Startup of the day: Hennessy and Byrne
29 August 2012 by Philip Connolly
It’s Meath week in The Daily Business Post. Every day this week, we profile a Meath-based startup. Today it’s Hennessy and Byrne, which makes stone giftware.
Company: Hennessy and Byrne
Founders: Eric Byrne
Support: Meath County Enterprise board and Craft Council
What it does: stone giftware
While many people cite technology as a way for Ireland to climb out of recession, Ireland also has many people with more traditional, but unique, skill sets. After finding work scarce over the past few years, Eric Byrne applied some of these traditional skills to create an exportable product.
Hennessy and Byrne was set up by Byrne, a stonemason, in 2010. Having learned his trade from his father, Byrne spent most of the Celtic Tiger era fitting granite worktops in kitchens and bathrooms. After a fall in business over the past few years, Byrne decided to apply his skills elsewhere, producing stone giftware and decorative items.
“I had to think of something else to do,” said Byrne. “We launched a small range of products at the RDS craft and design fair at the end of 2010. Since then we extended the range.”
Based in Dunboyne, Hennessy & Byrne create giftware from indigenous Irish stone, such as Connemara marble, Kilkenny limestone and Wicklow granite. While an Irish stone such as Connemara marble can prove to be expensive, it is renowned for its unique shades of green and no product is identical to any other.
The company produces high-end products such as tableware, Christmas decorations and candlesticks. Hennessy and Byrne products are available in Irish stores such as Kilkenny Design and Arnotts. The company also sells online and has exported to the US.
“The challenge is finding stores that would suit our product,” said Byrne. “We found the US market good not just for the Connemara marble products, some stores took on Kilkenny limestone and Wicklow granite.”
The company received support from both the Crafts Council of Ireland and the Meath County Enterprise board to help set up. For Byrne the help he received was beyond just financing.
“I wouldn’t have had any dealings with retail outlets,” said Byrne. “There were a lot of new things for me to learn, the assistance was vital for helping the business along its way.”
Advice: “Mistakes along the way are inevitable. It is a learning curve for every business.”