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Sarah McCarthy, travel agent, Travel Counsellors

Wednesday, 2nd January, 2019 4:55pm

Name and position:  Sarah McCarthy, travel agent, Travel Counsellors

Age: 42

Lives: Glanmire

Family: My hubby Donagh and kids Frank, Danny and Clodagh

Pets: None, although Clodagh is currently begging Donagh to get a dog… but he is not budging.

Favourite thing about Cork: The people. They are friendly, supportive, good-natured and have a great sense of humour. I also love The Young Offenders.

Least favourite thing about Cork: Sure what’s not to love!

One thing you’d change about Cork: I would make it the capital.

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? 

A teacher or a nurse — didn’t every girl in the ‘80s?

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

After finishing college with a tourism and marketing diploma, I spent a year working for Cork Airport on the information desk. Without fail, after every late shift, a gang of us would head into the various nightclubs in Cork city to dance the night away. To be young again!

I then spent ten very happy years working in a city centre travel agency called City Travel, where I spent most of my time on the long-haul desk.

I set up my own business in 2006 with Travel Counsellors, one of Ireland’s leading travel specialists, and I have never looked back.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? 

I love turning my clients’ dreams into a reality and helping them to create lifelong memories. Being part of Travel Counsellors also affords me great flexibility, as I work from home. This allows me to enjoy a pretty good work/life balance. It would be remiss of me not to mention the regular educational trips that I travel on - China, Canada, Sri Lanka and the Caribbean to name a few. Someone has to do it!

What motivates you? 

I have always been incredibly motivated throughout my life. I am sure my upbringing had a lot to do with that - I would be a very driven and determined person. I would never take on a task unless I can give it 100 per cent. It’s all or nothing with me.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

I only ever remember happiness in my childhood and teenage years, so I am very lucky. What springs to mind though is cramming for exams. So my advice would be ‘do not always leave it to the night before, or the morning of, in some cases’. I remember vividly putting on the alarm for 4 or 5am the morning of an exam - not advisable.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

Both my parents had operations recently and my aunt is currently in a nursing home. After experiencing their recovery first hand, I think I would have made a good nurse or care worker. I would love to be involved in events management too.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

Outside of my three amazing children, I have just won Top Performing Travel Counsellor in Ireland for the ninth time at Travel Counsellors’ annual global conference. These awards recognise excellence within the Travel Counsellors’ global network of franchisees. This is something I’m very proud of. Making the decision to run my own business was an achievement in itself as well, as it was something that I had not envisaged.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

Hands down my parents and my husband. My dad gave me my hard work ethic and my mum has always had my back and has provided great counsel down the years. My husband is my biggest fan — he is my support, my confidant, my rock.

What is the life dream now?

To keep building my business, which will hopefully enable me to retire early and live out my life-long dream of travelling the world (well, the rest of the world!).

How do you switch off? 

I love a good Netflix series combined with a glass of vino and a bar of Cadbury’s fruit and nut.

What is your favourite Cork memory? 

My mum bringing me to Roches Stores for a cake and a glass of orange every week.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Coughlan’s on Douglas Street is an amazing live music venue. Some serious talent has graced its doors.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

‘Reach for the stars, and if you fall, you will land amongst the clouds’.

When are you at your happiest?

I am at my happiest curled up on the couch with a cuppa after a hard day’s work, or when travelling with the family, or standing on the side of a football/hurling/rugby pitch.

Any regrets?

That I didn’t start my own business as a travel counsellor earlier.

What is your hidden talent?

It used to be dancing, but my recent participation in our local fundraising event Strictly Sarsfield put an end to that hidden talent! Dancing in front of a crowd of over 1,400 people means my secret is out.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

That I performed on the Opera House stage over 100 times.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Just my travel expertise. I specialise in long-haul travel and have a passion for organising bespoke honeymoons and special occasion holidays, tailored for each client. If you would like to get in contact, you can find me at

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