Interview: Paddy Downey – Early Retiree FIRE’D


In keeping with my promise to interview people at different stages of the FIRE journey.  I asked the same 3 key interview questions to Paddy Downey, living in Ireland. He managed to design a life on his own terms, execute the plan and certainly living one of choice and freedom today!

See this interview Q & A below:

Who are you and how did you discover fire?

My name is Paddy Downey. I’m 42, engaged, three children and live near the north Co. Dublin coast. I Fire’ed almost 4 years ago in Jan 2017 and my FI journey took 13 years.

I always had an interest in the idea of financial independence and had spreadsheets with my path to freedom all figured out – I just didn’t have the money!

I started methodically investing every single month around 2005 and I only discovered Fire in 2017. I’m pretty sure it came about from googling financial independence and finding the first result we probably all found back then –
the chat forum of the Mr Money Moustache site.

I found that while the US Fire movement is similar in its intention, its quite different in its execution, especially their investment markets and tax treatment. That led me to look for similar European and eventually Irish Fire movements.

What was the backbone of your fire strategy?

I’ve found that rental property suits Financial Independence well from an Irish perspective, as long as you’re happy and willing to be a Landlord.

I prefer Rental income for FI, as part of a diversified portfolio of income streams, as its taxed at PAYE rates, meaning that while it’s very highly taxed if you also have a full time job, its very favourably taxed when its your only source of PAYE income. With our four rentals, we can split 2 rentals each for PAYE filings and earn over €35k each in the lower tax rate, and much lower still after tax credits and tax deductible rental costs.

Our other investments include dividend-yielding shares, broad-market EFT’s, and pensions/savings, all of which have grown considerably over the years and reduced the reliance on property. Tax on those equity investments is a well-known negative in the Irish Fire community, so we tend to not draw money out and instead keep it re-invested. Our rental income covers all monthly costs.

My partner currently works 4-day weeks in a Finance role, maxing her AVC’s into her pension, but will also Fire in the coming years when she wants to. I haven’t paid into a pension since 2008 due to all funds going into assets that generate income sooner than pension age. That may change in future.

How do you spend time now that are FI, and any plans?

I value my time over everything else, and I’ve never been as busy since I stopped working. For one thing, I enjoy being a parent far more than when I was working and travelling abroad for long periods and value that time with them far more now. I guess I have more time to be patient! Being a full-time landlord obviously takes some of my time too – there is always something that needs attention and anything I can’t DIY myself is done by a group of good tradesmen I call on.

A typical morning involves getting the older kids up for their school bus, and then enjoying my coffee reading the news in blissful silence! Just today as an example, I walked for coffee and a chat with a friend. I try to arrange 1-2 coffee chats every week, which is not always possible but it’s a great way to stay in touch. I also walk the 5km beach promenade a lot, listening to podcasts or making phone calls, usually bumping into people I know. I go for a run early afternoon when our 2 year old goes for a nap. I usually try to have a running target; and every Sunday morning myself and 3 neighbours go for a 10-12mile run, which is great. I do almost all the cooking too, which is another thing I have the time to enjoy now more than I did before.

Beyond that, we love to travel, usually planning about 3 long weekend trips abroad and one big one. In recent years, we did 4-6 week summer house-swaps with teachers in New York and in the Canadian Rockies – we’ll definitely do that again and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. We make a point of always going somewhere new and not return to the same places.

I Fire’ed quite young and there are no other people around in the same situation that I’m aware of, so you definitely need to be able to spend time in your own company, for sure. Hiding in plain sight!

Final Note

There you have it, a fantastic insight into Paddy’s FIRE journey and reinforcement that we must keep on our path, and FIRE is possible for anyone who is willing, resilient and focussed, thank you Paddy!


Next, check out Paddy’s follow up Interview #2: Paddy Downey – De-Risking now FIRE | FIRE Dave

Check out my other unique Interviews | FIRE Dave


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Josh

    Great read. I’m looking at using property to achieve FI. Seems a lot better than doing it via ETFs and pensions.

  2. Fritz

    Congrats on FI. For most its just a pipe dream.

  3. Steve

    A great read. Fair play for being so disciplined over the years. Most of us (non-FI) folk don’t talk enough about what we’d do when we eventually get to FI!

    1. Paddy Downey

      Thanks Steve, you definitely need to plan well for it, but then be prepared for most of those plans to not work out as expected at all – and all going well be naturally replaced by something else.
      I found there’s a big big difference between the pre-planned daily discipline of a commuting office worker – for 16 years I never had to wonder what I’d be doing on a Monday morning, versus having to plan each day yourself. Nailing that is the ballgame.

  4. daveg

    Hey Josh, Property is my avenue of choice on the rood to FIRE also! Paddy is a living example of someone who achieved this in Ireland! 🙂

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