Gaoth Dobhair baker with winning Irish recipe

A GAOTH Dobhair teenager this week won the prestigious GRADAIM Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for her amazing baking skills and her promotion of the Irish language.

Aoibhín Ní Deá, who started her own business at just 14, took the top award in the 18-21 category at a ceremony held in the City Hall, Dublin on Tuesday night. Síle Seoige, was the special guest who made the presentation.

The award Fiontraí Óg na Bliana is a special category in the GRADAIM Gnó na hÉireann national business awards scheme.


Candidates for the award must demonstrate that they have a flair for entrepreneurship, an imaginative approach to entrepreneurship; the ability to promote a positive image of the Irish language and dedication to providing service through Irish.

Speaking to the Donegal News a delighted Aoibhín was preparing to leave the capital and head back to her specially developed kitchen beside her home to get back to the baking which delights her customers.

“I am so honoured to have been chosen for such a lovely award and given such a lovely title. I knew a couple of weeks ago that the application was made but I didn’t really think about it. Glór na nGael is a great organisation in promoting the Irish language and I respect that so much being from the Gaeltacht,” she said.

She explained how she started her first business, Cácaí Aoibhín, almost accidentally at just 14 years of age.

Having grown up watching her Granny Rose baking it became her hobby and then her passion.

“I was brought up in that lovely surrounding of home baking. I owe a lot to Granny Rose. Like any young girl I always wanted a bit of pocket money but was too young to be employed by anyone.

“I grew up in an entrepreneurial bubble with my parents Steve and Grainne and was encouraged to pursue my passion for baking, creating cakes for family occasions,” she said.


Her Dad encouraged her to ask the local cafe if they would be interested in buying some bakes on a weekly basis and they enthusiastically embraced the idea taking a tray every Friday morning. Her bakes were such a success that customers wanted to know who had created them.

Aoibhín, knowing what she wanted to do, used her Transition Year in school to hone her craft skills and got to do work experience with two fabulous bakeries -The Firehouse in Delgany, County Wicklow and Bread 41 in Dublin.

“I got the opportunity to work alongside two incredible bakers.

“After I finished secondary school I went back to them to get more experience.

A few trips to London really gave me the opportunity to soak up and be inspired by the industry, along with trips further affield where I went to the likes of Dubai, and Budapest.

“I’ve made some fantastic connections and gained wonderful mentorship throughout this journey, and have made many friendships alomg the way.

“During the pandemic the business started to grow as people looked for special ways to enhance their celebrations. Being such a strong local community everyone was very supportive of my business”.

Two years ago the teenager launched her new kitchen in the back of a converted lorry beside her home. While doing what she loves she can look out the window at the lovely views over the Clady River.

Customers were able to order their cakes and collect them from the door of her specially designed kitchen.

“I do lots of work with my Dad who is my mentor. I am always involved with local organisations and projects, particularly those promoting the Irish language. It’s back to Donegal now and back to baking,” Aoibhín concluded.

The other national title in the 12-18 age category was awarded to Róisín Dalby from County Kerry for her work promoting the Irish language in the cafe she works in.

Frainc Mac Cionnaith, Business and Enterprise Manager, Glór na nGael said both Aoibhín and Róisín made a huge impression on the adjudicators from Glór na nGael.

“They are both role models for other young people who have an entrepreneurial spirit and a drive for the language.”

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