billy o’nea

He’s Irish. That I know is synonymous with heavy drinker. He would rather it were ‘lucky’ which I think it is somehow associated. The four leaf clover. He is rich that’s why he interests you, us or just me. It’s as if he found the leprechaun and followed the rainbow to pots of gold.

He worked hard. Follow the rainbow he did, it was the beauty of his dreams he believed. Like all things of great reward it was not easy. He had learnt from his schooling days that persistence pays. Like Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up!” To make the move after your decision that is half the battle won. The rest is a test of our character and a sharpening of your skill.

The arc of his personal legend follows that of many an accomplished man. The lady Miss Fortune smiled on him. That to the discerning means he encountered failures. However, the greatest battle is that against one self. The subversive campaign of self preservation against imagined and pronounced judgements of our environment. Often it is fear camouflaged in and by reason. “Stop dreaming about your dream and act!”

Eccentric he’s been called if not weird but he’s lived through all the names hurled and presented to him. Keeping his eyes on the prize he set his mind on. Long ago he had discovered qualities in himself that would prove invaluable as assets. He sought also to commit to a continuous self evaluation and personal development. Taking himself as a project and a work in progress he set himself goals and a feed-back mechanism based on a quarterly report system.

He told me of his beginnings. With a sense of a thespians timing he shared his tale as we walked through his front meadow stopping and turning to face his palatial abode. Lifting an indifferent arm in its direction he stands silent for a moment studying my reaction. He first lived in a rental store converted for human habitation. Once his cousins came over but they would not fit in the room so they threw their eyes inside. One by one and in turns they were stopped at the door by an invisible force, a barrier to entry. It was a feeling of slight and shame but he covered it up with jokes and steered the story to the future. How he would get a house big enough to fit them all in one sitting. “ So you see, it’s not really my house”

We cross a thin forest to a clearing that opens to a magnificent view of a Lake besieged by grey and blue mountains. Birds, crickets, squirrels and a rich texture of life surrounds us. I could be anywhere in the middle of nowhere. I notice he’s watching me and its unnerving. From the corner of his eyes he asks, “How much am I now worth?” and he smiles like I am the butt of his inside joke. When I don’t say anything he continues staring into the water, “A man is not to be judged by how much he has acquired but by how much he has given”. “Write that down”, he chuckles. That’s worth remembering.

He starts telling me how it’s nothing to do with the philanthropic foundations that are more to the founder’s advantage than those it purports to support. He holds himself back waving away his thoughts suggesting it’s not that important. “Come”, walking away, “let’s chase away the cold”. Being around this man you are always in anticipation of something. You are in the presence of greatness and a witness to history making.





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