Kilkenny native has Cleere vision for city's digital future

He would like city seen as 'a hotbed for enterprise-led tech innovation'

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



Tech Thursday taking place in Kilkenny

Tech Thursday was set up to help nurture and meet the needs of the growing tech community in Kilkenny.

John Cleere is the founder of Tech Thursday Kilkenny and Red Lemonade Creative. He began his career working in User Experience (UX).

A Kilkenny native, he was working for the Cambridge Technology Partners based in Dublin, but left Cambridge around the time of the dotcom bubble burst. In late-2003, he came back to Kilkenny.

“I wanted to come back here as well because the Kilkenny Design Workshops initially started here in ‘65,” he says.

“Even as a kid I used to go in and visit the Kilkenny Design Workshop and see what was going on around here. I always had an interest in design, it came from my surroundings here.

“I fancied coming back and setting up in the Castle Yard.”

The first Kilkenny event had about 60 people at it, and John gave a talk on how design integrates with industry. He feels that Kilkenny still is known for 'craft', but has lost some of the 'design' element that was a traditional strength.

"When the KDW was set up and retired in ‘86 for whatever reasons, a lot of the IP left Kilkenny," says John.

"In other words, the design left Kilkenny. It went to Dublin and other places. Kilkenny tried to retain some of this, and just picked on the crafts. Which is important, but wasn’t the one creating jobs and creating money, revenue, economic development."

John was approached by Niamh Bushnell who had moved from Start Up Dublin to Tech Ireland.

“Tech Ireland is basically creating a detailed snapshot of the tech companies that are in Ireland,” says John.

“So, there was an issue with that, all over Ireland, where it was hard to work out who was doing, where, and why. For Niamh Bushnell, the biggest thing, what we see a lot even in Kilkenny, there’s a lot of tech companies out there that don’t know the other tech companies right next door to them exist. It’s a real issue.”

Kilkenny native John Cleere

He says the support he has received is ‘phenomenal’ — from the likes of the LEO, county council, Bank of Ireland Innovation, and the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC).

Ultimately, the vision is to some day have organisations such as the NDRC with accelerators in Kilkenny, and the city seen as a hotbed for enterprise-led tech innovation.

“That would be my plan,” he says.

“All those things may create jobs in the end, they may create new companies. But it’s about creating a culture.”

On November 2, Butler House will host an event for the IDI’s ‘Mind over Matter’, which will offer solutions using design and creativity. You can book an hour for €60, and that fee goes to Aware for mental health.

There will be six to eight different designers from different skillsets available for one-hour sessions all day. For more, click here.