Before I left for a week-long work trip to Ireland, I had an awkward conversation with my husband. It went something like this:
“I’ll be staying at a hotel in Dublin called Buswell’s for 4 of the 5 nights. On Friday night, I’m getting kidnapped. I’m being taken on some ‘mystery train’ trip overnight, and I have no idea where we’re staying. So if I die that day, I don’t know what to tell you.”
The “mystery train” was organised by Paddy Cosgrave, a prominent tech figure in Dublin who organizes a 20,000 person conference, Web Summit, and a smaller invite-only event called F.ounders. F.ounders rounds up a few members of the press, leaders of valuable startups, top venture capitalists, and celebrities. Attendees this year included model Lily Cole, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, and actor Adrien Grenier. F.ounders organizes trips, dinners and networking events that result in rapid bonding, limited cell phone use, and lasting business relationships.
The week before F.ounders, all 250 attendees received an email. A portion of the email read: “For the first time we are all leaving Dublin on a mystery train the morning of the 7th! We have taken care of all of the logistics, all you need to remember is to bring a small overnight bag.”
On Saturday morning, we were told to be ready by 10 AM, where we’d then be transported to a mysterious location in Ireland. I checked out of my hotel with a toothbrush, deodorant and a change of clothes, and told the concierge I’d hopefully be back in 24 hours.
The buses dropped us off at a train station. There weren't many other commuters, just a bunch of transplanted tech people who stood around wondering where we were off to.
Inside, the train had an older feel, but there was lots of space to move around. A number of F.ounders attendees commented that they felt they were on Harry Potter's Hogwarts Express.
It became very clear that we wouldn't be starving on the train. Yogurt with granola and berries were waiting on every 4-person table.
F.ounders had a full day's worth of meals planned for the long ride. There would be breakfast, starting with a fruit plate.
A few cars down, there was a robust coffee machine with a man who could make you anything you asked for, from a cappuccino to an americano.
The train took us through Ireland's countryside, and we quickly realised where we were headed: A southern city called Cork.
4 hours is a long time to spend on a train, and the bar quickly became the hot entertainment spot. Circa founder Matt Galligan grabbed his guitar and began leading the group in a series of songs.
We arrived in Cork at the Jameson factory, where we sampled a lot of whiskey including Middleton and Powers.
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