In a village north of Kildare, there is a television production company.
Based in Allenwood, Dundara Television & Media is quietly going about its business and building an impressive portfolio of creative endeavors.
Founded in 2008, the company has traveled many paths in the difficult world of television and the creative industry.
“We have worked very hard to bring Dundara to where we are currently positioned,” says founder and owner Enda Grace.
“We had to. It’s a tough industry and there has been so much change over the past ten years. People are consuming television and content in a very different way now. A very instant way.
Ten years ago, Enda realized that massive growth was about to happen in the world of online media and he made a commitment.
“I had a video camera in my hands since I was about nine years old and I was obsessed. I celebrated my first marriage at the age of fourteen and worked in this industry for ten years. I was obsessed with getting it right. I was obsessed with learning and giving something different. I have no formal media training. In fact, I studied theater and theater after leaving school.
Growing up in Allenwood, Enda’s father Paddy, originally from Carbury, worked at Allenwood ESB for over 40 years until it closed. His mother, Mary was born and raised in Allenwood. In fact, the couple are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in February.
Enda attended Allenwood National School and Scoil Mhuire High School in Clane.
“I was strongly inspired by one of the teachers, Pat Breslin, who is a longtime member of the Moat Club and who encouraged my participation in theater and the media,” he said.
This world opened up to the Allenwood man after completing his course as he spent the next few years acting professionally.
“I immediately turned to a play immediately after graduating from drama school which toured Ireland for four months, including a tour of Abbey’s Peacock Theater.
“My very first appearance on screen was as a criminal on Crime line. All of my friends and family came together to watch me play an absolute gouger, ”he laughs.
Relays on Fair town, Ballykissangel and Reign of fire followed during his nine years in the business and this on-camera experience gave him unique insight and preparation for his future career as a producer and director.
In 2008, everything changed. Disabling back pain left the Kildare native in need of major spine surgery.
“I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was a child and wore a back brace from seven to 17 years old,” he explains.
“I was then told that it should never get worse because I had stopped growing. Ten years later my consultant told me that the curve had increased significantly and that I had two choices, do nothing and with the progression continuing, potentially have a lifespan of around 10 years or have surgery. and since I was older there was a risk of not walking. It was very sobering. ”
Spending over 12 months recovering gave her plenty of time to think about it and look to the future.
“I was working for the current County Councilor Daragh Fitzpatrick at the time and he was very nice to me, but I knew it was time to go ahead and get into the media world, so I bit the bullet and set up Dundara. ”he says.
A number of years have followed the building of a client base in the relatively new world of online web video. Setanta Sports saw some of this work and came calling. Dundara made a number of
Dundara Television & Media advertisements for them.
“This obsession with perfection was beginning to bear fruit. I’ve always told our teams if you don’t strive to be the best at what you want, why bother! ”
In 2014, a call came that drastically changed the course of Dundara.
Well-known singer and presenter Malachy Cush called in to offer an opportunity.
A new television channel called Irish TV was about to be launched on the SKY platform and the powers wanted by Enda and her team to provide programming including a new weekly lifestyle series on County Kildare titled County questions.
The experiment ultimately turned out to be a double-edged sword, but Dundara’s owner admits it was quite a stepping stone.
“I’m a proud man of Kildare so this series was of great interest. Dundara grew from myself to a full-time team of 12. We quickly produced a huge amount of programming in all genres.
In addition to County questions, Dundara was producing a popular weekly agricultural series Based, a commercial series Play by ear, Jimmy’s heroes with the late Jimmy Magee and a series on the Irish short film industry Beyond the goal.
The highlight however was still the live programming.
“I suddenly found myself producing live television. The director beside me was the famous news director Theo O’Grady who spent over 40 years writing RTE ”.
Dundara produced Kildare Live from the Glenroyal hotel.
“It was the very first two-hour live entertainment show ever to air from the county and it’s still my pride. The biggest production we did was a twenty-one hour live broadcast of the 2016 National Plowing Championships. It was massive and I will always be grateful to the team that put in so much work ”.
Dundara quickly rose through the ranks of Irish television, with Enda becoming a series consultant for all of Ireland.
In November 2016, the company was hit by a near fatal blow.
Irish television was in liquidation.
“It was devastating” according to Grace.
“I’ve never known stress like this. It was such a blow. I had teams to pay and we had put so many eggs in the Irish TV basket. To make matters worse, my wife Fiona and I had twins for a year and all of a sudden, right before Christmas, everything was ripped off from us. We were owed a substantial sum of money and the dawn we would never get was almost too much to take.
“Fortunately, the crew were very understanding, but almost everyone must have been told that there was no more work. The liquidation and the process that followed were very painful.
“We had two options,” Grace said, “lie down and heal our wounds or fight fiercely to move forward. We healed those wounds this Christmas, but with the support of family and friends, it was time to exploit. contacts and experience gained through Irish television and moving forward ”.
The crew were now back to three – Enda, his wife Fiona who takes care of the accounts and creative director and presenter Alan Brereton, from Coill Dubh.
“It was really a homecoming,” according to Grace.
“It was a bit like starting over but this time being more selective on projects and rigorous financially. We made the decision to reinstate the team as a freelance on the basis of a project.
Since this regeneration of Dundara, the determination of its founder has happily paid off.
Grace admits that they took risks creatively and firmly crossed their fingers.
“In this business, you have to take risks but the rewards are great if they pay off,” he explains, “but calculated risks.
He said the company now has a very solid customer base for online content creation alongside the development of television and radio projects.
Currently, Dundara has Are we already there – a ten-part travel series produced by Enda with Charlie Lawson (Jim McDonald) of Coronation Street, Danny Coll (Emmerdale), Rachel Allen, Dana and Sir James Galway airing on PBS in the United States.
They also recently produced Treyvaud’s cuisine with Irish chef Paul Treyvaud for Flame Television in Australia.
The company also facilitates media training and its current clients include representatives from the public and two of the leading financial and consulting firms in Dublin.
It has also been selected to partner with Google in the field of virtual reality and is the official media partner of Kildare GAA.
In early 2018, Dundara Television & Media was commissioned by its client Tipperary Crystal to develop and produce a Christmas TV commercial.
This was his second such collaboration after last year’s success Katie’s plan.
“This year Heart Gifts turned into a lovely warm TV commercial showing the importance of family, especially at Christmas, and broadcast on RTE and Virgin Media. We also create a lot of content for the business for Ireland AM, Xpose and The late show. ”
The commercial was shot over two days and nights in April in Athy and Clane in County Kildare.
“We are now a tight-knit team here in Dundara and everyone is on the same page creatively,” says Grace who also edited Heart Gifts.
“It was a huge logistical process because we needed Christmas in April. Two very large snow machines were brought in and with the great support of Patricia Berry and the locals we turned Athy into a Christmas wonderland.
Alan Brereton produced and performed the soundtrack for the commercial.
2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the Kildare company.
They are in talks for a major educational partnership with Enda having lectured on various media courses over the past two years.
For television, Dundara offers two feature-length documentaries and a docu-fiction in various stages of development.
“One in particular is extremely exciting. It is truly unique and one of those that rarely shows up. ”
A number of TV commercials are also planned for development and production as well as creating online content for their existing and new customers. Exciting times to come indeed.