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Loughlinstown Training Centre Learners meet President Michael D Higgins

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The learners from the Local and National Tour Guiding course, being run at the Loughlinstown Training Centre, got a pleasant surprise on Thursday when they got to meet President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Anne Hennessy (Loughlinstown Training Centre), Brendan Gavin (Swilly Group), David Kenny (Swilly Group) and Cornelius (Extreme Ireland) with the Local and National Tour Guiding course learners meet President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin

As part of this new and exciting course, a visit to the popular tourist attraction, Áras an Uachtaráin, was arranged by the course delivery partner Swilly Group.  However, to everyone’s surprise, President Higgins was at home and came out to meet and talk with the learners.

Anne Hennessy from Loughlinstown Training Centre said “It was real treat for our learners to meet President Higgins”.  “We really appreciate, and would like to thank, the President for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with our learners”.

The Local and National Tour Guiding Course is being run by Loughlinstown Training Centre, part of the Dublin Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (ETB).  This innovate course is being delivered in partnership with the training company Swilly Group.

Loughlinstown Training Centre is currently recruiting for the next Local and National Tour Guiding course scheduled to start in South Dublin in April 2019.  Places are limited to 20 learners per course and anyone interested is advised to register their interest early to avoid disappointment.  Click here to register your interest in the Local and National Tour Guiding Course.

Learners can receive further information on any of the courses at Loughlinstown Training Centre by contacting the course recruitment department by phone on (0)1-204 3600 or by email on llrecruit@ddletb.ie.

Specific Skills Training is co-funded by the Irish government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.  🇮🇪️ 🇪🇺️

Towing a Light Trailer – Are you legal?

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When towing a trailer of any description with a car or light van, it is important for the driver to ensure that he/she is legally compliant.  There are a number of checks that need to be carried out prior to going on the road.  We’ve outlined these checks in the following blog.  Always remember, the speed limit for a car or van towing a trailer of any size is 80km/hr.

Trailer Categories
Light trailers that can be towed by cars or light vans are categorised in two groups.  O1 trailers are those with a maximum allowable mass (MAM), also known as the design gross vehicle weight (DGVW),  of no greater than 750Kg.  O2 trailers have a MAM above 750kg and not greater than 3,500kg.

O1 Trailer Example with a MAM of 750kg and an Unladen weight of 210Kg

O2 Trailer Example with a MAM of 3,500kg and an Unladen weight of 1,295Kg

Licence Categories
Firstly, drivers should ensure they have the correct licence (category) to tow a trailer with a car/light van.  Drivers with a car/light van B driving licence only are permitted to tow an O1 trailer with a maximum allowable mass (MAM) of not greater than 750kg.  B driving licence holders are also permitted to tow small O2 trailers.  If the MAM of the trailer is more than 750kg (O2 trailers), a B driving licence holder is permitted to tow this trailer if the combined maximum mass of the towing vehicle and the trailer is not greater than 3,500kg. Furthermore, the unladen (empty) weight of the towing vehicle must be equal to or greater than the MAM of the O2 trailer.

A driver with a category BE driving licence is permitted to tow a trailer up to a maximum mass of 3,500kg (O1 or O2 trailers).  The weight of the trailer that can be towed is restricted by the manufacturer of the towing vehicle but cannot exceed 3,500kg for drivers and vehicles in the EB licence category.

Weight Plates
Drivers must ensure they don’t overload the trailer. The MAM of a trailer can be found on a small aluminium plate usually located on the hitch or front panel of the trailer.  The MAM printed on this plate is the maximum allowable weight that the trailer is designed to support (including the weight of the trailer).  To work out what (pay) load you can carry on the trailer you must subtract the empty weight (Unladen) of the trailer from the MAM.

Trailer Plate Example (MAM 3,500kg)

Drivers must also ensure they are compliant with the towing capacity of the vehicle, referred to as the Gross Train Weight (GTW).  The GTW is printed on the vehicle weight plate, commonly located inside the front passenger or driver’s door of most cars and vans.  The Gross Train Weight (GTW) is the manufacturer’s maximum weight specification that the combined weight of a loaded vehicle towing a Loaded Trailer must not exceed.  This is also known as Gross Combination Weight (GCW).  More detailed towing and safety information can be found in the Drivers Manual located in the vehicle glove compartment.

