Cat Minders at Home and Brian’s Dog Grooming

Niamh and Niall Hogan are innovative entrepreneurs who have made their love of cats and dogs into two successful business ventures, Cat Minders at Home and Brian’s Dog Grooming.

The couple’s first pet together was a ginger cat named Brian, who had a bad heart condition. After much care and attention from Hugh O’Callaghan at the Crescent Veterinary Clinic, the couple had to make the heartbreaking decision to put Brian to sleep, at just age seven.

“Brian’s Dog Grooming was named after my cat, he was my best buddy and he has been an inspiration for us having our businesses now. I thought it would be nice to keep his name alive,” said Niall.

A fully qualified dog groomer, Niall trained with Perros Sí in Almuñécar in Spain, an intensive course where they teach one student at a time. He set up his business in 2015 and since then, it has grown from strength to strength. As well as having his own grooming parlour in Dooradoyle, he will soon be working one day a week in the Crescent Veterinary Clinic in Castletroy.

“My only regret is that I never did dog grooming when I was younger. I Love working with the dogs, it’s very therapeutic. You start cutting a dogs hair, two hours just disappear and there is a nice sense of achievement out of it,” added Niall.

Niamh who is qualified in cat care and training, dog psychology and has a diploma as a Veterinary Support Assistant and is Garda vetted, started her Cat Minders at Home business in 2012.

“I started the business because I had been looking after family and friends cats and I thought, I quite enjoy this. And also, cats are different to dogs, they are very territorial. We had put cats into kennels before, and when they came out they just weren’t themselves, so I thought there must be something better than kennels, that’s why I started the business,” said Niamh.

Niamh loves playing with, cuddling and feeding her furry clients, and can use her cat psychology on the most timid of pets.

“Most cats relax straight away, I think they know if you are a cat person. With some really timid cats and it could take a couple of visits. I usually leave them come to me, and I talk calmly, in a gentle voice to them,” added Niamh.

Niamh’s cat and dog psychology come in very handy in their busy household, where the couple have 6 rescue animals, a Great Dane, Labrador cross, wire haired Terrier and 3 cats.

“It works because we both really love animals. It’s nice to be able to make a bit of money out of something that you really, really like to do,” added Niall.  086 3717050  086 3276735


Niall, Niamh and Chaka

Munster V Glasgow Warriors Thomond Park



It was the moments of quiet at Thomond Park on October 22, that stood out. The air was thick with emotional silence, as people queued to sign books of condolence around the stadium, or stood to pay homage to the late Anthony (Axel) Foley outside the Shannon RFC clubhouse.

Joining with the Munster Rugby Supporters Club choir for, The Fields of Athenry, There is an Isle, and Stand up and fight, the flag waving sea of red came to a complete hush and standstill for the minute silence, as everyone on the west stand held up individual boards that together spelt Axel and his number 8.

Speaking with supporters, they felt they were doing something important being there as a part of the Munster supporter’s family, to show a sign of respect and solidarity in a very difficult time for Anthony’s family, friends, teammates and colleagues. The tribute programme sold out before the start of the game.

The eruption of singing as supporters tried to spur the Munster team on rang out over the city. Applause, shouts of heave, and standing ovations were in abundance as long time supporters made sure the traditions of respect were carried on, such as silence when either side is taking a conversion.

After a triumphant result and an emotional rendition of stand up and fight from the Munster players as they huddled in a circle with Anthony’s two sons on the pitch, supporters were slow leave the stands which normally empty within seconds, and only moved when the very last official left the hallowed turf.

Killaloe Wedding Fair in aid of Clare’s Wish Foundation


Clare’s Wish Foundation Wedding Fair, in the Killaloe Hotel and Spa, on November 6, is the ideal event for couples who are looking for ideas or help with organising their wedding.

Open from 1pm-5pm, attendees will receive a complimentary glass of wine on entry, and meet representatives from a number of well known wedding suppliers and businesses from Bridal wear to musicians.

The Sweet Treat Cakes, Kitture weddings, Coleman Photography, MM Cookies, O’Hara Video’s, Moss & Mushroom Flowers, Forever Living, South Bound wedding Band, Ebber Wedding Band, and singer Lorraine Galvin are just some of the suppliers that will be there on the day.

