Remote Working Hub Users in Kilkenny – Dominika & Gerard
Experienced plumbing contractor Gerard Ryan and his award-winning artist and photographer partner, Dominika Stoppa, share a co-working space at Castlecomer Enterprise Centre.
They relocated from their home in an estate of several hundred houses close to the train station in Athy town to their completely renovated and sustainable 1920’s home in Ballinakill on the Kilkenny/Laois border last November. The move was so they could enjoy more family time with their three children in the countryside and achieve a greater work-life balance.
“This co-working space is absolutely perfect for us,” Gerard, who specialises in heat pumps and underfloor heating in retrofitted homes and buildings said. “It means we can separate work from home and that one of us can leave for home whenever we need and be there for the children after school.
“We did toy with the idea of adding a home office or a garden room when we were renovating the 1920s home we’ve moved into. But we knew if we did that, we would never get away from work, never have the discipline to walk away and take the necessary time out, particularly if we had a deadline.
“Dominika moved her computer here straight away. Like many self employed people, we were inclined to go on the computer once the children were in bed and were constantly looking at emails, finishing bits of work. We now have our work and we have a life. And they are in balance.
“Our unit has four large windows, allowing plenty of natural light flood into Dominika’s art and photographic studio. It’s great to have a base in a shared space with fantastic broadband and the social benefits of plenty people coming and going. Lots of people got very isolated during the pandemic and it’s great to see people going back into shared office scenarios, working together and benefitting from one another.
“The supports here from the Local Enterprise Office are great. We’ve a brilliant Centre Manager, we have a fantastic work space and a shared canteen. They’re introducing seating in the garden area which will serve as a further meeting/communal area when that is complete,” Gerard said.
“When I was in school in Portlaoise, there were 30 plus pupils in my class. I’ve always lived in an urban setting and dreamt of the benefits of rural living – cleaner air, walks in the woods, knowing your neighbours. Our two older children now enjoy all the benefits of a rural school, smaller classes and we’re now part of the fabric of a close-knit community. Our 13 month-old has it all ahead of her.
“The move has been really good for us. We’ve never looked back.”
It’s been an exciting time for the couple. Not only have they moved into their dream home in the past year and to the new office space in recent weeks, Dominika is once again shortlisted in the Network Ireland national awards. She won the national ‘Power Within’ category two years ago and is a finalist also in this year’s Awards which run at the end of September.
She is delighted with the bright, open plan studio that overlooks rural Castlecomer. “Moving to the larger studio opened up new opportunities and collaborations. Beautiful views from our country house inspired my new collection of oil cloudscape paintings which will be part of my upcoming solo exhibition at the Wilder – stunning resident’s only boutique hotel in Dublin. It runs from December 2023 to January 2024,” Dominika said.