Mark in Thailand

Recently I went to Thailand to complete a comprehensive Thai Massage Course. It was an extensive course over a number of weeks, in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is very different to Bangkok. It’s a relatively small, low rise city, but with many beautiful temples where you can go and visit or meditate.


As well as the massage course, I took the opportunity to try some different styles of massage in the different treatment centres. There were centres operated by blind people, by ex-prisoners and so on. One style that I tried was called Tok Sen. This is a rhytmic tapping style applied on the energy lines used in Thai Massage, but applied with a wooden ‘chisel’ and mallet. It looks really painful but I didn’t find it so and nodded off! I loved meeting new people from different countries and cultures on my course and out and about. The course was designed to be enjoyed by people even trying massage as a career for the first time. It was great to see people being introduced to massage for the first time.
One surprising feature for Westerners was the video on Crossing the Road in Thailand that was shown to us at the start of every week on our course.
To get to the daily market for our lunch, we had to cross a four-lane highway. There was a pedestrian crossing, but the interesting thing is that pedestrians don’t have the right of way. So, even when one car stops for you, the next lane might keep going and so on. They had frightening statistics on how many students get hit by cars and on the third week one of the guys I used to share the taxis with to get to college was hit by a motorbike. I guess it’s a feature of Thailand where pretty much everyone uses motorbikes and you buy your own as soon as you can afford it. It explained also the lack of footpaths in a lot of areas. As someone who loves to walk as a way of getting to know a city or area, I found it strange when footpaths were non-existent, or blocked by signs, motorbikes or trees.

Treating VIPs

People sometimes ask me about treating VIPs. My answer is that first and foremost, the ‘P’ in VIP is the most important part. You treat the Person. I’ve had the priviledge to have been asked to treat a few A-listers in my time and gotten great feedback. My success has lain in treating the person as a regular client and treating the body, rather than the celebrity. I can’t say too much without revealing identities, which I never do, much to the annoyance of friends and family.
I do have a favourite story about an A-lister that I can’t really tell properly, without revealing who they are, but here goes.
They were staying in a top hotel that used to call me to do deep tissue sports massage. None of their regular therapists were qualified in this. Anyway, this particular A-lister liked to relax first by chatting and mentioned that one thing they loved about Ireland was that no-one bothered them, even though they knew who they were. I had been a fan for a long time and had tapes of them. When I mention tapes, you’ll know how long I had been a fan. If you don’t know what tapes are, Google it! Towards the end of the treatment, they were kind enough to say how much they enjoyed it and how they wanted to be sure to book me the next time. I was able to quote an obscure lyric from one of their old songs from way back in the day about satisfying the customer and they burst out laughing. “you see!, you see! THIS is what I mean about the Irish, you never even let on you knew me”.

Rugby Legend Keith Woods being treated by Mark Donoghue at the 2014 Special Olympics National Games in Limerick

In the Office

Sometimes we work in different offices, providing an on-site service, either with just one person or a couple of therapists. What we would normally do is try to get a meeting room or private space and set it up as a therapy room. We’d use incense and music, plus mood lighting to create a nice relaxing atmosphere. The office workers book in for 10 minute sessions during the day and it’s amazing what you can achieve in that short space of time.

We try to give the people who booked and paid for the service some feedback, so they know if it’s been worthwhile and appreciated or not. This is easy to do, we just ask people to leave a short note, just a line or two on a form. Then we will type it up and randomise it, just to keep it confidential. Why do we anyonymise it? Well, on a couple of occasions the feedback has been quite pointed. People refer to the stress that they are under in the offices. While the massage session is really appreciated, sometimes people refer to having had to work late, skip lunches or work on Saturdays. So, we don’t want someone to be able to identify who wrote “The massage was great and really worked out that knot on my shoulder so I no longer feel like stabbing someone with a stapler!!!!” We think he was joking.....and breathe......
Here are some more comments from people who attended one of our on-site treatment and wellness days.

If you want to enquire about having on-site massage in your office or at your event, please contact us at