“If you are either engaged or planning to marry in the future, then this is a must see event. You will get fantastic advice from all suppliers on the day. This is the foundation’s longest-running and most impactful fundraiser of the year, we receive a €5 donation, on entry. We hope to raise as much funds as possible so we can grant more wishes that are on hold,” said founder of Clare’s Wish, Kevin Clancy.

Named after Kevin’s sister, who was born with Spina Bifida and died at twenty four years of age, Clare’s Wish Foundation is a Limerick based charity that was established in 2013, and is the only Irish charity that is dedicated to providing wishes exclusively to adults with terminal illnesses.

“My dad passed in 2011. That changed my outlook on life, I wanted to give back, and I started to do some volunteer work for two charities in Limerick, which lead on to setting up Clare’s Wish, also in memory of my own sister,” explained Kevin.

If people would like to nominate someone they know for Clare’s Wish they can send an e-mail or fill out the application form on the website, where the charity prioritise emergency requests.

“Wish Requests are usually wish’s to go somewhere on a break or to meet a celebrity or idol. Our last two wishes were pretty special. A wish to go to Killarney for a Family turned out to be their first picture together as a family in 25 years and also their last picture, as Annette passed away just a few weeks later.

“We also just granted a, ‘wish to put a smile back on my kid’s faces’, so we sent a family to Tayto Park for a family day of fun and a stay in the amazing Pillo Hotel for the family.

“We need Volunteers in all counties to spread the awareness of the charity. We also have a Text Clare to 50300 campaign for any one who would like to donate €4,” added Kevin.


Twitter: @clareswish


Author Gemma Mawdsley


Gemma Mawdsley, now working on her sixteenth novel called Bonded by Blood, is an internationally renowned writer of Gothic horror novels. Since moving to West Clare last February, this Limerick Lady is enjoying getting inspiration for her writing from her quiet, fruitful surroundings.

“I love my adopted county. From the window of my upstairs office, I can see the fields stretching out for miles, and it’s a joy to watch the ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours. The people here are really friendly, and the men seem to have retained some of that old world charm. At times, it feels I have stepped back decades,” said Gemma.

Gemma’s fascination with the gothic began at a young age, when, gathered around an open fire at her Grandmothers, where there was an old graveyard at the back of the house, her imagination was fuelled by ghost stories, some about her Granny’s resident ghost.

At ten years of age, Gemma had her first taste of success when her poem was published in the Limerick Leader. However, it wasn’t until years later, when her mother died, needing a distraction from her grief, she enrolled for a creative writing course at the University of Limerick run by David Rice.

Her journey through writing styles eventually led her to combining her love of history and the paranormal to create a unique genre, which has seen her career as a writer go from strength to strength.

“My first novel, The Paupers’ Graveyard, dealt with the famine. I did countless hours of research as the topic is such an important one and sadly, many of these famine graveyards are neglected and unmarked, when they should be as important to our culture and history as Egypt’s Tombs of the Kings.”

Gemma’s second book, Whispers, is told by two spirit children who inhabit an industrial school, a story which was inspired by the reports of abuse in industrial schools which have dominated headlines in Ireland over the last number of years.

Currently working on three books, (Erebus, the story of a haunted house over three generations; The Wraith, about a mother trying desperately to find her kidnapped child; Bonded by Blood, three sisters who are determined to destroy one another), this prolific author has still found time to enjoy exploring her new surroundings, especially the coastal areas, visiting small cottage businesses and writing about them on her author pages.

“I’m hoping to write from September to June, so I can take the summer months to enjoy my new surrounding and all the beauty Clare has to offer.”

When Gemma isn’t writing she enjoys sewing period costumes for her antique doll collection, but is especially looking forward to long walks in the Clare countryside with her new dog, Toby.

“I’m aware that many people hate the dark, winter nights, but I’m in my element. I like nothing more than the crisp, frosty mornings and as the evenings draw in, the strange scurrying in the hedgerows, as the nocturnal foragers come to life.

“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given recently is, that if I’m walking late at night and hear, what seems to be the cough of an old man coming from behind the bushes, not to panic. It is the cough of a cow. I don’t know how true that is, but it made me smile.”

Growing up, her favourite book was Anne of Green Gables. Now she tends to read detective novels, so as not to be influenced by other horror writers, her favourite author is Val Mc Dermid and her favourite film is An Enchanted April.

After all these years Gemma still loves telling stories through the medium of writing, and has enjoyed hearing many ghost stories since she moved to Clare.

