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Cork Profile: Eoin O'Leary

Thursday, 14th September, 2017 11:33am

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? A bus conductor. I got a bus conductor set for my fifth birthday and thought it would be a great job.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today: I was a pupil in the North Monastery, and after studying in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra I started my career as a primary school teacher in Ballyfermot, where I thought for over six years. I then joined the civil service in 1986 and have worked in the Departments of Environment, Finance, Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs. I have been the Irish Ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in Vienna from 2007 to 2013 and to Russia and the Central Asian Republics from 2013 to 2015. Since 4 September, I have been the Irish Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and Mongolia.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? Representing my country abroad and meeting and working with Irish people who are working abroad.

What motivates you?The need to do the best I can every day. I’ve learned that doing is very much more enjoyable and effective than planning.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self? Take every opportunity that comes your way and never assume that others are better than you.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing? Teaching, which I greatly enjoyed.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date? Chairing the Permanent Council of the OSCE in Vienna, when Ireland chaired the organisation in 2012. It was part of the country’s effort to restore its international reputation and was a particularly successful chair.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life? My wife Anne, who pushed me to excel and has always been a source of very good advice.

What is the life dream now? To make sure that Ireland achieves its full potential in China.

How do you switch off? I read novels, travel and am trying, very slowly, to learn golf.

What is your favourite Cork memory? Cork winning the All-Ireland hurling final in 1970. It was the first time I saw them winning the All-Ireland.

What is your favourite place in Cork? Tom Barry’s bar on Barrack Street.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto? Be nice to the people you meet on the way up. You will meet them again on the way down.

When are you at your happiest? When I am with my wife Anne and daughter Emily.

Any regrets? I should have spent more time travelling when I was young.

What is your hidden talent? Afraid there's none that I can think of, other than a great ability to sing out of tune!

What might we be surprised to know about you? I was a member of the winning team in the All Ireland National Teachers’ Quiz competition.


Name: Eoin O’Leary
Age: 58
Lives: Maynooth, County Kildare.
Family: My wife Anne and daughter Emily.
Pets: None at present but we have had three horses, seven dogs, one cat and a rabbit over the years.
Favourite thing about Cork: The pubs and the friendliness.
Least favourite thing about Cork: Trying to find somewhere to park.
One thing you’d change about Cork: Build a motorway to Limerick so that we would be centre of the Dublin-Limerick-Cork triangle.

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