Darragh Doran

From Dublin

Where did you grow up ?  

In Dublin, in a small village called Chapelizod. It's on the west of the city, right next to the Phoenix Park and only a few miles from the city centre.

Where do you live in Charleston ?  

I've lived in downtown Charleston for 12 years now. I live in Cannonborough, which was a sketchy area when I moved there but now it's full of life and one of the best parts of town. I bought my house when it was rundown college rental, I renovated it then and have just finished another complete renovation of it.

Do you have a family here with you?   

No, just me and my dog Messi. My house downtown has been a refuge for the Irish over the years so it's never quiet.

My parents John & Aileen still live in Dublin, my brother Derek lives in Brooklyn, my sister Denise lives in England and my brother David passed away in 2017.

When did you move to Charleston ?  

I came to Charleston in 1999 on a J1 Student visa.

Where else have you lived in the US ?  

I spent the Summer on '97 in Newport, Rhode Island, also on a J1 visa. It was a great time. First time living away from home, 10 Irish kids living in a 2 bedroom place !

Why did you move to Charleston ?

We had such a fun Summer in Newport, but I spent the whole time with Irish people despite living in the US, so when I did another J1, I wanted to go somewhere completely different, off the beaten track (for Irish people at least) and see more of the US. 

I came here with my girlfriend at the time and we were the only Irish students in town, Charleston was nothing like the city it is today. We lived on State Street, worked on Church Street, you didn't go far past Calhoun Street in those days and we had no car, so we got to know downtown Charleston very well.

I made some really good friends, all American and I loved life in Charleston. After my J1 ended in Charleston, I went home and finished my engineering degree. I came back here on holidays and missed the place, so I started trying to find a job here and I ended up getting a job at the Bosch automotive plant in North Charleston.

What do you like about Charleston ?

The laidback way of life, the weather, the walkability of the city, the beaches, friendly people, the architecture and the opportunities.  

Even though Charleston is a small city, it has everything you could want. After years of not having many Irish here, it's exploded over the last 5 years and now it's fantastic to have so many Irish here. 

Where is the first place in Charleston that you bring visitors ? 

I drive them over the Ravenel Bridge, with its city views, over to Mt Pleasant and we end up on Sullivans Island. If you drive down to Fort Moultrie and walk out onto the beach, there are some gorgeous views back to downtown Charleston, especially if you time it at sunset. 

The walk on the beach is always enjoyable after the long flight and it's a good spot to see dolphins too. After that, we go for dinner somewhere on Sullivans or Shem Creek and let them soak in the Charleston lifestyle.

Tell us about your business/work ? 

I am in the property business. While I was working at Bosch, I started buying investments properties on the side and that morphed into a full time career. I have my own real estate business, working primarily as a realtor.  I also renovate houses and have rental properties as well.  

The Irish community make up 50% of my business, which I'm always thankful for. I especially enjoy helping the Irish who are just moving here, I get to show off the city and watch them fall in love with the city too.

I'm a big believer in the Irish supporting other Irish businesses in town, that’s one of my main goals with this Charleston Irish group. I always recommend the other Irish businesses when my clients ask for referrals.

empirecharleston.com is my business website

Anything else you want to tell us ?

I started this Charleston Irish group ten years ago, primarily as a way for the few of us living here to meet up to play and watch football. Now we have regular meet ups, more than 1400 on our FB group and we've become the go to resource for anything Irish, so I'm very proud of that.

I went to an all Irish speaking school from the age of 7 through to 18, so I'm a fluent Irish (Gaelic) speaker.   I play soccer, I kiteboard whenever it's windy and I just took up yoga, which I am loving. 

How can people get in touch with you ?

843 452 2325 darragh@empirecharleston.com

If you are from Ireland & live in Charleston, we want to add your profile to this section. More details here