WOULD you swop the Fingal coastline for the heat of balmy Spain? Well, that was the scenario facing one Skerries resident who now calls Valencia home - and makes a living helping others do the same.Conor Wilde left Skerries for the Spanish city in 1993 and has been running a successful real estate business, Spain and Property, ever since. But his love of all things Spanish be
WOULD you swop the Fingal coastline for the heat of balmy Spain? Well, that was the scenario facing one Skerries resident who now calls Valencia home - and makes a living helping others do the same.
Conor Wilde left Skerries for the Spanish city in 1993 and has been running a successful real estate business, Spain and Property, ever since. But his love of all things Spanish began back in his teens, when Conor was working in the family fishing business.
At the tender age of 17, Conor set off on a trip to Valencia on business and immediately fell in love with the area. ‘I had never even been on a plane before so it was a real culture shock,’ he explained. ‘I couldn’t understand the language and the food tasted very different.’
He returned to Ireland but was unable to put memories of Spain behind him and struggled to settle back into the rhythm of life in Skerries.
His family started to take in language students and Conor slowly picked up bits of Spanish and decided to return to Spain in 1993.
He quickly felt at home in Valencia but it was actually while he was back in Skerries in the summer holidays that he met Susana, his Spanish wife-to-be.
The couple returned to Valencia and planned to set up home there permanently but this plan was sadly short-lived as both of Conor’s parents died very young within a few years of each other, leaving a family business to run and with his young sisters still studying, Conor was needed back in Fingal.
‘We are a very close family and I had to make sure everyone was okay,’ he said. But by 1999, the girls were grown-up and Conor was able to return to Valencia where he bought into a fish importation business, bringing white fish and shellfish from Ireland and Scotland to Spain.
Making a break from the family tradition he turned his attentions to the property market. After selling his first apartment at a comfortable profit he bought another few properties to rent out and eventually set up Spain and Property, an estate agency designed to help British and Irish buyers find their dream home or plot in the Valencia region of Spain.
Spain and Property continues to grow with the company opening a second office soon and Valencia is very much home for Conor and his family now. But how does it compare to fair Fingal?
‘I’m really proud to be able to offer clients a taste of the real Spain which is nearly as beautiful as Skerries!’ Conor continued.
‘It couldn’t be more different from Ireland and although I miss having people around me who have the same background and know the same people, I can’t see me moving back permanently.
‘But I love to get home for the motorcycle road racing which I really enjoy, but at the minute I just have to focus on the company.
‘Of course I think about my family all the time, but they all come out and visit as often as possible and I go back to Ireland at least once a year.’
As for what he misses most about home, Conor bizarrely yearns for the one thing most Irish people leave the country to escape.
‘We don’t get a lot of rain in Valencia and I know it sounds crazy but sometimes you really yearn for it. There is just nothing like eating a plate of warm stew with the rain lashing down outside.’