My Story & Journey - by Daragh Doyle
MY STORY & JOURNEY
When i go to a couple’s home to prepare for their Wedding Ceremony I ask them to tell me the story & Journey of their lives, equally when I visit a bereaved family to prepare for an end-of-life celebration of life funeral, i ask them to share their story & journey of their loved one who has passed.
I feel that it's only right to share my own Story & Journey and publish it on my website so anyone who is considering engaging me as a Life Celebrant or Wedding Planner can read it if they wish.
I was born in June 1976 to a family in rural Wexford, I'm the youngest of four by some distance.
I have two sisters who are eleven and thirteen years older than me respectively.
My brother William is six years older than me.
He passed away from terminal Cancer in April 2018, aged 47, which i will talk further about later.
We are very close as siblings even though my sisters have lived in the UK for many years.
My father ran a successful family farm and butcher business in south Wexford and my mother ran the home.
My family were steeped in the GAA and I have a deep love of the game of hurling myself, which I got from my father.
My brother was a very talented player and represented Wexford at senior level which we are very proud of.
I played with the local club and was a decent standard underage club hurler.
In my early teens I realised I was attracted to guys and not girls.
Having this realisation in the early 1990s in rural Wexford when homosexuality was still considered to be illegal in Ireland, was quite a frightening prospect, and i was twenty-two years old before i had the courage to tell anyone, keeping such a significant part of me secrate for that long impacted me significantly in later life.
I started boarding school in Saint Peters college Wexford in 1989 and it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed, I gained in confidence and was heavily involved in student activities in the school.
It was there my passion for planning started and I ran the school took shop in my final two years.
I made lifelong friendships which remain strong to this day.
I completed my third level education in WIT in Waterford, it was a period of my life that I did not enjoy as I was struggling with my sexuality and it was a heavy burden to carry.
I would love to be going to college now in a much freer time for the LGBT community.
In 1998, I moved to Dublin and started a job in the Claims department of AIG insurance company. I started at the bottom and worked my way up and held some of the most senior positions in the claims department during my 19-year career there.
I made lifelong friends and it i got wonderful life experience from the work i did dealing with personal injury claims, i spent a lot of time attending courts in Dublin and around the country for settlements and trials which i really enjoyed, I meet a wide and varied section of people from colleagues, clients, Solicitors and barristers, some great characters.
Moving to Dublin gave me the opportunity to explore my sexuality more and i rember the first time I plucked up the courage to attend Dublin’s well known gay bar the George the bouncer wouldn’t let me in as he said i didn’t fit the profile. Homophobia at the door of a well-known gay bar!
I did get in the next time and started living a delayed teenage years at the age of 22, i had several short-term boyfriends.
My father passed away suddenly at the age of a very young 80 in September 2009, I had never discussed my sexuality with him.
He was a young 80 and was still working full time, he had just returned from attending his 128th Senior All Ireland final between football & hurling.
It was my first experience of sudden and raw bereavement, there was never an opportunity to say goodbye.
Bereavement and the afterlife always fascinated me and would be a big part of ultimately leading to my work as a life celebrant.
From my early 30’s I was involved in a 10-year relationship, the last three of which we were married.
I made the very difficult decision to leave that relationship and marriage in 2019 to be on my own form a relationship perspective, out of respect to that person. I'm nothing to celebrate too much about it.
That person will always be a person that played a significant and important part in my life, and my decision to leave caused hurt and pain which I fully acknowledge.
It was a decision I had to make for myself ultimately and was extremely thorough and was a significant bereavement even though it was my decision.
When you stand up in front of your family and friends on your Wedding Day and you promise to do your best to spend the rest of your life with someone and you don't succeed, it's hard to cope with.
My brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June 2017 aged 46, he passed away 10 months later.
In the blogs below I reflect on how this was a life changing experience for me:
I was always interested in Planning and loved organising events, work events & family events.
In 2016 an opportunity for voluntary redundancy arose which I took and made my first steps into setting up my own business as a Wedding planner.
I got some early breaks and the business developed steadily from there resulting in:
The pandemic of course had a major effect on Weddings in Ireland but I used the time to develop new websites and ideas.
After my brother's passing i had returned to working Insurance on a part time basis early in the week when weddings were quiet, at Wrightway Underwriting, a great Wexford success story, the structure and the people were important in taking me through a very difficult time. I was able to step up this work during the pandemic when weddings were quiet.
It’s always good to have different skills in life, who could ever have predicted the pandemic, and it could take people's livelihoods away in an instant.
My insurance career has been very good to me in my life and it's a skill I was lucky to have during the pandemic.
The combination of the terminal illness and death of my brother, the loss of relationship and marriage coming at more or less the same time and were extremely difficult to cope with, and it's been a long road to recover and heal, and it’s a journey which continues.
I discovered celebrancy through wedding planning and was it was an area that fascinated me and i reflect on my two-year training programme in the blog below, and in particular how the training programme helped to bring me back from the brink.
I talk about that journey in more detail on the blog below:
It brought me back from the brink and gave me the tools I needed to start rebuilding my life.
That has been a slow and painful process but I have allowed myself the time to grow, to heal, to recover, to talk, to be completely open.
I go to the home of every couple whose wedding ceremony I'm privileged to be chosen to do.
I hear many inspirational stories and journeys of happiness returning to people's lives.
I hear many stories of people getting married for a second time, a second chance at happiness, and who deserve a second chance at happiness.
I love sport and am a passionate fan of Wexford Hurling and Liverpool Football club.
I enjoy watching my nine-year-old nephew developing his talents on the GAA & Soccer fiends.
Having effectively three careers, which for me reflects a modern way of working, on the go in parallel at the moment, sometimes means I can work seven days a week.
It’s important to have rest and relaxation and I enjoy cruise holidays and socializing with friends.
My mother continues to live in rural Wexford aged 86 and is still going strong.
My nephews live across the field from my mother aged 9 (Also my Godson) and 13 and they are a very important part of my life.
I have a nephew and niece in Scotland aged 18 (also my Goddaughter) and 21 and love when they visit Ireland and I love to visit them,
I split my week between my apartment in Stepaside in Dublin as well as sending time in Wexford with my mother and Nephews.
I also spend a considerable amount of time driving around Ireland with my work as a Wedding Planner & Life celebrant.
I love driving and the freedom that it gives.
I have a very busy life and it gives me an opportunity to reflect and listen to music and podcasts.
I will finish my story with a message from beyond the grave, when I returned to help out in the family butcher business in June 2017 during my brother's illness a man named Paddy who had worked there when I was a teenager, was still working there.
He told me a story whereby my father said to him one day… ‘’I think Daragh is Gay’’
He responded by saying ‘‘sure but it doesn't matter if he is, he's a nice fella, that's what matters’’
My father said ‘’yes, your right - it doesn't matter’’
Eight years after my father’s passing, I learnt that he knew i was gay all along and had no issue with it.
Like many fathers and sons, we didn't always have an easy relationship, this story brought me a great sense of peace.
My father was a passionate businessman who ran a very successful business, I'm sure he would be delighted to see my business growing and developing.
Over the past 12 months, I have felt huge positive shifts occurring in my life, my enthusiasm for life and for my future has returned, and I'm experiencing a sense of peace and contentment that I have not known before.
I'm really looking forward to what the future has in store for me.