Full construction services, hospitality and safety comprise differing skills and talents, yet award winning Laura and William Donnellan have steered IRL Group to success in all three sectors. Here, we learn how their inspiring work ethic enables their organisation to thrive. 

Laura and William Donnellan are no strangers to business, both managing multiple successful companies in Ireland and Vancouver over the years, but combining their skill sets and passions to form IRL Group has propelled their ventures forward thanks to their dedication to offering a unique and personal service. The couple initially planned to enjoy a six-month working visa in Vancouver back in 2009, unaware it would lead to over a decade of blossoming businesses and the shaping of a loyal, innovative brand. IRL stands for integrity, reliability and loyalty – values that beat at the heart of everything this entrepreneurial couple offer.   

IRL Construction was founded by William when he spotted a gap in the Canadian market for skilled construction workers. Originally from Galway, Ireland, and with both carpentry and business skills behind him, his intention was to focus on the construction sector. However, his pull towards creating welcoming, homely, traditional Irish bars followed him, and he soon merged his two passions – construction and hospitality – forming the IRL Group. The customers of the Donnellan’s bars will undoubtedly agree that their rare devotion and talent within their industries are spectacularly refreshing.

Bringing a Taste of Irish Culture to Vancouver  

Fast forward to 2022, and the Donellans now have five Irish pubs across Vancouver, welcoming Irish travellers and Canadian locals alike. The Irish community invite everyone to join them for a dance, drink and singalong, and these values make the hospitality side of the Donnellan’s businesses so special. Their doors are open to all, and you will always be greeted with a smile. From the rustic décor of Donnellan’s Irish Bar in downtown Vancouver to the busy and cosy Shamrock bar in the West End, it is clear IRL Hospitality’s values attract a loyal clientele from near and far. At Smith’s of Gastown, customers can enjoy cocktails, whiskey or Guinness in a tucked-away lounge bar, and two new bars, the Hynes Bar and The Raven, are due to open shortly. All pubs offer a welcoming atmosphere with a wealth of Irish keepsakes and, of course, fantastic traditional Irish refreshments. Fun is at the top of the agenda, along with friendly service and unrivalled hospitality. 

William’s passion for Irish culture injects a distinct warmth into the Donnellan’s bars, bringing an Irish experience to Vancouver. IRL Group takes pride in the Irish heart of their businesses which shines through as their projects expand. You will always find delicious food, a lovely pint of Guinness and a great craic with IRL hospitality. These pubs are not simply establishments built at attractive locations – they provide identity and give their customers an authentic taste of Ireland. 

Behind every successful entrepreneur, there must always be a strong team. Laura’s role as HR Business Partner must not be overlooked, for together William and Laura have led their company to multiple awards, including ‘Best Immigrant Employers, and the ICBA’s 2021 Health and Safety Award. Today they now have more than 150 employees on their roster, full time, and as their construction division has expanded, Laura has been able to extend her artistic reach by managing the creative strategy and interior design behind their pubs.

Family-Like Culture and a Strong Community Presence

IRL Construction plays an integral part in renovating the bars, with William describing his team as being ‘part of one large family.’ This personal touch to an ever-expanding business adds their unique qualities as the Donnellans encourage their team to follow their passion and progress within their roles. This family-like culture plays a significant part in the success of the organisation, which is reflected in the countless staff and charity events held each year. Recent achievements include working with VQI (Vancouver Queer Irish) at the 2022 parade and proudly sponsoring more than 20 sports club within Vancouver.

Construction with a Difference  

The ILG construction team undertake commercial and residential builds of all sizes across BC, with highly skilled people who are passionate about their work. They are continually integrating new and innovative techniques and advancements in technologies to deliver a bespoke service like no other, whether it be project management of complex construction projects or smaller renovations. Their tailored approach to construction work has earned them a loyal customer and an outstanding reputation in Vancouver.

The varied skill set of the IRL construction team provides a broad range of construction services, all of which can be tailored to the size and requirements of the project. This includes:

  • Concrete formwork – Dealing with versatile materials and cleaning, slip-forming, prepping and securing forms safely.
  • Framing – Professional installation of roofs, walls, windows, balconies, decks, and doors for industrial, commercial and residential projects.
  • Rebar (reinforced bar) – For projects of all sizes.
  • Project management – Expert management from the planning and design stage to the finished project.
  • Skilled labour hire – Skilled tradespeople to deliver safe, swift and budget-friendly construction work.
  • Safety training – A comprehensive range of professional safety training managed by qualified CSO instructors, offering certification and qualifications in line with regional regulations.
  • Building and contracting – All aspects of a building project across all sectors.

Giving Back to the Community 

The IRL team are passionate about helping their community and showing a united and committed presence. Recent collaborations with North America Construction and Corix (NAC) saw IRL Group help provide communities in Victoria and the Yukon with clean water by construction wastewater plants. These are some of several large projects they have joined to help improve the lives and health of Canadian people. IRL Group has significantly impacted charities across Vancouver by donating and volunteering in the last ten years. Philanthropy is important to the Donnellans, with food banks, charities and sports teams regularly benefiting from their generous campaigns. 

As well as continual community engagement and charity events, you can expect to find sports events and networking meetings at the bars each month. William and Laura have their finger on the pulse of their local communities, and are constantly striving for new ways to give back. As a family run corporation Donnellan is keen to expound the value of loyalty. “As a quality we strongly admire and value, loyalty is key and it is the driving force that makes us go above and beyond for our network.”

The Donnellans have certainly found their niche in Vancouver, and with their established doctrine of shaping businesses around integrity, reliability and loyalty, going that extra mile for customers and the community alike has reaped dividends for both the Donnellans, IRLG and Vancouver as a whole.  

Comprehensive details on the background and history behind Laura and William’s entrepreneurial journey, their services in construction, hospitality, and safety together with up to date news on their community activities and ventures can be found on the organisation website –  https://www.irlgroup.ca/