Aged 38, Melissa Walsh is a Dungarvan native who recently settled in Waterford City, having worked there for almost 10 years as a civil servant.
After turning her life around when losing over four stone almost five years ago, health and fitness is now her passion and she counts taking part in RTE’s “Ultimate Hell Week”, taking part in a full 24-hour Bootcamp for charity, and winning an All-Ireland Gold Medal for indoor rowing as her achievements.
Daughter of Mel and Joe (her best friends and biggest supporters) Melissa loves training in her home gym, and exploring the outdoors as much as possible too.
Life in a Day
My typical day lately involves me working from home, something I never thought I would do, and something I never thought I would enjoy doing. During my breaks, I squeeze in two walks with my dog Timmy, then straight after work I train for an hour or two in the home gym that the Covid restrictions effectively built (Crossfit-style workouts). After that it’s cuddles on the couch with the aforementioned dog, the only man to never complain about watching ‘Love Island’!
What school did you go to?
I went to Árd Scoil na nDéise in Dungarvan. It was a good school and I had brains to burn but I wasted it because I was a wild teenager and I put having fun ahead of my education.
What teacher do you remember most vividly?
In Sixth Year, I decided I wanted to leave school a few months before the Leaving Cert, my poor mother was distraught (sorry, Mam) and she spoke to the teachers. Two in particular, Angela Conway and Margaret Dennehy convinced me to stay and helped me out a lot in the lead up to the Leaving. In the end, I did well and a lot of that is down to them.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Don’t be in such a rush to grow up. Don’t pack in football. And GIVE UP SMOKING! Unfortunately, I had already started at that age. I didn’t give up until I was 33, and I still vape to this day. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my time but smoking tops the lot. And I recently returned to playing football. It’s never too late.
How do you relax?
I don’t get much time to relax during the week, but at weekends I love nothing more than going home to Dungarvan and spending time with my family. I like going for walks, watching movies and having a giggle with them. That always cures whatever’s ailing me.
What is your favourite film and piece of music?
There are many movies I can watch over and over again, but I have a top two that I cannot choose between and you can’t make me. ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘True Romance’ are absolute classics. I love a gangster movie. My favourite piece of music actually comes from ‘True Romance’, it always puts a smile on my face; it’s Hans Zimmer’s “You’re So Cool”.
When was the last time you cried?
I was bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding recently and I cried multiple times. It was such a special, beautiful and emotional day. Congratulations again to David and Resa!
What has been your happiest moment of recent times?
Getting the keys to my very own house. I got them the day after Leo announced the first big lockdown, and honestly if I wasn’t kept so busy with the house, the pandemic, and all that came with it might have affected me very differently. I’m grateful for that, and I’m grateful for everyone who helped along the way, especially my parents.
Do you pray?
No, I don’t pray. I do get my Mam to light a candle for me when I need it though, and I must say the Child of Prague did its job for my friend’s wedding. Little things like that are about as religious as I get.
What is your biggest fear?
Heights turn me into a wobbly and occasionally sobbing mess. I tried to overcome this fear a few years ago while training for Ultimate Hell Week on RTE by going to an activity place in Wexford with high ropes. I was a bumbling, shaking fool, thank God I didn’t get that far on Hell Week or I may have ‘had an accident’ while crying on TV. Sure, it’s one to tell the Grandkids!
What is your most treasured possession?
My dog. I adopted Timmy in May of this year. He is a little four-year-old beagle and he is honestly the centre of my world now. He rules the roost and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is your favourite thing about Waterford?
Waterford really does have it all. Firstly, we are a sound bunch and we have the best of everything on our doorsteps. Restaurants, pubs, beaches, mountains, the Greenway, we really are spoiled for choice. It has been great to see the place buzzing again and I’m looking forward to some long overdue nights out with friends over Christmas.
If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be?
There isn’t a whole lot I would change about Waterford but I would love if there was a dog park like other cities have. Oh and more dog poo bins around the city. Ha-ha, this is my life now!
In conversation with Dermot Keyes