My Weekend: I rediscovered the joy of colouring during lockdown... a great way to slow down and switch off 

Clodagh O’Donovan runs AdvanceHR and lives in Midleton with her husband, Joe, and two children
My Weekend: I rediscovered the joy of colouring during lockdown... a great way to slow down and switch off 

WOW Business women feature Clodagh O'Donovan

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am from Cork, from an area known as Farmer’s Cross. I am the youngest of three children and the only one living in Cork.

My dad passed away last year and I miss him every day. My mam is, thankfully, in good health and is adored by her grandkids. My brother is the eldest and lives in Sweden, with his wife and daughter, and my sister is living in Galway, with her husband and three kids.

I have lived in East Cork for nearly 12 years now, eight years in Carrigtwohill and almost four in Midleton. I live there with my husband, Joe, and two kids, Conor, aged five, and Kate, nearly three. 

Ballyannan Woodland walk in Midleton, Co. Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Ballyannan Woodland walk in Midleton, Co. Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.

I love Midleton: There is loads to do between walks in Ballyannan Woods, the farmers market every Saturday, and plenty of options for an outdoor cuppa and bite to eat.

After working in different HR roles for 20 years, I set up my business, AdvanceHR, to support owners of small businesses who do not need a full-time HR person, but who do need an expert they can trust to help them manage HR compliance risk and deal with the staff issues that come up time and time again. I absolutely love what I do and especially enjoy listening to people’s stories and figuring out the best approach for them, their business, and their people.

Like a lot of people, I work remote and while it is great to be able to work from home, I do miss the face-to-face interaction and find myself suggesting outdoor meetings lately to get away from the laptop and phone.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Friday nights are usually feet-up-and-chill nights with pizza and a glass of wine in front of Netflix, once the kids have settled. If I’m going out at the weekend, I will head out on a Friday night, because I feel it makes the weekend longer.

Lie-ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

I’m a total night owl, so it’s lie-ins whenever possible.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

It can at times, because not all of my clients work Monday to Friday. It’s usually an email here or a call there on a Saturday and I’m okay with that. I try to keep Sunday’s separate from work, though, and it’s usually spent catching up with family.

If money was no object, where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

It would have to be Madrid with my husband, Joe. We were there a couple of times and I just love the city, the vibe, and the people.

 Walkers with a dog enjoying a walk outdoors in bright sunshine on Sunday afternoon at Garryvoe Beach, East Cork. Picture; Larry Cummins
Walkers with a dog enjoying a walk outdoors in bright sunshine on Sunday afternoon at Garryvoe Beach, East Cork. Picture; Larry Cummins

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I love Garryvoe. We had our wedding reception in Garryvoe Hotel and every time I’m there, it reminds me of our wedding day and all the amazing memories we have (even when I lost my ring in our wedding car!).

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Absolutely. Between work and the evening tea/bedtime routine, I’m usually too tired to pick up the phone, so love to catch up with people at the weekend, instead. Whether it’s family or friends, I try to meet someone once a week.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I rediscovered the joy of colouring during the first lockdown. After the kids went to bed, I would sit down, pick a drawing from my adult colouring book and spend the rest of the evening colouring, while listening to music. I find it is a great way to slow down, switch off, and stop the madness for a little bit.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter, do you have a signature dish?

Entertained all the way.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork - where are your go-to spots for coffee/lunch/special meal?

I’m a coeliac and inclined to stick with one or two places that have plenty of gluten-free options and make eating out a pleasant experience.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I have a huge sweet tooth and find it impossible to drink a cup of tea on its own. I love the gluten-free treat options that Bramley Lodge offer, so would often pop in for a yummy, white-chocolate-and-raspberry tart or banoffee tart with my takeaway tea. The Granary, in Midleton, do fabulous gluten-free salads, while Ferrit & Lee is one of my favourite places to go for dinner in Midleton. When I’m in Cork, it’s got to be the Liberty Grill for brunch and Electric for dinner.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Sunday night is either spent relaxing, because it’s the last few hours of the weekend, or in work mode planning for the week ahead. No happy medium.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

7am and is duly ignored until 7.30am.

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