Vehicle Plate Example (GTW 3,280Kg)

Van drivers should be aware that vans generally don’t have a high Gross Train Weight.  The reason being that the GTW is directly related to the empty (unladen) weight of the towing vehicle. To maximise their carrying capacity, vans generally have a Light unladen vehicle weight which means a low towing capacity. Vans are designed primarily for carrying and not for towing.

Braking and Lights
Braking systems are required to be fitted to O1 Trailers with MAM greater than half the MAM of the towing vehicle.  All O2 Trailers require a braking system.  It is important for a trailer braking system to include a Service Brake, a Parking Brake and a device capable of automatically stopping trailer if it becomes detached while in motion (i.e. breakaway cable or secondary coupling). More stringent requirements are required for certain trailers. Please consult your manufacturer or refer to the RSA website for more details.

As a minimum all trailers should display the following lights as part of their lighting system:

  • 2 red rear reflectors
  • Left & right directional indicators
  • 2 Red rear tail lights
  • 2 Red rear stop lamps
  • Number plate & number plate lighting

RSA Resources
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) provide some excellent learning resources for drivers wishing to find out more about towing trailers with a car or a light van.  Click on the following link to go to this RSA website of trailers.  http://www.rsa.ie/en/RSA/Your-Vehicle/About-your-Vehicle/Example-of-non-Dup/Trailers-/Advice-and-Checks-for-Trailers-/.

The RSA has also provided a series of 6 short you tube videos covering all aspects of towing a trailer. Click on the following link to go to these you tube videos. https://youtu.be/HhHyUMSn31s.  There is some important information on the coupling and uncoupling as well as safe loading and unloading of trailers that all drivers should be aware of.

Swilly Group provide pre-test and advanced driving tuition for drivers of vehicles towing trailers.  If you have any further questions or queries don’t hesitate to call into to the Swilly Group office on Business Park Road in Letterkenny, give us a call on 074-9151212 or email us on info@swillygroup.com.

Driving Safely on Roundabouts

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A learner driver once asked his driving instructor to explain the roundabout lane rules to him.  His instructor said “It’s very simple.  “Think of the roundabout as a clock”.  “If you’re exiting before 12 o’clock, take up a position in the left lane”. “After 12 o’clock, take up a position in the right lane”.  The learner appeared confused and though to himself for a few seconds before saying “So in the morning, I take the left lane and in the afternoon, I take the right lane??”.

Motorist sometimes interpret the rules of the road in very different ways.  However, to drive safely on the road as motorists we need to firstly interpret the rules correctly and secondly be conscious of the fact that other motorist may have a different understanding of the rules.  Roundabouts are a traffic control that generates much discussion and debate among Irish Motorists.

In page 133 of the Rules of the Road, the ‘golden rule’ is outlined to help motorists drive safely at any roundabout regardless of the number of exits.  The RSA state that motorist should think of the roundabout as a clock:

  • If taking any exit from the 6 o’clock to the 12 o’clock position, motorists should generally approach in the left-hand lane.
  • If taking any exit between the 12 o’clock to the 6 o’clock positions, motorists should generally approach in the right-hand lane.


If there are road markings showing you what lane you should be in, follow those directions. Traffic conditions might sometimes mean you have to take a different approach but, in the main, the ‘golden rule’ will help you to drive safely on almost any roundabout.

Motorists must be very observant and ensure they read the signs and observe the road markings on their approach to a roundabout (particularly if you are driving in an unfamiliar area). Local Authorities and the NRA have been using lane arrows and road signs to direct traffic into particular lanes and manage traffic at roundabouts.  For example, a very common change is to direct motorists travelling straight on (12 o’clock) to take up position in the right-hand lane.  This leaves the left lane exclusively for motorist turning left.  This allows traffic to flow more freely at roundabouts where the majority of motorists are leaving at the first two exits.

As motorists, we use our indicators to “indicate an intention” to make a manoeuvre to the left or right.  Therefore, it is important to use indicators approaching and when on roundabouts at the right time to inform other motorists of our intentions.  Remember an indicator does not give you the Right of Way.

