Cork Profile: Alan O'Loughlin
When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? I wanted to be a vet – that’s some turn around!
Tell us about your career progression to your role today: I started a butchering apprenticeship in Down’s Supervalu in Ballincollig when I was 18. I qualified from that and in 2007 I trained as a fresh food manager in a bigger supermarket. I was running the butchers, the deli, the bakery, the hot food counter and the fish counter. I worked there for 2 years and decided to move to Midleton, as my now wife was studying nursing in Waterford so we said that would be a good go-between. I worked as a butcher in Hurley’s Supervalu in Townspark, Midleton, where I eventually took over the seafood counter and won the coveted BIM Seafood Circle for the 1st time in the store’s history.
After 8 and a half of some of the best working years of my life with some of the best people and managers I’ve ever worked with, I saw an opportunity for a retail store manager with Ballycotton Seafood. I couldn’t ignore it. I applied and I’ve been part of the Ballycotton Seafood team now for 6 and a half years and I’m really enjoying it!
What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? There are a few aspects of my job that I enjoy, from setting up a vibrant attractive display, to meeting new people from all different parts of the world through the customers we serve, to meeting all the head chefs and visiting their kitchens.
I particularly enjoy when a customer isn’t quite sure what to buy because they might not know how to cook it correctly. I try to give these customers a little extra time and go through how to prepare and cook a few different types of fish or shellfish that we sell. I talk to them about what my wife and kids like, what I like and how I like to prepare it. The satisfaction when you see how grateful they are for the advice and the confidence they have going home to cook it is a lovely feeling. 10 times out of 10, they come back to tell me how it went and to thank me. I really, really enjoy helping people.
What motivates you? My family, that’s it. I get up every morning, work as hard as I can all day and come home tired. I want my children to see that a good work ethic is something to admire and hopefully in time emulate. I want my wife to look at me and be proud of me as a hard-working husband. My family is most definitely my motivation.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self? Oh god, I’m going to say build your house in 2009!
If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing? I would probably be working with animals in some shape or form.
What is your greatest career achievement to-date? In 2018, Ballycotton Seafood put me forward for the Young Fishmonger of the Year awards. It’s an all-Ireland competition run by an Bórd Iasca Mhara for fishmongers under the age of 35. I made it to the grand final which was down to the top 4 in the country. I lost out to a fantastic woman called Anne Stephens who was a very deserving winner. I’m extremely proud to have made it as far as I did!
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life? My wife, Lisa. I was aimless until I met her. Like a ship without a rudder, going nowhere fast! She taught me not to dwell on the past and to look forward. We have been together for 14 years and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without her.
What is the life dream now? We bought .75acre of land in Donoughmore and are nearly finished building our forever home there. The plan is to complete that and as for the rest, that’s a secret!
How do you switch off? I lure fish for seabass as often as I can. I absolutely love it. I’m building up my knowledge of gardening as well, thanks to my mother-in-law, Eileen. We spend a lot of time out in the gardens around her house. She’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to gardening, and I actually really enjoy it myself now.
What is your favourite Cork memory? One morning on the way to work, I was walking down Oliver Plunkett Street by the Oliver Plunkett Bar and they were building a new café with the big windows at the time. There was a builder with a thick Dublin accent on the phone to someone giving them directions, I presume, and he said (in his best inner city Dublin accent) “No I’m on, erm . . . Oliver Plunkett Road’. As he said it, a Cork lad walked past me, looked at me shaking his head and said, ‘What a langer’. It was priceless!
What is your favourite place in Cork? Barley Cove. Lovely spot.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto? Don’t compare your life to anyone else’s, it’s not a race!
When are you at happiest? Thrown down on the couch with my wife and kids watching a movie.
What is your hidden talent? I never forget a face! My wife says I should be a detective.