A year after his family hotel business went into receivership in the Glen of Aherlow, Ferghal Purcell has been entrusted with the honour of hosting the leaders of the most powerful countries in the world.
Now manager of the five star Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen, the former Tipperary hotelier will extend a warm welcome to Obama, Merkel and co when they attend the G8 summit there next June.
The genial Mr Purcell is riding an emotional rollercoaster. From suffering the heartbreak of leaving the Glen of Aherlow to being catapulted into the global spotlight has seen him traverse the lowest moments to the ultimate career opportunity.
Mr Purcell and his team will be responsible for ensuring that the needs of US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the other state leaders are satisfied when they check in.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, to come from the low of having to leave the Glen, to David Cameron informing me that we would be hosting the G8, it does not come much bigger than that,” said Ferghal.
“It’s been an unreal journey for me personally. I was at the very bottom a year ago after leaving the Glen and now to be involved in such an enormous and prestigious world wide event. It feels like a dream, all the staff here are still in absolute shock and bewildered by the whole thing, it has not sunk in yet,” he said.
Ferghal, who commutes to County Fermanagh from his family home in Kilross, said the messages of support from all his friends in the Glen of Aherlow following the announcement meant a lot to him.
After a one hour visit to the resort on Tuesday of last week, British PM Cameron left the hotel to make the official announcement to the media during a visit to a factory in Armagh that Fermanagh would host the G8.
“Once David Cameron left the resort we opened up eight bottles of champagne to celebrate, than another eight, it was such a wonderful thrill for all of the staff here,”
Once the champagne celebration was over Ferghal started to to draw up his ‘things to do list’
“The list just went on and on for twenty pages, preparation for the event began in earnest once David Cameron left the resort. We are all on a mission now to ensure everything is perfect for when the world leaders visit this wonderful area,” he remarked.
Ferghal ran the Aherlow House Hotel from November 2002 to November 2011 with his wife Helen and with sons Daelyn working as a chef and Nicky as barman.
“Like a lot of other people our business fell victim to the recession. I love the Glen and my family were heartbroken when we had to leave Aherlow House Hotel,” cpommented Ferghal.
“We loved the Glen. We had found the place where we wanted to live for the rest of our lives. We made a lovely home there and the people of the Glen of Aherlow are fantastic. We were very happy living in such a beautiful place. Unfortunately like a lot of others we suffered in the recession and we just did not have the recourses to continue,” said Ferghal.
After the family business went into receivership, he took up a job as manager of the Lough Erne Resort on November 7 last year and now his first anniversary in Enniskillen has been marked by an incredible announcement.
“It’s an immense challenge. There were a number of properties in the running for it so we were thrilled to get the nod. We are all very lucky to get this opportunity. All of the superb staff are ready for the challenge. It’s very exciting for us all and we now have to deliver,” said Ferghal who expressed confidence in the 180 strong staff at the resort in their ability to meet the daunting task that lies ahead.