Des and I, we’re based in Sligo, a place called Carney. It’s near where W B Yeats is burried.
I was born in London and I grew up in Dublin. Then my parents, who are originally from Sligo, moved us back here when I was 16. We spent a couple of years here in our teens before leaving for college. I ended up in Galway doing engineering.
I qualified as an engineer and worked in renewable energy. I was working for a guy, Eddie O’Connor, who was the first person in Ireland to introduce windfarms.
I travelled to Sweden on behalf of Airtricity, to set up their company there. Then I worked for his second company, Mainstream Power and I went to Chile to set up his business there.
I worked in Ireland for a while and then went to Australia at the age of 30. About a year later I got my renewable energy job over there and I got sponsored. I met Des there too.
We stayed in Australia until 2018, but in the couple of years before that I was struggling with my health. I was diagnosed with a condition called ulcerative colitis. That resulted in hospital visits, heavy medication and all sorts of things.
In 2018 I felt like I wasn’t able to keep down the job and manage the health condition at the same time. It was a difficult decision, but myself and Des decided to move home.
My health essentially took a turn for the worse that year and it wasn’t until 2020 that I felt I came back on track a bit. At that stage, I had closed the door on the engineering, because it’s high intensity work, it has long hours and there’s travel involved.
I just felt like it was time to move on with something else. I had thought about writing a book, so I self-published my own book that year.
You know when you have something in your head and your like, I’m going to get this done this year no matter what. I started writing in July 2020 and I was holding the book in my hand by December 2020.
It’s a non-fiction book called Powered to Fall, Empowered to Rise. It wasn’t necessarily my own story, my second book will be about my personal story, this book is really about what lessons I learned in my own life.
I got to the stage, when I was at my lowest, that I felt like I’d lost everything to the disease. I’d reached a really low point and I did find a way back eventually.
Whatever physical disability – I don’t like the word disability, but to call it that – I might have, I don’t let it hold me back
When I found my own personal way back, I found that I had a new perspective on things. Things that mattered to me before, didn’t really matter anymore. I had this new appreciation for the small and simple things.
I just had this realisation one day and it’s the last chapter in my book, through all the ups and downs, I really saw what love was because of the disease.
Someone was still willing to love me, stand by me and help me through the most difficult times. For that I was grateful, to know that love from Des.
Then I felt like it would be useful for me to write down my new perspective on things, to see would other people relate to that, people who are also going through a difficult time in their own life.
At that time, I was reliant on Amazon to sell my book for me. I just had this thing of, why is there not an Irish owned platform where I can sell my book?
Where can I actually go in Ireland with the book to get support and help in terms of selling it? Writing the book is kind of the easy part, selling it and getting it out there is the more difficult part.
That’s when I came up with the idea of buythebook.ie. It became Ireland’s first online book marketplace for self-published Irish authors. Then it evolved into an active author community as well, which has kind of been my favourite part.
We don’t actively sell the books, the authors sell the book themselves. So it’s like the author has their own website within our website. They set it up, set the price, sort the shipping. They market their book directly to their readers and get paid within seven days.
I also have arthritis in my spine. I can walk, but my posture is a bit effected to be honest. I do short walks, but I couldn’t walk for an hour or anything like that.
Whatever physical disability – I don’t like the word disability, but to call it that – I might have, I don’t let it hold me back and I’m not going to let it hold me back. If that can encourage others who are thinking of starting their own business, well then great.
Every day I get up and whether it’s with the colitis or the arthritis, I say, I’m going to live my life as best I can and I’m going to be so grateful for what I do have, even though I have these conditions.
I know there are people out there with much worse. I manage these conditions in my own way, if I need to rest, I rest. If I need to have a day off, I have a day off. I have brilliant flexibility now that I work for myself.”