My Weekend: I've lots of hobbies... probably too many

Darragh Lucey is the co-founder of Yooni, a career guidance platform, here he tells us about his weekends
My Weekend: I've lots of hobbies... probably too many

Darragh Lucey Cofounder of Yooni.

TELL us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Darragh, I’m 25 years young and the youngest member of a family of five — including my mum, dad and two older brothers. You could almost say I’ve grown up with four parents, my two older brothers are 10 years older than me, which meant there was always someone to ask for advice no matter what the topic (it also meant more people to borrow money off, but we won’t expand on that..).

I grew up in Ovens and was schooled locally in the National School, a small school where everyone knew your name.

Safe to say, it was a bit of a shock going from this to a school like Coláiste Choilm where you were one of 250+ innocent souls starting first year. Nevertheless, I loved it there.

I was always heavily involved in sport — there was seldom an evening in my teens free of training or matches, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I was particularly committed to soccer. Having played underage with Lakewood, I was lucky enough to get a chance to captain my county and my country at under-age level.

In my mid teens, I got the opportunity to play with some premier league clubs like Man City, Stoke, and Sunderland to name a few, but alas, my boyhood dream of becoming a professional footballer became less of a fixation as I matured and started to focus more on my studies and socialising.

Nathan Mayes and Darragh Lucey, Yooni at the IGNITE Awards and Showcase at UCC's Devere Hall pre-Covid.  Picture: Darragh Kane
Nathan Mayes and Darragh Lucey, Yooni at the IGNITE Awards and Showcase at UCC's Devere Hall pre-Covid.  Picture: Darragh Kane

I went on to study electrical and electronic engineering in UCC, following my love of maths and physics. Having received a soccer scholarship and being in a very demanding course, there wasn’t a great deal of time left for much else outside of the course and socialising.

I subsequently graduated in 2017.

College is one of those time periods that you don’t really remember, but will never forget. An amazing period to grow and mature.

Post graduation, I knew I wasn’t ready to take on the real world just yet! Instead I took a year out, bought a backpack and a one way ticket to Asia, copying both of my older brothers in the process.

Luckily, for my mum’s mental well-being more than anything, I was accompanied by my best friends on our 10-month trip across Asia, New Zealand and South America. After a lifetime of hostels, flights, and alcohol, I returned home to start a business with my fellow backpacker, Nathan Mayes.

Nathan and I always knew we’d start a business together, and we figured why not do it as two eager, tanned (debatable) and broke 23-year-olds?

We came up with the concept for Yooni, a career guidance platform that uses technology to help students find their dream college course, and two years later we have students from every county in Ireland using the platform. Thankfully it is moving in the right direction and we have big hopes for the company.

athan Mayes and Darragh Lucey, founders of Yooni, both of whom are recent Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduates from UCC at Republic of Work, pre-Covid.
athan Mayes and Darragh Lucey, founders of Yooni, both of whom are recent Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduates from UCC at Republic of Work, pre-Covid.

In light of Covid, I set up another venture, Grade Academy, which provides tuition to Leaving Cert students in the form of concise exam driven revision courses all available online and on demand. Since its launch in September, Grade Academy has been well received from students across the country and it’s exciting to see where it might lead.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

This is a difficult one, it depends on the week we’ve had! Going out with my friends is an obvious one. Whether that be a night out in the town or cooking a group meal, you can count me in. Myself and my girlfriend, Laura, are definitely guilty of a Friday night takeaway, which is something I do not intend on stopping anytime soon.

Lie-ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

100% a morning lark. I’m at my most productive in the morning.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

I’d love to say that it doesn’t, but there are few start-up founders who are not guilty of a bit of weekend work. That being said, I always try to leave the more enjoyable aspects of the job for the weekend. That way it doesn’t affect the mood too much.

Darragh Lucey Cofounder of Yooni, far right.
Darragh Lucey Cofounder of Yooni, far right.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break and who would you bring with you?

My girlfriend Laura lives in Edinburgh, so weekend city breaks are always on the agenda. This is a tough one, I could probably name 100 places, but right now we are keen to visit Reykjavík, in Iceland. 

If money was no object, we’d stay in one of those glass bubble/igloo type hotels and watch the northern lights right above us. Hopefully when travel becomes regular again we can make it there.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

Anywhere where the sea is within view!

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Who doesn’t? Everyone in my social circle tend to be busy bees during the week, so the weekend is our time to grab a coffee or do something active.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Lots of hobbies, probably too many. When you’re involved in the everyday hustle of starting businesses, you need something to get your mind off things. I love to travel — once the travel restrictions are lifted I’ll be off on a plane as often as I can. I’ve also recently rejoined my boyhood soccer club Lakewood, which has been really enjoyable.

Entertain or be entertained?

Entertain, I got this from my dad. The hosting part, not the cooking. That was a skill I definitely inherited from my mum. When I do entertain, I’m often banned from drinks duty as I tend to be quite heavy handed. I love a good Indian takeaway though. I’ve been trying to mock up the Chicken Ruby recipe from Dishoom. After a few tries I can say that it’s definitely easier said than done.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

I would say that the food we are exposed to here in Cork is among the best in the world. Ali’s Kitchen for breakfast and Beantown Cafe for a coffee and sandwich. Jacob’s on the Mall and Elbow Lane are definitely up there for dinner. Though I’ve only been there once, Cafe Paradiso is a spectacular dining experience.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Generally Sunday evening is my time to get some work done and plan out the weekend ahead.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Most of the time I wake between 6 - 6.30am. 

I like to take my time in the morning and do things that are important to me. 

Getting them done first thing takes the pressure off for the rest of the day.

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