Work with a spirit of adventure
It's been a long way from Tipperary to here through the hospitality sector for Nicholas Ryan
If anyone ever took a circuitous route to settling in Sligo, it has been Nicholas Ryan.
Born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary he quite literally circumnavigated the globe before making the northwest his home.
His mother had a bit to do with it too. Widowed when Nicholas was just four years old and his sister even younger, she was always ambitious for her offspring and helped shape his future.
Nicholas had a less than auspicious introduction to the hospitality industry - pot washing as a teenager in Germany for a summer.
Returning home, he opted to study as a Marine Electrician but abandoned that in favour of CERT courses in Limerick which proved much more to his taste.
He found work in a hotel in Cahir, and would happily have stayed but his mother had other ideas and instead he found himself in Dromoland Castle studying Hotel Management.
He loved it and has never looked back. The four year course involved nine wonderful months working in Neuchatel, Switzerland and six months in the brand new five star Merrion Hotel in Dublin under legendary general manager Peter McCann.
That was the beginning of his career 'proper' as The Merrion spotted his potential and kept the young Nicholas on.
He stayed four years working his way up to Assistant Restaurant Manager and meeting his now wife, Donegal native Deirdre, there as well. Since then they have always worked together.
However, the spirit of adventure stirred the young couple to spread their wings.
France was the first port of call. Nicholas recalls writing to 40 different hotels and receiving an answer from only one!
That one was in Lourdes where he spent a hugely enjoyable summer season.
Then Deirdre and Nicholas headed for the ski slopes of Val d'Isere, working, learning to snowboard under bluebird skies and enjoying all the winter sport scene had to offer.
Next up was the restaurant of a cruise ship ("reasonably small" with 800 passengers), another fun experience under their belts.
Their itchy feet took them down under to New Zealand where they bought a camper van and 'lived the dream'.
Nicholas fondly recalls driving into Nelson in the South Island and realising this was somewhere they wanted to stay.
They loved it and had big plans for travelling further but fate intervened in the form of a baby on the way.
That put paid to the wanderlust but started their biggest adventure ever; their own family.
They now have four children - Millie, Laoise, Norah and Donnacha) and life is a helter-skelter of surfing, kayaking and outdoor fun.
On return to Ireland, Nicholas had an offer of work in Cromlech Lodge making Sligo their first destination and now their home.
Nicholas spent a decade at Cromlech Lodge and after a short spell with The Drafthouse, Strandhill, moved to Markree Castle where he is Operations Manager and Deirdre is Wedding Co-Ordinator.
Nicholas lost his mother five years ago but it's a pretty fair bet that she'd have been very proud of her son settling down in Sligo and running a Castle.