Moontour founder Seán Greif beat off stiff competition to claim the overall prize ahead of successful entrepreneurs behind food producers, tech start-ups and a specialist tourism operator. He also received €2,500, from a total prize fund of €10,000, and will now go on to represent Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown at the National Enterprise Award finals, to be held in the Mansion House in Dublin this May and which offers a total prize fund of €40,000.
Seán received his award at a ceremony on Tuesday (March 7th) during the packed Business Showcase event hosted by at Local Enterprise Office at the Royal Marine Hotel as part of Local Enterprise Week.
The former Irish teacher founded Moontour following his experience of learning two languages, Portuguese and Spanish, in just six months. First he became immersed in Portuguese while living with tribes in remote areas of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil. With no classes or books he learnt the language through life experience within six months. He travelled to Argentina where he was a glacier guide in Patagonia and took the same approach and learned to speak Spanish.
Speaking after at the Awards ceremony, Mr Greif said: “Having mastered two languages in such a relatively short time it showed me that we need to approach teaching our native language in a different, more engaging and experiential way. We decided to develop programmes that motivate and encourage participation through want rather than necessity.
“What motivates me to get to work in the morning is to hear students say we want to learn the way you are teaching it. The students take ownership of the language and rather than an authority figure forcing them to learn they do so because it’s fun to do so. Students often don’t even realise they are speaking Irish as an everyday language as it just becomes second nature. We have knowledge that many of the participants frequently speak to each other in Irish after they have completed the course. And on the upside, all of the younger school going participants will improve academically as well.”
Mr Greif plans to expand Moontour’s reach by creating new learning locations, new centres and adapting an online learning facility. The company is looking at opportunities to attract students from the Irish Diaspora particularly in the USA and from around the country where there is a demand for a new innovative and successful way of learning Irish.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Cathaoirleach Cormac Devlin said:
Congratulations to Seán and Moontour on their success — this pioneering company is leading the way in making the Irish language more accessible. The standard of entry in this year’s Local Enterprise Awards was phenomenal, any one of the finalists would have made a worthy winner, and I have no doubt that Seán and Moontour will go on to represent Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown with great success at the National Enterprise Awards in May."
The Local Enterprise Office offers advice and supports which contribute significantly to the success of many entrepreneurs and new businesses in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. I would encourage anyone in business or thinking of starting a company to contact their LEO, where the staff will be only too happy to help.”