The last time I was in Ireland was back in June of 2013. This was actually my first trip to Europe. It was a business trip where we met the old owners of HD Sports; during these meetings it was also revealed that my bosses were negotiating purchasing the company and that I might be awarded an opportunity to oversee their investment. We ended up going to Darwin’s Steakhouse where I sank my teeth into the best steak I’ve ever tasted. For the last 6 years I’ve been annoying anyone who will listen about the quality of this steak and their tongue-pleasing garlic butter sauce. If you’re in Dublin and like steak, please give them a try!
When one of my best childhood friends let me know he was getting married in Ireland, I instantly grew excited about returning to Darwin’s and exploring more of Ireland. The last go-around only afforded me the opportunity to see Dublin, and Ireland has so much more to offer. We flew out Friday afternoon and landed in Dublin just in time for our reservation at Darwin’s. The server made us feel like family and the food did not disappoint; it was just as good as I remembered. They hand-pick the wild garlic which gives the garlic butter sauce such a distinct flavour.
From here, we headed south to our Airbnb but made an impulsive decision to try and witness the great and powerful Conor McGregor training at SBG Ireland. We parked the car and walked to the doors only to find that they had just closed up. As we were walking away, a young lad driving off in the car park rolled down his window and asked, “you looking to train?” I let him know that we were just there in hopes of seeing the facility where Conor trains and that we were big fans. He said, “oh right, well he’ll be in tomorrow if you want to come down and meet him.” I couldn’t believe it! I explained how grateful we were to be extended the invitation but that we had a wedding to go to down south. He said, “no worries pal. Next time you’re in town, let us know and we’ll arrange it for you.”
Wow! I later learned that this interaction would be one of many with the Irish that reflected their collective character as a people. Whether it was our Airbnb host Andrew or the guitar player at Jack Meade’s, everyone we met was so kind and friendly. No one we engaged with came across as arrogant or rude—they genuinely wanted to know about who we were and what we were up to in their country, always implying they were glad to have us. Ireland is a great host.
The wedding of Jill and Tim Gerrish was so beautiful and perfectly Timmy. He has always taken such pride in his Irish heritage and to see him not only marry a beautiful Irish woman, but also to do so in Waterford was better than anything a young kid from Saranac Lake could have imagined. I was honoured to have led a prayer during the Catholic wedding mass which read:
“We pray for all the friends of Jill and Tim who have come to celebrate with them on this wonderful day. We thank you for the gift of friendship and ask you to bless these treasured bonds. We pray that their lives be filled with good health, love and happiness. Lord hear us.”
The whole weekend allowed me a lot of time to reflect on how fortunate I am to have had the Gerrishes in my life. If it weren’t for Mr. Gerrish, I probably would not have met Coach Beaney and learned about Middlebury. Mr. Gerrish coached me in 2002-2003 and was one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. I played for a lot of disciplinarians and although he certainly was one, he also understood how to be balanced and rewarded hard work, creativity and performance. If you showed up for practice and didn’t display a willingness to learn he would dumb it down for you and make you do summersaults from red line to red line (still perhaps the craziest thing I’ve done in full equipment). He understood the nature of the relationship between coach and player and that it was 100% about reciprocity and collective development. I never felt like he wasn’t in my corner at any point while I played for him. He would never give you the answer but he wasn’t afraid to guide you towards it. It was great to see him so many years later and thank him in person.
Having Coach Beaney there is always a bonus. I loved sharing with him some of the challenges we’re going through at HD Sports and hearing his perspective on things. One of the biggest things I took away from our chat was making sure I ask my colleagues “when’s the last time you made a mistake?” Mistakes should be encouraged and acknowledged when they’re done with the intention to grow. Too often we hinder our own development by residing in the patterns which we find comfortable. As Coach Kavanaugh says, “win or learn.”
Timmy and Jill could not have set their marriage off in better fashion. Everything about the weekend was so true to their character—the setting, the church on the water, the amount of people from all over the earth coming together, Faithlegg, Jack Meade’s, etc. I love that they found each other and make each other smile so much. I’m excited about the prospect of them potentially moving to Ireland as they’ll be much closer and I’ll have another solid friend only “few” miles away.