Posted: 13th May 2013

Throughout its 200 year history, Clongowes has maintained a proud tradition in producing students that embark on careers in a wide variety of disciplines. Hugo MacNulty adds another dimension to that reality.  Leaving Clongowes in 1999, Hugo initially opted to follow his CAO preference for Business and Legal Studies in UCD. However, within a few months Hugo’s real dreams began to take flight. Noting that a scholarship was being offered by Aer Lingus, Hugo made the biggest decision of his life and submitted an application to train as a commercial pilot. When that ultimately proved to be successful, the budding pilot was forced to uproot from his Dublin base to take up a place on a commercial flying training course at Flight Training Europe in Jerez, Spain. Having boarded in Clongowes for 6 years Hugo found that he was well equipped for 16 months of intensive ground studies and flight training.

 “I feel my Clongowes education played a huge part in being able to conduct myself away from home with new class mates in a challenging environment and giving me the skills necessary to tackle such a demanding programme. A lot of my colleagues had never spent a great amount of time away from home and found the self discipline and motivation required to complete the course somewhat of a challenge.”

 Amidst the delight in graduating, Hugo could not have predicted the drastic change in his fortunes that was to follow. In the aftermath of the terrible events of 9/11 in New York, Hugo and several contemporaries were made redundant by Aer Lingus. Returning to Dublin, Hugo finished his B&L degree before commencing a 3 year ACA traineeship with Ernst and Young. However, the mundane obligations of office work didn’t quite match up to the experience of taking to the skies. While acknowledging that the traineeship was a great opportunity, Hugo was determined not to turn his back on his ideal career.

 In 2005 Hugo finally returned to flying, working for CityJet, an Air France subsidiary. Based out of Paris Charles De Gaulle airport and tasked with flying across continental Europe on the BAe 146 (“a lovely aircraft to cut your teeth on!”), Hugo found his reintroduction to the world of flying to be an enjoyable one. After just 18 months in Paris, Hugo was offered his old job back with Aer Lingus. Initially, Hugo worked as a first officer in Dublin flying all over Europe on the A320. Then in early 2012, Hugo gained his Command – vindication of his constant hard work and determination.

 Although Hugo has regularly been based outside of Ireland, the great network of Old Clongownian’s worldwide has made every move that little bit easier: “I found from my time in Paris and now London, that it is of enormous benefit to have such an open-door network of people around you when living and working away from home. The OC community is particularly strong in London and the big rugby matches throughout the year always gets the ‘lads’ out for a bit of craic in London town!”

 Hugo is a Captain in Command of an Airbus A320 with Aer Lingus. Based out of Gatwick Airport, he currently lives in Chelsea with his fiancée Orla.

R. McElwee

Categories: Clongowes Stories
Go to Top