LIVING in East Cork with his wife Orsolya and their two kids Boty (6) and Emma (4), Gabor Molnar enjoys a quiet life.
Living in Cork since 2006, Gabor, who studied economics back home, worked in a coffee shop and in the Duty-Free shop at Cork Airport before applying to become a firefighter with Cork City Fire Brigade.
“I worked in Starbucks at the airport, it was my first job in Ireland, I had zero experience in fire fighting, but I was so fit everyone said I should go for it and I got in!”
Now an accomplished firefighter with seven years of experience working with emergencies in the city, Gabor said he loves what he does and calls it a job for life.
“I love it, it’s the type of job you either love or hate, it is perfect for me. It’s never the same, every day is different, so many varied calls, the rush of adrenaline when you get a call and it is nice to help people.” Gabor said he loves working with his colleagues.
“The comradery and the banter is great in the station, we are like a family, I love it.” Chatting about the type of emergency he is called to, Gabor said anything and everything.
“The common calls would be automatic smoke alarms, we are getting less and less fire calls, they are dying down. More ambulance assists, and rubbish fires, cardiac arrests, respiratory arrests.
“We are emergency first responders, so we can help save lives.” As well as this Gabor said they assist at river rescues, fallen trees and animal rescues. Any danger, we are called.”
On a daily basis, Gabor said they have a list of things to do on their shift while also being ready to jump in the truck at any time.
“We have one minute to get dressed and into the truck when the bell goes. Every day there is a routine, cleaning, check equipment, drills, but if you get a call, you go.
“We practice everything to keep it fresh in our minds. We practice cutting cars open, first aid training, swift water rescue. The job is always different, and it is not 9-5, it is never the same calls.
Gabor said he also enjoys doing demonstrations in schools for pupils on fire safety.
When not fighting fires and saving lives, the Hungarian father of two enjoys open water swimming and particularly loves a lap of Sandycove Island in Kinsale which is a popular swimming spot in Cork.
“I love swimming at Sandycove, I have completed 360 laps. I used to swim with a wetsuit, but then I started swimming in togs.
Since taking up swimming in 2008 when he took part in the Lee Swim, Gabor has gone on to complete a number of marathon swims, including completing the English Channel, swimming around Manhattan Island in New York and the Catalina Channel swim.
Gabor has also run 19 marathons since 2011, but says swimming is his real passion “I love the friendly people and the atmosphere at Sandycove. When I did the Lee Swim in 2008, in a wetsuit, I was still smoking and I started swimming more and more, colleagues told me to go to Sandycove, so I did and I loved it, I made loads of friends, friends for life.”
Getting ready to swim the English Channel, Gabor trained for 11 months, swimming 40km a week between the pool and open water.
“If you want to swim better, you have to swim more.” The channel swimmer said he was coached by Eilis Burns and received a great deal of advice from veteran marathon swimmer Ned Denison.
“I would say Eilis Burns is the number one long-distance swim coach in Ireland and Ned Denison is not a coach but I would say the “leader” of the Sandycove group. I have a lot to thank him for.” Gabor completed the 21 miles in 14 hours and 18 minutes.
Living in Mogeely, Gabor is closed to Ballycotton and Garryvoe beach and swims there also, but said he has a soft spot for the swimming community in Sandycove.
Back in 2011, Gabor took on the challenge of completing an Ironman in Hungary. An Ironman consists of a 3.9km swim, 180km bike and marathon run.
“I didn’t train properly, I just wanted to tick the box and I suffered big time. I paid the price for not training but did it!” Gabor also swam around Manhattan Island in 2011, a colossal 48.5km in eight and a half hours.
“All I was doing was working and training, I was single with no kids, I had more time.” A year after completing the Manhattan Island swim, Gabor did the Catalina Swim, and afterwards went to Las Vegas and got married.
“We went to college together, but drifted apart and we got chatting on Facebook, she was in Hungary and I was in Cork. We met in New York when I was doing the swim, and we got married a year later.
Now, the firefighter says he enjoys gardening at home and has an array of vegetables that he is nurturing.
“I have cucumber, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic and herbs. It is my first season so it is trial and error. I am learning from my mistakes. I enjoy it and it is good for the kids to see where their food is coming from.”