Is summary drivers are advised to abide by the following guidelines on the use of your indicators (signals):

  • Making a left turn (First Exit), indicate ‘left’ as you approach and continue to indicate until you have taken the left exit.
  • Making a left turn (second exit), indicate ‘left’ once you’ve passed the first exit and continue to indicate until you have taken the second exit.
  • Going Straight ahead (12 o’clock), do not indicate ‘left’ until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take.
  • Making a Right Turn (exit after 12 o’clock), approach in the righthand lane (unless road markings say otherwise), indicate ‘right ‘on your approach to the roundabout and leave your right indicator on as you drive around the roundabout until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take. Then change to the ‘left’ turn indicator.

If you have any further questions or queries don’t hesitate to call into to the Swilly Group office on Business Park Road in Letterkenny, give us a call on 074-9151212 or email us on info@swillygroup.com.

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Top 5 Tips to CV Writing

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CV writing is an art in its own right. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to CV writing.  No Generic CVs please! Your CV should be viewed as the golden ticket to securing an interview for your ideal job!  The way to do it is implement these top tips and you’re well on your way….

1). Get the basics right: make sure to use a clear and concise structure/format. Some key information to include is contact details, personal profile, work history and/or work experience, education/qualifications, relevant skills to the job, interests and references.  It is crucial that the time line is accurate with start dates and end dates for employment and education.  Potential employers want to get a sense of your longevity in a role or with a particular organisation.  Spelling and grammar are vitally important. If you get this wrong early on; your CV is at risk of being moved into the NOT shortlisted pile!

2). Profile: The profile section of your CV will be read and may determine whether or not the employer reads any further. A well written and focused profile should highlight your relevant experience and skills in a snapshot. Keep it short and concise (use the job description to help you select the key skills to focus on before writing your profile piece).

3). Don’t Undersell Yourself: This is your opportunity to sell yourself, your skills and your experience. Think of your CV as a Sales Brochure.  Ask yourself what selling points are going to attract the employer’s attention and call me for an interview? The best way to do this is to carefully read the job description and the person specification supplied by the employer/recruiter. Make notes on the key elements and attributes outlined.  Match your current skill set and your experience to the job description and specification.

Your Skill set should be customised to every job you apply for. There are some key skills that all employers look for in an employee. Some examples are: communication skills, people skills, team skills, organisational skills and problem solving. It is not enough to list these skills; you must provide evidence that you have demonstrated these skills in a work or personal situation. For instance: “demonstrated excellent communication skills and team working skills when you organised a family fun run for you children’s school”.

4). Interests/Achievements: Firstly stay clear of the word “Hobbies”, this is very much a term you will see on a CV of a teenager. As an adult pursuing a career the words “interests and achievements” read better and come across very professional. This section provides you with the opportunity to add some personality to your CV.  However there is a fine line.  While it is good to show some personality you must balance the act of professionalism too.

It is very boring to see a list of interests reeled off such as “watching TV, reading, playing computer games, keeping fit and spending time with family and friends”. Use the Interests and Achievements section of your CV to demonstrate attributes your potential employer is looking for e.g. team player – manage/train an underage football team for the local soccer club demonstrates organisational skills. Volunteering twice a week to read to the elderly demonstrates empathy and kindness, skills required is a Healthcare or Childcare position. Use this opportunity to sell and push your key skills one last time before your CV comes to an end.

5). References: Many CVs will state “available on request”.  This is one sure way of your CV to end up in the NOT shortlisted pile once again.  Remember you are seeking an interview; make it as easy as possible for the prospective employer/recruiter to find out good information about you. Provide at least two references, ideally from your most recent employment.  Make sure that you have permission to supply use someone as a referee. You don’t want a prospective employer/recruiter to contact one of your referees to find out that individual no longer works there or worse again does not remember you.  Make sure to call the referee and get permission and inform them of the role you are applying for and what it entails. By doing this when your referee gets the call they will be fully versed and in a much stronger position to give positive feedback about your work ethic and capabilities.

