Eamon Quinlan is a Fianna Fáil Councillor from Waterford. A former Mayor of Waterford City & Governor of University College Cork, Eamon represents the Tramore / Waterford City West area. A lover of history and a recent law graduate, Cllr. Quinlan has always been actively involved in his community – and is incredibly proud of his Waterford roots. Striving to make people’s lives better through his role as a councillor, Cllr. Quinlan has been central to bringing about positive changes and exciting projects in the pipeline since his election in 2014.
What were you like growing up, did you always think you’d end up where you are today?
As a small kid, I was always running off on my parents in town. I loved history books, played GAA, rugby and soccer for clubs all at the same time – I was sports mad. I was an altar boy too. I used to watch the news every night, and always knew I wanted to be involved in my community. Public life was an early ambition for me, as I felt it was a role where you get to dip into every aspect of your community. I hoped I’d be where I am today, but it was quite the journey.
Who would you say has been your greatest inspiration?
It’s got to be my parents. They are local, worked all their lives, raised a family. My dad started his own business which set the example for us to be entrepreneurial to improve our lives. My mam went out to work even with small kids. They showed me that so long as you look after the basics like family and ensure you have supportive people around you, anything can be overcome.
What does your ideal weekend look like?
When you’re on the go all the time, the ideal weekend is with family and friends. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I don’t have to go anywhere in particular. Chilled out chats, good food, some sun, maybe even a drink, would be my ideal weekend right here. That might sound a bit sad but when crazy is the norm, you really appreciate the little quiet times in life.
What’s your favourite ever piece of art (book, film, song, album) and why?
Probably the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. It is a 14 book saga. It is all one continuous story spanning about 14,000 pages. A fantasy epic like Lord of the Rings. I read it as a teenager and go back to it periodically. It’s about good and evil but not on a grand scale. It shows how worldwide events are centred more down to the day to day choices of individuals choosing to do good in their small corner of the world.
What is your pride and joy in life?
You’re going to get me killed by my girlfriend if I don’t say her. I’ll take my chances. My work and the role I have in our community. The level of trust people place in me, getting to work with people on issues that genuinely matter most to them. It is so unique and I can’t think of anything comparable. I think it has helped shape me as a person. I get to share in peoples’ wins and help them in their losses. It is almost vocational in nature and I love it.
What would you say is your worst characteristic?
My friends tell me I have an awful habit of tuning out when the group chats about things I have no interest in or completely changing the subject when I am done with something. Now that I am aware of it, I mostly do it just to wind up my mates.
What is your pet hate?
I’m not very adventurous food wise. I do try new things from time to time but I hate being out at a meal and have people pushing me to try something I’m pretty sure I won’t like.I then can’t finish it as I don’t like it, I’m still hungry and everyone is still getting onto me that I’m too fussy an eater.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Definitely to calm down. Not everything needs to be achieved ASAP or it will be lost. Many things take time and if you are too focused on one thing, you fail to keep yourself open to new experiences. Life’s a journey, you don’t have it figured out at an early stage and that’s ok.
What is it that you love most about Waterford?
It’s history. The place is just littered with it. From city walls to old buildings, squares, street names with rich meanings, old parts of the City who had famous people living there or famous events happen. I think we take it a bit for granted growing up here but you see the lack of it when you go to other places.
Tell me something interesting about you that not everyone will know.
My mother used to take me to the old Metropole where the Fitzwilton Hotel is now, when I was about 8 for ballroom dancing lessons. I won some Waltz competition for like under 10’s back in the day. I don’t know how my dad let that slip through the cracks!
If you could change one thing in the world what would that be?
People not being able to talk about things from a sense of shame. We are diviI’s for it in Ireland. From sending kids to school without breakfast and it affecting their concentration, to not being able to talk about mental health pressures, insecurities, not having the few bob to turn on the lights or say you need help with your education. There are so many supports out there for people and they are there for good people to improve their lives but people don’t talk about them so never come across the solutions to their problems. Be kind to yourself and talk about yourself.
If you could do or be anything else – what would you choose?
Probably a teacher. I get involved in a lot of groups and the idea of shaping young minds, helping people and so on is something that strikes me as very rewarding. It’s one of those roles in our community that has a positive ripple effect out across people’s lives for years to come.
Do you have regrets, or are you someone who always looks forward?
Ah yeah, absolutely. A role like mine, the stakes sometimes for people’s lives can be so high, if you don’t get the needed result, you will question what you could have done better. The trick is not to be overwhelmed by it but rather learn from it for the future. Anyone who fails to learn from their past in this job will simply perpetuate these mistakes again and again in new people’s lives and that’s not acceptable.
If you could choose to travel anywhere in the world what would be your destination?
Two years ago, I would have said Rome as I am obsessed with Greco-Roman history but I got to go then, so my next place I would love to see would be Athens. The history in physical form and vibrancy would be something I would personally enjoy very much.
Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
Here. I have a number of projects for the community that in a year’s time will hopefully be realised. Career wise, I hope I will have advanced my Law qualifications beyond my LLB to proper practicing. Hopefully in some ways, Covid will be a distant memory by then.