23 May 2022

Kilkenny's Business of the Year revealed at glittering Chamber awards ceremony

Dore Optometrist Wins Kilkenny Business of the Year 2021


As many as 450 local business people turned out to celebrate at the black-tie event

Kilkenny’s Business of the Year was unveiled at the Kilkenny Business Awards 2021 yesterday evening, at the conference centre of Lyrath Estate Hotel. 

Dore Optometrist was announced as Kilkenny’s Business of the Year - also recieving the Family Business Award. Dore Optometrists is a multigenerational business established by Richard Dore in 1983. He was joined by his son, Richie in 2015.

The Kilkenny Chamber benchmarking standards criteria group considered 150 local applications for the Kilkenny Business Awards in 2021. 50 local enterprises shortlisted for the peer interview round, hosted by Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel and Pembroke Kilkenny in October. Tonight, Kilkenny Chamber and main sponsors TransferMate revealed that Dore Optometrist is Kilkenny’s Business of the Year.

The state-of-the-art eye-care specialist prides itself on providing individual, personalised eye-care and beautiful eyewear to the Kilkenny community. Dore is currently expanding its business to include new premises on the Waterford Road.

As many as 450 local business people turned out to celebrate at the black-tie event. The evening began with a bubbly reception, followed by a four-course dinner and award ceremony with entertainment by The Party Girls. The annual gala event has not taken place for two years due to the Pandemic.

“It feels like a lifetime ago since we all met in person at such an event, " said Colin Ahern, Kilkenny Chamber President.

"It is a treat to enjoy lovely food and good company, in a comfortable and welcoming setting. 50 companies shortlisted across 18 categories, it is a special privilege to recognise the best of Kilkenny Businesses tonight. Winners aside, all of the shortlisted businesses should be proud of their tremendous achievements in getting this far in the rigorous judging process.” 

The host, broadcaster, Helen Carroll announced the 18 category awards winners, including an award for the Best Business Pivot in the Pandemic. The special award recognised a local company that faced the extraordinary challenges of the Pandemic and adapted their business to meet them. The Best Business Pivot in the Pandemic award went to CF Pharma.

The company pivoted its business from manufacturing medical devices and nutritional supplements to manufacturing biocidal covid response products. It launched CleanRite Sanitiser to help in the fight against Covid. CleanRite is proven to kill SAR-CoV-2, the cause of Covid 19, in 30 seconds. Following its launch, CF Pharma now employ 45 staff, based in the Hebron Industrial Estate and sell to more than 25 countries worldwide. The company kindly provided a bottle of its CleanRite sanitiser for each attendee at the event.

Two additional awards were announced: the President's Award and Lifetime Achievement awards. The awards are chosen at the discretion of the President and the Board of Kilkenny Chamber. They pay tribute to people, who, in the opinion of the Chamber, have contributed significantly and positively through their careers and lives to the Kilkenny Business dynamic. 

This year the President’s Award went to Anna O’Sullivan, the Director of the Butler Gallery. She spearheaded a move from the basement of Kilkenny Castle, where it had been for 43 years, to its stunning venue at the Evans’ Home, which opened despite the pandemic in August 2020. Kilkenny Chamber agreed that Anna’s tenacity played a big part in making this development a reality for Butler Gallery, and Kilkenny. 

“Having spent 23 years working in the high-flying art world of New York City, her ‘can do’ attitude prevailed and failure was not an option,"  Colin Ahern, said.

"Anna’s passion forthe Butler Gallery has contributed to providing Kilkenny with a world-class venue that houses its important collections, a large gallery for changing exhibitions, a Learning Centre, a café and a wonderful public realm sculpture garden, that is welcoming to all. In recognition of her passion and resilience, I am happy to present Anna with the President’s Award”.

The penultimate award, before announcing Kilkenny's Business of the Year, was the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Xavier McAuliffe is described as a flight instructor, helicopter pilot, hotelier, builder, developer, retailer and visionary.

Xavier founder of Spectra Laboratories which went on to become one of the largest film processing companies in Europe, processing over ten million films per annum, employing over 600 people with over 50 Retail Stores in Ireland, the UK and the USA. He developed the Dingle Skellig Hotel and was a Director of Great Southern Hotels. He expanded his portfolio with hotels in South Africa, Mozambique and Panama.

Locally he built the Kilkenny River Court Hotel and later the Lyrath Estate Hotel, at the time costing €60,000,000, and also redeveloped The Springhill Court Hotel seven years ago. He built and developed houses at the Weir, Kilkenny, Youghal, Listowel and in the UK.

“Xavier displayed his entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. His passion, drive, positivity, and unique ability to see a setback as a challenge has ensured his success over 50 years in business. The award tonight is in recognition of the enormous contribution he has made in Kilkenny and beyond," said John Hurley, Kilkenny Chamber CEO.

Sinead Fitzmaurice, CEO of main sponsor TransferMate said: “On behalf of our team, I would like to personally thank the Kilkenny Chamber for its continued support and leadership over the years. I would also like to congratulate the finalists on their phenomenal achievements and wish every success in future; the calibre of businesses is truly astounding.”

Special guests at the event included Minister for State for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, the Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Councillor Fidelis Doherty, Mayor of Kilkenny, Councillor Andrew McGuinness, Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Gary Gray and former winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Bobby Kerr. 

The charity partner for this year’s Kilkenny Business Award is Amber Women’s Refuge. A sum of €4,685 was raised in aid of the charity. Amber Women’s Refuge provides emergency refuge accommodation, support, and information services, a 24hr confidential Helpline and community-based outreach services to women and children in Kilkenny and Carlow that are victims of domestic violence or abuse. Those wishing to donate to the charity can do so via 

 The 2022 Kilkenny Business Awards will take place on November 19, at Lyrath Estate Hotel. For more information visit

Full list of winners below:


1.            Best Business Pivot of the Pandemic Award                          CF Pharma

2.            Craft & Design Award                                                                       K Kajoux Jewels

3.            Culture Heritage and Tourism Award                                        Shenanigans Walks

4.            Customer Service Excellence Award                                          UPMC Aut Even

5.            Emerging New Business Award                                    Dialize Clothing

6.            Employee of the Year Award                                                        CF Pharma (Sarah Deegan)

7.            Employer of the Year Award                                                         Hibernian Hotel

8.            Environmental Excellence Award                                                Value Centre

9.            Exporter of the Year Award                                                            Modubuild

10.          Family Business Award                                                    Dore Optometrist

11.          Food and Drink Producer Award                                 The Fig Tree

12.          Hospitality Excellence Award                                                        Mount Juliet Estate

13.          Innovation in Business Award                                                      Loanitt

14.          Investment in Skills Training & Development Award          Mint MediSpa

15.          Retailer of the Year Award                                                              Lily Rose Boutique

16.          Small Business of the Year Award                                               Rafter Gastropub

17.          Social Media & Digital Marketing Excellence Award           Newpark Hotel

18.          Technology and eCommerce Excellence Award   UPMC Global Technology

                President’s Award                                                                              Anna O’Sullivan

                Lifetime Achievement Award                                                       Xavier McAuliffe

                Overall Business of the Year Award                                            Dore Optometrist


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