, Co. Kilkenny. Martin is a 4th generation co-owner, Director and Secretary of Kilkenny Jewellery Co. Ltd T/A Murphy Jewellers. He studied in Kilkenny, Waterford and San Diego where he qualified as a gemmologist. He’s worked in the jewellery trade in Dublin and Melbourne. He joined the company in 2003 and took over the running with his brother after his father (Seamus’s) short illness and passing. Seamus of course was a former President of the Chamber 1988-89.
Gary Graham is originally from Rathfarnham in Dublin, Educated in St Marys College CSSP Rathmines, came to Kilkenny in 1982/83 and did the ICES in Thomastown. He went to College of Marketing and Design in Parnell Square. He served his time in the shoe trade in Limerick, before returning to the family business in Dublin working with his father. Gary opened his first concession in 1989 at the Monster House in Kilkenny and then opened his first branch of Graham Shoes in 1992 on High Street follow by Friary St in 1994, Carlow in 1997, Naas in 2004 and Clonmel in 2007, He now has 7 stores employing 30 people and runs the company with his brother Steve and sister Jenny. Gary is married with 4 children and was co-opted onto the board of the chamber in 2011.
Jason Dempsey is a native of Kilkenny. He holds the position as Senior Branch Manager, AIB Bank, Kilkenny. Jason has held many different roles over his 18 years with AIB such as in Lending, Sales & Project Management in Cork, Dublin & the greater Leinster areas. Jason holds the Professional Banker Qualification from UCD and the Institute of Bankers along with various other qualifications from these bodies. Jason is a former President of The Rotary Club of Kilkenny (2019-2020) and is an active member of his local GAA club, Dicksboro. Jason is married to Nicola and has 3 young children.
Tom O’Connor was Managing Partner of O’Neill Foley for over 20 years. He joined the practice in 1978 having previously worked with BDO Binder Hamlyn (now BDO Simpson Xavier) in Dublin. Tom has extensive experience in advising clients in the agricultural, retail, leisure, property, manufacturing and healthcare sectors. He also has a proven track record in delivering value for clients. As Managing Partner, he was responsible for increasing the size of the practice to a position whereby it is now the largest independent firm of accountants in the South East of Ireland and employs over 40 staff. Tom now runs his own business and management consultancy, Poto Consulting Ltd. He is the longest serving member of the Board going back to the eighties.
Deirdre Shine is a native of Kilkenny. She holds the position of County Manager, Bank of Ireland, Parliament Street, Kilkenny. Deirdre has held senior Managerial Roles within Bank of Ireland over the past 18 years. Deirdre’s experience is in investment banking, direct channels, and retail banking. Previous to Kilkenny, Deirdre held the position of manager Bank of Ireland Thurles and Bank of Ireland Castlecomer. Deirdre spent a number of years in Bank of Ireland Dublin with experience in Investment Banking. Deirdre is a qualified Financial Advisor and studied in the Dublin Business School (DBS). Deirdre is married to a Kilkenny native Harry and has two young children.
Gavin’s career has spanned multiple industries. From Insurance, Education and working for Intel in both Ireland and the US. Gavin took this experience and formed BITS in 2001, focusing exclusively on businesses in the South East of Ireland. Gavin is currently the CEO of BITS and the driving force behind taking the company from strength to strength.
CLAIRE McINERNEY BROWN
Claire McInerney Brown is the owner of Suasmane Consulting.