Legal Tech Systems Specialist
Allen & Overy
One-On-One with Dermot
I work as a ‘Legal Tech Systems Specialist’ for Allen & Overy, a large global legal firm. Though my job title is a little misleading, I am really a technology generalist. My days can be wide and varied from writing code to designing and maintaining infrastructure. I am also a keen cyclist and photographer.
I was born in Tyrone but have not always lived here. I graduated Ulster University in 2003 with a degree in Computer Science and went out into the world to put my education to use, spoiler alert: I was ill prepared!
After a few years in Belfast, I moved to London for a year after which, via a short plane ride, I found myself in the depths of the vibrant IT sector in Melbourne Australia. I spent a few years working in the big city until my wife and I made the move to her native Tasmania. I worked remotely there for over 5 years, in that time I became ingrained with the local startup culture of Tasmania and Australia in general. I was one of the founding members of a successful coworking space, the co-founder of a business accelerator, an co-organiser with one of the largest meetup groups on the planet – Silicon Beach Australia. All while working full time as a kind of jack of all things IT for one of Australia/New Zealand’s largest software companies, MYOB.
I returned to NI in 2017 and after a few years in Belfast I moved pre-pandemic back to my home village in Tyrone. I am a huge believer in remote working and the power of regional co-working hubs as part of the future of work.
What attracted you to living and working in Tyrone ?
We felt it was a great place to bring up our son, with a great support network around, and the freedom of living in the countryside. We have fibre broadband right to the house, that was a huge selling point.
Tyrone is the largest county in Northern Ireland & Ulster stretching from the shores of Lough Neagh, to the Donegal border with a section of the beautiful Sperrins to its North. I absolutely love the geography of Tyrone, so it was difficult to resist.
Can you walk us through a day in the life of living in Tyrone ?
I live in a very rural area, on a road which has grass in the middle in places, so the morning sounds consist of chirping birds rather than traffic. Working from home my days are broken up by the odd lunchtime and evening walk with the dog and/or family. I try to take a trip into Omagh once a week to treat myself to a nice coffee with a lunch or breakfast.
On days I go to the office I like to start off early and beat the traffic, leaving around 6.30am, those days can be long but I don’t mind the drive,a good chance to listen to music and podcasts uninterrupted. The local cycle club also keeps me occupied when COVID restrictions allow.
On the weekends we like to go exploring, visiting different parks and forests walks. I am also a keen photographer which fills up a lot of my spare time.
We have friends and family all around the world so we try to catch up with them and do some gaming with my son as often as possible.
How would you describe transport within Tyrone ? Is it easy to get around ?
Honestly it’s not great unless you have a car, a definite down side, which means we have become a two car family for the first time ever. There are some town bus services in large spots like Omagh, rural services are pretty poor. There are bus services to Belfast and Dublin from the larger towns. But personally I find it faster and cheaper to drive, though Portadown train station is not far and very handy for the train to Dublin and Belfast. I do wish we had a rail connection in Tyrone, perhaps one day!
How fast/reliable is your home internet connection ?
In my local area most houses have fibre to the home so the connection is extremely fast, I opted for 100/30 connection, which actually runs at about 110/30 but there is an option to go to the full gigabit if desired, latency can be around 20ms at times though, but its never been an issue for us. I know many rural areas in Tyrone are not as lucky, but work is on going to roll out fast internet to most homes in NI.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite locations or attractions within Tyrone ?
That could be a long list, I love getting outdoors, so places like the Gortin Glens forest park with lots of walks and mountain bike trails are brilliant. We can spend an entire day there sometimes. Omagh is a fantastic place for modern food and coffee now, my favourite place being ‘The Kitchen Omagh’. I am looking forward to getting into OM Dark Sky Park & Observatory in Davagh forest when it opens soon. For history the Ulster American Folk park offers a great insight into the history of Ireland and the migration trail to America in the 19th century.
What advice do you have for individuals or families interested in relocating to Tyrone ?
Tyrone is a fantastic place to be based, smack bang in the middle of the northern part of our Island. There is lots to see and do, and it’s a great place for families especially. Everything is so accessible from Tyrone, a beach in Donegal is less than an hour away, Belfast, Derry, and Craigavon are all easily accessible for work and shopping. Even getting to Dublin is much easier these days from Tyrone, either by car or, as I prefer, drop into Portadown and jump on the train. Just make use of the BT broadband checker to make sure you have a fast connection available in the area you choose!
Thank you very much Dermot for taking the time to talk with us and thank you for representing Co. Tyrone as a Rural Ireland Tech Advocate.