Interview 2: Ronan Gargan, Irish Ambassador To Hungary

  • 14 Apr 2021 9:15 PM
Interview 2: Ronan Gargan, Irish Ambassador To Hungary
1. What’s been happening at work and at home since your first Xpat Interview?

Click here to read his first interview

A lot has happened in the last year. I would never have guessed that when I did my first interview in February 2020 that we were days away from a global pandemic which confined us to our homes for much of 2020 and 2021.

At work, the focus of the Embassy switched to supporting Irish citizens here in Hungary deal with the effects of the pandemic while much of our political, cultural and economic work went virtual. While I have been disappointed that I have not had the opportunity to continue my travels throughout this wonderful country meeting and greeting, our virtual programme of events and meetings have enabled the Embassy to continue strengthening bilateral relations.

Most recently, we enjoyed producing a very successful St. Patrick’s Day celebration with lots of ceol, damhsa, caint agus craic! (music, dance, talk and fun). At home, it’s been a mixture of the challenges of home schooling two young children while enjoying more time and fun with my fabulous family.

2. On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you with your life in Hungary, and why?

10 of course. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, my family and I have enjoyed living in Hungary with great food and wine, great culture, great places to visit and of course great people.

3. What’s the best party you’ve been to while in Hungary, and why?

While unfortunately there has not been much opportunity to party during the pandemic, I think that best party I have been at since my time in Hungary was the Embassy’s annual Christmas party in December 2019.

My family and I had a great time getting to know the amazing Irish community here in Hungary and celebrating with them Christmas which is such a special time of year. A close second was the St. Andrew’s Day Ball in November 2019 where I met many new friends. Most recently, I really enjoyed the ‘Irish Night In’ virtual St. Patrick’s Day party organised by the Irish Hungarian Business Circle.

4. What’s your favourite drink?

I have to say Guinness but quickly followed by wine red, and in particular red wine made from the Kékfrankos grape, which I discovered since my arrival in Hungary.

5. What hidden talents do you have?

I do not have many as with me, what you see is what you get but I can play guitar – very badly!

6. What was the most interesting travel trip you have ever taken?

Apart from my honeymoon in Hawaii, the most interesting and thought provoking travel I did was to the Middle East, spending time in Jerusalem and Palestine, including Gaza.

7. If you were given a wish that could come true, what would you ask for?

Right now, it would be a wish to end the pandemic and the suffering it is bringing to many and to get back to Ireland to see my family and friends again.

8. What’s the last book you read, and movie you watched?

The last book I read was “Leonard and Hungry Paul” by Irish author Rónán Hession, a great and uplifting book about life. The last movie I watched was actually a documentary about Jack Charlton, the most successful manager of the Irish football team that helped change Ireland for the better. A very moving film about his life and his final years battling with dementia.

9. If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?

First, I would be very surprised if someone wrote a biography about me but if they did, perhaps the title would be “The Quietly effective Irishman”!

10. What is the perfect pizza toppings combination for you?

My favourite pizza is Napoletana with anchovy – simple but super tasty.

11. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, real or fictional, with whom would it be?

I am not sure I want to trade places with anyone, even for a week as I am very happy as myself. But I would enjoy being a professional golfer for a week, perhaps during the week of the British Open or the US Masters!

12. On a scale of 1 to 10 how unusual are you, and why?

1 – I am not unusual at all – I hope! Maybe liking anchovy pizza makes me unusual?!

13. What’s the best website you’ve ever visited, and why?

The best website I visit on a daily basis is irishtimes.com as it keeps me up to date with all that is going on back home and also has great articles about sport, culture, politics and much more.

14. Who do you admire the most, and why?

I admire a lot of people, from everyday people dealing with challenges such as illness with dignity and bravery to world leaders striving to make positive change. But the one person I admire the most was John Hume, the architect of the Irish peace process and who fought all his life for peace, reconciliation and equality.

15. What do you like best and least about living in Hungary?

There are many good things about living in Hungary but the best about it is getting to know a wonderful country – its history, rich culture, great food and wine and amazing people and even trying to learn its language! What a like least about living in Hungary right now is the pandemic which is denying my family and I from enjoying this country to the full.

16. What has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?

Lots of events have impacted my life – meeting my wife, getting married, raising a family, experiencing loss. But I think that overall the biggest impact on my life was education – embracing learning, enjoying it and taking advantage of all the opportunities that education offered me.

17. If you won USD 30 million, what would you do with the money?

That is a lot of money. First and foremost, I would help my family and friends. Second, I would help charities close to the hearts of my wife and I. And, after the end of the pandemic, organise a big holiday with all my family and friends. But I have learnt that money does not bring happiness – being with family and friends and creating new experiences makes me happy. Having some money could help with that.

18. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Probably a song chosen by many but it would have to be “Always look on the bright side of life” by Monty Python. The other song would be the song I danced to with my wife, Michelle, for the first time: “Someone like you” by Van Morrison.

19. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

I know it’s obvious but it would be Ireland – not just because it is a wonderful country to live but it means I would be close to my family and friends.

20. In ten years from now what will you be doing?

I have no idea. But I hope to be still a loving husband and father and have continued developing my career as a diplomat.

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