Interview with Lalin Swaris: Adopted Son Of Lovely Longford – Photographer, Chef, Man of the People and Promoter of Longford.

  1. Where are you from originally?

Sri Lanka

2. Why did you come to Ireland?

To study Hotel Management at St Mary’s College, Cathal Brugha Street.

3. Why did you stay in Ireland?

I left home in 1967 and went to Switzerland to train in hotel work. I worked in different departments of hotel work. I met an Irish lad, a co-worker in the hotel. He told me about Cathal Brugha street, ( St Mary’s Catering College). I enlisted in the college in 1968 and went to Jurys hotel in 1971 to do summer work. I met Peter Kelly’s (Fianna Fáil T.D. R.I.P.) brother Pat, who was the assistant manager and, Breege Savage, who was the receptionist. After the summer work, Pat told me that he would get me a job in the Longford Arms Hotel in Longford.

So I came with him to the Longford Arms Hotel and Breege went to the Annaly Hotel. I was a trainee manager under Dermot Kelly, who was the manager in the Longford Arms. I worked in all departments of the hotel as a trainee.

I met my beautiful wife in Longford. I went to the Imperial Hotel in Dundalk, Co. Louth in 1974 as a junior assistant manager, but I had to come back to Longford as I couldn’t manage without my true love. We got married and had our wonderful family.

I was also a barman as well as a chef. I was trained in Chinese cooking. I was the manager of the Crews Inn in Rooskey, Co. Roscommon; and Head Chef in St Mel’s College in Longford for 21 years.

4. What made you become a chef?

I had enough experience to be one.

5. How did you become interested in photography?

After retirement I became a couch potato so my daughter gave me an old camera and kicked me out of the house. I had been the secretary of the Photo Club back in my college in Sri Lanka.

6. How did you get involved with the Longford Park Run?

Kevin Kane, who is the founder of the Longford Parkrun was looking for a photographer and I got it.

Photo by Lalin Swaris of the Longford Parkrun
Photo by Lalin Swaris of the Longford Parkrun

7. You have filmed and taken photos at Longford Writers Group Events. Do you enjoy helping local groups?

I thoroughly enjoy shooting local events and charity events and to promote Lovely Longford.

Longford Writers Group book launch of their anthology, ‘Home Made’. Photo by Lalin Swaris.

8. Why did you set up the Facebook group, Photographers of the Emerald Isle?

It was two of us. It was Antonio Simoes’s idea originally. The idea was to promote Longford. Since then it has widened to include photographs from the whole island of Ireland, north and south. It is to also to encourage amateur photographers in their endeavours.

9. Have you any plans or ambitions for the future?

To keep promoting lovely Longford and helping out charitable causes.

(See some of Lalin’s photos of local Longford people, and scenes from Longford town and county, below.

Longford Photographer, Michelle Ghee
Longford Politicians, Joe Flaherty and Peggy Nolan

10. You got an award for Longford Person of the Year 2019, an award for the most Inspirational Photographer in 2019, and you were one of the 10 people who were chosen as People of the Year in County Longford. How did you feel about that?

I am delighted and thankful to the Longford people.

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