About Us

Workstart West Cork (trading as EmployAbility Service West Cork) was set up in 2001. Since 2007 the company is a registered charity. The Company is managed by a Voluntary Board of Directors. The Board of Directors are made up of members of the wider community from throughout West Cork. EmployAbility Service West Cork is one of 23 Supported Employment organizations in operation throughout the country. We provide an employment service, providing local employers with quality staff while also supporting people into employment who are recovering from an illness, injury or any other type of disability. We are proven experts in providing employment supports to a diverse range of people with a wide range of backgrounds from entry level to management, part time or full time, permanent or relief staff, from early school leavers, leaving certificate to PhDs who wish to gain meaningful employment. The Company is funded by the Department of Social Protection. EmployAbility Service West Cork Board and staff continually strive to build awareness of our service outlining the benefits of supporting people with a disability into employment to employers, community organizations, schools and many other forums throughout West Cork. The company currently has 5 offices in operation supporting our clients in Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Bandon and Kinsale – two outreach offices one in Dunmanway and one in Castletownbere. Since 2011 over 900 people have secured employment within our service.

Picture of Darren Priest

Darren Priest is a qualified Career Coach (MSc from the University of East London) and has a Masters in Occupational Health Psychology (MSc from the University of Nottingham). These give insight into the effects of un(der)employment on the individual and provides tools that can help develop a solutions focused way forward for his clients. He is an enthusiast for Brief Solution Focused Coaching and utilises his training at the world leading BRIEF Centre in London in support of his clients.
Having worked abroad for twenty years, and gaining a Post Graduate Teaching Diploma on the way, he has trained public, multinational and government clients in soft skills and language use. In Cork he has taught at UCC and was part of the small team that delivered the JobFit programme. JobFit exceeded ambitious government targets set in helping those distant from the labour market to re-join the labour force. He is currently a Job Coach in West Cork and continues to support clients towards the future they want.

Picture of Emer Sweeney

Emer is a qualified Social Care Worker (BA. Hons) and has a MA. In Criminology. Having worked for many years as a front-line social care worker, working in residential services, addiction and domestic violence to name a few. Emer went on to study for her MA in UCC. Upon completion, Emer was asked to join the Criminology team in UCC. During her time, Emer developed and taught a module to BA. Criminology students. It was during this time, Emer was tasked with undertaking the role as student support/ personal tutor. This developed an interest in coaching and motivational approaches. This led to a move over to Adult Education in UCC, where Emer had responsibility for Coordinating Springboard courses within UCC. Emer is a advocate of lifelong learning. In Jan 2022 Emer graduated with a first class honours Post Graduated Dip in Personal and Management Coaching from UCC.

Picture of Elaine OFlynn

Elaine is a Job Coach with experience hiring and managing successful teams. She has recently returned to live in her native West Cork from the US, where she worked in Facilities Management as a Director, Manager and Project Manager. She holds a degree in Conflict Resolution (BSc Portland State University) and Emergency Management (AAS Portland Community College), and has also worked as a Mediator with the City of Beaverton. An active listener, she supports and engages in order to connect capabilities and ambitions with meaningful outcomes.

Picture of Iona Wilson

Iona Wilson works as a Job Coach in the Kinsale Office. Her educational background is in Psychology (Bsc University of Chester) and Coaching/Coaching Psychology (Hdip UCC). Iona’s professional experience includes care work, horticulture, entrepreneurship, office administration, marketing and sales. She brings together her diverse work experience along with her passion for working with people in a person centered and supportive way to explore and find meaningful employment for her clients.

Picture of Clare Gallagher

Clare Gallagher is a job coach with Employability West Cork since 2018. Her educational background includes an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree English and Spanish, University College Cork 1995, a Postgraduate Diploma in Tourism & Business University of Limerick 1996, a Higher Certificate in Mental Health in the Community, 2018 and a Higher Diploma in Facilitating Inclusion Disability Studies 2022 both in her alma mater of University College Cork.
Her early background has been in local development, tourism and travel working with companies such as Aer Rianta, South Kerry Development Partnership, Noble Caledonia UK, Budget Travel, West Cork Travel and Sheenco Travel. However, her strong interest in issues that affect people with disabilities and mental health issues and her subsequent studies encouraged her to use this knowledge to help clients in Employability West Cork move forward to achieve their goals.
Clare has extensive employer connections in the local area and focuses with her clients on finding the role which will bring out their full potential. She also has a great understanding of the many educational and learning difficulties which people face and works jointly in a person-centered manner to help them overcome these challenges. She particularly enjoys meeting new people and welcomes them to her central office in the town square of Skibbereen.

Picture of Micheal Hurley

Micheal Hurley, BScSc 2004-2007 MSocSc (Voluntary and Community Sector Management) 2011-2013. Micheal has worked with Employability Service West Cork as a job coach from 2007 to 2018. In 2018 Micheal became the Coordinator of Employability Service West Cork. Micheal works from a person-centred perspective, encouraging people and building confidence through supportive interactions. Micheal actively volunteers in his community and currently is the Cultural Officer with Castlehaven G.A.A., Director of West Cork Development Partnership, Skibbereen Community and Family Resource Centre and is a committee member with Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce along with involvement in other community and voluntary organisations. Micheal is an advocate of continuous learning and has completed many other training courses including, Higher Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy – 2014, Disability Studies, Mental Health Awareness and Boundary Management.

Lord David Puttnam

Our Patron Lord David Puttnam

"Work Start, now Employability Service West Cork, was one of the very first organisations I sought out and have continued to work with since arriving in West Cork with my family over twenty years ago. Uniquely in my experience. Employability Service offers that magic combination of guidance, support, employment, and, most important of all, hope and self respect - at a time when the people it serves are most in need of all the help they can get. I believe Employability Service represents one of the pillars that justify West Cork seeing itself as, in every sense, a 'caring community'. My family and I are delighted to support the entire team at Employability Service in their extraordinary efforts to make life that bit better for those who come to them in need of help." David Puttnam

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EmployAbility Services are funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Social Protection
Tá Seirbhísí Infhostaitheachta maoinithe ag Rialtas na hÉireann tríd an Roinn Gnóthaí Fostaíochta agus Coimirce Sóisialaí

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OnePage CRM sponsoring EmployAbility
West Cork through the “Power of Action” Programme.

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Microsoft Philanthropies is working to create a future where every person
has the skills, knowledge, and
opportunity to achieve more.


Andrew Dillon (chair), Dominic Cronin, Mary Hegarty, Julie Silfverberg, Gearoid O'Driscoll, Seamus O'Brien, Clíodhna O'Sullivan.

Workstart West Cork Limited Trading as Employability Service West Cork.

CRO NO: 382867

RCN NO: 20054908