“I’m not the biggest, not the tallest, not the strongest and I’m not the fittest. I’m just a normal fella, but I’ve been down and I’ve been able to get back up.”
Every once in a while we come across individuals that earn our respect by challenging our perspectives on life. One person might be doing admirable work for charity or a good cause, someone else might be working towards a monumental goal of a physical nature, or maybe it’s just someone who takes it upon themselves to do something outlandish or what some might even call crazy. What doesn’t happen every once in a while however, is that you find all of these together in one person. We’ve found one in Daragh Morgan. As enthusiastic and determined as they come, Daragh has a passion for using his strengths and interests as an individual to give back to those around him. The past year has seen him take on the craziest adventures and challenges in aid of causes such as homelessness and Jigsaw, a team of supporters, professionals and volunteers who are passionate about supporting young people’s mental health. What began with Daragh’s decision to step aboard a boat to join others in an adventure has since led to travelling around Ireland on horseback, cycling across the country on his own, spending both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day cooking meals for the homeless in Dublin and having only recently run 100km in aid of mental health, this coming May, Daragh is aiming to swim around the coast of Ireland for the same cause. I caught up with Daragh and asked him if he’d be willing to tell me more about the root cause and motivation for all of his endeavours. Not only was it fascinating, it was a joy to listen to.
It all started when Daragh became completely captivated by another young Irish man, Daragh Carroll, and his own incredible story that has since been well documented across Irish media. Having most recently featured as a guest on The Tommy Tiernan Show, Tommy himself was left awestruck. Daragh Morgan was no different as he found himself completely captured by the lure of adventure and passion. “I was in the suit, doing the 9-5, but there was always something in me that wanted adventure, to be authentic, it doesn’t matter how outlandish that is. I just saw them on the boat, enjoying the stars and being totally present.” When this boat just so happened to stop in Dunmore East, near Daragh’s home in Waterford, he acted on his desires and stepped aboard. From that point on the pieces were in motion and Daragh was only getting started.
Not long afterwards this same host of people would set out on horseback to raise awareness for Irish agriculture and horticulture, mental health and homelessness. “They told me what they were thinking of doing around Ireland and I was full in”. Through wind, rain and plenty of sun too, Daragh passed through the parts of Ireland you don’t often get to see and met some amazing people along the way. Cooking and foraging as they went, setting up tents and tarps every night, Daragh described it as an incredibly mind opening experience. “Just getting back to basics, it was very freeing to be honest, one of the greatest experiences of my life”.
When the time came for Daragh to make his way home to Dublin something had woken up inside him that he couldn’t just ignore. The natural plan would have been to take the bus but Daragh couldn’t bring himself to do it. Again, he chose adventure. Daragh made the decision to cycle all the way from Kerry back to his home in Dublin on his own. After being around people for such a long time the idea of just spending some time with himself and his own thoughts seemed very attractive. It would serve as the perfect opportunity to really take the time to reflect over everything that had happened to him. The people he met, the things he’d learned, the sights he’d seen.
In an incredibly interesting episode of his own podcast, KOmbat Show, Daragh tells the story of the entire journey. From Ballybunion in Kerry through Limerick, Roscrea, Portlaoise, and finally back to his home in Dublin, we hear all about the highs and the lows. From being stuck on the side of the road with nobody to turn to, people buying him food and wishing him well and even how an elderly farmer asking Daragh to buy him a box of cigarettes led to Daragh camping in his field for the night. One day and 330km later, with a blue sky above his head and the sun beating down on him, Daragh described the feeling of finally arriving into Dublin,
“When I got into town something came over me, it was like there was a hand on my back pushing me along. Definitely one of the most magical moments of my life”– Daragh discussing the journey on his own podcast, The KOmbat Show.
During the horseback for the homeless trip Daragh used to train with a man called Kenneth O’ Driscoll. Kenneth is an athlete with a passion for changing his community. As the founder of cherryorchard running club, he’s a man that Daragh has a great deal of respect for. When Kenneth mentioned to Daragh that he was organising a 100km charity event in aid of Jigsaw, Daragh didn’t think twice. A lot of consistent training and discipline cultivated on the 12th of December when Daragh and many others set off at 3am and ran through the night until they arrived at a beautiful sunrise near the forty foot in Dún Laoghaire. This particular event struck a chord with Daragh on an emotional level. Not only did it really highlight the importance of community and surrounding yourself with like-minded people, but also because three years ago Daragh broke his ankle and was told by doctors he wouldn’t be able to run more than 5km. Safe to say they were wrong.
The Horseback for the homeless trip managed to raise in and around €4500. Daragh and the rest of the guys involved decided they wanted to see exactly where the money they raised was going. They decided that they would use to it provide Christmas dinners to the homeless in Dublin. Between Christmas Eve and Christmas day they managed to feed around 200 people. The meals were cooked in Mendicity, a place that Daragh admits is “very special”. Established in 1818, Mendicity is the oldest working charity in Dublin. Daragh felt privileged to offer a helping hand to a group with such an amazing history of over 200 years of creating opportunities for people experiencing homelessness, isolation and marginalisation to live better lives.
Finally that brings us to Daragh’s biggest challenge yet, the swim around Ireland. Despite being an active sea-swimmer for years and having previously worked as a lifeguard, he admits straight away “it’s a mad concept”. Interestingly enough however, this isn’t an idea that was pulled together on a whim. This has been lingering in the back of his mind for some time. “From being on adventures, challenging myself and knowing what I’m capable of with good people around me, it just clicked with me one day”. While it may seem crazy to most of us, Daragh is perfectly aware of the sheer scale of this challenge. His friendly and enthusiastic attitude is partnered with a deep sense of focus and determination.
He’s currently swimming an incredible 3km every day. Long-distance swimming is an extremely enduring activity but swimming 3km every single day, in the depths of the Irish winter is not for the fainthearted. It’s no coincidence Daragh is willing to take on such a monumental task to raise awareness for mental health. By his own admission he’s somebody who knows what it’s like to experience trouble with mental health. For Daragh however, it’s this very experience of knowing what it’s like to go to the dark that allows him to work through the toughest challenges. Each time he walks down on to the slip and into the sea he knows that this is his chance to win the day, something that he believes we all have the ability to do.
“I’m trying to seek that discomfort and trying to overcome it because what lies on the other side of that discomfort is something special.”
There’s a common underlying theme across all of these goals and adventures. Whether it’s pushing our body to its maximum capability or training our minds to adapt to new ideas or skillsets, Daragh believes there is untold power and fulfilment to be found when we as individuals are willing to push our boundaries.
Even when it comes to producing his own podcast, the thought process is the same, “it’s free content and I love that”. Just one person mentioning to him that they took something from listening to it is good enough for Daragh and ultimately one of the things that keeps him motivated. Positive reinforcement and hearing of others deciding to take action in their own lives is the perfect return on anything he does. Whether it’s travelling the world, starting a new business, learning how to cook, or just getting into shape Daragh believes it’s all possible when we put our minds to it. Once we’ve visualised something we want to achieve the time for thinking is over, at that stage choose to act. Don’t allow that uncomfortable feeling of doubt in yourself or what anyone else might think sink in because as he said, what lies on the other side of that discomfort is something truly special. In the future Daragh hopes to get involved in something that will help allow young people to try different things. Whether it’s podcasts, cooking, or any other way young people can learn to create something and leave their positive mark on the world around them. A real one of a kind and an inspiration to all of us, Daragh Morgan is certainly one to keep an eye on.
“I’m just like anyone else, if I can do it anyone can.”
Be sure to check out Daragh’s podcast,