About Helen

Helen O’Donnell, from a farming family of four children, was educated at Grange Vocational School, Sligo, Convent of Mercy, Claremorris and later at Regional Technical College, Galway.

Helen married Limerick East TD Tom O’Donnell in 1984 and together they have one son.

An Advocate for Limerick

In December 1994, Helen opened her first business, an art gallery and craft gallery and restaurant, Dolmen at Honan’s Quay, Limerick City. The official opening was performed by visionary Brendan O’Regan.

February 1997 saw the opening of what became a much-loved cafe at the Hunt Museum. The new tourist attraction’s board was chaired by Dr. Tony Ryan and, with the guidance of Museum Director John Hunt, this cafe and visitor centre became one of the jewels in the crown of the city until its recent closure.

In her capacity as Limerick City Tidy Towns Committee Chair, Helen has also been heavily involved in the annual Team Limerick Clean-Up, a one-day tidy happening every Good Friday and attracting over 20,000 volunteers from every town in the county.

Political involvement for almost 30 years

Helen also has had extensive political experience in her career across numerous organisational boards and forums. One of these was sitting beside John Bruton and John Hume on the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in 1994, as part of the Northern Ireland Peace process. Helen was invited to be a member of the forum by Bruton, who became Taoiseach while the forum was in session.

Limerick Person of The Year 2012

Helen was named Limerick Person of the Year in 2012.

Committed to Community

Other local and national business involvements have included:

  • Chair of Limerick City Business Organisation.
  • Chair of Safefood board.
  • Chair of ADAPT women’s refuge.
  • President of Limerick Federation of Women’s Organisations.
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce board member and executive board member.
  • Zonta International women’s organisation member president.
  • Member of An tUdarás Rialaithe (governing body of Mary Immaculate College).
  • Chair of the board of Crescent College Comprehensive SJ.
  • Member of the first RIAI Professional Conduct Committee.
  • Chair of PAUL Partnership.
  • National and regional board member Irish Local Development Network.
  • Dance Limerick board member
  • Board member JP McManus Benevolent Fund.