MEET THE TEAM: AUSTIN BYRNE
I’m Austin Byrne, and I’m an Architectural Technologist here in McKevitt King Architects. I’m also a Drogheda native, having grown up less than 500 metres from the office.
Growing up as a kid, my favourite hobbies were football and art. The former, I stopped participating in long, long ago. The latter, I enjoyed on and off throughout school and even into present day. With this love of all things art, and an older brother who was (and still is) a Graphic Designer, I always envisaged that this too would be the career for me. My head was turned however when, in fifth year in St. Joseph’s CBS Secondary School, I started a subject called Tech Drawing for my leaving cert with Mr. Oliver Tully as my teacher. I instantly knew that detail, precision, and problem solving suited my skill set more than creativity and design, and this set me on the path to see what profession would be best for me. This turned out to be Architectural Technology.
My first sojourn into the office occurred around the Easter midterm of 2002. While attending an Architectural Technology Post-Leaving Certificate course in Coláiste Ide in Finglas, I was required to find work experience in an Architect’s office. Once I called McKevitt Architects, and was accepted for the placement, I couldn’t wait to experience an office environment. I had only worked in a men’s clothes shop and bars/nightclubs before this – I was 18 at this stage and very wet behind the ears still. I soon discovered that the dress code “business casual” didn’t mean wearing an extremely tight-fitting Italian football jersey and jeans to work, an embarrassing fact that I’m still reminded of from time to time by James here in the office.
From that week’s work experience onwards, I pretty much worked part-time hours in the office throughout my subsequent studies in Dundalk Institute of Technology until I graduated in 2006. A year of travelling the world followed graduation before I returned to the bright lights of Drogheda to start full-time into my “grown up” role – both in the office and life outside, with circumventing the globe a distant memory. I loved being back in the office however, and always felt extremely grateful to work in an environment and a profession that I genuinely enjoyed.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the stuff of fairytales and when the recession caught up with us all, I parted ways with the office not sure what the future held. Being a bit of a home bird, I decided against emigration and to retrain as a Training Facilitator in eFlow (the people who charge you for using the M50 motorway) – not ideal for someone who’s a little bit of an introvert with a phobia of public speaking, but beggars and choosers spring to mind.
Throughout the next decade or so I kept in touch with former colleagues in the office and kind of had a feeling that my story in McKevitt King Architects wasn’t fully over.
When the country – and the world – locked down in 2020, I took the opportunity to take up new interests and hobbies. I studied to become a yoga teacher. First, online by way of Zoom classes and lectures, and then in person when things slowly started to open up again. I also got into the outdoors with hiking and camping with my two brothers, and cold-water sea swimming with a group of like-minded people. YES! I’m one of those people shivering away under a Dryrobe out at the pier in Salterstown on a wintery Sunday afternoon at high tide.
I also recently got back into making art – painting with oils this time around. Not something I’ve tried before but extremely enjoyable, relaxing (at times), and meditative. A recent trip to Paris, and many of its stunning art museums may have played a part in getting the easel and palette out. Diving into stained glass is the next artistic endeavour on the horizon, I think.
These are all luxuries though at the minute, as most of my evenings and weekends are taken up with renovating my small, 1940s fixer-upper cottage in the countryside with my girlfriend and two dogs. The dogs enjoy the neighbouring fields more than the renovations, especially with the previous ten years living in the town. We’re all acclimatising to the country life, and loving it.
In early 2022 I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to return to McKevitt King Architects after over 12 years away, and as cliché as it sounds, it really felt like coming home. Thankfully this time I’m a little wiser and decided against the tight-fitting football jerseys.