Skelligs Chocolate Company sees uptick in food tourism

Engineer-turned-chocolatier Colm Healy warns against complacency

Colm Healy, owner of Skelligs Chocolate, has seen an uptick in his food tourism business in line with recent statistics showing revenue from overseas visitors has grown nearly 9 per cent in the first half of this year.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures released earlier this month showed the positive momentum from 2013, when overall spending by overseas visitors grew by 12 per cent, is continuing.

The former IT networks engineer-turned-chocolatier has had a steady increase in overseas customers in the past two years, and most of them are from the UK and the US. CSO figures indicated a particular surge in visitors to Ireland from those regions.

About 50 per cent of the Skelligs Chocolate turnover occurs on site, which is a signature spot on the Wild Atlantic Way and has a café during the tourist-laden six months of the year. There is an open-plan production area where visitors can walk in and see chocolate-makers in action.


The scenic location, so enticing for tourists, is also what gave Healy a “gut feeling” to buy the business in 2004.

“I visited the place. The sun was shining, and I thought, ‘I can do this’. I still hadn’t seen the accounts. I paid more than I should have but less than what it was worth.”

The risk worked out for Healy, who turned the chocolate business into a tourism destination after his factory burned down in 2010.

The fire forced him to re-imagine his business, and he thinks the biggest problem with Irish businesses at the moment is complacency.

“There are always new directions you can go in, and there will be people interested in investing in you. There is huge scope for developing businesses that have become staid and lazy,” he said.

Colm Healy will be speaking at the AIB Start-up Night in Killarney on Thursday, October 2nd.