If you require more support and advice on CV preparation, please don’t hesitate to contact the Swilly Group Recruitment Division. Telephone (074) 9151212 or email info@swillygroup.com to find out more how we can help you.

image for the rsa towing a trailer information leaflet

RSA releases videos on Towing of Trailers

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The Swilly Group welcomed the release of an information booklet and a series of You Tube videos by the RSA on the regulations around towing of light trailers. The information Booklet “Road Safety Advice and driver Licensing rules for drawing light trailers” can be downloaded for free from the RSA’s website.

rsabooklet

The towing on trailer information also consists of a series of 6 short videos all relating to the regulations and best practice safety procedures on towing of trailers. The six videos are as follows:

  1. Licensing and Entitlement
  2. Roadworthiness
  3. Coupling a Trailer
  4. Uncoupling a Trailer
  5. Loading and Unloading a Trailer
  6. Driving Test for Trailers

rsavideos

Stephen Sweeney, Director of Driving Services said “There is still a lot of confusion around licences, weights and general safety requirements around towing of light trailers”. “We are delighted to see the RSA develop this booklet and the short videos”.  “Over the last number of years, we have had increasing numbers of drivers from the construction and agricultural communities taking the driving test in licence category BE (Car/Van and Light Trailer)”.

The Swilly Group offers driver training for Jeep and Trailer Licence category BE. If you require more support and advice on the towing of light trailers, please don’t hesitate to contact the Swilly Group Driving Division.  Telephone (074) 9151212 or email info@swillygroup.com to find out more how we can help you.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Interviews

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Doing an interview for a new job is probably one of the most nerve wrecking things you will do in your life (up there with the Driving Test). Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of interviews.  Follow them to secure your ideal job.

…the Do’s

  • Research the company and the position you’re applying for.
  • Research typical interview questions and practice your answers.
  • Be sure to dress appropriately and be neatly groomed. Personal Presentation is critical.
  • Make sure you have fresh breath, particularly if you are a smoker.
  • Plan to arrive ahead of time. Ideally you should be present on the premises 10 minutes before your interview.
  • Always have the company contact details with you, just in case you get delayed.
  • Bring all relevant documentation. Present the documents neatly. Ensure you have a few copies of the CV you submitted to this company.
  • Greet everyone and be pleasant.
  • Throughout the interview maintain good eye contact.
  • Be enthusiastic about the job, the company and the industry sector in general.
  • Listen carefully to the questions being asked. If you don’t understand the question, ask for further clarification.
  • Make sure to highlight your key skills, achievements and talents. Know your CV inside and out.
  • Always, answer cliché questions such as “What is your biggest weakness?” honestly and with a follow up that shows you are actively working on your weaknesses.
  • Prepare one or two questions to ask about the job, company or the industry.
  • Close by indicating that you want the job. Ask what the next steps are in the process.
  • Thank the interview panel for their time. Give a good strong handshake.
  • When you leave the interview, you should record some details.

….the Don’ts

  • Learn off your answers by heart.
  • Dress casually or inappropriately. Always wear a suit or smartly.
  • Be late. You don’t want to get off to a bad start.
  • Arrive Stressed. Take 15 minutes before hand to relax with a coffee in a nearby café. Practice your breathing.
  • Bring someone else along with you to interview. Not even in the car. Your spouse, kids and pets are definitely a No No!
  • Address your interviewers by first name unless invited to do so.
  • Slouch, fidget or yawn during the interview.
  • Tell jokes or speak about controversial topics or politics.
  • Be cocky. There is a fine line between confidence and over confidence!
  • Speak negatively about yourself, your previous employer or a previous work colleague.
  • Tell Lies.
  • Be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question.
  • Offer one word answers “yes” and “no”.
  • Interrupt the interviewer when they are asking a question. Listen carefully and take your time when answering the question.
  • Discuss personal or family problems.
  • Bring your mobile phone into the interview room.
  • Act desperate.
  • Ask questions about salary, benefits, bonuses or holidays. The terms and conditions of the job are usually only discussed with the person who is offered the position.
  • Say you have no questions when asked at the end of the interview.
  • Call immediately after the interview for feedback.

If you require more support and advice on interview preparation and techniques, please don’t hesitate to contact the Swilly Group. Telephone (074) 9151212 or email info@swillygroup.com to find out more how we can help you.