Tuesday 25 October 2016

Silicon valley live wire is a holiday man of Aran

Unique selling point: 'Dragon's Den' on the Aran Islands

Published 11/09/2015 | 02:30

The house as seen from the sea
The house as seen from the sea
Barry O'Sullivan
Some of the beautiful cliffs of Arran
The bedroom
Red Bull diving at Inis Mor
Snooker room with TV
The living area, with sea views
Exterior of O'Sullivan's home

The well known Cork born tech entrepreneur Barry O'Sullivan will be familiar to us as the incisive and proactive "dragon" from the popular TV series "Dragon's Den."

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The reality programme sees aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business start-up ideas to potential investors in a bid to part them from some of their hard earned cash.

Unlike some members of that panel over the years, O'Sullivan has proven ready and willing to invest his own money in Irish start ups. He also "walks the walk" off screen given his recent development of fledgling Altocloud, his latest enterprise which has bases in both California and Galway.

O'Sullivan, who has been based largely in Silicon Valley since 2002 is the former Vice President of Cisco Systems.

More recently he became involved with Altocloud, an outfit which is bringing analytics to bear to improve customer relations for call centre usage.

As an active technology investor O'Sullivan also co-founded the Irish Technology Leadership Group, a group of senior Irish and Irish American technology executives who work to improve opportunities between Ireland and Silicon Valley.

On top of this he also finds time to serve on the board of Cope Galway, a charitable organisation focused on reducing isolation and homelessness.

But when O'Sullivan needs to take quality time out with his family and escape from a business social media world where there are few places left to hide, he and his wife Denise return again and again to the dramatic sea stripped landscapes of the Aran Islands off Galway Bay - for family down time amidst the the cliffs and beaches of Inis Mor.

"We had always loved the Aran Islands and had visited regularly. It was 2005 when I was living in California and running a division of Cisco when I saw a property for sale online on Inis Mor.

"It had been a B&B and the property was going for auction. The house was fronting the beach and had everything you could want from a home on Inis Mor. So I got my my solicitor to bid for it and I bought it - basically unseen."

At that point Beach House at Kilmurvey was around 25 years old and from afar O'Sullivan and his wife set about renovating it to suit their needs.

The work was carried out over time. The first jobs were the replacement of the windows and the installation of the kitchen and later came the more serious renovations. "We got to knocking walls and opening up rooms."

At the time he and Denise had four young children and their decision to buy a base at Kilmurvey proved to be a great success in the years that followed.

" I'd say we've had some of the best times there, especially when a big gang of us stayed, all brothers and sisters and cousins for socials and barbeques. We've had some great moments with the children there over the years."

But more recently responsibilities at the fast developing Altocloud have meant that Barry and Denise are spending far more time in the USA than in Ireland.

Now they've judged that it's time to sell the Beach House. "It's just not practical for us at the moment, so with a good degree of reluctance we're going to have to let it go."

The O'Sullivan holiday home has been placed on the market for €450,000 which he says "is pretty much what we paid for it."

Properties are hard to come by on Inis Mor, never mind large double fronted homes facing the beach.

Accommodation includes an entrance hall with a tiled floor and a wide window bay facing to the Man of Aran.

From here it's into the lounge which comes with a laminate floor and then into the formal dining room which comes with an open fireplace.

There are six bedrooms in all and most of them come with good sized ensuites. There's also a cinema and games room for unwinding with the classics of silver screen or having a game of pool. The table here may be negotiable with the property.

The main bathroom has a corner tub and a linen closet included.

The double fronted house directly overlooks the sheltered beach at Kilmurvey and is fifteen minute's walk away from the world famous ancient cliff edge stone fortress of Dun Aenghasa.

Also nearby under some of the country's most dramatic cliffs is the Poll na bPeist, (the Worm Hole) which can be reached by following the road out to Dun Aengus and then heading to the small town land of Gort na gCapall and then up a small boreen.

The Worm Hole is a rectangular shaped natural geological formation which looks rather like a huge man made swimming pool. As the tide ebbs in and out the water rushes up and down the sides from a cave underneath.

In his book "Stones of Aran" Tim Robinson says: "One of the most curious features of this, Aran's most striking natural curiosity, is that there is no legend attached to it"

The Wormhole, sometimes called "The Serpent's Lair" is now world famous thanks in large to the Red Bull World Cliff Diving Event which stopped here in 2012 and again last year, producing heart stopping photographs and clips across world media.

The O'Sullivans were among the entralled audience. "I have watched the diving but haven't participated. It's very cool and a bit scary," says Barry who must now depart his family's beloved Beach House to continue with his own leap of faith in Silicon Valley. As he takes the dive, those interested in the Beach House can find out more from Galway Real Estate (091-565488).

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