My Kilkenny Life: Karen Hennessy Sugre

Mary Cody


Mary Cody


Karen Hennessy

I am a  Kilkenny local, raised in the farming heartland of Kilbline, Bennettsbridge. I have three great kids – Lauren, Luke and Alicia and I live in Kilkenny City. I am a very proud Kilkenny women and like so many Kilkenny people I honestly believe that I have been lucky to have been brought up in such an area that is steeped in history, culture, beauty and at the same time so close to the commercial networks that it allows me to have a career and still remain living the in the place that I love.

While my career has involved national and international leadership positions, I have always been lucky to have been based in Kilkenny through my roles with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and Glanbia plc. I am now leading the development of a new food company with an ambitious aim of becoming a multi-national horticultural organisation bringing healthy and sustainable food to the Irish and UK Market with the headquarters in Kilkenny – watch this space…

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
In my homeplace Kilbline, having my mother’s Sunday roast, surrounded by my kids, brother, sisters, my nan (95) and my dad.
There is no better feeling than to be out in your home place surrounded by noise, opinion, laughter and really good food. I love it and appreciate it more and more. How lucky as a family that we still can have a Sunday roast my amazing Nan.
Last weekend I asked her was she tired – her reply that she only remembered been tired once in recent years and that was after setting the potatoes – what a legacy to live up to.

Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why?
This is a very hard question – I have bounced from obviously my mum – Joan Sugrue and her influence on my life and then I think of Colette Byrne and her really great work looking after Kilkenny and making it a place that we all want to live, to Brian Cody and then I settled on my wonderful sister Siobhan Donohoe – her energy, her dynamism and her endless energy to profile the Kilkenny she loves – always in a positive and fun way.

What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
The walk from my home down to Kilkenny Castle. I walk along the Peace Park towards the Parade, stopping for a coffee or an ice cream (if my daughter Alicia is with me).
I am so proud of my city and that walk always makes sense and settles me. We always stop at the Great War Memorial and read the quote ‘Let us their names recall, their legacy remember…

What do you think gives Kilkenny its unique identity?
Kilkenny’s unique identity is based on the rich farming landscape which has allowed a provincial market town to be a world renowned in terms of culture, design and craft, heritage and hurling but also on the cutting edge of food development. All backed by its close proximity to all the major urban centres.

Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
‘Her Kind’ (Niamh Boyce) a book based on Alice Kyteler and her maid Petronella – I loved it – it spoke all about the places in Kilkenny that I know so well but set in the 1300s. Next read for me is Overcoming by Vicky Phelan.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the county today?
Being left out of the loop with regard to regional development. Kilkenny has so much to offer - we really need to be able to showcase how great this city and county is, but then this needs to be backed up with appropriate housing and infrastructure.

If you had the power to change on thing in, or about Kilkenny, what would it be?
For Kilkenny to rightfully own it heritage in Design and Craft. Kilkenny should be a UNESCO Creative City…