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The Brendan O'Connor Show on TV, Radio One with oil care pharmacy discover a team that's always here to support you at all care taking care of communities across Ireland.


A book has come across my desk. It's called The Million Dollar Irishman from John Street to Wall Street. It really is an intriguing tale of a man from all men in County Tyrone, who, through no fault of his own, had a non-productive encounter with formal education. More or less had to bring himself up as he lost his parents at a young age. He never knew. His father and his mother died when he was quite young, but he went on to become a multimillionaire.


And it really has been a roller coaster life for him. His name is Chris McGill and he joins me from his from London. Chris, good morning to you.


Damien. G'day, how are you? Very good. Good afternoon. At this stage, of course. And it's an extraordinary story which would make, I think, for a good movie. Now, I. I know you don't you're a confidence sort of bloke, but the vast majority of the people listening to us now will not have heard of you. Chris, I don't want to I don't burst your bubble on that. So you're going to tell us a little bit more about your life, because it is an extraordinary story.


And you were born in Toronto. Tell us a little bit more about growing up and your family back in Omagh.


Yeah, our dad died when I was three, and in fact, my mother was five months pregnant with the seventh child. So he died in February and Johnny was born in June. So things are pretty tough, you know, growing up, grown up in a pub business. And while we were very successful, my father had a great, great business and various other assets, including the pub, he died quite quickly. And and my mother ended up sort of working 24/7 sort of thing and trying to keep the whole ship afloat.


And then, you know, the trouble started and, you know, the early days of the troubles in 69 weren't very far away. So he died in 66. So, you know, we we were brought up with an attitude, you know, and this is what carries through from beginning to end. You know, the story is the subtitle of the story, as you said, is From John Street to Wall Street. So we were the Mikael's of John Street.


So whilst we didn't have a father and anybody else who didn't have a father, you know, we did have this attitude that we were somebody important. So that carried right through from the beginning to the end. And in the end, I became Merrill Lynch managing director and company manager for Ireland. And now we are.


At what age were you orphaned yourself? Twelve, our mother died in seventy five, so she died of a really long illness as well. So two years of cancer sort of hanging in to keep the family, you know, and it was it was very, very difficult. So, of course, part of the story is that we were really badly treated by the school, inverted commas at that time. We were both at grammar school, Paul and I, my my next paid sibling, who was a very, very smart guy and so was I.


And we went through life thinking where the biggest jobs were top top kids and school and primary school number one, that, you know, we are smarter than everybody else sort of thing drilled into us. But when she died, the school really turned on Paul, who would have been regarded at that point as a disruptive influence. So instead of pastoral care, they gave him a really bad beating just shortly after she died. So he was still 13 then.


And then when he turned 14, they expelled him. They inverted commas, terminated his scholarships. And I remember the letter arriving at home in great shock to the system had just turned 14 and sitting on the kitchen table and all of us sort of milling around a table looking at this letter, Paul, the golden boy, the glamour boy, the smartest guy. And I was terminated and it turned out to be the beginning of the end for him, because I'll tell you more about that later in the story.


Yeah. And so there was yourself, a Paul you really looked up to to Paul, and it kind of was the beginning of a very fractious time for you and for him, which, as I said, you're going to tell us about.


But who was bringing you up? Who was looking after you? Who is preparing your meals for you? Who is getting you out to school at the age of 12?


Well, we formed a restaurant and we basically ate at the restaurant or at school meals. So there was a restaurant being opened prior to my mum's death as well. So we either ate in the restaurant or we had we had we owned a shop next to the pub, which somebody rented from us. So the rent came in and the food purchases were offset against the rent, as I said, until such time as the the food purchases with the growing family exceeded the rent and we were paying the guy rent in the shop rather than the other way round.


So we had elder siblings and my older sister was 17. Marie Noel was 16. Martin was 15. Paul when when my mum died was thirteen. I was twelve. And the girls were sort of taken. It was seven.


But you and Paul, really, you're as thick as thieves. He stuck together and as you said then the beginning of the end for him was having been kicked out of school. What effect did it have on him?


He was a tall guy. I'm not. And he's sort of when he was sixteen, for example, he certainly looked eighteen. And we were all working in the business at that point. So, you know, we basically dropped out of school. We went to another school, obviously a secondary school. And in fact, the headmaster there was fabulous Donald Donnally. I was a Roman Catholic legend and he tried his best to get Paul and I to focus on our education and so on.


But we had already sort of broken free into the this of life, you know, where money I had money. I was he turned to boos and I turned to gambling. So I hung out literally all my teenage years, literally hard to believe, but through and Ibuki shop. So in the beginning, at 12, I was the bookie's runner to a bookie shop next door, which was owned by a legendary Irish gambler, Barney Curly. So from a very early age, after my mother died, there was a famous coup and a horse called Yellow Sam.


I wanted to be Barney curling. So Paul went to booze and I went to gambling. And by the time he was 18, he went to his first alcohol treatment centre. And by the time I was 18, I went back to school.


