For the last couple of years, we have done a 50km ultra marathon... we will do that again later in the year

Bob O’Brien, who lives in Blarney, County Cork talks about his work, family life, training for 50km ultramarathons and his inspirational 81-year-old father, Paddy, in our weekly 'Person to Person' feature
For the last couple of years, we have done a 50km ultra marathon... we will do that again later in the year

Bob O'Brien.

Tell us about yourself:

I was born and schooled in Cork. Currently living in Blarney with my wife, Louise, and our children Seán and Rosie.

Work is a consultancy business called 3SIXTY. We work with SMEs to help them improve operational and financial performance by ensuring their processes are as efficient as possible and their people are set up to be as effective as possible.

My colleagues, Brian Cremin and Aidan Magner, and I started the business in 2018 and since then we have added some fantastic people to the team. As a group, we are hugely passionate about supporting SMEs so there is a great sense of purpose in what we do as a business.

Outside of work, I like to run and am usually at some stage of training for an event of some description. To unwind at home, I love to cook and read and music is an ever-present.

Where were you born?

I was born in Cork. Like (seemingly) everybody I grew up with, I was born in the Bons.

Where do you live?

I live in Blarney village. My wife, Louise, is from there. It has a lovely blend of still being very much a village while only being a short drive to the city centre. Blarney village on a sunny day is picture-postcard perfect.

Family?

I am married to Louise, a reformed barrister now working with a really interesting technology company called Compliance & Risks. We have two children. Seán is 11 and Rosie is nine.

Best friend?

Louise. My idea of a great time is having a glass of wine, uninterrupted, with my wife.

Earliest childhood memory?

There might be something earlier in there but I remember watching Bosco in nursery school while sitting on the much-in-demand rocking horse.

Person you most admire?

My dad, Paddy. He was a social entrepreneur long before the term existed. He has dedicated his life to advocating for elderly and vulnerable people. He has a boundless capacity for helping people and an incredible ability to find fun in things. In business we talk a lot about making ‘impact’. My dad has spent his life impacting the lives of people who do not have a voice.

He is 81 now and I laugh when he says he is going to such-and-such a nursing home to “visit the old people”. He has the best attitude to life of anyone I have ever met.

Person who irritates you?

I know I should be more original here, but I am going to say Donald Trump. I detest everything he represents. The saddest part of the Trump presidency is the profound damage it has done to standards in public life. The bar has been lowered and it will be an enormous struggle to raise it again.

Most memorable holiday:

I remember going to Vernazza in Italy with Louise shortly after my mum had died following a short illness. It was the first time in months I had relaxed and sat still. That’s a sad/happy memory.

We took a camper van up the west coast a few years ago and followed the Wild Atlantic Way all the way to Fanad Head in Donegal. I could have done it forever whereas the kids are still traumatised.

I’ve been very lucky and had great opportunities to travel over the years. I did the Trans-Mongolian Railway with an old pal at one stage and it’s a trip I would love to do again with Louise and the kids.

Favourite TV programme?

Not a big TV watcher but my all-time favourite TV show is Frasier. I haven’t dipped into it now for a number of years but I have seen every episode several times. The attention to language in the writing was amazing. It was note-perfect in my view.

Signature dish if cooking:

I love to cook. If I had to pick one thing that friends may say is a ‘signature’ it might a combination of curries that I love to do. A lamb curry, a veg curry and a maybe something else with chickpeas. Some good cold beers and you have the perfect feast.

Favourite restaurant:

I don’t have a favourite restaurant in terms of a place I keep going back to. If I could anywhere for food this evening it would be El Tapeo de Cervantes in Malaga Old Town. Tiny little place. Maybe space for 14/15 people. The food is incredible and the wine list nearly made me cry with joy.

Last book you read:

Last book I read was The New Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. Currently reading a book of short stories called A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler.

Best book you read:

Couldn’t say I have a book I feel is the “best” but my all-time favourite novel is probably still John Irving’s Cider House Rules, but it’s not the hill I will die on.

Favourite song?

Kathy’s Song by Paul Simon.

One person you would like to see in concert?

Dead — Townes Van Zandt. Living — Tom Waits.

Morning or night owl?

Not sure I’m either, to be honest! I do a lot of early mornings both for work and training but can’t say I am a natural morning person. I tend to have good energy at night but tend not to stay up late. I prefer to read in bed than watch TV late at night.

Your proudest moment?

Watching 3SIXTY grow and building a team of hugely talented people around us is both a source of pride and a great motivator.

What makes you happy?

Spending time with Louise. An unrequested hug from the kids. The last mile of a hard run. A pint with my dad. Good food.

How would you like to be remembered?

Being even half the man my dad is would be success.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I would love to sound more windswept and interesting but my life comprises of work (we are building a really interesting business with 3SIXTY), family stuff and training — I do a lot of running which I find is great for the head as well as being demanding physically.

I train with a couple of friends, which is a great motivator. We were due to do the Lisbon Marathon in October but that’s off the cards. For the last couple of years, we have done a 50km ultramarathon incorporating the 46km Waterford Greenway so we will do that again later in the year.


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