An up and coming planning professional with strong Longford connections has spoken of his determination to succeed by making a name for himself in London’s high flying metropolitan centre.
Like many in his position, 26-year-old James Donlon found himself at a crossroads in May 2010.
A graduate of UCD, the sports enthusiast opted for a Masters programme with University College London in a bid to enhance his own employment chances and avoid Ireland’s lengthening dole queues back home.
Hopes of strengthening those credentials took a backward step in July 2011 when a spell on the Government’s JobBridge programme came to a shuddering end.
The company he worked for closed overnight and James was left on the scrapheap.
Fast forward three years and the outlook for the son of Newtowncashel native James (Jimmy) Donlon and his wife Angela couldn’t be more different.
Now employed with a private consultancy firm in London, James along with a close friend of his, jointly head up the London Irish Town Planners Network.
“It’s a network that we established back in October 2013,” said James.
“It started out with the two of us and a few old planning friends from Ireland that are now in London.
“From there it developed and snowballed with planners now coming from all over Ireland to meet like-minded planners to talk about home and their experiences.”
And it seems to be working. Membership presently stands at around the 160 mark, mostly made up of young town planners who have arrived eager to learn and seek gainful employment.
“It’s going very well,” said James.
“It’s a non-for-profit organisation that concentrates on the interests of planners by providing a facility for Irish people of all backgrounds to meet and discuss issues at home and abroad.
“Things are going well.”