Skål International Galway honors Mary Bennett

Skål International Galway honors Mary Bennett, leading Galway businesswoman and the first ever female World President of Skål International, with a special celebratory Black Tie Dinner in the Ardilaun Hotel Galway on Thursday 30th March 2023.

Mary Bennett has been an enthusiastic and inspiring leader of Skål International locally in Galway and across the world for over five decades.

A large group of tourism and hospitality industry leaders gathered on Thursday 30 March at the Ardilaun Hotel to celebrate Mary Bennett's career and life in tourism and Skål International.

Mary Bennett has motivated business women and been a visionary and champion for tourism, travel and retail in Galway, the West and across Ireland and internationally since she first worked in the former Great Southern Hotel on Eyre Square, Galway in the sixties. Along with her late husband Eddie Bennett, they went on to open the beautiful fashion and gift retail outlet, the Treasure Chest at the heart of Galway City in 1966. An iconic shop with its stunning wedge wood styled exterior Mary Bennet and her team at the Treasure Chest has welcomed and attracted an extraordinary number of domestic and international visitors to Galway City. All of which has had a hugely positive economic benefit to Galway City.

Vivacious, articulate, hard working but above all committed to developing and supporting tourism and business in the cultural capital of Ireland Mary Bennett has been a trail blazer for women in business in Galway and across Ireland. 

Serving as Galway and National President of Skål International, Mary Bennett’s infectious drive, energy and vision led her to the core of the organisation and to her election as the first Female World President of Skål International, in October 2002 at Skål International World Congress Australia. Such an accolade brought much distinction to Galway City and County and to the Irish Tourism Industry and ultimately led to a commendation from Galway City Council which also honoured Mary for her extraordinary commitment and support for the growth of tourism in Galway City and County. 

Originally from Co Clare, Mary’s career started out at the Great Southern Hotel in Eyre Square Galway. Her passion for the hotel and tourism industry led to a hunger and drive for the development of the sector in Galway and Salthill from her earliest career. This led Mary Bennett to being elected the first female President of Galway Chamber of Commerce and later the President of Chambers Ireland. She’s served on the Board of Aer Lingus, Bord Fáilte, the former Ireland West Tourism, Galway City and County Enterprise Board now the Galway LEO and has also held Directors roles with the ISPCC, National Breast Cancer Institute, the Irish Goods Council and Eunalede. Her heart has always been close to Galway and it’s development and along with Galway Chamber, Mary Bennett spent 21 years as Secretary of Salthill Tourism Development Association and has been at the heart of the Galway City Business Association since its foundation. Also renowned for her charity fundraising Mary Bennett has been central to the organising of the annual Galway City Council’s Mayor’s Ball and many other events throughout her illustrious business career.

Skål International Galway honoured Mary on the 30th of March for her tireless support and commitment to the valued tourism and travel organisation and its contribution to the sector in Galway, the West and of course nationally across Ireland and across the world where it has +12,000 members.

Along with her business and tourism achievements, Mary and her late husband Eddie, have 3 children and 7 grandchildren and of course a wealth of friends.