Sara O’Donovan

Marketing Manager with West Cork Music and General Manager of West Cork Literary Festival

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? A showjumper.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today: Back in England, my first job was with Weatherby’s, the company which administers horse racing, and I then moved on to become racing secretary for the Queen’s trainer.

After moving to Ireland, I worked in bloodstock insurance and as a freelance journalist before joining West Cork Music as its marketing officer. Over the years, West Cork Music has grown considerably with three international festivals and my role has grown accordingly. As well as being responsible for marketing all three festivals and our concert series, I have managed the West Cork Literary Festival for a number of years.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? I love writing and so I would have to say that the best part of my job is writing press releases, e-shots, even funding applications. I also write fiction and so it’s wonderful to be part of the West Cork Literary Festival and be one of those instrumental in making such a popular festival happen each year.

What motivates you? I’m a typical Capricorn and like to get things done, whether at work or at home. My job is a busy one and there is a sense of satisfaction in being able to juggle so much. I also have the animals to feed, horses to muck out and children to get to school each morning before the working day begins, so being driven and motivated is a must.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self? You’re already good enough and you’ll hit your stride when you’re older.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing? I’d love to be able to write fiction full time.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date? As it is so difficult to get published, I might pick the fact that my debut novel ‘Within You, Without You’ is being published by Valley Press later this year.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life? My nan and my husband.

What is the life dream now? To forge a career as a novelist. With one under my belt, I’m now beginning to research the next one.

How do you switch off? I love going to the Yorkshire Dales for a couple of days walking and reading and then down to Liverpool for a wander along the Mersey and a trip to The Cavern.

What is your favourite Cork memory? Seeing Eddie Vedder at the Marquee in 2017.

What is your favourite place in Cork? Although I now live in West Cork, my favourite part of the county is the countryside around Fermoy and Mitchelstown. I worked at Rathbarry Stud near Conna when I first moved over and loved that area.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto? “You’re never too old to be what you could have been.”

When are you at your happiest? Writing and riding.

What is your hidden talent? I’ve ridden since I was about two years old.

What might we be surprised to know about you? My dad was a National Hunt jockey who rode in the first televised Grand National.

Anything else you’d like to share with us? After a break of 2 years, West Cork Music’s festivals are back live and in-person this summer. Tickets are on sale for the West Cork Chamber Music Festival at


Name: Sara O’Donovan

Lives: Rosscarbery

Family: Husband Damien, daughter Annie and son Tom

Pets: 2 horses, 2 ponies, a donkey, 3 dogs, 3 cats and 4 hens

Favourite thing about Cork: The sense of community. And it almost goes without saying that the countryside is beautiful.

Least favourite thing about Cork: As a rider, I’d have to say the lack of bridleways and footpaths in the Cork countryside.

One thing you’d change about Cork: I can’t think of anything.