Brewing up a
life in the US

Meet the globetrotting Ballymahon ski-lift operator, turned beer making connoisseur, who is steadily making a name for himself overseas.

Meet the globetrotting Ballymahon ski-lift operator, turned beer making connoisseur, who is steadily making a name for himself overseas.

Sean Diffley, it’s probably fair to speculate, has seen and experienced most things throughout his fledgling engineering career.

Unlike many of his peers however, who have left Irish shores in recent times, the former St Mel’s student opted for pastures new at a time when the Celtic Tiger was in its throes.

“It was the week I actually graduated from NUI Galway that I got a visa for three months and went to Vancouver,” he recalled.

“Myself and a friend weren’t really that keen on coming home so we spent nearly all of our money on a car and made our way to Toronto.”

Low on funds, the adventurous 30-year-old was well aware of the need to earn money and fast. As such, Sean threw himself behind the Canadian city’s thriving recreational industry by becoming a ski-lift operator and engineer.

His itching to see more of the world combined with a reluctance to come home brought Sean to yet another booming tourist destination, this time to Latin America’s most modern metropolitan city - Santiago.

The move to Chile’s largest and capital city was a decision which Sean now looks back on with more than a tinge of sentimentality.

“It was there that I met my future wife,” Sean declared. “Megan was studying at the University of Chile and I just happened to be working in a Spanish bar there.”

That was almost seven years ago and after a long heart to heart, the pair eventually decided to come home. Both managed to find work almost instantly with Megan working as a line chef in Mayooth. Happy and seemingly content with their decision, events took a turn for the worse when Sean began making moves to make Megan’s stay a permanent one.

“We just couldn’t get a visa. She has Irish relatives too but missed out by one generation. That angered me quite a bit.”

Incensed by the rejection, the couple soon found themselves on the road again and back in the States.

“That was four years ago,” Sean reflected earlier this week. “I got a job as a machine electrician in a chicken processing plant in Portland, Maine and then progressed to engineer level.”

Now back in a job he was more accustomed to, Sean’s steadily rising stock saw the south Longford man change codes yet again as he tried his hand at beer production.

As plant engineer for local firm, Allagash Brewing, Sean’s role commands plenty of responsibilty. It’s a task which he has grabbed with both hands.

“I grew up in a bar in Ballymahon,” he explained, referring to his parents Paddy and Marian’s former ownership of the town’s local establishment, ‘Paddy’s Pub’.

The family remain very much involved in trade locally and own a popular DIY store in the market town.

“I couldn’t be happier at the minute and to tell you the truth, it feels like I have come full circle,” he added.

As for whether that journey involves any future designs on returning to his beloved birthplace, Sean was refreshingly open about such a prospect.

“Some day,” he firmly replied. “I would love to come back and start a family, just not right now.”

It’s a vow, you get the impression, that the amiable engineer very much intends following through on.