Comedian Tommy Tiernan once joked that the epitome of the Celtic Tiger was the sight of Irish people skiing down the Alps.
He quipped: “We get panic attacks if we are in a house with more than one set of stairs.”
But what was a once worldly notion is now a very popular holiday choice for many Irish families.
And Meath man Conor Tallon has taken it a step further – he teaches people how to ski all over the world.
He told the Irish Daily Mirror: “I was 16 the first time I skied, my dad got an email from a ski company with last minute deals and a good offer so my dad, brother and I ended up going to Meribel in the Three Valleys in France.
“I picked it up fairly quickly as I have always been quite sporty but I wasn’t anything special.
“I just enjoyed it and found it easy to practice as I was having fun.”
Conor, 27, studied computer programming in DCU after leaving secondary school, but he admits that the seeds of an idea were already long in his head.
He thoroughly researched it all online and just had the small matter of breaking the news to his parents.
“When I told them I was going to leave my degree in computers to train to be a ski instructor they thought I was mad!
“They have come around to it since and are supportive but at the time they were cautious about it. “They worried that it was just a dream and I wouldn’t get anywhere with it.
“But I think that these days you can make a living doing whatever you are passionate about and the leaving cert/college route isn’t the be all and end all, so don’t worry about it.”
It is a job that has seen Conor follow the snow to some of the most picturesque places in the world.
“I have skied in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, France, Italy, Austria, Australia, Andorra and Switzerland.
“You get to travel around easily for work so I just pick a country I would like to experience and work there for the most part.
“I have favorites for different reasons. The Canadian people are really friendly, the New Zealand scenery is amazing and Japanese culture was really fun to experience.”
There is no typical day in the life of a ski instructor. Conor can be on the slopes for most of the day and has taught people from as young as two right up to a man in his 80s who skied while smoking a pipe.
He said: “It’s not always quite as glamorous as it sounds and unfortunately my day to day lessons aren’t teaching a group of models that treat me to lunch but I do love it.
“The social life is great though, you get to meet people from all over the world of all ages. And the apres ski isn’t bad either!”
Conor admits that the Irish ski instructor is still a very rare breed with his occupation interesting many people at home.
“Most people tend to be curious and ask me what it’s like. I always tell people that you don’t need to be an amazing skier to become an instructor – I definitely wasn’t.
“There are companies that provide Level 1 and 2 training courses and provide great training to improve your skiing and teaching to the required level.
“If you like working with people and have a good way with people it’s a great job.”
Conor is learning French while waiting for the Covid-19 restrictions to be lifted so he can get back to work.
But for those who will be chomping at the bit to book a ski holiday after the lockdown – where would he recommend?
“If you are on a budget, I would say Andorra. If you want the food and wine too, then Italy is the choice.
“But for skiing, the spa and the works then it is hard to beat Switzerland.
“If anyone has any questions or wants help on getting into the industry, I would be happy to help and they can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org”