Limerick sisters set tails wagging with new business venture

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts


Limerick sisters set tails wagging with new business venture

Michelle and Kathy Enright pictured in the Rockhall Veterinary clinic at Henry Street in the city

Siblings Michelle and Kathy Enright have opened four veterinary surgeries locally since moving back to their home county in 2017.

Tell us a bit about Rockhall Veterinary

Kathy Enright: It is a veterinary surgery located at three locations in Limerick: Henry Street, Clare Street and Monaleen, while we have another branch in Shannon, Co Clare. We strive to become part of the fabric of our communities by offering world-class veterinary services in a local environment, by offering an educational service to help our clients give their pets the best possible care, and by always being open and honest in our communication with clients. Along with myself and my sister Michelle, 17 people work for us.

Tell us a bit about yourselves

Kathy: ​We are two sisters who wanted to move home to Limerick in late 2017, myself a vet and one back from travelling the world in Irish dancing shows. We were looking to start our own business and felt there might be space in the veterinary market in Limerick, and Rockhall Veterinary was born!

What do your roles entail?

Kathy: My role is very varied, it can be anything from consulting and operating as a vet and moving between marketing, strategy development, to hanging a picture. As we are a small business you could find us doing anything.

Michelle Enright: I am very much the administrator in the company, and keep Kathy on the straight and narrow! My role is the all important payroll, rostering and human resource management, but again you could find me painting a shelf in the back office!

Where were you born and raised?

Kathy: A point of contention within! Both our parents are Limerick born, but we grew up in Parteen. Living in East Clare and right beside the border of Limerick, we were very Limerick orientated. There is a clear divide amongst our siblings, with half of us firmly believing we are from Clare and the other we are from Limerick. I currently live in Limerick city and am married to a Limerick man, while Michelle lives in Ruan, Co Clare, and married a Clare man, and with branches of Rockhall Vets in both Limerick and Clare, I think you could say we are still keeping one foot in each camp!

What is your educational background?

Kathy: Both myself and Michelle went to Parteen National School, and then on to boarding school, in the beautiful Kylemore Abbey in Connemara in Galway. Boarding school was not for Michelle so she finished out secondary school in Laurel Hill in Limerick. I went to NUI Galway to complete a degree in marine science before heading to the University of Edinburgh to study a veterinary medicine and surgery.

Michelle: I headed straight to the University of Limerick to study a BA in traditional Irish music and dance, and then onto to do a masters in dance performance at the same college. From there, I headed off to travel the world with various Irish dancing shows.

How did you get to where you are today?

Kathy: I think I pulled Michelle into veterinary practice without much choice, but she always loved animals and we had dogs and horses all our lives. We very much have complementing skills. On finishing vet school I went to University College Dublin to complete a veterinary surgical internship for 18 months, and then spent many happy years in small animal equine mix practice in Ballyhugh Vets in Gort, Co. Galway, before heading to Dublin for four years where I worked in a small animal practice with what was called Active VetCare at that time, and is now Village Vets, under the stewardship of Charles and Julianne Cosgrove. There, I learnt an awful lot about the running and managing of a veterinary business.

Since then, we have both had a steep learning curve and undergone a lot of further training in team development, leadership and the business of veterinary.

Why did you decide to set up the company?

Kathy: Some would say it is in our blood,  as both our mother and father were very industrious, and had their own business, and our brothers went into the family business and expanded it further into a global transport and logistic company, and we do think that is probably true to some extent.  However, a large driving force was to bring about some change in veterinary, to work-life balance and to practice the type of medicine we wanted to do. Michelle loved working with people, as she had always done, and we really wanted to develop a philosophy were we looked after our patients, our clients and our people, as we really felt this wasn't always being achieved in veterinary practice. The profession now is moving towards being 95% female dominated and we really felt for to move forward successfully changes needed to happen, so family, and career opportunities could both be achieved.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Kathy: To continue to improve the service offering to our patients and clients,  and one of the ways we are doing this is we have launched our online shop so we can service our clients needs no matter what, we now have a telemedicine service for those who cannot come into see us and we have just launched our new independent night vet service. Limerick Night Vets is a 24/7 out of hours service, Independent of Rockhall, but now providing veterinary care with onsite dedicated night teams, so veterinary care is always  available when you need it. This service also provides better work life balance for our team, as instead of teams working day and on call at night, Limerick Night Vets is a completely separate night team of vets and nurses who have a clinical interest and further training in emergency and critical care.

Who do you admire in business?

Kathy: Our parents. My father is a very successful entrepreneur and ran a very successful global company which my brothers are now at the helm of and he always take the time to advise, guide and support us, but he couldn't have done it without my mother's support. I remember the two of them in the converted garage of our house in Parteen doing paperwork till the small hours of the morning. They both worked very hard to give us every opportunity in life. 

In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?

Kathy: ‘We care’. There are three facets to this for us that are at the core of our beliefs. Care for our patients, care for our clients and care for our people.

All our decisions are made in light of these 3 core values. We try to respect the people we work with and for, and show compassion at all times, and expect the same in return.

Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

Michelle: I am an Irish dancing teacher and I love meeting the dancers and going to feis'. Both me and Kathy love going to Kilkee and swimming in the sea, walking and of course going to Ireland and Munster rugby matches in pre-Covid times! I’m also a big hurling supporter and of course pulled between Limerick and Clare when these epic clashes arise! We both have quite young families, so much of our time is taken up with trying to be the best mums we can be and maybe occasionally squeezing in a date night with the hubbies!