Twenty-three years ago, when Paul Murphy received the news he’d been dreaming of, he was working aboard a cruise ship in port in Ketchikan, Alaska. The next three days would determine whether his dream would come true or if he would face a life-changing disappointment. He had been notified that his name had been drawn in a lottery by the embassy in his native Dublin to apply for U.S. permanent residency status—the coveted green card. The challenge was to get to Dublin from Alaska in three days to sit for the interview that would begin the vetting process. No rescheduling, no negotiation—be there at the appointed day and time or forfeit the opportunity of a lifetime.
Thus, the journey to start his new life began like a real-life version of Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. He augmented the meager contents of his wallet with cash borrowed from nearly every one of his fellow shipmates. A seaplane commute to Juneau, then on to Toronto, New York City and finally, on the day of the interview, Dublin. He hustled to the curb, realizing he had to complete one more negotiation— this one with the cab driver.
“I only have $12.00 left in my pocket but I have to get to the embassy to interview for my green card.”
“You got it!” the driver said. Paul made it to his interview on time and has been paying forward the kindness of those who helped him ever since.
He emigrated in 1995 to Hilton Head Island after learning about the resort paradise from a cruise ship passenger who was a local businessman and rugby player. An avid rugby player himself, Paul opened Murphy’s Irish Pub and sponsored a local rugby team. After playing for several years the injuries inherent in the full-contact sport caught up with him, sidelining him to participate only in the “old boys/over 45” annual St. Patrick’s Day tournament.
Paul eventually tired of pub ownership and brought his broad experience and deep skill set to head up dining services at The Cypress of Hilton Head Island, an award winning continuing care retirement community, where he meets and exceeds the expectations of the 400-plus members every day. When the evacuation order came preceding Hurricane Matthew’s arrival the entire staff swung into action implementing the complex and comprehensive evacuation plan.
Members packed their bags for a five-day stay in Charlotte. Even the pet owners had their instructions in place to provide a crate and a five-day ration of food and any other supplies an animal might need. Being an animal lover, Paul led the “Noah’s Ark” expedition carrying 58 dogs and cats in a three van convoy along the back-road route north to Charlotte, including a challenging multiple-dog pit stop in Orangeburg. Upon arrival, the pets were reunited with their owners at the pet friendly Aloft hotel. There was one cat without its owner and Paul took it into his temporary care. He remembers with a chuckle, “It purred on top of my head all night long.”
Paul expresses his feelings of privilege to be part of The Cypress' committed, professional management team. The team, headquartered at the Heritage Grand Hotel, where the majority of members were lodged, tried to anticipate their charges every need and desire, providing as many of their comforts of home as possible. Books, magazines and newspapers were set out each morning with snacks available all day long and even daily afternoon cocktail hours, which provided a welcome opportunity to socialize with their fellow evacuees, many times getting to know folks they’d never met. The team’s knowledge of their members’ favorite things guided the selections of reading materials, wines, spirits, snacks and even activities. Every single staff member went over and above both on the Charlotte team, as well as those still working on-site after the storm had passed and power had been restored. Back at home the housekeeping staff cleared spoiled food and cleaned all the members’ refrigerators. That alone would have been a huge service, but lunches, snacks, bottled water and staples were replenished in each home to see members through the challenges that many found upon returning to their homes.
Now thats true service.
Family: Married to Dawn; daughter Erin and son Liam; two stepsons, Brendan and Tyler
Taking One for the Team: Paul is allergic to cats.
World Traveler: He has been around the world twice on global cruises, stopping at 187 ports in 370 days.
Education: Studied catering and hospitality services at a Dublin college and interned as a student at South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island, FL.