This month we catch up with the new President of An Óige, Dave Fadden who has taken over from George King.
1.What makes our mission meaningful to you? An Óige challenges young people to embrace travel in an adventurous way particularly by foot or by bike. This is something that can alter a person’s whole approach to life in how to impact on the world, to appreciate diverse cultures and to realise that richness in life is not the same as material wealth.
2. What is your favourite hostel and why? It’s a toss up between Glenmalure and Knockree Hostels both in County Wicklow. Glenmalure has great simple charm in a wonderful valley but the view from Knockree is spectacular
3. Who is the most interesting person you met in a hostel? I actually cannot answer this question. What I found from hostelling is that I met hundreds of fascinating people of all ages who loved and lived the hostelling way
4. How can An Óige help the environment? An Óige does so in practical ways, for example, in establishing a native Irish woodland at Knockree hostel. Also the ethos of An Óige encourages sustainable travel and encourages people to leave a small footprint on their journey. An Óige could do more by co-operating with other environmental organisations to help protect the environment.
5. Do you have a childhood/defining moment when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? Not really but I remember when I was 18 I travelled with An Óige to the American national parks and always wanted to get involved with national parks in Ireland. That wish came about when I was 27 and I ended up being responsible for the national parks for a while.
6. Tell us one place you would love to visit again. I have travelled all over the world but I would like to visit Skeilig Mhichíl in County Kerry again. A magical place
7. If you were going hostelling and had to bring three famous people, who would you invite? I would probably pick three powerful egotistical people to see if the experience of hostelling might give them an alternative worldview (starting with Donal Trump! I know, you need to be an irrepressible optimist to imagine that he would change)
8. What does true leadership mean to you? Listening to others and helping them to exceed their expectations
9. You can have one superpower, what do you choose? Is being able to love fully a superpower? I would like to be better at that.
10. Favourite location in Ireland? Too many places to choose from and it depends on the state of mind at the time. Special places are Inis Meáin, Inisbofin, the Burren, Sheeps Head Peninsula. I live in Dublin, walking the Hill of Howth can be magical. The same for the Bray to Greystones walk or a cycle along the canal and then there is the draw of the Wicklow Mountains
11. Describe yourself using a song title. Devil May Care
12.Who inspires you as a leader. The older I get the more sceptical I am of special leaders. Some of the best leaders I know encourage quietly rather than lead from the front. At the moment I am curious about the new French President, Macron. When it is so easy to be negative and apocalyptic he unashamedly spoke about the importance of greater co-operation in Europe and I admire him for shunning populist easy fixes to major challenges.
13. Tell us one place you never want to visit again. Hong Kong. Rampant materialism (but nice courteous people!).
14. What are the top three things you hope to achieve as President? I am following in the footsteps of some outstanding individuals so it is not easy setting targets but here goes:
1. to lead the Council of An Óige in a way that re-energises volunteerism in the organisation.
2. to help An Óige to develop a bigger and better membership base
3. to deepen the links between the young and old in An Óige – both groups are adventurous at heart and it is so enriching to see young and old at ease with each other
15. What are you most excited about with An Óige? I am excited at the potential for young people in the organisation particularly under the leadership of the young Darragh Miller, Chairperson of the Board of An Óige. An Óige has gone through a torrid time in the financial recession and was vulnerable to winding up at one stage. We have come through that and there is now a chance to demonstrate that the ethos of the organisation is as valid now was it was in 1931 when it was founded.
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