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Sunday 21 September 2014

Giant chess, table football and a slide – it's Michael's fun factory

Published 04/04/2014 | 02:30

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the new office of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary. Colin Keegan
The games room in the new Ryanair Office Campus at Airside Park, Swords. Colin Keegan
The slide inside the new Ryanair HQ in Swords, Co Dublin. Damien Eagers

Unlike the inside of its planes which can be a hellish world of trumpets, scratch-cards and the experience of running to grab a seat while wearing the entire contents of one's suitcase, Ryanair's new Dublin HQ is damn near a worker's paradise.

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The fabulously kitted-out 100,000 sq ft building in Airside Business Park, Swords, is a far cry from the grim warehouse it originally occupied that saw the airline reach new heights of parsimony. In 2005 it hit the headlines when Ryanair bosses banned the staff from charging their mobile phones at work on the grounds that it amounted to theft of the company's electricity.

The new premises is, by contrast, a veritable fun-palace. The workers have their own a games-room, complete with a pool table, arcade-style games machines and table football. And in another area, the floor is covered by a giant chess board and people-sized pieces.

The walls on each open-plan office floor are decorated with giant, mural-sized photographs of images chosen by the staff – ranging from peaceful Japanese gardens, to tigers, tanks, the Dubs lifting Sam and a huge image of the Stretford End in Old Trafford.

And Ryanair's boss has his own modestly proportioned, glass-walled office, decorated with a blown-up image of one of his racehorses from Gigginstown Stud.

The whole place, painted in bright colours and kitted out with a spacious canteen, is remarkably like the jolly Google HQ on the other side of the city.

"I never went near the Google offices," declared Michael O'Leary. "We let the staff loose on it. We got this as a shell and asked what they wanted to put into it – the kind of fruity one was the slide. All the press get thrown down head-first, the guests go down feet-first," he added.

And there is indeed a metal, slippery slide from the first to the ground floor. But in case anyone fears that the Ryanair boss has gone too soft, there is a typically feisty O'Leary warning sign taped to the wall beside it: "Use of the slide is at your own risk so don't blame us if you hurt or damage yourself. The slide is not suitable for pregnant women, those with existing injuries or gobshites."

It's almost enough to make one pine for a job there – just so long as there aren't any bloody trumpets.

Irish Independent

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