It must be like a United Nations meeting when Teresa and Pierre Krebs get together with their two daughters – each one is entitled to a different nationality. Teresa’s roots are local although London was her place of birth, Pierre was brought up in Belgium, the elder daughter, Stephanie was born in Australia and Jennifer in Paris. It gives some hint of Teresa’s cosmopolitan work life before she and Pierre took over Cawley’s Guesthouse from her parents in 2003.

Teresa was literally born into the hotel industry; her parents, Joe and Jean Cawley, took over the business when she was just a year old. You could call it destiny – as Teresa explains, her Dad bought the hotel through a genuine mistake. On a trip home to Sligo he called in for a drink and when the lady of the house asked ‘Are you buying’, he assumed she was referring to the round and not to the ‘For Sale’ sign outside. Serendipity indeed.

It was wonderful early training for Teresa and her siblings though as she comments wryly, they often missed the class immediately after lunch. It must have inspired her as she went straight to Galway to study Hotel Management and through that spent a wonderful year on work experience in Switzerland with the Hyatt hotel group. That placement was to guide her career for more than two decades and introduce her to the man she would marry.

After graduation Teresa began fulltime work with Hyatt first in London and then in Belgium. There she met Pierre who worked in the financial section and within a year they were joined in matrimony. Teresa worked in the reservations and rooms division section and was part of the opening team of many Hyatt hotels around the world. The first of these was in war torn Israel at the Hyatt Regency Jerusalem. Her new husband was so concerned he actually took out war insurance for her!

That experience over, the pair were sent to Australia on the opening team of the Hyatt in Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast. During their three-year stint baby Stephanie was born. At first work-orientated Teresa found the laid-back attitude difficult to settle into. Accustomed to hectic 16 hour days, during her first weeks when her co-workers bid her goodbye at 5.30pm, she assumed they were going on a coffee break! As Teresa puts it, Australians work to live, they don’t live to work. They enjoyed all the activities on offer including parasailing and jet skiing – despite Teresa’s fear of water. As avid walkers, they found endless territory to explore in Byron Bay and along the Gold and Sunshine Coast. They particularly loved the wonderfully named Tambourine Mountain and its rainforest. Daughter Stephanie who lives in Canada found her way there on a recent antipodean holiday to visit Jennifer who now lives in Australia and Teresa was more than amused to see the same views they had loved, photographed almost 30 years later.

The next step in their whirlwind existence was to London followed by Paris. At this stage, Teresa had given up work for a while, and her second child was born. Teresa returned to work in Hyatt and Paris was home for over a decade during which they were involved in opening three hotels. They explored France, particularly the south and enjoyed walking and horse riding in the nearby Chantilly Forest.

The call of home was always strong. Every year holidays were planned around Music Week and coming back to help in Cawley’s which Pierre and the girls loved. Then as Teresa’s parents were aging, they put Cawley’s on the market and that was the decider. They were coming home to live.

In a neat twist on the famous Kerrygold ad, Teresa and Pierre ‘brought the horse from France’ bringing home their beloved family horse Diams Nel (Eternal Diamond). Now in his late 20s, he is with them still and caring for him is a welcome release for Teresa during her busy working days. Running Cawley’s is a full time but enjoyable occupation.

Sadly, Teresa’s parents are both now deceased but their legacy lives on in the business they built. Joe’s grapevines are thriving around the back and Pierre has high hopes of making wine in Tubbercurry someday. The two girls are abroad – in Australia and Canada – but hopefully one day there will be a third generation at the helm in Cawley’s. #SligoFoodTrail

Try a Cawley’s Sligo Food Trail Experience:

Radio Interview

Listen in to Teresa’s interview with Claire Ronan on Up & Running Business Show recorded on the train.