HomeBussiness‘My worst financial mistake was buying a nightclub in 2007, just...

‘My worst financial mistake was buying a nightclub in 2007, just before the recession hit’


Related stories


At the age of 19, he co-wrote the lyrics to Mark McCabe’s Maniac 2000, one of Ireland’s biggest-selling singles of all time.

The 45-year-old now hosts the house and dance show Freaks with Al Gibbs on Dublin’s FM104. The show, which has been on air for almost two decades, is now expanding to two shows a week, on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the Friday edition will also be broadcast on Cork’s 96FM and Limerick Live 95.​

How did your upbringing shape your attitudes towards money?

Growing up in Ballybrack greatly shaped my perspective on money. My parents instilled in me the value of hard work and resourcefulness. Their dedication taught me the importance of financial responsibility.

Every penny was accounted for and nothing was taken for granted. This upbringing taught me that if I wanted something, I had to earn it through hard work and perseverance.

Today’s News in 90 Seconds – April 28th

When were you most broke?

In 2010. Prior to the recession, I was thriving and running a successful business. However, like many others, the economic downturn hit hard, taking a toll and leaving me in a challenging situation.

Fortunately, my DJ career and my tenure at FM104 emerged as lifelines. Despite the financial woes, my passion for music and my show on FM104 provided a steady anchor amid the storm.

Have you ever seen anyone spend money in a way that shocked you?

Before the recession hit, it was pretty wild seeing regular folks buying multiple houses — sometimes three or four extra ones. It showed how easy it was to get loans back then, especially for property. Looking back, it seems kind of crazy that we were all caught up in that buying frenzy without considering the risks.

How did Covid-19 restrictions affect your financial wellbeing?

They had a profound impact on my financial wellbeing, particularly due to their devastating effects on the events industry. As someone deeply entrenched in this field, I witnessed firsthand how the pandemic decimated opportunities for live events and gatherings.

It was an incredibly challenging time, with the sudden halt of gigs and performances, leaving many of us in the industry struggling to make ends meet.

Like many others in this line of work, I found myself just barely getting by as the usual sources of income evaporated overnight. The uncertainty surrounding when — or if — events would resume added to the financial strain.

What was your best ever investment?

I started an entertainment agency, EML, in 2003 with €500 and we built it to support nearly 50 staff at one stage.

What was your biggest ever financial mistake?

I bought a nightclub in 2007, literally three months before the run on Northern Rock. We paid over €1m in key money.

The venue did very well in terms of customers through the door but the spends per head dropped by 70pc with the recession, making the business unviable. It was a tough lesson to learn and our timing was rotten.

What was your first job?

My first job was actually as a DJ. I began by spinning tracks at private parties and later hosted kids’ discos. That early experience behind the decks ignited my passion for music, paving the way for my career in broadcasting.

It’s been a remarkable journey that has led me to where I am today, sharing music and connecting with listeners on FM104.

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories