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by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua

I love my job

This morning on Twitter someone tweeted a statement that happily has applied to me ever since Gerry Duffy gave me my first job as a 14 year old in Deveney’s Off Licence in Terenure in 1974:

Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

I worked part-time with the Duffy family for 6 years through school and college and loved every minute of it. I learned a huge amount about wine but, more importantly, I discovered the joys of service and sales – listening to customers and tailoring transactions to their specific needs.

Throughout my years as a teacher at Belvedere College SJ and at UCD, I loved imparting knowledge: taking a poem or a piece of writing and trying to convey its intrinsic elegance and beauty, honing all the while my own communication skills. Working as an Italian speaking tour guide was similar except I was trying to communicate something of the essence of my nation to adults from a different culture, keen and open to discover the uniqueness of Ireland.

When I eventually moved into Business Tourism in 1994 with Patrick Delaney the disparate elements of my background came magically together. I found myself in an industry where service was the secret, where reasonable verbal and written communication skills were essential, where the product that I was selling was country of my birth. It was the perfect job for me and, over the past 20 year + I can honestly say I never experienced the Sunday night dread of facing into a week of mind-numbing drudgery.

I was reminded this week how much I love my job by 3 inspiring encounters with others who, clearly, love their jobs too.

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Mr Jeffares Blackcurrant Cordial

On Monday Patrick and I visited the beautiful farm and homestead of Des and Margaret Jeffares deep in Ireland’s sunny South West. And it was indeed sunny there! We were invited, along with many others, to experience the uniqueness of the blackcurrant harvest – the Jeffares family has been Ireland’s largest cultivators of the fruit for over 60 years – and to participate at the formal launch of Mr Jeffares Blackcurrant Cordial.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 08.30.16It was a wonderful event on so many levels. From an educational perspective two city boys learned how difficult, labour intensive and precarious crop farming is with small weather or temperature variations having a huge impact on crop yield.  We learned, too, how attuned to mother nature you become as a farmer and how connected to the rhythm of the passing seasons you have to be.

It was also a wonderful event for the quality of the event management (kudos to Margaret and her team) where attention to detail was forensic and  creativity was in great abundance. I particularly loved the backdrop at the bar counter – humble pallets configured vertically as display units intertwined with greenery.

The event was particularly wonderful, however, for the Jeffares inspirational story of 4 generations steadfastly pursuing a vision and keeping the faith, even when knocked down by “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. When their contract to supply a multi-national cordial producer went to Eastern Europe they decided to do it themselves – enter Mr Jeffares Blackcurrant Cordial.

Green Man Wines

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 09.26.25Green Man Wines with Mayfield Cafe | Deli and The Corner Bakery constitutes a blessed trinity of great food and drink emporia at the town end of Terenure village. It’s only been open a few months but already there’s a proper buzz about the place. It’s owned by David Gallagher and Claire O’Boyle Gallagher who both have oenological pedigrees longer than the coastline of Chile but there’s nothing pretentious or intimidating about Green Man Wines.

Like the Jeffares, the Gallaghers are personally invested in their work and therefore do it with a passion and a pleasure that’s contagious and draws you in as a customer. When I needed a case of wine for a party recently I found myself passing on the option of adding to my Loyalty Points at a local (- and excellent, it must be said -) chain store to get advice from David.

The Gallaghers have worked previously at some of Dublin’s excellent wine and food retailers but at Green Man Wines they’re creating their own culture, a dream they’ve had for many years. They’ve taken the trouble to define this culture, tangibly, and describe it eloquently on their website:

We want to create a space where people can meet friends in an informal setting to taste and share great quality, honest and authentic food and wine and have the opportunity to experience the diversity of regional gastronomic cultures through dedicated events and classes.

Two words sum up the values that underpin everything we do: integrity and respect. We believe in giving our customers access to diverse, authentic wines and food and in doing so we all support artisan producers who work in a sustainable way.

SITE Summer Soireé at Luttrellstown Castle

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 09.16.53My final encounter with inspiration this week came as a result of my participation at the Annual Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Summer Soireé held amidst the awesome, refined and rarefied environs of Luttrellstown Castle. About 80 tourism and hospitality professionals, specialists in the design and delivery of incentive travel experiences, met and mingled in rural Castleknock (only 15 mins from downtown Dublin) under a very rare blue sky in late July.

We all experienced the seminal characteristics and features of a live event: when people come together, magic happens. I’d add to this when SITE people come together mayhem happens as we merrily took over the entire facility, snapping selfies throughout the 12 sumptuous bedrooms and endlessly elegant public rooms of the beautiful castle.

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Our hosts at Luttrellstown poured Prosecco with the same gay abandon as we participated in the Selfie contest or tried our hands at Graffiti, brought on-site by the uber-creative Richard Phelan and team from Dynamic Events. Anthony and Jessica, our Luttrellstown hosts, then served a delicious  barbecue with spectacular desserts while the amazing Retrospect, an 80s covers band like you’ve never seen or heard before (it’s a string quartet with a drum and bass backing track!), entertained with aplomb. We all left Luttrellstown convinced that we’d be back for our own wedding or our children’s wedding or our next corporate meeting request, seeking seclusion and high end service close to the airport and the city centre.

Pádraic Gilligan and Patrick Delaney are Managing Partner at SoolNua, a boutique consultancy working with destinations, hotels and venues on their strategy for MICE. They’re ably supported and kept on track by their amazing colleagues Aoife McCrum (Manager, Social Media & Digital Marketing) and Sarah Kavanagh (Manager, Sales & Marketing)

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