Conor O’Donnchadha

Senior Software Engineer at Zendesk

County Mayo

Co. Mayo

One-On-One with Conor

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself, your job and how long you’ve lived in County Mayo?

Originally from rural Cork, I’m no stranger to the countryside. I’ve spent almost all of my life living far from other people, decent internet speeds, and any food delivery services! Fresh out of college in Cork I managed to get myself a job at an awesome mobile software house in Dublin. Almost 6 years later I’m still working in the mobile space as a Senior Software Engineer for Zendesk. I’ve lived in Mayo for over a year now, the intention was to buy a house and move in and live the remote work life. We got the house, but we’ve spent the last 11 months completely overhauling it while we rent a few kilometres away! 
Outside of work I’m an avid video gamer and history nerd. I’m also in the process of setting up an environmental charity with some close friends, so if you’d like to reduce that carbon footprint of yours check it out!

What attracted you to living and working in Mayo ?

Well, we have family here, and one day while visiting in the brief period of relaxed lockdowns last year we stumbled upon a house and fell in love. We never really intended to leave Dublin beforehand but we saw a chance to move and took it. In terms of living here it’s pretty good. There’s 3 major towns and if you’re in proximity to one of them then you’ll be set in terms of shops and other supplies. It helps that there’s a train line straight into Dublin, meaning if you do want to get back to the capital it’s relatively easy.

Can you walk us through a day in the life of living in Co. Mayo ?

Well it’s still hard to gauge because we’re still in relative lockdown. So far though it’s been great. I’m a country person at heart so I don’t really miss the big city amenities. There’s something to be said for going outside into a garden and being away from the constant noise of a city. My routine is pretty simple really, wake up a few minutes before my first meeting, make tea and then settle in for the day!

How would you describe transport within Mayo ? Is it easy to get around ?

If you live in one of the major towns then transportation is ok. Claremorris, Ballyhaunis, Westport, and Castelbar are all on the main train line to Dublin (2.5-3.5 hr journey time). Outside of that though you’re relying on Bus Eireann or private coach operators to get you around and even then they are far and few between. There’s a recently built motorway between Tuam and Galway (*ahem* Cork – Limerick motorway when?) which really cuts down the travel time into Galway. A car is a must have for living in Mayo. 

There is an airport with daily direct flights to 3 of the 5 London airports. Pre-pandemic there were decent options between Ryanair and Aer Lingus to a bunch of destinations in Europe but since then Ryanair is your main option and the destinations are a bit limited, but I have faith the airport will keep growing!

How fast/reliable is your home internet connection ?

I would take my own experience with a pinch of salt as I live quite a bit outside of the nearby towns catchment area. Most of the major towns in Mayo all have fibre connections and the national broadband plan expects to roll out new fibre lines over the next 12-18 months. Unfortunately I’m in one of the no fibre areas for now. But, we did recently get into the Starlink beta which has improved our internet speeds from a measly 3mb to 200+. If you can afford the startup and monthly costs (it’s not cheap) it’ll really make remote work from inaccessible places (remote-remote work?) viable.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite locations or attractions within Mayo ?

Mayo is genuinely filled with some of the most breathtaking and varied scenery in Ireland that I’ve seen. Killary Fjord is one of the few fjords in Ireland and driving along it is a serious experience. Asleagh falls, Cong, and Lough Mask are all in the same area and are worthy of visiting too. Some people from Galway will try and claim them as their own but don’t listen to them. Of course there’s also Croagh Patrick the “holy” mountain which is hugely popular to climb up (don’t be surprised if you see people climbing barefoot), and while I haven’t made the trek up myself it’s really quite spectacular to see.

On my list of places to visit is Achill Island, Downpatrick Head, and the Ceide Fields.

What advice do you have for individuals or families interested in relocating to Mayo ?

Own a car. It’s really so important. You could probably get by if you lived in one of the main towns but I still wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll find yourself stranded and isolated without one and if you’re coming from Dublin you will probably struggle. Outside of that, you’d best get interested in Gaelic Football because they’re mad about it here. I’m from a hurling stronghold myself and after tense negotiations I agreed with my partner that I’d support Cork in Hurling and Mayo in football. So spare a thought for me as I inevitably suffer heartbreak year after year in one, or both sports.

Thank you very much Conor for taking the time to talk with us and thank you for representing Co. Mayo as a Rural Ireland Tech Advocate.

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