What is your career background?
My background is in history and heritage, museums, galleries and libraries, so I was fortunate that when I joined Monaghan County Council I was assigned a role in the Tourism Unit.
Tourism is an area that so often links with these backgrounds, and since many of the major tourism attractions in the county are based around sites or stories with strong historical significance to their localities, I felt that my previous experience would be of great use in this role and played to my strengths.
In my previous working experience, I had often liaised with many sections within Monaghan County Council, such as heritage, planning, Monaghan County Museum, and indeed the tourism unit as well, which meant I had a good working relationship with many of them before I had joined the organisation.
What does your role involve?
Essentially, the key aim of the tourism unit is to promote and develop the tourism product in County Monaghan. We develop promotional materials such as brochures, video, and social media content that showcase the best of what Monaghan offers to potential visitors, in terms of great places to stay, things to see and do, and unique cultural and heritage experiences. As part of this, we also manage and maintain the Monaghan tourism website – www.monaghantourism.com - and the ‘More to Monaghan’ App.
There’s a big focus on the summer season, so a lot of our efforts are focused on a major campaign for that period. Typically, that would include a heightened promotional campaign consisting of radio advertising, promotion of video content such as our popular ‘My Monaghan’ series, and additional activity and engagement on our social media channels.
To enhance our promotional efforts we would also invite journalists, influencers and travel writers to ‘make a break for Monaghan’ and spend a few days in the county, taking in the best attractions and experiences, dining and accommodation, so that involves organising travel itineraries and co-ordinating with tourism providers throughout the county to ensure that our press visitors have an unforgettable time and a great experience to write about when they get home.
From a practical point of view, we also undertake the operation and maintenance of the main tourist office and visitor information points throughout the county.
Management of tourism development and capital projects is also an important task undertaken by the tourism unit in Monaghan County Council. One of the most recent projects we were involved in was the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, based in Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan. I had the opportunity to observe how the full development of the new immersive exhibition experience at the centre came to fruition and to be involved in it as well – from giving feedback on exhibition copy and audio-visual, to the practicalities of organising payments for suppliers.
The Patrick Kavanagh Centre, as well as the continued development and enhancement of Rossmore Forest Park, a fantastic recreational amenity just outside Monaghan Town and home to the popular ‘Rossmore Giants’ sculpture trail, are the projects I’m most proud of being involved in since I’ve joined Monaghan County Council.
What are the most rewarding things about working for a local authority?
There are many opportunities and supports for you to take advantage of regarding continuing professional development and education; I’ve just recently completed a Certificate in Local Government Studies this year.
You need to be flexible and mindful that your role can change or expand depending on evolving circumstances, so there are opportunities to learn about all the services and sections within a local authority, and as a result expand your knowledge and skillset.
During the Covid-19 crisis for instance, I was diverted to the Community Call helpline, set up in local authorities across the country to provide assistance to local communities during the course of the pandemic, and have also recently taken on additional duties within the planning section, so have had the opportunity to learn and gain further insight into the role planning plays in managing and controlling development within the county.
Why should someone consider a career with a local authority?
Local authorities are more progressive and there are a lot more opportunities to avail of than one might have traditionally associated them with. The range of services is incredibly varied - libraries, museums, community and enterprise, etc. - so there are plenty of interesting roles to get stuck into.
One of the reasons that I pursued an opportunity to work in a Local Authority is that it is an organisation that involves itself in everything that is of benefit to its local community – those things that benefit us socially, culturally or economically, the local authority is often a key driving force behind them.
There are also plenty of supports available to you to work your way up and forge your career path within the local authority, and colleagues actively encourage and support you to progress.