This week in our MHC Life Series, we hear from Stephen Cowhey, a Senior Associate in our Real Estate and Energy teams. Stephen chats about his love of food and most memorable holiday location.
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
I got into law just like everyone else; my mother told me to put it at number one on my CAO and what you really wanted at number two. Off to University of Limerick I went and after an undergrad and a masters I came out to start my legal career in a recession.
I eventually got a job in a firm in Limerick through the Job Bridge scheme, worked my way into a traineeship where after a number of years I was moved to the Dublin office, where I qualified as a property solicitor. About a year after I qualified I could no longer ignore the good things a friend of mine, Keith Newman who is a solicitor on the Construction and Energy team, was saying about Mason Hayes & Curran and I moved across town. I have been lucky since then to be part of a great team and department and have had the opportunity to work on a lot of interesting transactions, including having expanded into energy work, and with a lot of wonderful people.
What was your first job?
My first job was working out of a hole in my neighbour’s hedge selling bars of chocolate. We would use our pocket money in the local shop but knew people wanted a deal so would always sell at a loss. Staff shoplifting was also a major issue.
My first job for actual gain was in a Spar, although my previous experience didn’t stand to me. I had a number of jobs throughout the years; I was a labourer, a porter in a hospital, a charity fundraiser, working on farms and teaching English in Argentina, the latter of which means there are a lucky select few speaking English with a Limerick accent somewhere in Latin America.
Talk us through a typical day for you
I have started trying not to eat until lunchtime so I usually start my day thinking about lunchtime. I have a list of matters I am working on and will review it to plan out the priorities for the day and then see what emails have come in overnight and whether anything needs to be added to the priority list. When I am working from home, our cat, perhaps sensing I’m not getting the same walk as I would on the commute, enjoys making me let her out only to appear at a window by the time I’m sitting down asking to be let in. I will have a number of calls with clients, colleagues and my team members throughout the day, in-between which I will progress matters until it’s time to call it quits, at which point we will try and get out for a walk or will watch an episode of something on one of the thousand streaming services we seem to have now. We have a routine of watching a short cooking show on YouTube before bed so I usually end the day as I started - hungry.
What sports/hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?
I love to cook and eat and am partial to the odd glass of wine. Neck up video calls over the last couple of years have been a real godsend for me. Many weekends are spent cooking for an entire day or sourcing some big slab of meat and some serious conversations with a butcher. I am a Munster man so have a keen interest in rugby and start each Munster season having forgotten about the previous season’s heartbreak, which living in Leinster certainly doesn’t help. We were lucky during the lockdowns in that we lived in Clontarf and now Raheny so we were able to get out on plenty of walks on the seafront and beach. My wife is still tickled by the memory of me sprinting down half the beach after my hat on a windy day only for a second much more winded attempt five minutes later (I got it though!).
What's your idea of a perfect holiday/favourite place you've ever visited?
Italy is a pretty perfect destination for me. I love nothing more than being able to stop off on every corner and get a lovely bowl of pasta with some wine or a real tasty sandwich with some wine or, let’s be honest, just some wine. We were due to get married in Italy and went over for our tasting in March 2020. It was iffy going over but by the time we were coming back just a few days later there were people in hazmat suits taking our temperature. While we kept up the hope for quite a while eventually we had to give up on the Italian wedding. Notwithstanding that I would urge everyone to go and do a wedding tasting in Italy whether engaged, married or single. I had a fantastic time and will always have the memory of being handed a sword to lop the top off a bottle of prosecco, with diminishing memory from then.