Shirley Brohan, the vibrant force behind Blossoms On the Go Garden Centre, reveals the roots of her success stem from humble beginnings in the local market where she was exploring her hobby.

Today, Shirley’s passion for plants has blossomed into a thriving enterprise over 16 years. Blossoms On the Go sprouted from Shirley’s love affair with plants. She fondly recalls her early days, “I started in the market in Ennis 16 years ago with a little red van beside a man selling calves and hens.” What began as a simple market stall soon germinated into a full-fledged garden centre, catering to Ennis’s green enthusiasts.

“I opened the garden centre below in the Quin Road Business Park, and we were there for seven years. We opened with what I had and at the time, it was dwarf daffodils, planters and a handful of bedding plants, and I just expanded into a massive range of shrubs, bedding trees, compost, concrete ornaments, we had everything and anything to do with a garden. We were there for seven years and then we moved up here to the larger site in Hermitage.” Business was present in Shir ley’s family, with her uncle Jim my successfully running his renowned Hardware shop on Parnell Street until his passing in 2014. Reflecting on her unexpected journey into entrepreneurship, Shirley reminisces, “I was told at a psychic fair, the young man that was in front of me at the time told me I was going to run my own business and I just laughed at him, like you’re mad!

“Running a business wasn’t my plan; it evolved organically. Demand from clients led me to open the garden centre 13 years ago.” Her commitment to quality and variety soon transformed the modest establishment into a haven for gardening aficionados, offering everything from shrubs to concrete ornaments.

Shirley’s unwavering dedication to her passion defied conventional wisdom. “I worked five evenings a week at another job while nurturing my hobby. It was my mindful escape,” she shares. In fact, Shirley only finally said farewell to her role in Essilor late last year. Shirley worked full time for three years and job shared for 10 years following her second child’s arrival, which she was very grateful to be able to do.

“I opened the garden centre six weeks before my second son Morgan was born. When I was coming out of the hospital, the first stop I made was to the garden centre, so my second son was practically reared in the garden centre,” she chuckles.

Navigating the business landscape as a woman posed its own challenges. Shirley recalls the scepticism she encountered, with clients assuming male employees were the proprietors. “It’s sad how gender stereotypes persist,” she laments. Nonetheless, Shirley’s tenacity and commitment to excellence gradually earned her the recognition she de serves. Incorporating feedback and adapting to changing trends have been pivotal to Shir ley’s success. She emphasizes the importance of biodiversity, noting the rising interest in wildflowers and wildlife-friendly gardening. Despite the economic uncertain ties, Shirley’s steadfast focus on her passion kept Blossoms On the Go resilient. “Recession was never a concern. I kept products affordable, ensuring everyone could enjoy gardening,” she explains. Her dedication to providing quality service amid challenges has solidified her position in the community.

Looking ahead, Shirley remains committed to fostering a welcoming environment at Blossoms On the Go. “I want visitors to experience peace and beauty amidst our vibrant array of plants. It’s more than just a business; it’s a sanctuary for plant lovers,” she enthuses.

“Every day is a school day and there is no such thing as a silly question. Everyone is on this planet to learn and I think it’s just lovely. Pre-Covid times, I remember one day I stood out, and I looked around and I had some clients just walking around the garden centre. You could just see they were getting lost in the sense of the different plant structures, and they were really enjoying the peace and quiet. I was thinking, that’s what I want to strive for, something that people can come and just rest their minds and enjoy walking around, like a park for all the world.” As Shirley continues to nurture her garden centre, her journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of passion and perseverance. In celebrating women like Shirley, we honour the spirit of entrepreneurship and resilience that enriches our communities.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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