This week in our MHC Life series, we speak to Alan Burns, a Partner on our Financial Services team. Alan talks about his career journey and his passion outside of law.
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
I’ve always had an interest in language, so I figured I’d probably end up writing for a living, one way or the other.
After a persistent dalliance with sportswriting in my early 20s, I found that there were easier ways to make ends meet than reporting on League of Ireland First Division matches. Soon after I finished a law degree, I was offered a contract by Mason Hayes & Curran. Sadly, I had just accepted a different one elsewhere, which delayed my start date by a decade or so.
I initially worked on the aviation finance team here at Mason Hayes & Curran, before moving to the more familiar territory of transactional banking. This means I’ve been lucky enough to work directly with both our current chair and managing partner. It’s for others to decide whether I was the crucial ingredient which boosted them to such lofty professional heights, or the millstone by which they proved their mettle.
What was your first job?
I worked as a relief manager in betting shops for a few years through college. The role combined two of my strengths: mental arithmetic and fending off hustlers attempting low-grade scams.
Occasionally, the criminality was more Robert De Niro than Robert Redford. Shortly after I had handed in my notice so I could start as a trainee solicitor, I was held up by two men with machetes and a deep aversion to filling out forms. They had broken into the shop overnight and didn’t seem to care that I was one week from retirement. Even the mortal terror of missing a Form C1 filing deadline pales in comparison.
What sports/hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?
I spend a lot of time running, because I make sure to do it very slowly. I took it up a few years ago as part of an aggressive programme to rightsize my personal operations, and I ran 1,000 miles in both 2020 and 2021. I didn’t feel the need to ruin a million weddings by writing a song about it.
My main passion is football. I’m the first team manager with Seaford Rock United in the Leinster Senior League. Last season, a decent run in the FAI Junior Cup took us to within 29 knock-out ties (plus three group stages) of the 2027 Champions League Final. Sadly, fate (and Crumlin United, on penalties) stole our dream from us.
I also coached a team of Irish doctors at the World Medical Football Championships in Mexico, despite my being qualified as neither a coach nor a doctor. In what was a fitting tribute to Jack Charlton, we didn’t win a single match in 90 minutes, but still reached the quarter-finals.
One thing most people don’t know about you?
I narrowly avoided being stuck in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
I was on a road trip around the Deep South and unsuccessfully tried to persuade the other lads that we wouldn’t get a refund for our accommodation, and that hurricanes were just air, but moreso.
Have you ever met anyone famous?
I was briefly famous myself in 1997, after I used the then-exotic wizardry of the internet to discover a Premier League footballer’s eligibility to play for Ireland.
To this day, Mickey Evans remains the only Irishman not named Keane to have been named Premier League Player of the Month, but I’m sure he regards the four minutes he played against Romania as the real highlight of his career.
I was interviewed about it on Sky Sports News, and by Marian Finucane on Liveline, briefly enjoying the level of national curiosity which might be accorded to, say, a toddler who could recite Shakespeare.
Sadly, Jason McAteer broke Evans’s cheekbone in training before the World Cup play-off and he didn’t play for Ireland, or in the Premier League, ever again.
So to answer the original question: yes, Mick McCarthy.
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