Q: Your passion is clearly bicycles and sustainable engineering. Can you tell us a little bit about how these two themes first entered your life and began to shape who you are now?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been passionate about bikes. With two older brothers urging me on, we used to race each other around the park or jump off makeshift ramps, trying to leap further and higher – often coming down with a bang!
Likewise, I’ve always loved playing with Lego and constantly tried to re-think the standard box sets; trying to make them work better or look cooler. This led to me becoming an engineer, spending three years in Cambridge in the UK working on the conservation of historic buildings and the design of new structures sympathetic to the city’s unique architecture.
Q: It’s incredible that you did a world tour and, along with your teammate, earned the title of being the first Irish person to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle. What inspired that trip, and what lessons did you take away from it?
The idea originated back when I was a teenager after cycling the length of Ireland. Despite being unprepared and unfit, I realised that the saddle of my bike was the best vantage point to see the world. Over the following years, my mate Fearghal and I flung about different ideas of countries we wanted to visit until it eventually evolved into doing a full lap of the earth.
The trip gave a fresh perspective both on the world and myself. It showed how people the world over are kind, despite what you often see on the news. The hospitality that we received was incredible, with people going miles out of their way to bring us food and water or make sure we had a safe place to sleep.
People always ask me if it was painful and that surely my legs (and bum!) were sore. In truth, cycling around the world is not about physical strength or fitness; it’s about having the mental strength to keep going, even when faced with huge challenges. I learned how I could push myself further than I ever imagined and how with the right mind-set, I could achieve anything I dreamed of.
Q: Other than LittleBig, what is the most unique engineering project you’ve ever worked on?
I was lucky enough to work on the 16th century Tudor manor house Sawston Hall, near Cambridge. It had lots of unique features including a tiny secret room where priests could hide if under attack. In 1553, Queen Mary the First had stayed the night while fleeing imprisonment. Soldiers torched the building as she was chased off, causing major damage and, years later, making our engineering work pretty tricky.