Sky Head of Boxing Adam Smith visits Southern Star HQ
TILLY Smith wants her photo in the newspaper. She also wants to write a story and see it published, and has two topics in mind – her tour of The Southern Star office and a review of The Greatest Showman. She’s also the best gymnast in the world. Her words, not mine. Handstands are second nature. She can cartwheel in her sleep.
Tilly is seven years old and on Tuesday she lit up Star HQ in Skibbereen, filling the corridors with questions and laughter and questions.
Considering her father is Adam Smith, Head of Boxing at Sky Sports, that might explain where the questions come from.
Tilly is also a regular visitor to these shores, as her family swaps the noisy London jungle for the serenity and peacefulness of West Cork.
The Smiths are more than just tourists. Thousands and thousands flock to this untouched gem every year, but the Smiths and Browns have a connection, a bond to the land here that is growing stronger with each year.
Adam’s father-in-law is Chris Brown, and his mother Mary Walsh hailed from Laherna, Drimoleague. She moved to London many moons ago and married an English man, Freddie Brown, but they kept coming back to West Cork where they bought a holiday cottage near Curraghlickely Lake, Drinagh.
That tradition lives on, and each year, Adam, his wife Jo, their three kids, Jessamy (12), Oscar (10) and Tilly (7), and Jo’s parents, Jenny and Chris Brown, pack their bags into the car, get the ferry to Rosslare and point the car to the south-western corner of this great land.
Chris’s mother Mary was a big fan of The Southern Star, she passed that affection for this local bible to her son (still proud that a letter of his was published in the Star 40 years ago), who has also handed the baton to Adam, and that’s why this regular Tuesday in late July became an evening to remember.
Back in West Cork after spending the weekend in London for the Sky Sports Box Office show in the O2 Arena as Dillan White beat Joseph Parker in a heavyweight showdown and on the same bill Katie Taylor defended her IBF and WBF titles with a crushing stoppage of Kimberly Connor, Adam felt it was time to get to know The Southern Star better.
He’s an executive producer and presenter, Sky’s Head of Boxing, he loves to talk sport and he loves to talk West Cork.
‘The best thing about West Cork is that not many people know about it back home so whenever I tell people in London about here and show them pictures, I tell them not to tell anyone,’ he laughs.
‘My wife’s father has connections to Drinagh and his mother came from the area. There are a huge amount of relatives still here, all around Drinagh, Drimoleague and Dunmanway.
‘We started coming every year and as our family grew, we starting enjoying it more and more.
‘We come for a couple of weeks a year, it’s fantastic, the kids love it, there is so much to do around here, we take trips to Glandore, Union Hall, Kinsale, Bantry, there are so many great places to go and things to do. The people are amazing, the area is gorgeous, it’s a stunning part of the world.’
You can understand why West Cork is a secret that Adam doesn’t want to share. It’s his escape from the madness of London. The cottage they have is a throwback to an olden time. There is no television. They have no WIFI. He has to walk down the road to get reception on his phone. The break from normality is welcome. It’s a place where he can relax.
‘It’s ideal to switch off from the mad world that I work in,’ he says.
‘It’s quite nice to not always be checking technological things and that the kids aren’t always glued into the TV or on YouTube. Here they are reading, playing games and going on adventures. It really works for a family holiday.’
That’s the beauty of West Cork. It’s a departure from the norm. Once it casts its spell, you’re forever enchanted and drawn back by its mystical powers. It delivers a knock-out blow each time.
Adam and his family have another few days left before heading home to West London, and back to work in Osterley for Sky, and all the travel that comes with it.
Soon, he’ll be busy preparing for Anthony Joshua’s mega heavyweight bout against Alexander Povetkin in Wembley on September 25th. That will attract 90,000 fans. Boxing, and British boxing especially, is box-office now. The figures back that up, and Adam is right in the middle of it all.
But in those rare moments of quietness in the coming months, when he needs to pause, he’ll think of West Cork and that cottage in Drinagh. And he’ll look forward to his next trip here, as will the staff at Star HQ who found the offices and halls a lot quieter when Tilly exited stage left on Tuesday evening too.
She departed with a biro and a newspaper, and was eager to write her first stories. Another satisfied customer after a tour of the building and a glimpse into the life of a newspaper.
And now she has her photo in the newspaper too.
But, wait, wait, we’ve a feeling we’ll hear of her again.