“Planes, Trains and …..”

Not quite a case of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” on Saturday, but it was close as one might get. Following two unscheduled nights in London it was a 5:15 am alarm call just off the King’s Road and a 6:00 am taxi to London Euston for the first of three trains to Holyhead – Euston to Crewe, Crewe to Chester and Chester to Holyhead. Then it was the Irish Ferries Jonathan Swift to Dublin Port. It was the first time I undertook this journey since I lived in London over two decades ago. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the experience, particularly the crossing from Holyhead – service, boat and weather.

The past fortnight has been spent mostly abroad. On Wednesday week last, 7th April, I went to Madrid for a two-day conference hosted by global public relations company Burson Marsteller (BM) (www.burson-marsteller.com).  Heneghan PR (www.hpr.ie) is the Irish affiliate of BM.   It was a very good event with plenty of information and professional insights in the areas of digital, positioning, energy & environment, change management, public affairs and new business development. 

There were 150 delegates from about 30 EMEA region markets, most of them direct BM managers, but a good representation of affiliates including Ireland, Israel, Portugal, Poland and South Africa.   This is the third such event I have attended and it is great to get the opportunity to learn, to renew acquaintances and make new contacts.

Once I discovered that Real Madrid was at home to Barcelona in the Santigo Neucamp Stadium last Saturday week, there was only one option – get a ticket.  About three weeks ahead of the conference the ticket came through (through the good offices of the CEO of BM in Spain) so I extended my trip to Madrid to stay for weekend. The match was the undoubted highlight of the trip, two of Europe’s most famous clubs, with an incredible legacy of success currently tied at the top of La Liga.  It was a relatively poor match, with Barcelona gaining the priceless three points with their 2-0 away win, Lionel Messi scoring the first goal.  It was however great to experience the colour and atmosphere around the match. The stadium is one of the most impressive I have experienced. And while the rivalry between the two clubs is well established, there was no crowd trouble or any sign of that menacing atmosphere frequently experienced in the UK. 

The remainder of my visit to Madrid, included a visit to the three classical art museums in the centre of Madrid – the Queen Sofia; the Thyssen–Bornemisza; and the Prado.  My knowledge of art is limited, but when you look at the works of some of the artists and try and understand the circumstances of those works it brings them more to life.  I left each of the museums with a promise to myself that I would return.  If you are or are not interested in art, I thoroughly recommend a visit. If I was to select one ahead of the rest, it would be the Thyssen. (www.museothyssen.org).

The other thing about Madrid is the city itself.  Just to walk around the centre and enjoy the sun, the parks, the local architecture, relaxed atmosphere, window boxes, people… go if you can.

Back to Dublin on Monday and then London on Wednesday for an overnight which then became three nights.  An interesting couple of weeks, but great to be home. 

– Nigel Heneghan

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