BY JACKIE KEOGH
A HUSBAND-and-wife team have established Ireland's most southerly start-up company on Sherkin Island.
Adrian Legg and Deirdre NÃ Luasaigh, who head up CultureArk, relocated to the island and sealed another deal in the process â they got married!
Adrian had been working in digital media since 1996 and worked as a wi-fi engineer on EU pilot project, bringing broadband to three remote islands in West Cork.Â
âI found myself on a ferry, off to live on Sherkin Island for two years, and working with a team that installed community wi-fi across Sherkin, Heir Island and Cape Clear.Â
âIt was a fantastic experience, being part of a community, bringing the new fandangled internet to a rural community, and working on your wits to make the system work in some of the wildest weather conditions in Ireland.'Â With West Cork awash with world class artists, Adrian and Deirdre saw the need artists had for high resolution images of their work.Â
âWe help by digital scanning the works, making books and prints and creating websites. But we found we needed to store these images on a proper digital repository system â a digital archiving system that lets the owners preserve, promote and profit from their works.'
And, as a founder partner in this new business, Deirdre was shortlisted for Women in Business in the BOI Start-up awards.
Deirdre describes what they do saying: âWe are building a time machine! Digital content is fragile, vulnerable and under constant threat of loss. Much of it will not be accessible, readable or useable in a few years' time.'
Since 2013, CultureArk has been providing solutions that address key business concerns including social media compliance, secure data storage, digital provenance, intelligent access, copyright ownership and rights management.
It all began with an experience they had with a local artist who was uninterested in technology. Deirdre described how Sherkin Island artist and resident, Majella O'Neill Collins, whose seascape paintings are internationally collected â including in George Clooney's private collection â phoned and said: âWould you do me a massive favour? Would you photograph five of my paintings and email them to this collector in New York? He wants to buy one.'
âWe photographed her art, emailed the photographs and Majella sold a painting to the collector in New York for â¬20,000 â all from a remote island off the West Cork coast.'
It was a seed that grew into a specialist high resolution photography service for artists, as well as preserving and archiving these digital photographs.
Deirdre said: âMy professional journey has mostly been about excellent timing, dogged determination and good fortune.
âI have always loved the creative world, and grew up surrounded by Celtic heritage, art and language in Irish speaking Dingle.'Â
For women who are involved in all things âtech' and are thinking about starting their own business, Deirdre said: âGo for it. If you want to do it, go and do it. Being a woman, leading a tech business is not a problem. Whatever your strengths are, find other people who have opposite strengths to partner with, collaborate with or hire.'
Deirdre described the entrepreneurial thrill of the start-up world combined with being a founder of a company that embraces the arts, science, technology and innovation as âinvigorating, challenging and satisfying.'