To many in Kirby, Stephen Brennan is known as a beguiling Site Manager from Glinsk, County Galway and to many around the country, he’s known as Stephen from DIY SOS, the Electrical Foreman with the hearty laugh and the cheeky grin. Whether it’s having the laughs with Baz and the gang or working insane hours to get a project delivered in just nine days, the Kirby crew never come up short when it comes to commitment in helping others.
Stephen has recently completed the first project of the third series – a renovation of a home in Athlone for local firefighter Pa Berry and his young family. But it was back in 2019, shortly after joining Kirby, Stephen was asked to take part in the DIY SOS to help someone very close to everyone’s heart at Kirby.
Receptionist Aoife Barry in Kirby’s Limerick headquarters asked Tom Dowd, Project Manager with Kirby and Mikey Ryan, Kirby Operations Director, for help. Aoife’s sister, Sinead, was to be the subject of DIY SOS. Her husband Michael died after a short illness and left the home he was building for them unfinished. Michael’s sister Caitriona reached out to the show for help.
Stephen says, “that’s the most memorable project for me, September 2019 in Dundrum, County Tipperary, Michael started to build the house and felt a little sick, as it turned out he was diagnosed with cancer. Michael felt unwell at Christmas and in January was diagnosed with cancer and tragically died on the 23rd of March. It was a devastatingly sad situation; the house was half-finished; the family was left with just a shell. I got six or seven lads, and we all mucked in, doing everything in just nine days, it was a massive build. Because of this particular project, I’ve become great friends with the whole Barry family. There is a connection there that bonds you for life when you help these people because you can help change their lives and improve their lot in life.”
You can’t argue with the heartfelt hard work and pure emotion that resonates from everyone working on the project. It’s the can-do attitude spearheaded by Baz and his rabble-rousing speeches and monster appeals that is so captivating. This mammoth effort is nothing short of miraculous, and the public probably wouldn’t believe it if the television cameras weren’t there to record every heart-warming moment. The show has been an undeniable hit with the Irish public and RTE.
Stephen says, “every single one gets you, and you might not think it, but it does. Particularly when the family come out at handover, you see their faces, and what it means to them, you find the tears rolling down your face, all these burly builders sobbing like babies, it is fantastic.
I think everyone at Kirby should see how much of a difference we’ve made to these families and how the work that’s carried out over the 9 days make a big difference and makes the families struggles a little easier.
Friendship is another great side of taking part, and you get to meet great people, lots of suppliers, trades, and everybody volunteering, everybody getting stuck in. I have built up an amazing bunch of volunteers that are always available to help whenever needed and no matter where in Ireland we might be. The show shoots twelve hours of footage on every build, and this gets cut down to an hour show, so I guess we get to see a lot more than the public from behind the scenes, but the end result is always the same. Pure magic.”
“Everyone at Kirby and the whole management team were on board right from the very start and Kirby have never flinched in their support for the show since. When we started in 2019, we completed just one project. I thought that might be it, but then, we did two more in 2020 at the height of COVID, which caused a few issues, but we got through that.
We were very lucky to be able to complete four projects in 2021 which brought us to Longwood in Meath first to renovate a house for Glen and Jenny Parsons and their two boys, Ryan and Josh. We then headed to our biggest build so far for Johnny and Lynn Aylward and their family on the Wexford/ Kilkenny border. We somehow managed to build a new home and amazing gardens in ten days and to this day it still amazes me. Next up it was Santry for David and Laura Costello whose house needed updating to aid with Laura’s recovery and last of all we headed down to Waterford in late Autumn to transform Laura Sheridan’s house into a home that would help her to care for her family of three and her own needs.
Stephen is very much a family man with three boys Eoin 15, Conor, 12 and Darragh, 5; he lives in Glinsk in County Galway with his wife, Teresa. In many ways, it was this that attracted Stephen to Kirby, it’s a family business and family values at the very heart of everything they do.
“This work Kirby does for DIY SOS is providing homes, not just houses for families who are in exceptional circumstances and dire need through no fault of their own. It’s a genuine privilege to help and make a difference, and I can thank Mikey, Tom, and everyone at Kirby for allowing me to be a part of it.”