Mount Sion alumnus Kieran Walsh is a semi-retired comedian, full-time medical administrator at UPMC and father of two. Married to Shauna, Kieran is also host of the ‘Reeling In Your Ears’ podcast, the only pod dedicated to RTE 1’s ever-popular ‘Reeling In The Years’ show.
Life in a Day
Every day is pretty much the same, like so many for the past year or more. It begins at half five in the AM; I’m up early with the birdies. The coffee is had and then it’s out the door on the half hour walk to work. No time to smell the roses as we start seeing patients from 7am! The whole day is spent going 90 miles an hour as it’s such a fast-paced environment but I’m thrilled to be a part of the UPMC team, as myself and the rest of the gang spend our days looking after the patients of the South East and beyond.
Then it’s back home for 3:30 or 7pm – depending on the shift – to spend the evening with my wonderful wife and children before more than likely falling asleep in front of the telly. The weekends are a bit different as I spend Friday evenings locked in the cubbyhole, like Harry Potter, recording for the podcast with my colleague and fellow Gilbert O’Sullivan enthusiast Simon (he’s gonna hate me for that). Come Saturday and Sunday, I’d usually get up around six, not by choice mind you, but I’d sit at the kitchen table and watch the sunrise while listening to WLR. If the weather holds I’d take my youngest on an early morning walk where she takes great pleasure in stopping and talking to the older folks!
What school did you go to?
Mount Sion and proud of it, went there from 1995 to 2009, two tours of duty! Sometimes it gets a bad rap or at least it used to but you honestly wouldn’t get a better education anywhere else in the world.
What teacher do you remember most vividly?
It’s mad because I remember every single teacher I had, from Mrs Oaks to Mr O’Brien to Mr Maher. They were all superb people and incredible teachers. But one who sticks out in my mind is Mr Tomás Breathnach, our English teacher. He was just such a nice man, very approachable and dedicated to his work. He was later elected the Chairperson of Kilkenny County Council and the day the announcement was made, all of us lined the hall to give him a guard of honour for the laugh, to which he gave a chuckle and ushered us inside. He must’ve been the last teacher in Ireland to use a chalkboard too. Every day he would clock out and look like he fell on the floor at the Blaa factory, just destroyed in dust. We still talk from time to time. A brilliant man.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Take it easy. Take a breath. Take your time. They say you’re only young once but what they forget is you’re actually young for a while so stop chasing women and start chasing your goals. Also give your Mammy a hug. There’s gonna be days to come when you wish you could do just that.
How do you relax?
What’s that? I haven’t been able to relax since I became a father. On the rare occasion I can relax, I’ll ring my Dad and have a chat. We might talk about nothing but it’s still good to talk. I’ll watch ‘Only Fools and Horses’, play the PlayStation or sit in the hammock – if you haven’t one, take my advice, get one. It’ll change your life.
What is your favourite film and piece of music?
Favourite film is ‘Toy Story’. I’m a sucker for Tom Hanks. It has sentimental meaning for me too. My favourite piece of music is ‘Head Full Of Doubt’ by The Avett Brothers. There’s a line in there that years ago inspired me to make something of myself. “Decide what to be and go be it.”
When was the last time you cried?
I honestly couldn’t tell you it happens so often because I’m a big baby. The last proper cry I had was when Liverpool won the Champions League. Although to lay it bare, I often think of my Mam, and that tends to bring the tears. But I buck myself up pretty quickly, and if that doesn’t work, I go talk to someone which I wish a lot more people would do.
What has been your happiest moment of recent times?
Probably seeing the success of my podcast. It’s great to see something going from an idea to an achievement. I was also nominated for an award for my role in the audio drama, ‘The Green Horizon’. Oh, and Liverpool winning the Premier League!
Do you pray?
I’m probably the least religious person I know but if I lose something I’ll still pray to St Anthony to find it! I don’t pray but I have conversations with people who I’ve lost. I know it’ll never be a two-way conversation but it’s nice to talk to them sometimes.
What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is losing everything I’ve worked for. In my eyes I’ve come from barely anything to everything I’ve wanted and I ultimately fear one day, something happens and it all goes away. That and clowns.
What is your most treasured possession?
It used to be my Johnny Giles signed football but I lost that! I’d have to say my mother’s diary, it’s been with me for 12 years through multiple house moves and a flood!
What is your favourite thing about Waterford?
The history! And I don’t just mean the Vikings and the walls but the simple history. Hearing stories from the older folks who lived in places like ‘Wheelbarrow Lane’ and ‘Roche’s Street’. I also love the fact it’s so small yet so big – everyone knows everyone. Most importantly, I love that it’s home.
If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be?
The weather! Can I say that? Okay, fine. I’d probably change the way we look at ourselves as a city. So many things get lost to time, buildings get torn down, streets get blocked off and redeveloped, but we should never lose our identity as people of Waterford. There needs to be a monument built somewhere to recognise the everyday person who made Waterford what it is; I’m talking about the men and women who worked in the Glass, the ‘Popeye men’ and the man who sold windmills outside Dunnes. And Gilbert: give that man an arboretum!
In conversation with Dermot Keyes