“But I have frightened myself. Most of the stories I would write come from mythology. When I was writing Death Cry, it’s about the banshee. I’m afraid of loud noises and at one stage I actually came out and sat on the stairs, just to get away from it.”

Though Gemma doesn’t claim to be psychic she is very sensitive, and has had a lot of experiences that she can’t explain, such as her encounter with the ghost of an old housekeeper at an historic manor in Bedfordshire.

“I think as well, when I’m writing the characters are alive for me, I sometimes think I see something from the corner or my eye, but that’s probably that you are caught up in the tension of it all.

“That’s why I think people like the ghost stories, because people get the thrill, and that, it couldn’t really happen, but at the same time you have the thrill of thinking could it?” said Gemma.

Though Gemma has visited many fortune tellers, she wouldn’t go to mediums, or advise anyone to have anything to do with Ouija boards, however she does believe in Quantum theory, which is where the two worlds run parallel, the real world and the spirit world, and sometimes cross over when you can see spirits.

“People would often say, if I go, do you want me to come back? And I say, no, keep going, you’re fine where you are, don’t tell me, let me be surprised,” added Gemma.

The Paupers’ Graveyard, Death Cry and Whispers are available to buy on Amazon.  For more information on her books see

Eve’s Bed and Breakfast, Bexhill-on-Sea


“I love Bexhill because of its unique charm. It is a beautiful, interesting but quiet little town, but also has a great community that gets together and puts on fantastic events that make the town buzz, the Roaring 20’s Day or the Festival of the Sea for example,” said Jenny.

Jenny, Justin and their gorgeous daughter Grace, are the proprietors of Eve’s Bed & Breakfast, a second generation family business. Their beautiful red brick Victorian home is nestled into the picturesque, historic seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea in the UK.

“Being in the B&B business I meet so many amazing people. I love chatting with my guests over breakfast and finding out about their lives. My favourite thing is when you figure out that you have something in common with a guest, several times I have discovered that I had someone in common with a guest, or we had done the same thing on the other side of the world for example. It’s a small world,” smiled Jenny.

Eve’s is a cosy, home from home, where Jenny makes you feel as if you are visiting a friend’s house. Her attention to detail, from stylish breakfast crockery, delicately scented toiletries, tea and coffee facilities in your room, and Jenny’s warm, friendly personality made it a very memorable place to stay.

Our room was bright, plush, and like the rest of the house, was tastefully decorated in a way that complements the period of the house. After a peaceful nights sleep in extremely comfortable beds, and a hot shower with soft white towels, the scenic beauty of our surroundings unfolded as the sun rose, where from my room, beyond a manicured garden, I could see the sun sparkling on the sea.

Justin is coelaic, so special bread, separate butter, even sausages were available for breakfast for me. So after a delicious fresh fruit salad of watermelon and blueberries, a full English for my brother, eggs and tomatoes for me, we chatted with Jenny.

The business was set up and run by Eve, Justin’s mum in 2004, until she retired and Jenny and Justin took the reins as hosts in 2012. Jenny has a degree in Hospitality Management and trained at The Grand Hotel, a five star hotel in Brighton and Justin  has a background in customer orientated roles.

While chatting and lingering over our coffee, I suddenly became aware of something pressing against my leg, when I looked down to my delight, I saw Ralphy the Parsons Terrier who was looking for some attention. Korky their black and white cat had also made a brief appearance the night before, they must have known we were pet lovers, my brother having a Malamute and I a West Highland Terrier and a cat.

“We allow dogs here as there is access to the back garden in our ground floor room, and there are not many places around that allow them. It is lovely to meet so many gorgeous doggies! My daughter just loves dogs as well!”

An Edwardian town, we managed to catch a brief glimpse of the elegant promenade that stretches for two miles, where Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco buildings adorn the sea front.

Though we were there for a family bereavement for a dear Uncle, Eve’s and Bexhill-on-Sea left an enduring impression.

Eve’s Bed & Breakfast

01424 733268


Dog Trainer Dave Brunnock


Dave Brunnock with his dog Ally

A recent mishap with my gorgeous but stubbornly independent five year old West Highland Terrier, when she escaped through an open gate, barely avoided getting knocked down and had to be chased before eventually getting caught, reminded me that I had lapsed with the dog training I learned from Dave Brunnock.

