Donegal business leader Deirdre McGlone had a most prestigious meeting with President Michael D. Higgins this month in celebration of female entrepreneurship.

Deirdre, who is the ‘Happy Hotelier’ of Harvey’s Point, was invited as a role model businesswoman to an evening with the President of Ireland on May 4th.

Deirdre is a Lead Entrepreneur with the ACORNS programme – a pilot initiative to support aspiring female entrepreneurs in start-up businesses in rural Ireland.

ACORNS Lead Entrepreneurs with President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins

The Ballintra woman joined her fellow ACORNS volunteers at Áras an Uachtaráin for the event to acknowledge the contribution of women to Ireland’s independence, culture, society and economy. President Higgins was also keen to note the continued undoing of the marginalisation of women in the past 100 years.

Looking back on the day, Deirdre has said meeting with President Higgins and his wife Sabina was an unforgettable experience.

“It really was one of the proudest moments of my life and a memory that I will cherish forever,” Deirdre wrote in her blog, ‘Deirdre’s Diary’.

Sabina Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins and Deirdre McGlone

Deirdre has built up a wealth of knowledge and achievements in business from working in the hospitality industry since the age of thirteen.

As well as being an ACORNS Lead, Deirdre is a former Donegal Person of the Year and is the current President of Donegal Women in Business Network, and a member of ‘Going for Growth’. She is always keen to share her experience as a mentor for fellow women in business.

Speaking at the reception, President Higgins celebrated all the inspirational women in the room who have made achievements in business and are breaking down barriers to achieve equality.

The President said: “A society that does not support and encourage female entrepreneurs is a society that denies itself a vast pool of talent, creativity and innovation, a society that impoverishes itself by that denial. The world needs more female entrepreneurs, women like you who have not only had a good idea, but brought it to fruition – women who have ‘made it happen’.

“You are paving the way, providing inspiring role models for the many other women in this country who have the talent to set up successful businesses. You are women who create employment, export opportunities, and a working environment that is supportive of other women.”

Image: Maxwell Photography

Deirdre said she felt a personal connection to the President’s overall message: “His words came from the heart and they touched my heart.”

President Higgins pointed out that women make up just twenty percent, or one in five, of all of Ireland’s entrepreneurs. He said that society at a state and corporate level would benefit from greater female participation and he celebrated the leaders who have fought for their voices to be heard.

He acknowledged that many barriers remain in modern life that prevent women from fully reaching their professional potential. He also expressed his thanks to the perseverance of the innovative female business women.

“As a country that aspires to be a true democracy we owe a great debt of gratitude to women like you, who continue to break down the barriers and overcome the obstacles that prevent women from being equal participants in all aspects of society.

“I thank each and every one of you for your entrepreneurial spirit, your determination and your vision which have helped to not only build your own success stories, but are also contributing to Irish society,” said the President.

Deirdre’s blog recounts the many emotional moments of her day as she listened to these words from the President in the company of amazing women in business.

You can read her account on