Wednesday 18 September 2019

'I failed my Leaving Cert... now there's a question about my business in it' - Galway restaurant owner

Making dough: Ronan (left) and Eugene Greaney. Photo: Andrew Downes
Making dough: Ronan (left) and Eugene Greaney. Photo: Andrew Downes

Evie Kearney

AN Irish restaurant owner said he had a "pinch me" moment when he was featured on a Leaving Cert paper, 16 years after he failed the exams.

Eugene Greaney, who runs The Dough Bro's pizzeria n Galway with his brother, Ronan, failed his maths exam 16 years ago and missed out on a place at NUIG, forcing him to repeat the exams.

He said that failing the exams ended up being the best thing to ever happened to him and said that seeing a question on the higher level business paper referencing his pizzeria was a "pinch me" moment.

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He shared a photo of the question, which was under the people in business section, and urged any students who may have been disappointed yesterday with their results to remember "it does not define you".

Eugene explained to that the setback ended up changing his mindset.

"I remember distinctly getting the results paper and going away from everybody down the side alley of the school and straight away the first thing I saw was an E in maths," he said.

"I didn’t even see the other ones. I just knew instantly that it was over."

Eugene went on to repeat his Leaving Cert and took up a place at the University of Limerick, where he studied business.

"Looking back, I’d never really applied myself. My brother had done very well and so had my sister, I thought I had a divine right to just show up and do well and it taught me a harsh lesson.

"As soon as I got my head around repeating, I just knuckled down and stayed focused. That was the hardest I had worked until setting up the business.

"When I failed, it was how I bounced back that stood to me and taught me so much – that I can do it, I am capable but I need to work hard, I need to sacrifice."

After earning his degree, Eugene spent two years travelling before returning home to a sales job, but suffered another set back when he was laid off from the company.

Eugene and Ronan decided it was now or never, and after extensive research the pair found a gap in the market for authentic wood-fired pizza made with Irish ingredients.

"You can sit there feeling sorry for yourself or you can take what’s happened and use it to make you stronger," Eugene said.

"Myself and Ronan were never the smartest people in the classroom, we never did anything to suggest we were going to be successful but if you work hard and you sacrifice, you apply yourself, it’s amazing what you can achieve and we’re living proof of that."

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