Surrounded by the best

This week marks my last week working in The Anglo-Celt newsroom for the summer. Yet again, it feels like the end of an era. I have had a lot of those lately - leaving home, leaving Belgium, leaving Malta and now leaving my desk here in the Celt.

When it comes to learning, I have always had mentors no matter where I looked in the office. For the past five years, I have sat at the one desk each time I came into the office, be it summer holidays or Christmas break.

Looking up, I would see Seamus batter away on his keyboard, putting out thousands of stories per week. If ever there was motivation to work harder, Seamus would be it. Those who don’t know him could mistake him for a machine when it comes to productivity. Yet, somehow, he still manages to be the kindest and most encouraging person in the office. He has answered several of my questions down through the years, he keeps everybody in home baked goods, chocolate, fruit, tea, coffee and inspiration. He doesn’t just listen but gets up from his desk and pulls over a chair to help. Think of the best colleague you have, Seamus is better.

Tilting my head slightly to the right was Sean McMahon, who used to share his tricks of the trade. A great man with a camera, he was one of those who would ask you a question, which he already knew the answer to, but of course he would ask it anyway. He loved people’s reactions and having a bit of craic. Sean thought me how to be quick with my answers.

Directly to my right was Thomas Lyons who spoke fluent sarcasm but, in the best way. He was always up for a laugh and remained cool, calm and collected in every situation. You could ask him anything, nothing was too big. From Thomas, I learned that there is a story in everything, every local business, every person, each of them has a story to tell.

Behind me was Damian, a perfectionist but thankfully I love criticism and his is always constructive. To this day, Damian still tells me to bring a chair over to his desk, when he will go through something I have written word for word, explaining what is good and what I need to work on. He goes above and beyond to explain and will tell you when you have messed up. In my Transition Year days, I was afraid of Damian, however as I got older, I copped on and appreciated that he aims for continuous improvement.

To my left and slightly behind was Linda, pulling us all together and keeping us all on track. I’m lucky to have a few mammies in my life and I would describe her as one of them. From day one, she assured that she has everybody’s back. Although she is technically my boss, she has never felt like that. She delegates and she trusts, never over your shoulder, which I adore. You can tell her anything, be it work related or the ins and outs of your personal life, she's that kind of boss. Her famous line being “don’t panic, we will get the paper out!”

I always say I am blessed to be in that office, with mentors every side of me no matter where I look. You always hear that the world of journalism is dog eat dog, every man and woman for themselves in a rat race to try and get a story published first. The Celt office was never like this, and I am glad to have started in an office where people help each other and work toward one common goal of getting the paper out.

This time around the office has changed slightly, but the ethos remains the same. I now sit at Thomas’ desk with Michelle in front of me and Michael beside me. Michelle is simply hilarious, great craic and Michael is always up for a chat about anything. Paul Fitz breezes in and breezes out, a well for everyone before sticking his head in his laptop.

Each time I come to this office, I learn something new. This time around I learned that we are all just human. That might sound daft, but most times before going to interview somebody, I would get extremely nervous. They’re always extremely admirable and have done something unbelievable. A few names come to mind in particular when writing this but one person I said it to was David Crosby. David endured a double lung transplant and survived Covid. He had to say goodbye to his family twice. He not only survived but ran three marathons since and hopes to do three more in the future, after he gets a kidney transplant. The man had been through so much and I found his strength both inspirational and intimidating.

Speaking to him, he told me about going to his local with his oxygen tank, where his friends used his cannula to cool and add more life to their pints.

“What do you mean, sure I’m no different from you,” he says, laughing at my fear of going to interview him.

After receiving a smart answer in a class in Malta, one of my lecturers remarked that he loves people of character. The comment has always stuck with me; we are all people of character and working in this office I have had the opportunity to meet those characters.

Starting my final year in the next few weeks, I have no idea what I want to do after college, and I think I speak for a lot of final year students when I say that. For now, the plan is to enjoy my last year in Limerick and see where I end up.

* Gemma Good is from Killeshandra and a third year journalism student in University of Limerick


Taking chances and giving people a chance