His idea, speed-friending, works much in the same way as speed-dating does.Each person speaks to one other person at a time, in five-minute intervals.After five minutes, Phelan rings a bell and everyone swaps partners.
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“I’m still friends with the people I met at the first ones,” he says.
“We go to a lot of things together, we go to other meet-ups and for drinks.” Most people who come along are in the 25-35 age bracket, and a lot of them are in similar situations.
“They’re people whose friends are in relationships or are married with kids who don’t really go out as much.
Leaving the confines of school or university, or moving to a new city often poses problems for people looking to make new friends as adults.
This was a problem Dereck Phelan faced when he moved to Dublin from Kilkenny for a job as an electrician two years ago.
While there were plenty of options for dating around the city, finding a way to meet new people outside of a romantic context proved difficult.
He ended up coming up with his own solution, which stole inspiration from the dating world.
“Sometimes five minutes is too long, because some people just don’t like each other at all.
But other times, the five minutes is definitely too short.
For them, at the end of the night, they usually split into groups and then they go off and do something else for the night,” he says.
The first event he organised only attracted four people, but now it usually draws a crowd of about 30 people each time it runs – typically twice a month.