So he went, you know, he had a terrible period of basically a chronic alcoholic, you know, and I would blame the school for all of that as it happens, you know and know the pastoral care that wasn't there. And contrast with the likes of Donald Donnelly, who did his very best.


But by the time we got to some parts, you know, we were we were on a free road, money coming in, gambling, hustling people, pool tables hanging out in Benidorm for the summer. You know, it was just a crazy world.


It was a crazy world. But what was the effect of his alcoholism? You becoming a gambler? Did you hold that against him? Oh, no, no, no, I was delighted to be a gambler, I formed that opinion myself, I was wanted to be Barney Curlee, you know, and and I was very successful at it. So one of the things I learnt over the years, you know, was a need to win. You know, it wasn't about gambling, but about winning.


And so I carried it right through all my life. So I went betting on Penny's age 12 to betting tens, hundreds, hundreds of thousands and millions all the way at the top and Merrill Lynch. But on a personal level, you know, huge gambling. I mean, so why did you why did you fall out?


Basically, you know, he was drunk, so, you know, he lost the rendezvous, say, you know, and and, you know, he was in a very bad place. So he went, you know, I was just telling my wife the story yesterday and I was at Queen's University. I haven't gone back to school. I went to university and got fast tracked through the system and ended up with the Deloitte job, Deloitte and Ulster Investment Bank.


And I went to London. But along the way I met Paul on the street in Belfast. You know, there were no mobile phones in these days and I didn't know where he was, frankly. And I was coming out of a city hospital, had my nose broken as a boxer, and it was kind of champion boxer and it was being repaired. So I was coming out of there after an appointment and I met him going towards the hospital and I said, what are you doing?


You know? And he was look terrible. You know, he was very, very dishevelled and everything else. My brother and I was unbelievable. But anyway, he said, oh, I'm going up there to the hospital. They have cheap lunches, you know, and this is what I had to send it to. And at that point, you would have been maybe twenty five. So, you know, when he dropped out, when he was kicked out of school, terminated, they literally did do that and terminated them.


And basically, you know, he went downhill badly. So shortly after that, he he was drunk in his flat, which, you know, he's been helped by various forms of alcohol treatment centres and they've been in and out of various ones from between the ages of 18 and maybe twenty five. So what happened is he was lying asleep on the floor and his foot was close to the the hot real heater and erm the foot and burned foot. And he went and had to have part of his foot removed and, and went to an alcohol treatment centre and then went sober for 18 years after that.


And during the course there he met his future wife, moved to Scotland with her. She was Scottish, went through jobs as a straw man and started at the very bottom, the university, and became a schoolteacher and had a fabulous success in his own right, going back to school and everything else.


Back to Paul a little bit later, but back to yourself. So despite all your troubles and school and Fairvale upbringing and gambling and all of that, you are clever behind it all. And you got to Queens and you got out of Queens and you ended up coming south to Dublin. What was it like getting to Dublin and getting getting a job? And in the hustle and bustle of the stockbroking world?


I was a dream come true, really. I had no plan, you know, thing there was no new advisor. So all my life I've just gone from pillar to post, you know, without a plan. But it keep going upwards as the objective. But when I arrive in Dublin, the first experience was just getting out of Northern Ireland. I've been to Dublin many, many times and know Holiday in Donegal and spent a lot of time there over the border.


But just getting out of Northern Ireland was such a release, you know, I had no idea. I was really twenty five years old, had no idea how much of a release it would be just to get away from that place. But also, you know, it's a great environment. It was nineteen eighty seven at the beginning of what would be a 14 year boom, you know, right through to the dotcom bubble burst. So I arrived just after what was called Black Monday, which was October eighty seven, just before that brother and watched people watching the screens as the Dow Jones index fell its biggest ever single day fall of twenty three percent.


So I was there right at the beginning of that thing. And then. And then. And then all the way through to the dotcom bubble. By this stage, I was in London working for Merrill Lynch.


And what was your talent? How did you rise so fast up the ranks? I mean, you began in July and then you came to Dublin to work with another company. And then, as you said, you ended up in London. At that stage, you know, you were you were drowning in money where you I was on a million dollars a year.


You know, I was I was a managing director of global markets and investment banking. You know, I had gone way beyond any idea I ever had of success. You know, I had no plan for that. But there I was, you know, I was generating twenty eight million dollars a year, you know, five accounts paying me more than two million dollars. You know, most people had one or two of that were lucky. So I was like Wayne Rooney, you know, in London and working for Merrill Lynch.


I was scoring all the goals and but the stress of it all, you know, on the Bernard is inevitable. And it did happen.


And so I you know, in the end, I just really had going to work, you know, so but once my talent, you know, its numbers and confidence and her confidence, so so I can do the numbers in my head quicker than anybody. You know, when I was a kid, I knew everything about horses more than anybody I knew. And similarly, in the stock market, I could retain information and and interpret it quickly and make a judgement quickly and make a decision quickly and react and be more right than wrong.


