Lee Valley Taste Trail, Ballingeary, Co. Cork

Dorothy O’Tuama

www.leevalleytastetrails.iedorothy otuama | www.secad.ie | SECAD Partnership CLG

Dorothy O’Tuama established the Lee Valley Taste Trails in 2016 to offer bespoke small group tours to food and craft beer producers and culture and heritage sites of the Lee Valley in South West Cork.

Dorothy joined the Cumas entrepreneurship programme already with a wealth of experience in the tourism industry as a registered tour guide and with extensive knowledge of Irish food history and culture.

Dorothy credits the Cumas female entrepreneurship programme with empowering her to get her plans for her Lee Valley Taste Trails business off the ground.

‘’Before I did the course I was at a standstill with my business idea. The expertise provided on the course enabled me to focus on my business plan, and helped put everything in place to get it off the ground and on a good footing.’’

Dorothy’s business brings small groups with a maximum of fifteen together to ‘’Meet the South West Buffaloes” on a tour and taste trail of a Buffalo Farm and mozzarella production facility.  A second tour, ‘’Taste our Stored Sunshine” incorporates visits to other local producers such as Walton’s Mills in Macroom, White Deer Brewery and Coolavokig Pottery.

Dorothy draws on her local knowledge to showcase many hidden gems and byroads.

‘’I have always loved meeting and welcoming visitors to this unspoilt, quieter but stunning part of Co. Cork.’’

Both tours promote diverse agri-food businesses and celebrate the riches of the area, in a relaxed, informative and fun way.  The business also has created further employment with a dedicated Taste Trails tour driver, Patrick Creedon.

‘’ My business serves as an anecdote to large scale tourism and offers people an insight into Irish life in the Lee valley Múscraí Gaeltacht, and of our food ‘Bia linn’’’

Dorothy would recommend a female entrepreneur programme wholeheartedly.

‘’Meeting like-minded women in my local rural area of Ballingeary was of immense benefit to build confidence, network, share problems and commonsense, and ultimately – it urged me to rely on my own resources to know I’m good enough to make my idea a business reality!’’

In fact, as Dorothy grows her business she has continued to feed her appetite for learning and self-development on the job as her business evolves.

‘’It would have been beneficial to have even more time on some of the course modules on business planning and social media etc.. In this business you need to constantly evolve, be flexible, try new things and respond to challenges, for example, media interest in the tours has prompted me to develop my communication style, pitch my business and tailor my business message to greater effect.‘’