Made in Limerick: 15 influencers shaping the mid-west sci-tech scene

31 May 2018

Image: Ink Drop/Shutterstock

These are the Limerick leaders supporting and celebrating the mid-west.

For the entire month of May, we’ve been diving deep into the Limerick sci-tech scene, showcasing the best and brightest the mid-west region has to offer. We’ve already given you a list of 11 people you should follow to get connected to this community. Today, as our month-long Limerick love-in concludes, we look at those who are shaping this ecosystem.

Some are from Limerick, bolstering the region with their native enthusiasm and international reputation. Others are newer to the parish but nonetheless making a significant impact.

Emily Ross, Gráinne Barry and Martina Skelly line up for a photo out on the streets of Limerick

From left: Emily Ross, Gráinne Barry and Martina Skelly. Image: SportsTech Ireland

Gráinne Barry, Emily Ross and Martina Skelly

The trio of Gráinne Barry, Emily Ross and Martina Skelly have (alongside their company roles at Stats, Inkvine Communications and YellowSchedule, respectively) established SportsTechIreland. This not-for-profit organisation has set out to promote Ireland as a world-leading destination for sports innovation and technology, and Limerick is the centre of operations. In terms of measurable goals, this means doubling the number of sports tech companies operating in Ireland by 2020 through mentoring and commercialisation programmes, the promotion of research, and the positioning of a landing zone with a dedicated performance lab for organisations looking to locate in the country.

Denis Brosnan

Limerick businessman Denis Brosnan is a leading name in the agri-foods sector as the founder and, up to 2003, the chair of Kerry Group. The man behind Kerry Group’s growth into a multinational business and one of the top 10 companies in Ireland has also served as chair of many other businesses in the equine, sport and healthcare sectors. He is currently the chair of Limerick 2030, the programme to deliver key infrastructure across strategic sites in the county.

Colette Cowan

Colette Cowan is group CEO of the University of Limerick (UL) Hospitals Group, which consists of six hospitals in the mid-west region. Described as “an inspiration” to those in the region, Cowan is working on bringing emerging technology solutions to medical care in the mid-west, starting with pioneering robotic surgery.

Headshot of Ray Downes in front of a grey background

Ray Downes. Image: Kemp Technologies

Ray Downes

Limerick’s own Ray Downes may have packed his bags for New York, but he still helps his homestead strike the right balance for business. As CEO of Kemp Technologies, Downes finds himself mingling with international business leaders, and the opportunities in Limerick and Ireland’s mid-west are bound to be mentioned. He also plays the role of ambassador to other US companies seeking to settle in the area, having hosted visits from Gilt, WP Engine and Stats over the years.

Denis Doyle

General manager and VP of Analog Devices’ manufacturing operations in the US and Ireland, Denis Doyle has decades of experience at the company that recently celebrated 40 years in Limerick. Described as humble, unassuming and helpful, Doyle is also known to pay it forward and works to encourage more students to pursue careers in engineering through initiatives such as Limerick for Engineering.

Catherine Duffy sits for a headshot in front of a shuttered window

Catherine Duffy, general manager and CEO of fiduciary business at Northern Trust Limerick. Image: Northern Trust

Catherine Duffy

Catherine Duffy, general manager and CEO of fiduciary business at Northern Trust Limerick, is immensely well respected among her peers. Worldwide, Northern Trust has been growing its employee headcount year upon year, and Limerick is no exception, growing from 19 staff in 2007 to 1,200 today. Speaking about her career journey with, she said: “I really enjoy the people aspect of the role, seeing staff move through the organisation either by promotion or taking internal opportunities elsewhere with us in the world.”

Headshot of Enda McLoughlin on an off-white background

Enda McLoughlin. Image: IDA Ireland

Enda McLoughlin

IDA Ireland’s mid-west Ireland manager, Enda McLoughlin, believes Limerick’s city and county leaders, along with its neighbours, have worked together to foster an ecosystem like no other in Europe. For his part, McLoughlin is quick to make the right introductions and connections when needed, and eager to sing the praises of the region.

Conn Murray

Meath native Conn Murray has found himself at nine different local authorities over the years. In 2014, when Limerick City and County Councils merged into one entity, Murray was appointed dual manager of both. In the ensuing years, this union has been credited as one of the factors helping transform the county from “whipping boy of the crash to poster boy of recovery”.

Dr Janice O'Connell pictured smiling and sitting on a plum sofa in front of a large window

Dr Janice O’Connell. Image: Adrian Butler/Limerick Leader

Dr Janice O’Connell

As tech ambassador for Ireland’s mid-west at Innovate Limerick, Dr Janice O’Connell has a pedigree in technology that has seen her rise in her career as a software engineer to become head of the IT department at Limerick Institute of Technology. Her focus is on turning Limerick into an innovation hub that fosters smarter working but also captures the momentum of a swirling tide of start-ups, SMEs and multinationals to create something unique.

Niall O’Leary pictured having a coffee outside at a wooden table, a castle tower visible among the trees in the background

Niall O’Leary. Image: Regeneron

Niall O’Leary

While Regeneron vice-president Niall O’Leary hails from a farming background in Killarney, he’s now loving Limerick and his workforce is thriving there. O’Leary spent more than 20 years working in biotech, pharma and medical device companies in the US and now he’s injecting new life into the Limerick sci-tech scene. The Regeneron facility in Raheen attracts visitors seeking a peek at the state-of-the-art set-up – and now there are greenhouses and a bee motel to see, too.

Barry O’Sullivan

As manufacturing platform lead at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Barry O’Sullivan oversees the making of millions of contact lenses. As 2018 president of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and chair of the Mid-West Action Plan for Jobs implementation committee, he’s lending his vision to the Irish business community and earning high praise from his peers in the process.

Norah Patten gives a thumbs up in a training spacesuit and harness as she is suspended knee-deep in a pool of water

Dr Norah Patten in her training spacesuit. Image: Norah Patten

Dr Norah Patten

Dr Norah Patten could be Ireland’s first astronaut, and she’s inspiring the country along the way. Last year, she was selected as a scientist-astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere). Since writing about her experience as an astronaut in training for, Pattern was confirmed as a crew member on a two-week lunar analogue mission at Lunares taking place this summer.

Headshot of Dr Mary Shire with yellow-green foliage in soft focus in the background

Dr Mary Shire. Image: UL

Dr Mary Shire

Seen as the right hand of UL president Prof Desmond Fitzgerald, Dr Mary Shire is vice-president of research at the university, overseeing some exciting projects. A native of Newcastle West, Shire has been in her leadership position at UL since 2011 and has, in just a few short years, led the institution to become one of the most respected research hubs in Europe.