Business Leader: Julie Kilmartin teaches a new way of learning in heart of Limerick

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

 Julie Kilmartin is a well-known face across the city, with her firm Kilmartin Educational Services continually expanding its service

Julie Kilmartin is a well-known face across the city, with her firm Kilmartin Educational Services continually expanding its service

Julie Kilmartin is a well-known face across Limerick, with her firm Kilmartin Educational Services continually expanding its service:

Tell us a little about Kilmartin Educational Services?

Set up in 2002, we provide a wide range of services to students across the region, ranging from supervised study, career guidance, tuition classes, summer schools, and revision courses supplementing their regular schooling. It has gone now from Kilmartin Educational Services to simply being known colloquially as ‘Julie’s’. I think that’s because kids basically now know who I am. I teach both in Ennis and Limerick in biology and maths. Kids now say ‘I’m going to Julie’s', or ‘Mam, book me into Julie’s’. We have always kept it very professional, but a very friendly environment, where kids are on a first name basis with the teachers.

What are your most popular subjects?

Maths would be very popular. With the new project management coming in, it helps students settle in to the new programmes. On that basis, we have a huge influx of students. But we also have students doing extra subjects outside of school that may not be available in their own schools due to timetabling classes. When you’re a student who has an ability and a love for a particular subject, and they cannot do it, it’s a real pity. A big one of these is geography, as well as economics, physics and chemistry. Due to numbers they may not be available in a given school. When you have an aptitude for that particular subject, you’re going to excel in it.

Where are you based?

We are based in what were formerly the old County Council buildings in O’Connell Street. If you believe in fate, these buildings were waiting for us. We’re very fortunate in the sense we have 84 O’Connell Street, and have been expanding gradually to a stage where we have most of Lower Mallow Street. We have grown to around 12,500 square feet, and are likely to have to expand again. The nature of our employment is seasonal. In and around the Christmas or Easter period, we’d see anything up to 50 or 60 people employed. As the season changes, we’d dwindle down to 15 to 20 people. We have brought a lot of students into the area, with a lot of spending power, and it has certainly brought a lot of vibrancy to this side of the city.

What does your role entail?

One thing I will never lose is being a teacher. Up to 50% of my time is still spent interacting with students. That’s what keeps me young, and my finger on the pulse, because you know exactly what students want and need. The rest of my time is put towards administration and the operation of the business. I am the marketing manager, the person who does all the rostering, as well as meeting parents and dealing with the day-to-day issues which may arise. I am busy, but I enjoy it.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in London, but I'm proud to say that two years later, we moved home to Galway where I was raised. My colours are maroon and white! We lived near Spiddal, which has had a major impact on me. I came from a good home with good parents. Now I am based in Limerick city centre which is fantastic for me. I love it! I honestly believe Limerick is the most up-and-coming city. It has so much to offer, so much growth potential, and has become my second home.

What is your educational background?

My secondary education took place in Galway, before we moved down to Limerick, in 1985 to do a science degree in what is now the University of Limerick, but at the time was the NIHE and Thomond College. I qualified from this in 1989 with a first class honours. This came through hard work and dedication. Then I went into teaching in a private college becoming principal there for seven years up to 2002 when I set up Kilmartin Educational Services.

What made you go into business alone?

It gives you a certain degree of autonomy where you can bring your own beliefs, your own thinking. I wanted to bring this, and affordability to the educational system. Not everyone can afford private college fees of €6,000 to €7,000 a year. So we were trying to bring it to a level where it was affordable, but professional. I think we have done this quite well, and given students a place where they can call home.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

We are doing exceptionally well in Limerick and Ennis, and there are other cities in our pipeline. We have two in particular we are planning to head towards. I cannot say too much more about this, but it will revolutionise what private education offers and will be very interactive for parents.

In business and life, who do you admire?

I’d look at the likes of Bill Gates, who has revolutionalised computers. You have to also admire Michael O’Leary for what he has done for travel. He has brought the world to us in a very affordable way. I’d not necessarily model my business on Ryanair, but I’d love to have the technology it has to hand that our students to allow them to book their study and revision courses at the click of a button.

Are you guided by any particular motto?

It’s very simple: ‘living, loving life’. It’s nice to be able to walk away at the end of the day and know you've done a pretty good job. That everyone went home safe, they were well looked after, and treated with respect, and the future of these students is in good hands.

Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

When I have spare time, which is very little, I love travelling. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world, going to the most wonderful places you can think of.