Thomas Connolly opened the first Connolly family car dealership in 1939 – and 76 years later the Connolly family continue to keep the family’s passion for cars alive.
Originally from Galway, Thomas Connolly opened a Fiat dealership and forecourt in Ballina.
His son, Kevin Connolly, worked alongside his father until the 1960s when he went to America and set up an Amanco gas and service station in the Bronx in New York.
Returning to Ireland in the mid 1980s, Kevin set up in business on Francis street – three doors down from his father’s original garage. In 1987, he was appointed the main dealer for Volkswagen and Audi for Mayo.
Kevin had met and married Maura, originally from Leitrim, in New York and they had three sons while living there: Kevin Jnr, Neil and Greg. When they returned to Ireland, they had their only daughter, Kathryn.
Setting up a business in Ireland in the 1980s was not an easy task as the economy was in bad shape but Kevin Snr kept the company thriving by adapting the American model he had used when in New York. This included working hard seven days a week and it was this work ethic that brought the company through tough economic times.
In the 1990s, the business got an injection of new life through Kevin’s two sons, who joined Connollys with the same work ethic imbedded in their DNA. Kevin Jnr joined the Connollys’ team in 1991 and Neil came on board in 1996.
The boys had a deep schooling in all aspects of the business spending serious time in the workshop, bodyshop and parts divisions of the company before ending back in sales.
Sadly, in 1999, Kevin Snr passed away but his sons have continued to grow the family business and in 2007, Kevin and Neil were appointed the main dealer for Volkswagen and Audi in Sligo and opened the new state-of-the-art Audi Sligo ‘Terminal Building’ in 2011. A year later, Audi Galway opened its doors in Ballybrit.
Connolly Motor Group continues to grow and it now has 150 staff across its various sites. Neil and Kevin continue to innovate and improve and have major plans to continue growing and expanding over the coming years.
MEET THE TEAM
Our business is all about our people: from their deep knowledge and experience to their professionalism and the excellent customer service they provide to each person who walks through our doors.
All our technicians are fully trained to Volkswagen and Audi standards in all aspects of servicing and maintenance. We pride ourselves in the quality of our friendly and professional staff and their dedication to providing a superior level of customer service – every time.
We have a dedicated customer care team and we are committed to demonstrating our deep loyality to our customers.
We only hire experienced, highly-qualified mechanics, technicians and sales people and we continue to invest greatly in staff training and continuously improving all our offerings.
We’d like to meet some of our staff: the people we like to call ‘Connolly’s Heros’.
SHANE ROCHFORD - Group After Sales Manager
Shane, who is originally from Wexford, has worked for more than 20 years in the motor trade and is with Connollys since the company opened in Sligo in 2007. After starting out as an apprentice technician, he has worked his way up through the industry and now brings his expertise to his key role at Connollys as Group After Sales Manager. While he has many tasks from dealing with suppliers and insurance companies to securing new business, making sure the customer is happy is his number one priority.
“We continue to work on enhancing the customer experience. We don’t care if you bought the car somewhere else, let us care for it. We have fixed prices on our services so we have clarity. We want to make sure that a Connollys customer is a customer for life,” says Shane.
Shane cares about his customers and the quality of service they receive – and this is borne out by the fact that Connollys has been awarded after-sales dealer of the year for Volkswagen for 2013 and after sales dealer of the year for Audi for 2012, 2013 and 2014.
“Customer loyalty is a priority for us at Connollys and our customer loyalty program allows those signed up get their sixth service free. Also the myAudi scheme gives members exclusive benefits for Audi drivers.”
As well as being a car fanatic, Shane is a passionate Sligo Rovers fan and is also into sea fishing. When he’s not pitch side or getting involved in competition match fishing, he’s spending time with his wife Fiona and their three children: Conor (16), Ella (7) and Milly-Rose (3).
DRIVES: Volkswagen Passat
DREAM DRIVE: Volkswagen Golf R or Mark 1 Golf GTI
MARCUS JACKSON - Audi Brand Manager
Born in Co Wicklow, Marcus moved with his family back to his mother’s home town of Boyle in Co Roscommon in 1990 but now lives in Gurteen, Co Sligo. He has worked in the motor trade since 1999 and even owned his own dealership at one stage before meeting Kevin Connolly and coming to work at Connollys in 2007.
As Audi Brand Manager, Marcus knows everything there is to know about Audi vehicles – from the approved used cars he buys in every month to the top-of-the-range luxury brand new models.
“You have got to love cars to work here and I do. Most of the cars we sell are very individual to the people who buy them and we match the right car to the right person. Each person has different needs and wants and we make sure they get the right car for them,” says Marcus. “Because we work with the vehicles very day, we know the cars inside out. That means we can not only meet people’s expectations in what they want from their Audi but we can exceed them,” says Marcus.
As well as selling new Audi vehicles, Marcus also buys in around 10 used approved Audi cars a month. “We want to have a good range of used cars for sale so our customers get a choice but we also have to make sure they meet our very particular standards. We also make sure we have a nice range of makes, colours and years in stock.”
When Marcus is not buying or selling Audi vehicles, he is still interested in cars – rally cars in particular. He used to rally and still loves it but is more likely to be found go-karting with his son, Jake (5), or spending time with his wife Karen and daughter Natasha (2).
DRIVES: A6 Avant
DREAM DRIVE: RS6 Avant
MORGAN O’REILLY - Volkswagen Brand Manager
Morgan is Sligo born and bred and has worked in the motor trade for the past 14 years. He worked in respected dealerships in both Donegal and Sligo before moving to Connolly Motor Group in 2010.
As Volkswagen Brand Manager, he loves matching the right Volkswagen to the right customer. “There are a number of popular models that will always sell but each customer is individual and their needs have to be analysed to make sure they are driving away in the right car for them,” says Morgan.
“It’s all about customer relations, after-sales service and making sure they are happy with their choice. I love seeing the same customers coming back to buy their next car from us.”
His job, he says, involves a balancing act between making sure there are enough new cars in the dealerships to meet the increasing demand for buying new cars through PCP financing and having a good mix of used approved Volkswagens in stock.
“There are a lot of savy people coming into us who know all about PCP, have their research done and already have worked out their possible repayments online on our financial calculator. But there are also people who need us to walk through each step with them and we are more than happy to do that,” says Morgan.
When Morgan is not bestowing the virtues of his best-selling cars (the Golf and the Tiguan), he can be found spending quality time with his wife Barbara.
DRIVES: Volkswagen Passat
DREAM DRIVE: Porche 911 (which is part of the VW family)