I first met Dave when, after two months of trying to explain to my gorgeous new pup the meaning of the word ‘No’, failing and being surrounded by chewed shoes, computer cables and furniture, I enrolled us for puppy training class.

A certified dog trainer and behaviour practitioner, Dave believes most bad dog behaviours can be fixed no matter what age the dog is. However if you take your puppy to training classes where they and the family will develop skills to communicate with the dog and socialise the pet, it may prevent people from giving up, and giving their puppies or dogs away.

“I think people take on too much. There’s no need to give your dog to a rescue centre or the pound, you can fix 99 per cent of the problems. People don’t put enough thought in before they get the dog. They don’t pick the right dog for their lifestyle. If you are very active get an active dog but if you are not, don’t.

“You need to think long and hard about what would suit you best for the next ten or twenty years. Get a dog or pup to suit your lifestyle. If you are a placid person don’t get a hyper dog. If you are into jogging get a high energy dog.

“You could pick up a good dog from a rescue centre or the pound. Ireland is over flowing with dogs, there’s thousands of dogs out there that nobody wants,” said Dave.

Dave trains all breeds of dogs from Jack Russells to Great Dane’s, but he says, people don’t need to have pure bred dogs in order to train them, he has found that Rescue dogs make excellent family pets and can be easily trained. He uses gentle, but effective methods which have been proven to work internationally with thousands of dogs, and tailors the training to suit each dog and their owner.

According to Dave, much bad behaviour in dogs can be prevented by taking them to puppy training classes, which lays a foundation for future training and also socialises them which is extremely important, as dogs that have not been socialised can be fearful and aggressive.

However Dave says puppy training classes are not just for the pup they are also for the owner, “people want me to fix the dog, but a big part of it is about changing the way they interact with the dog. Often the owner is the hardest part, because the owner doesn’t follow the plan. It can be a bit like going on a diet, you can struggle for the first couple of weeks and then suddenly it gets easy for you.”

For Dave, dog training is about team work, motivation, communication, trust and building a stronger bond between the owner and their dog, and in the classes he gives owners the tools to do this, as he says, dogs are a totally different species and they have to be treated with compassion.

Dave believes that ideally, a dog should be kept in the house as a part of the family, where they learn something everyday, not locked out in the back yard where the isolation can affect their ability to learn. He says having a dog means making a commitment to exercise your dog twice a day, give them mental and physical stimulation and training the dog, which only takes a few minutes a day.

“Sometimes people think their dog is the boldest dog, even the boldest dog can be turned around if you work on it. It’s all about communicating with the dog and getting them to understand what you want.

“They have to learn your language, a certain few words like heel, sit, down, come, go to bed, get off. If you set these boundaries and rules when they are puppies, you won’t have any behaviour problems when they are older.

“Having a dog should be very enjoyable, it shouldn’t be stressful. It should be very relaxing to take you dog for a walk. So what I like to do, is get people on the right track with their dog from the word go, and they have a good life together then, there’s no problems. So when you take your dog somewhere they can be a pleasure instead of being a nuisance.”

A full-time certified dog trainer and behaviour practitioner since 2003, Dave has been training dogs for over 30 years. He trained gun dogs for 20 years, successfully competing in field trial competitions, and has trained dogs for many different purposes, but now mostly works with family dogs, working dogs and puppies.

A professional member of the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals), Dave also holds a certificate in Canine Psychology and has trained a wide variety of dog breeds.

Since 2000, Dave has completed numerous courses on Canine Behaviour and Training, as well as a professional dog trainer’s programme with well known Canadian trainer Ben Kersen and the Wonder dogs in British Columbia, Canada.

In 2006 Dave Completed a course in Dubuque Iowa with renowned American trainer Robin McFarlane, and a course on modern reinforcement training with Mark Fulmar, Sarah Setter Kennels in South Carolina, USA.

In 2011 he graduated from Randy Hare’s Scent Detection Trainer’s Course. Randy is one of America’s top police K9 scent detection trainers. Dave also completed several courses with the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association in the UK, and continuously updates his skills by attending courses and seminars with some of the worlds top professional dog trainers.

So, it’s back to basics for Missy and me, I need to get back on track with her training, so I don’t have a runaway dog again.  As Dave says, dog training needs regular maintenance, the puppy training class is just the first stage of training, there’s a lot more to be learned by dog and owner if you want a well trained dog.      087-7951268