The front door swung open at our Airbnb outside Killarney, and the smiling owner ushered us inside. “Leave your bags here,” he said. “Come have a cup of tea.”
Almost an hour later, when we headed upstairs to the comfy room he had prepared for us, we’d learned quite a bit about our host, Patrick Tuohy. We’d discovered he was more than a classic example of Irish hospitality and warmth; he was also in the process of changing his life.
Burnt out by corporate life with too much stress and too little time for himself, Patrick had been ready for a change. When we met him in April, he was well into a year-long sabbatical. Light-hearted, easy going and jovial, he projected friendliness and comfort in lingering with guests over a cup of tea and describing walks in the Irish hills. It was difficult to imagine him in a business suit enduring long hours and business travel that drained his soul.
“You wouldn’t have recognised me a few months ago,” he told us. “My lifestyle was destroying me. I needed a way out”.
His “way out” came by converting his spacious house into an Airbnb with three ensuite rooms, and pouring all that Irish hospitality into making it the best place he could create.
The transition wasn’t easy. He had no office to go to. No presentations to prepare. No company car. After thirty-seven years working for an automotive company—working his way up to a senior supply chain manager with enormous responsibilities—he was now only responsible for himself. At first it felt strange, then it felt comfortable, and then it became wonderful. And once the year was up for his work sabbatical, Patrick made another decision—he was never going back.
He was also well along in building a successful enterprise in his home — so far he’s hosted 314 people from 24 countries and has had excellent reviews, with such comments as “Professionalism as always with Patrick”, “Patrick even gave me a lift to my next accommodation in Killarney”, “As long as I am touring the country, Patrick’s will be my first choice” and “Patrick went over and beyond his role as host, making sure from start to finish I was as happy as could be in my home away from home”.
In the time we spent in his home, we arrived as welcomed guests and left as valued friends. Patrick shared some thoughts about his journey.
Q. Did you have any fear or trepidation about stepping away from your corporate lifestyle?
Patrick. I was terrified. I’d have no income, loss of status, and an unknown future. My decision to start up my Airbnb project was the inspiration I needed. Now I am working for myself, at my own pace and using my own space. The world is coming to my home and I am making lots of new contacts and friends.
Q. When and how did you realise you wanted to make a changes in your life?
Patrick. In May, 2015, I crashed from too much pressure from work and family deaths. It built up over a period of time but I ignored the warning signs. I’d worked for more than thirty-seven years, and had part time jobs while going to school and college, and I finally realized I needed a life change.
Q. How long did it take to make the decision to leave work and what were your first steps?
Patrick. It took about two and a half years to make the break from corporate life. My Airbnb project was my salvation. The steps I took included studying the options, listening to the advice of others, analyzing if this step was okay for me to make and stopping worrying. The Airbnb idea was suggested to me by family members so I restructured my mortgage and negotiated early retirement from my company.
Q. Compare your lifestyle today to that of a year ago.
Patrick. I took up cycling and have lost two and a half stone (35 lbs) so my health is much better. I’m now meeting people from all over the world and I have plenty of “me” time. My outlook on life is better than ever, and I am rarely stressed as I now have the freedom to manage and improve my lifestyle. Work rarely enters my mind—I have disconnected myself almost completely except for keeping in contact with some of my work friends.
In my case, I am separated with no children so I had only myself to think about. But I have learned that life is a one-trip journey and I’ve discovered an awesome world out there. Change can be scary but that only lasts a short time, in my opinion.