An interview with Jenny De Saulles, Head of Operations for Ireland’s Ancient East at Failte Ireland.



Work-life balance has never been so important.

When companies are deciding where to locate one of the things they do look for is quality of life for their staff says Jenny De Saulles, Head of Operations for Ireland’s Ancient East at Failte Ireland.

“Their search starts with basic amenities like good accommodation, easy access in terms of transport, facilities on the ground in terms of restaurants, schools and things to see and do and then they look to see what else is on offer.”

Jenny says that Ireland has an advantage of offering beautiful landscape, picturesque cities and pretty towns.

Jenny De Salles, Head of Operations for Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland.

“And we offer that wonderful balance of having modern facilities yet you are still not in a hugely packed city and you do have access to an amazing array of attractions and things to see and do,” she said.

“When you look at Cork we have a beautiful maritime port city with a really unique offering.

“We offer all the facilities you might need from a modern-day city but you can still access the countryside in a short space of time and so enjoy the great outdoors.”

Jenny is not surprised that Cork has become a popular location choice for a lot of companies — both city and county alike!

“Cork is a former European Capital of Culture with galleries, museums, the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork Opera House, Live at the Marquee in the Summer,” Jenny said.

“There is a packed events calendar with more than 20 major festivals each year.

“There’s a lively city buzz but there’s also a no-nonsense warmth as well as an unpressured pace that makes you feel time is on your side here.

“It is relatively easy to get away from the noise and enjoy natural beauty — take a boat trip from Cork city to Cobh, enjoy walks in Cork city or in surrounding areas like Blackrock, coastal walks in Crosshaven and cliff top walks in Youghal and in Shanagarry.”

Alanis Morissette performing in Live At The Marquee Cork. Pic: Darragh Kane

Fáilte Ireland’s branding of Ireland was divided into four distinct tourist destinations — namely Dublin; Ireland’s Ancient East; Ireland’s Hidden Heartland and the Wild Atlantic Way.

Jenny des Saulles manages and develops Ireland’s Ancient East which stretches from Cork City to Carlingford.

“What we found was that international visitors were coming to Ireland but they didn’t really know the geography of Ireland so one of the things we were finding is that they would affectionately refer to the ‘green haze’.

“We found the majority of international visitors are culture curious and interested in history and in the culture of Ireland.

“So whether they are Europeans or Americans they know Ireland has a rich history and they want to experience that and that is what we do.

“We talk about the 5,000 years of history, the lush green landscape.

“The big thing we do is call out particular places like Blarney castle or Blackrock Castle and they want to know who built it, why they built it and how did they live in it — so not so much the architecture of it but the people behind it and the people who lived in it that they really want to know about”.


Attractive place for visitors and residents alike

The core message was that Cork as a destination is a very attractive place for residents and for visitors, with a unique combination of rural lifestyle and a city with a great wealth of things to see and do.

Over the last three years, Jenny says Fáilte Ireland have developed this message: “There was a desire to know what we could do better and a desire to do things better.

“We put a focus on this area and now employees have the option to access the services they need whilst also enjoying simple pleasures like walking, cycling and jogging.

A spectacular fireworks display which took place at the Royal Cork Yacht Club as part of the Volvo Cork Week in Crosshaven Co. Cork. Pic: David Creedon/Anzenberger

“We have this really unique maritime access. We need to continue to develop it and make it easier to access Cork harbour and enjoy it. Walking has become more of a priority.

“There has been great progress in the last three years in developing walking routes and this is something that we want to continue.”

Jenny adds: “I do believe one of the reasons we attract industry into the greater South East Cork area and into Ringaskiddy in particular is because we offer the best of both worlds.

“You have rural Cork but with Cork City on your doorstep and close proximity to great communities like Carrigaline, Douglas, and Rochestown.

“I live in this area and I really enjoy cycling and boat trips and the close proximity to Carrigaline for shopping and then to Crosshaven which is great for walks and very picturesque.

Living here lends itself to a good work-life balance.

Cork she said remains high on the Lonely Planet’s list of favourite cities in the world — ‘spirited’, ‘Independent’, ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘creative’.

Jenny says while the main focus of her work is on the international visitor she says this does have major positive benefits for residents.

Cork she added is extremely proud of its food culture and rightly so.

The English Market, one of the World’s oldest trading markets is 230 years old this year.

Cork spent centuries trading with and being influenced by the wider world.

Today she says it is a place of learning, with one of Ireland’s oldest universities at its heart.

“When you look at all of these elements these are the things you want to do when you are not working so discovering the countryside, enjoying great restaurants, taking part in lots of evening activities and visiting the bigger attractions like Fota Wildlife Park, Blarney Castle, Mizen Head, Spike Island, Cobh and the Titanic Experience, Cobh Heritage Park, Jameson in Midleton so a rich tapestry of activity that people can engage in that is there for residents as well as visitors.

“We work closely with Cork City Council and with Cork County Council to ensure Cork has nice public realm spaces in the city, easy parking and attractive areas to walk around.

“We also work with the IDA, Tourism Ireland and with Cork Chamber so there is an integrated approach to help shape content which is then provided to potential investors to show that Cork meets their requirements.”