FRENCH man Pierre Mehdi-Hadbi moved to Cork when he was 19 and says living in ‘The Real Capital’ was the making of him.
Pierre, aged 31, who works as a Technical Officer in Biological Sciences at MTU Cork campus, had dreams of playing rugby when he moved to Ireland and is now a rugby referee in Munster.
“I moved to Cork to study at UCC for a semester, then I went back to France for the summer and came back to MTU, then CIT, the year after.
“When I first came to Cork I promised myself I would learn to play rugby, I grew up watching Keith Woods, Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer and as a kid I always wanted to play.
“Then I got the opportunity to referee and it was like playing rugby without getting hammered!”
Pierre said that every game is different and he enjoys that.
“You could be refereeing an U16 game or a women’s game or a seniors match, you get to travel to new places and explore new areas and it forces you out of your comfort zone.”
The young Frenchman said that refereeing also taught him to have confidence in his decision making and to stick to the facts.
After completing his undergraduate degree in pharma biotechnology and a postgraduate degree in Microbiology at MTU, Pierre was hired to work in the labs at a technical officer.
“I love working at MTU, it is a great place to work, it is a very empowering workplace and very inclusive, there is a great international community here and a lot of opportunities to develop your skills. There are great responsibilities to take on, if you want it.”
Pierre really enjoys working in Biological Sciences.
“It is an area I am very comfortable with. I like science and I love microbiology. I enjoy working with microorganisms. There is a sense of fulfillment from my work.”
Now a father of two young girls, Aelia, aged three, and Ellie, who is eight weeks old, Pierre says he loves taking his family, including his fiance Avril Hurley, on adventures in the park, at the beach, in the woods and at playgrounds.
Their three dogs — a Shih-Tzu Gabby who is 12, a french bulldog who is five and a poodle called Dave, who is two — also accompany them.
The MTU tech officer said he currently is working from home, most of the time, which he enjoys as he is around his daughters a bit more.
“I’m constantly on the go, things happen so fast, I haven’t time to be bored.”
The family also has an allotment in Ballincollig where he is growing his own vegetables.
“It is funny, growing up, we had a bit of land in France and I promised my father I would never again have an allotment because of all the weeding and work, but here I am!”
Pierre, who is from Nuits-Saint-Georges, near Dijon in France, says he is a Corkman at heart.
“I miss my family but Cork is home for me and my family,” Pierre said, “It is frustrating not being able to visit at the moment, but we keep in good contact. We call home about three times a week and text the whole time.”
The Frenchman said he loves how in Ireland everyone knows someone else.
“It is amazing how connected people are here, it is like a parish. The pride people have of where they are from is brilliant. You could be from a small village in the county and you would be proud to play for your home.”
Pierre also has a deep passion for history and has been reading up on Irish history throughout the lockdowns.
“I’m very taken with Cork, I made friends very early on UCC and we are still friends now. I love sports and used to play five a side at The Glen Sports Complex every Saturday.
“I got to know Cork from walking around and visiting various places. I met a lot of people that way.”
Pierre says he was a laidback individual anyway but being in Cork has enhanced that quality. One of the things he really enjoys is the Irish phrase, “It’ll be grand.”
“There is a different mindset in Cork, we don’t have that in France. It makes you think about what is really important instead of getting stressed about small things.”