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A Day in the Life: Donal Healy

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WORKING REMOTELY Donal Healy from Charlestown is the Head of Marketing and Route Development at Ireland West Airport.

WHEN things were ‘normal’ the alarm would go off on work mornings at 7.30am.
My wife Amanda and I would get the kids, Jack (9), Dylan (7) and Holly (6) ready for school, we’d have breakfast, and I would make the short journey from our home in Charlestown to work at Ireland West Airport.
But obviously that routine has changed quite a bit in the last six weeks!
I’m now working from home while Amanda works locally as an accountant and is in the office two days a week. I’ve never spent as much time at home with the kids, and I’ve learned that I wasn’t put on this earth for schooling children!
The good weather has made things more bearable for all of us, but I’m dreading the rain!
I joined the airport as a marketing executive in 2007.
Amanda and I had been working in Dublin since 2005, and there was a great Charlestown community up there in the area where we lived around Stepaside.
We bought an apartment and had no intention of coming home.
Then I saw a job advertised in the airport in Knock and applied for it. But I didn’t get it and thought that was that. Then I got a call out of the blue to say there was another job going there, and wondering if I would be interested. We’d just got the keys for the new apartment in Dublin and had signed up to a big mortgage. So we had a decision to make. We sat down, talked it over, and decided to come home to Charlestown to make a life for ourselves and raise a family.
Thankfully, we haven’t looked back.
I’d be the type of person who got up, went to work, came home, saw the kids, went coaching a team at Charlestown GAA club, and watched a match or whatever. Like most people.
The situation we’re all in now gives you a much greater appreciation of life, and you begin to realise and appreciate all the things that you take for granted.
In terms of the kids, I’m starting to see them developing, teaching them new things, seeing how they interact with each other. The weather’s been great and that gives us all a chance to spend time together outside.
Myself, I’m cooking and gardening a lot more, things I just didn’t have time for before.
I love travel, I always have. A lot of my current role involves overseas travel, particularly in the first part of the year. Or should I say, it ‘did’ until Coronavirus arrived!
I don’t like using the term ‘dream job’ but I genuinely love doing what I do.
I also love the fact that people in the west of Ireland have a real affinity with the airport. It reminds me a lot of the way Mayo people take pride in the Mayo football team.
I think it’s the whole backstory of the airport that people relate to: how Monsignor Horan managed to get it built against all the odds, in the middle of a bog in the middle of a recession. People want it to do well and they’ve built a relationship with it by supporting it.
The airport has gone from strength to strength over the years, and we’ve grown our passenger numbers from 500,000 to 807,000 last year. We were looking at another record year in 2020.
But the reality is now that the impact of Covid-19 will cut our passenger numbers in half.
All of us at the airport had ambitious plans to grow our numbers to one million passengers this year, and we were well on our way to doing that.
Now we’ll be going back into the airport when it re-opens with a blank canvas. Because I don’t things will ever be the same again after this in terms of how people travel and the airport itself.

In conversation with Mike Finnerty

Quickfire questions

If money was no object what would you do all day?
Work — I have to keep busy!

First thing you’ll do when the Covid-19 shutdown ends?
Go on a nice family holiday — abroad of course!

Most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
Chinese snails

Favourite place in the world?

New York

What makes you angry?
Man United

Who was your first hero?
John Barnes

What makes you nervous?
Every Liverpool match

Which three celebrity guests would you invite to your Zoom party?
Jurgen Klopp, Noel Gallagher (Oasis), Steve Jobs.

What’s the best advice you ever got?
Treat people how you would like to be treated yourself.

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
In 2002 I broke both bones in both my legs in a car accident which ended my sporting career!

Name three things in your fridge?
Cheese, water and Pepsi!

What’s your most prized possession?
My phone!

How do you unwind?
Coaching under 10 kids in Charlestown and watching Netflix

Sum up Coronavirus in three words?
Changing the world.