My Weekend: I cherish going to new places and exploring

Karen O’Reilly, founder of Employflex, spent 12 years in France before settling down in Clonakilty
My Weekend: I cherish going to new places and exploring

Karen O'Reilly, Clonakilty, of Employflex.

Karen O'Reilly, founder of Employflex features in our weekly feature, called My Weekend.

Tell us little bit about yourself:

I was born in Limerick and grew up there – although my family and I moved 18 times before I was 18 – my Father was an entrepreneur , so we lived in Canada, Wicklow and numerous houses in Limerick before settling down in the Ennis road area in Limerick where we went to school.

After school, I went to college in Waterford where I made some fabulous long term friends and we still get together twice a year.

I came back to Limerick and trained as an accountant with BDO Simpson Xavier and once I had my final exams, I headed off traveling the world for the next 20 years. I spent five years in Australia where I met my Irish husband from Limerick and then we went to France where my sister and I ran a real estate agency. We joke that we went to France in 2002 with a rucksack on our backs and came back in 2013 with two kids and a container full of belongings.

We moved back to Clonakilty in 2013 as my mum had moved there and we have been very happy there since.

In 2015, I was looking for a flexible job for myself in Ireland and found that there was nobody out there to help me source a role and that’s when I thought of the idea of Employmum – a flexible recruitment agency for mums that wanted something different that the traditional 9 to 5. In 2019, we branched out to add Employflex to the mix, reaching a wider, more diverse audience.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

I am a complete ‘Yes’ woman when it comes to my social life so if I’m invited to anything at all, I will be there with bells on – my motto this year is to not to say ‘NO’ to anything. My ideal night out would be going out for a few glasses of wine and tapas in a great little wine bar called Mollys in Clonakilty with my girlfriends and then home early by the fire with my kids and dog to watch a movie (don’t have much choice there at the moment with the home early bit with restrictions but hey ho!) I love the cinema as well and am a member of the Clonakilty Film Club which is great as it exposes you to movies that are not mainstream and you would never generally watch yourself.

I love cooking and hosting dinner parties and barbeques as well – a bit tricky at the moment but I’m looking forward to entertaining again as soon as we can.

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

I absolutely love my lie ins!!! My husband works abroad nine months of the year so I am constantly on taxi duty for my two kids, Alannah, 16, and Dylan 14. My rule is that Mum has to have one lie in a week – a lie in these days means getting up at 10am, mind you – God love them if they do dare to interrupt that precious lie in!

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

I have been working for myself for over 20 years now and working from home for most of that so I am very good at keeping the boundaries between work and personal life. I generally turn off the computer on Friday afternoon and shut the door of my office for the weekend. Of course, there are always exceptions, if we are having a particularly busy time and calls need to be made to candidates or clients, I would always be available.

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

I love traveling and always have – I cherish going to new places and exploring. My husband is based in the Netherlands at the moment so I guess first port of call would be to meet him in Amsterdam for a weekend with the kids. 

I am heading to Malta in March with my mum and my sister – this is our third attempt to go there with Covid restrictions so I’m really hoping it will happen this time. I’ve never been to New York either which is on my 2022 Bucket List (Hopefully, my husband is reading this and will take the hint!) 

Karen enjoys a walk on Inchydoney beach in County Cork, daily. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Karen enjoys a walk on Inchydoney beach in County Cork, daily. Picture: Denis Minihane.

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

I live in Clonakilty which is a five minute drive from Inchydoney where I go every day for a walk or, in the finer weather, a swim. 

Our dog, Buddy, is a great excuse to get out and stretch the legs every day and like half the country , I am also doing the #100daysofwalking… I love living near the sea and can’t imagine living inland.

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

My friends and family are very important to me and we often have relatives from Limerick coming to stay with us for the weekend which we love. 

I am also a founding member of the ‘Donny Dippers’ a group of friends that go for a dip in Inchdoney every Saturday morning which is more social than anything and great fun. It has kept us going through all the lockdowns… 

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

I used to be an avid tennis player but the body is creaking so much now that I recently have taken up Badminton which I play very badly but enjoy immensely. My two kids are involved in all sorts of sports activities as well so I spectate a lot there on the sidelines.

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

I love going to people’s houses for dinner and not having to cook. Everything always tastes nicer at someone else’s dinner table.

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

I live in Clonakilty where we have lots of choice for fabulous places to eat out – Monks Lane in Timoleagaue is really hard to beat for value, delicious food and a gorgeous cozy atmosphere. Pilgrim’s in Rosscarbery is another amazing place to eat – they use local and foraged ingredients to create a really unique take on food – it’s very special.

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

Sunday is usually spent with the family – in winters we will have a fire blazing and probably a big roast dinner before getting cozy to watch a movie or a series. 

In the summer, we will be eeking the last minute out of daylight with beach time followed by a barbeque or eating out somewhere cheap and cheerful with friends and family.

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

We’re all up at 7.30 in our house, not too early! Kids are ferried off to school and I’m at my desk in my home office by 9am and ready for whatever the week throws at us.

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