Originally from Limerick, David McMahon has spent the best part of his life living outside Ireland, in England. A recent return visit to his home country saw David reconnect with places his family have ties with, and it also saw him continue his journey towards rejecting the traditional 9-5 framework.
An experienced professional, David works as a product manager for a not-for-profit organisation called Cool Farm Alliance, an online greenhouse gas calculator for global agriculture, who are leading the way with sustainable goals and technologies. David’s plan is to move away from the typical brick-and-mortar idea of working life – by making the most of coworking spaces all around the world, including the PorterShed in Galway – and embracing a new approach.
“I decided back last summer that I would work in different locations, because my work is entirely online,” David explains.
“The organization I work for doesn’t have a physical building, and I recognized that I had the freedom to decide where I work.”
David’s first step was to move from London to Brighton on the English coast. Having spent time in university there previously, he knew the place well and decided to live in an Airbnb to avoid contracts on his place of residence. Shortly after, he visited Ireland and Galway, where his father is originally from.
“I’m from Ireland originally, so it’s a chance to reconnect with where I’ve come from…I left Ireland when I was 11 with my family, did my secondary education and lived subsequently in England,” he explains.
“Being able to come here to Galway and be my own master day-to-day, travel where I want, when I want, and catch up with family has meant that I’ve formed a different relationship and identity with my homeland, which has been fantastically rich for me.”
For David, the PorterShed represents an authentic future of working. Indeed, he points to hubs in general as centres that could help people work and live in locations all over the world – as somewhere people can move to, rather than staying in a single location year after year.
“When I searched online for co-working spaces in Galway, I saw that PorterShed had exactly that kind of profile which was the technology, entrepreneur, creative energy, which is exactly what I wanted to be working alongside,” he said.
“That’s where I think more and more people will realize, ‘well, if I don’t have to go into the office, why do I have to stay in this address?’ and I think that will create a lot of opportunity for both the worker to live in different places – it could make them happier – and for the co-working spaces to expand.”
After leaving Galway, David’s plan was to pass back through London before moving on to Paris for a number of months. After that, he has his sights on moving to New York for a few months. Beyond that, perhaps another European city? The idea is to soak up different cultures, become ingrained in the communities, and connect with different places in new ways. But there was always going to be time for Galway, as David explains.
“Galway’s where the craic is. Galway is famous the world-over for the music, the entertainment, the wild west coast – and it’s just beautiful. So, I’m really grateful for all that. The other cities in Ireland have all got different things going for them, but they haven’t spoken to me in the same way.”
David is also being very responsible and sustainably-minded as he travels from one location to another. Owing to his professional background working for a greenhouse gas calculator, he is well aware of how important it is to reduce our carbon footprint and make smart, eco-friendly choices.
“One of the things I’m trying to do as I move around Europe is see if I can do that just using trains and not flying. My sister, Christine, is actually going to cycle to Berlin…she’s doing it as a challenge and because she can, so it’s going to be 700 kilometres, so she’ll do 100 kilometres a day. She knows already that she can do that, because she’s done it around London. So, there are different ways we can look at the challenge of what we do with our carbon emissions, and there are ways that we can have fun by making it into a positive experience.”
David’s lived reality of moving from place to place as a nomadic professional highlights his own hunger to experience new places and new things – and it again underlines just how important hubs like the PorterShed are to fostering people like David’s ambitions. As David himself points out, the more interaction and travel we begin to see moving forward, the more shared ideas and innovations that will likely result off the back of it.
“More people moving around, more people talking to each other is going to fertilize a lot of exchange of ideas, and we’ll see a big uptake in innovation as a result,” he explains.
By Trevor Murray