As the G8 summit concluded at the 5-star Loch Erne Resort in Fermanagh last week the Nationalist had the perfect local connection to gain a unique inside view of the event.
Ferghal Purcell, Manager of the G8 hotel venue, was formerly Manager of Aherlow House Hotel, Co. Tipperary.
“The UK Prime Minister David Cameron was the first world leader to arrive on Sunday night,” said Ferghal.
“We were waiting for him all day but his scheduled arrival time kept changing. I was standing at the front desk when I saw this man coming towards me.
‘Hey Ferghal how’s it going it’s nice to be back!’ and I couldn’t believe it, he was just standing there. The last time I had met him was the morning after the fire at the hotel when they were deciding whether to bring the G8 to the Loch Erne Resort. He said: ‘It’s look’s a little different!’
“The weather was gorgeous which put everyone in a good mood and no doubt the beautiful venue played its part.
“All the leaders were in such a good mood and the weather was gorgeous. So that set the tone from the very beginning,” explained Ferghal.
“At one point we had 19 helicopters on the fairway bringing in leaders from all over the world but due to the months of planning everything was smooth.”
Angela Merkl earned the nickname, ‘Lady of the Lake’ when on the Monday night after the dinner , she took a boat ride across Loch Erne to another hotel where her media were staying to inform them of the events.
“She was a lovely lady and made a point of dining with her delegation when she wasn’t in the G8 discussions,” said Ferghal.
And, the question has to be asked, would you do it again?
“Yes, in a millisecond,” said Ferghal. “And I wouldn’t do anything differently.
“The staff and I had a ball and enjoyed the experience. Out of all the amazing moments that took place over the two days the highlight was when Prime Minister Cameron addressed the hotel staff on Tuesday evening.
“We had just pulled off what were in the Prime Minister’s words, ‘the very, very best G8 events ever’ and we had all played such a critical part in it.
“That was incredibly special. Afterwards I was sitting in the Leaders Lounge; I was tired and stressed and at the same time still on a high and I stopped and thought, wow, did we just pull this off?”
After the heartache of losing his own family run hotel, (Aherlow House Hotel), to becoming the General Manager of the 5-Star Loch Erne Resort in Fermanagh this had already been a rollercoaster period for Ferghal.
Now, on top of being chosen as the hotel venue for the G8 summit and winning the prestigious Hotelier of the Year Award 2013 and then hosting the G8 summit itself, Ferghal has been invited by Prime Minister Cameron to have drinks at Downing Street – I wonder will he arrive early?