Five mins with...Nicki McIlroy

Nicki McIlroy, Retail Sales Assistant at the Giant's Causeway

We caught up with Nicki, who is a Retail Sales Assistant in the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre to find out a bit more about her and her work at the site.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your role and how you got here?

I’ve worked for the National Trust for over two years now and I’ve loved every minute – from working with lovely people, meeting interesting visitors from all over the world and contributing to a wonderful cause. My background is actually in fashion so the opportunity to work as a retail assistant for the Giant’s Causeway gift shop was perfect for me. 80% of the craft for sale in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre is made in Northern Ireland so it’s great to promote all the beautiful local craft and support local businesses.

Q: What does a typical day entail for you?

Once we have the tills up and running we would organize the merchandise and get our stock filled out for the day ahead. It’s not long then before our first visitors start to arrive and, as you can imagine, it can be very busy but I love it. Our visitors come from far and wide so I always make time to speak to them, learning about their wonderful experiences at the Causeway and showing them the variety of local crafts we have in store, each of which have their own unique story.

Q: Do you have a favourite craft from the gift shop?

I love the Cula Ceramic dishes. These exquisite and unique contemporary ceramic forms are produced by a lady called Ellen Cunningham who is located on the edge of the beautiful Strangford Lough. There are so many wonderful crafts in store - we’re actually holding a ‘Meet the Crafters Day’ on October 6th which provides the opportunity for our local artisan crafters to meet with shoppers and demonstrate their skills and demonstrate the care and attention that goes into the process of creating such beautiful handcrafts. As staff, this also gives us a better understanding of the crafts we’re selling and the people behind the products as well as reminding us how the National Trust is supporting the local community and economy.

Q: What’s your favourite National Trust place?

Crom and Florence Court in Enniskillen. I also like Castle Ward, I try to visit them all so it’s hard to pick just one.

Q: What does the National Trust mean to you?

Family, days out, experiences, charity, children, community and friendly atmosphere – when you go to a National Trust property there is so much on offer for everyone.

Q: What do you love about your role?

I love talking to the visitors, that is my favourite part of it all. Our visitors come from different cultures and countries from all over the world. Getting to know them and their stories and experiences is so special. I’ve travelled a bit myself so I love being able to share my stories with them.

Q: If you could have any other job what would it be?

A photographer, especially when you work in such a beautiful location. From technically perfect landscapes to quick snaps and selfies, photography is often a huge part of a visit to a National Trust place. Last year I attended the National Trust Panasonic Roadshow at the Giant’s Causeway where we got to meet photography experts from Panasonic to discuss tips and technology. It was great!

Q: Can you tell us one reason why we should visit a National Trust property?

Because you’re giving something back to our special places and allowing future generations to enjoy them. The money raised here at the Giant’s Causeway is not only invested back into this special site but also helps to maintain the National Trust’s other places and spaces across Northern Ireland so that we can keep them special forever, for everyone.