Software engineer Fergal Donlon doesn’t miss the big city, and he’s lived in a few bustling capitals: Sydney and Dublin can all be ticked off his bucket list and they came close to choosing London.
But Fergal and his wife Claire, a national school teacher, wanted something more; to live somewhere where the pace of life was more relaxed, a little more affordable and a suitable location where the myriad needs of career and family life could be met.
Originally from Glenamaddy, Co Galway, Fergal was living back in Ireland nine years ago – in Williamstown, Co Galway – when he published a post on a popular online forum, called Boards.ie, asking: “Where in Ireland should we live?” The suggestions that came back all appealed; Ennis in Co Clare, Westport in Co Mayo and Carrick on Shannon in Co Leitrim – a trio of desirable West of Ireland locations dotted along the Wild Atlantic Way.
After a visit, they chose the Co Leitrim town, located just 40 minutes from the Atlantic beaches in Sligo, and just over two and a half hours to Dublin by road – or direct rail. The couple are now a family of four with a seven-year-old and a five-year-old who are now enjoying a childhood in one of the most scenic counties in Ireland.
“We just didn’t want to live in a big city anymore,” says Fergal. “We live in a village called Hartley near Carrick which has everything we need. It also takes us just five minutes to get to work and do the school pickup. There’s no traffic and no hassle.”
Fergal has also forged a career path working for Travelport Digital, a NASDAQ-listed UK company that make apps for airlines such as easyJet, Etihad Airlines and Singapore Airlines. “All apps have servers to power them and they run through Amazon Web Services (AWS). My team’s job is to ensure they stay up and running!”
The 41-year-old now leads an international team of software engineers from his desk inside The Hive, a cutting-edge, architect-designed work-centre that sits on the edge of town near Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada, the home of Leitrim GAA.
The purpose-built building, opened in 2013, is home to more than 90 people working across tech, manufacturing and e-commerce with fibre broadband and comfortable office spaces for individuals and teams.
With the price of an average three-bed house sitting at around €90,000* and a wealth of local amenities shops and cultural attractions, more and more people are making lifestyle-centred choices to locate to places such as Carrick-on-Shannon.
Fergal still divides sometime between east and west – getting a direct 6.30am train to Dublin two days a week to liaise with his employer at their office in the capital.
He spends the rest of the week at The Hive. “I’m an Operations Manager and I lead a team of seven people – I am in in Carrick, two of the team are in Dublin, two are in Belgrade in Serbia and two are in Chișinău in Moldova. We do a ‘stand-up’ meeting every morning and get on with our day.”
The speed and quality of the fibre broadband at The Hive is critical as Fergal dons a pair of headphones and chats through a list of daily tasks with his team on a Google Hangout or a Skype call.
A typical day in Carrick-on-Shannon could involve writing code and ensuring the uptime of the company’s services – crucially important work, as Fergal explains.
“We had a situation recently where the check-in functionality of an app for a South American airline caused a problem for all check ins at all airports serviced by that airline. I was able to fix the issue from The Hive. Imagine being in South America and not being able to check in on your app. Who would think some guy thousands of miles away in Leitrim in the West of Ireland was able to fix the problem?”