Eileen O'Mara Walsh was born in Limerick in 1941 and began her career with Bord Fáilte in Paris and the Usitravel Group, Dublin, in the early 1970s. She went on to set up her own company, O’Mara Travel, in 1978, and secured the franchise for Club Méditerranée. She established two further companies, Visit Ireland Inc. in 1981, and Heritage Island Ltd in 1992. She was Chair and Director of Great Southern Hotels from 1984 to 1999, a Director of Aer Lingus, Chairwoman of Forbairt from 1993 to 1998, and established the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation in the mid 1980s. She was also Chairwoman of Opera Ireland and Governor of St Patrick’s Hospital. She is currently Trustee of the Medieval Trust and Dublinia, and a member of the International Women’s Forum. On retiring from business in 2006 she was given an honorary doctorate by the Dublin Institute of Technology, and in 2009 was awarded a rst-class honours degree in French and English by University College Dublin. Eileen lives in south County Dublin.