And it's never always right. And we're often wrong. But but it's about being more right than wrong and winning. Winning winning was the thing that carried through from the beginning, you know, with the horses winning.


Yeah. So. Confidence and nerves of steel thrown in there as well, and just having this supposed cockiness, what you all were, you were you were you were cocky pain in the arse, if you know what I mean. Was that part of the makeup? Yes, totally.


I am. I'm a Marmite man. You know, 50 percent of the people love me and the other actually hate me. You know, it's not a case of he's OK. And so I love this guy or I hate him. So, yeah, that's true. So I have I have a confidence in other companies which goes back to what I was the Mikael's of John St. Paul. And I you know, we were we were growing up. We were very, very optimistic people looking forward to a great career and a great future and that sense of, you know.


But, you know, like you're immortal, do you think that that was the reason behind the accident, the car accident on the M1 that almost killed you? The reason behind it, I mean, I was in dispute for a long time about who caused it, you know, I mean, more importantly, someone saved my life on the day a nurse got into my smoking car and and saved my life. I would have died in those 60 seconds.


90 seconds later, I was choking on the blood mould. Your face was severed. So, so. So I was very lucky that day, you know, but. But who caused it? Well, you know, I ended up losing the court case and what happened there very quickly as I was case, which was in the north, but nobody was what we want, we want.


But rather than get into to the court case, the accident was you were involved in a head on smash and you. But the reason I was saying that that sense of immortality, because you are you are going very fast and you say if you weren't going as fast, you probably would have been killed actually in a roundabout way. Saved you. I got that impression. But there was a nurse. The point, I suppose, that the interesting part of that whole story is you're almost killed.


But it was a young woman who's a nurse living nearby. The pulled you from the car.


That's why it saved my life. So I was I was very lucky. Her father as well, who would be listening to this as well. So they're great people and I'm very, very lucky. So, you know, I was one of those moments in life. You know, you live it, you die, you know.


So what age were you when that accident happened? Twenty five.


And to pick up on your point about the speed. Yes, absolutely. The lorry came over the car on the steering wheel and turned me away from the underside of the lorry. Had I not been going so fast, I wouldn't have been turned away from the underside. So it's entirely true. Yeah. Yes.


And it did it not slow you down? In other words, you know, because you how long were you in hospital, a hospital and rehabilitation in Belfast?


Six months. In fact, I was they said a year when I signed them, which is quite disturbing. And I said to myself, no chance. So I literally signed myself out of the place, didn't require a signing in this late night. But mentally speaking, I said, right, I've got to get out of here. I've got to get back to work. So I went back to work in Dublin. Yeah.


And you were you were nicknamed the Humpty Dumpty man because you were put back together again.


You have five surgeons, five hours and put them back together again. I was ventilated for eight days. I woke up in intensive care and police were there with guns. And there were they were they were monitoring somebody who was involved in some shooting in the Troubles. But first thing I see is the police. The gun was a bit of a shock.


Well, Chris, and just coming to where you are today, I mean, you've come through the accident. You came to being somebody that's, you know, was worth five million a year. You gambled, you did everything. You went through burnout. You went through the financial crash back in 2008, 2009. And now here you are writing this book. And as I said, it's it's a rollicking read from start to finish in terms of how you got to where you are today and what made you rewrite the book.


I started writing it after I left the city and I sort of went into a darkened room. You know, I really was burned. I needed to get my head together. And I called it the Humpty Dumpty man at that time. So I met, you know, I basically wanted some catharsis from that. So I met Chris, J.K. Rowling's literary agent, Christopher Little, who said, oh, no, not another Irish sob story. So I stopped and stopped for nine years.


I then went back to the scene of the crash and twenty fourteen and had some flashbacks and started writing again. So they looked a lot done. Six years later, I finally finished it and started writing this time last year. So it's great to be here today.


It's come a long way in twelve months and you're gone out of the whole financial kind of stockbroking business, are you? No, not really, no.


I'm I run my own property business, which is called Tiran Capital Partners. So I, I basically I'm an agent like it was before, but for high value land transactions. So, you know, what I do would end up and completed developments of 50 to 100 million pounds and then the UK.


So he never and despite the burnout, as I said, and he just got out of it and at a very young age to to be burned out like that, but to to come back again. And as I said, it's all chronicled in the book, which is the million dollar Irishman from John Street to Wall Street. And as I said, it's out now and Christmas. Thank you so much for joining us and have a great Easter over there in London.


Can I make a little can you could you can I mention the website? Yeah, go ahead. Yep. That million dollar Irishman dot com. And it's also available at Easton's book station and Cannex. Thank you.


It's on sale at the moment. Chris, it's been great chatting to you. And thank you very much for joining us this morning.


Thank you, Damien. By email, Brendan Desai.