Taken down a peg: Not as good a cook as I thought I was?

On no account put it to an Italian your gastronomic skills are within walking distance of his, especially if he is a kitchen maestro who has a passion for creating delicious food.

And so it was: A Skype Chat..

Niall:        I hate to ruin your day but

Niall:         …………….

Niall:        well your son mentioned last night.. that my cooking was “like my father’s“…..

Niall:        I take that as a huge accolade 😉

Mr. U (C’s father): I told him to be very polite, gentle, educated and even if he doesn’t like something, always say that was excellent.

That’s how a friend of 24 years humbles an Irishman who hitherto retained a high opinion, albeit short-lived, of his culinary dexterity. Oh well!

[There is a bit of history here: The June 1989 Beijing Food Massacre.

On June 6th I was cooking an Irish stew on a small electric stove in  Room 1106 at the Beijing Language Institute (ak.a. Beijing Language and Culture University).  A telephone call from an unflustered Noel Kilkenny, First Secretary of the Irish Embassy in Beijing, diverted my attention. The city was in lock-down mode, rumours of civil war and further crackdown swirling. He put me in the picture and soon I was running down ten flights of stairs to meet him, having instinctively unplugged the stove and grabbed my toothbrush.

Four months later, I unlocked the door of 1106… Ah the stew still there on the stove… rotten, slimy and mouldy…. And then my roommate Mr. U, the kitchen maestro, arrived!]

Putrid Smily Rotten

Commencing countdown, engines on…. The beginning of my China Odyssey

Well this is how my China Odyssey began (“commencing countdown, engines on“) back in 1988 when following the success of the AIESEC international conference, in Galway, on “EC – China Future Trade Relations” the Ambassador of China to Ireland, His Excellency Zhou Yang, presented me, as the Organising Committee President, with a scholarship (“you’ve really made the grade“) to study Chinese at the Beijing Language Institute [today’s Beijing Culture and Language University] (now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare). ..I recall we presented the Ambassador with a solid gold A. T. Cross Pen, made in Ballinasloe . Wonder where that pen is now?…. Anyhow, I’d only planned to be away in China for a year, a new country and culture, the excitement, and the chance to pick up a language none of my other friends spoke – besides they were all emigrating to London and the USA – which I found to be a tad unadventureous. Thereafter my plan was to return to Ireland and find a job…

..that was over 21 years ago.

I’m stepping through the door. And I’m floating in a most peculiar way and the stars look very different today.

For here am I sitting in a tin can, far above the world.

Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.

Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles, I’m feeling very still.

And I think my spaceship knows which way to go“**.

**Lyrics from David Bowie’s Space Odyssey

And it still does as it plots a course towards Ireland and home.

AIESEC Ireland – China Conference – March 1988 Galway – Logo designed by Lisa Burns

European Community and China Future Trade relations 1988European Community and China Future Trade relations 1988European Community China Future Trade relations
European Community China Future Trade Relations
European Community - China Future Trade RelationsEuropean Community - China: Future Trade RelationsEuropean Community - China: Future Trade Relations

UCD ALMA MATER MAGAZINE No.6 1995 – Our Man in Hong Kong

“Niall O’Reilly BA ’88, planned to sojourn in China for one year and then return to Ireland. Six and half years later, he is still living in Asia. Subsequent to his graduation, the Chinese Government awarded him a scholarship to study Chinese Mandarin language at a University in Beijing [Beijing Language Institute].

Despite the ‘Tiananmen Massacre’, which provoked a hasty departure, Niall returned for a second year, this time armed with both a second Chinese Government scholarship and additional bursaries from the Jefferson Smurfit Foundation and the Industrial Development Authority of Ireland.

UCD ALMA MATER MAGAZINE No.6 1995 - Our Man in Hong Kong

Upon completion of his studies in China, Niall worked for the IDA in Taiwan, before relocating to Hong Kong in 1991 to take up a position with ResearchAsia Ltd, the leading information technology market consulting company in Asia. While with ResearchAsia, he has lived in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

UCD ALMA MATER MAGAZINE No.6 1995 - Our Man in Hong KongIn November 1994, he joined Dataquest Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) Ltd, a company of the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation, as a Regional Industry Analyst for Asia Pacific.

Niall is also a director of two companies. One company sources consultants, financing and investors for private enterprise and public projects in Kazazhstan, while the other aims to assist Irish companies seeking to penetrate the burgeoning markets of Greater China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He is also the Chapter President of the UCD Alumni Association in Hong Kong.”