'Bringing families on board with nothing but the shirt on their back... It’s heart-breaking and makes me appreciate everything I have.'

Jill Hamilton, from Cobh, talks to us about enlisting in the Navy, and her involvement in migrant rescues and how now having retired from the force, she' running a new business
'Bringing families on board with nothing but the shirt on their back... It’s heart-breaking and makes me appreciate everything I have.'

Jill Hamilton of Atlantic Social.

TELL us about yourself;

I joined the Navy at 17 and was a communications specialist throughout my time. I trained recruits and instructed computer courses when not at sea. I completed four tours overseas, two to Lebanon and two to the Mediterranean Sea. I studied beauty therapy, and social media for business before leaving the Defence Forces in 2019.

I became a social media consultant and started my business Atlantic Social during lockdown in 2020, helping small businesses build their online presence, increasing brand awareness and customer base.

Where were you born?

In 1979, in Cork

Where do you live?

Live in Cobh


I’m the youngest of four children and the only girl. I have a military family, my father and two older brothers were in the Naval Service, so I then joined in 1997, being one of the first females to enlist. I retired in 2019, my brothers are still serving. I have a 21-year-old son Jamie, who is studying in Waterford Institute of Technology also known right now as ‘the spare room’.

Best friend?

I have a small circle of friends, but I’d regard my dad as my best friend.

Earliest childhood memory?

Falling out of our green three-door Datsun and splitting my head open.

Person you most admire?

Niall Breslin, for all his work on how we talk about and treat mental health.

Person who most irritates you?

People who write emails in teenage text speak.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

I don’t have a particular person but would like to see them prioritise the homeless. Nobody in this country should be homeless.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Thailand is just absolutely amazing. Everyone should go there if they get the opportunity.

Favourite TV programme?

Home and Away, I’ve watched this since 1988, have always got a slagging over it but its 20mins of happiness!

Favourite radio show?

I’m a RedFM listener but do listen to Niall Boylan every once in a while.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Diet Coke chicken casserole, divine!

Favourite restaurant?

Scoozis but went to Tequila Jacks for the first time before Christmas and it was outstanding.

Last book you read?

The Secret.

Best book you read?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Andre Bocelli CD for my dad.

Favourite song?

No one song but give me anything 80s or 90s!

One person you’d like to see in concert?

Lionel Richie, he just puts you in a good mood.

Do you have a pet?

No, my son has always pestered me for a dog, but could never get one with always being away at sea, but maybe soon!

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl, I’d stay up until 2am easily on week nights.

Jill Hamilton when she was serving in the Irish Navy.
Jill Hamilton when she was serving in the Irish Navy.

Your proudest moment?

My son makes me proud every day with the man he’s become, having raised him as a single parent.

On a professional level, it would have to be, being part of a major operation rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea in 2016. Bringing families on board with nothing but the shirt on their back, sometimes not even that. It’s heart-breaking and makes me appreciate everything I have.

Spendthrift or saver?

Spend, always waiting on a delivery! Although I’m getting better!

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

A second access road into Cobh. In very bad weather Cobh can be blocked off from everywhere. If there’s a tree knocked down, flooding or even an accident on the Fota road, after 10pm there is no other way in or out.

What makes you happy?

Knowing my family are healthy.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a great mother.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I’m slowly building my business, managing clients’ platforms, showing them in the best light. I’m also completing more courses so I can expand my services, such as web development.

Recently, I became a founding member of The Club, set up by business consultant Sian Horn. It’s an interactive community for women in business which launched in November, so exciting things to come there!

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