INTERVIEW

My Tipperary Life: Cian McCormack

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My Tipperary Life: Cian McCormack

Award winning broadcaster and Nenagh native Cian McCormack works with Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1

Award winning broadcaster and Nenagh native Cian McCormack works with Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1.

What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Tipperary?

My perfect day in Tipperary starts with an early morning run in the hills of Coum near Portroe. Whatever the weather, the rolling forest trails run in the company of long time friends are always good for the soul, head and body.

My end to that perfect day is watching a dramatic sunset over Lough Derg or meeting school friends for a pint or a coffee to discuss the issues of the day.

Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?

It’s difficult to credit just one person. For me many people make great contributions to Tipperary every day. I admire volunteers - the lifeblood of any community - whose contributions keep local clubs going year-in-year-out.

Another, and sometimes forgotten contribution, is that of indigenous export driven companies that have made Tipperary thrive over the years. I hold in high esteem, the self-employed shopkeepers fighting to keep the economic lifeblood of traditional towns flowing whilst people turn to shopping online or in bigger cities. First responders and how they help us all every day of the year can’t be forgotten either.

However, I also greatly admire the invaluable contributions many politicians, from different parties and political persuasions, have made over the years. These men and women - many working endless hours and sometimes without due credit and praise, work tirelessly at both national and local level for the county and their localities to sustain continued improvement in the county.

The greatest contribution to Tipperary in my lifetime comes from the people of the county itself who put themselves out there to make a difference and assert change.

What’s your first Tipperary memory?

The smell of freshly cut lawns whilst playing hurling and soccer on the green at Melrose estate in Nenagh - the estate I grew up in. Those children, still my friends, have a special place in my early memories because that early socialisation shaped me for later years.

However, learning to swim with Sean Dealy - a lifeguard in Nenagh swimming pool - is my earliest memory. The skills of lifeguarding and swimming have always remained with me to this day.

What’s your favourite part of the county - and why?

As explained earlier, the hillside of Coum - overlooking Lough Derg outside Portroe - is my favourite part of the county. On a good day you can overlook the spectacular Lough Derg to County Clare. On a bad day, the elements - wind and driving sideways rain - can blow the cobwebs from your soul during a run or ramble.

The latter is sometimes more exhilarating than the best stone splitting sunny day. There’s nothing like running against a stiff wind up hill to harden your resolve! Coum is the place where I find it easy to relax - and that’s in all weathers: wind, rain, sun and snow.

What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?

Tipperary’s people, their talents and attitudes to life gives the county its unique identity. In many walks of life Tipperary people have excelled by working hard and inspiring others.

A few names come to mind: Donnacha Ryan, Declan Kelly, Barry Coffey, Barry Heffernan, Jake Morris, Sean Dealy, Adi Roche, JD Bernal, Liam Sheedy, Damian Lawlor, Andrew Flynn, Pat Shortt . . . and, of course, there are too many to mention.

Do you have a favourite local writer or author?

Being from Tipperary it’s hard to choose a favourite writer. Donal Ryan, Andrew Tierney, Julian Gough, Damian Lawlor, Vincent Hogan, Gemma Hayes, Fr Sean McDonagh and Shane McGowan have all enthralled and entertained me from their works on the page. Of course, each one offers something different but their viewpoints and artistic creations - whether they be fiction or non-fiction - reflects the rich writing tapestry of Tipperary.

Donal Ryan is a personal hero. But so, too, is Damian Lawlor. Whether fiction or sport, each are very talented and their works are special.

Fr Sean McDonagh and his environmental writings and predictions many years before they have taken centre stage in the framing of the understanding of the preciousness of natural resources and uncontrolled human consumption are always thought provoking.

One of my favourite recent Tipperary books is the The Doctor’s Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney. The book’s story itself is captivating, but, as a Nenagh man, it transported me to the Nenagh of the mid-1800s - a different, alien and sickly world to what the town and its environs is today.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the county today?

Brexit and putting two All-Ireland finals back to back! Like other parts of Ireland, the economic and potential other fallouts from a possible hard Brexit is the biggest challenge facing Tipperary.

If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?

That is a difficult question to answer. Tipperary has a lot going for it, but like other parts of the country and the world it has social issues that need to be tackled. I think power comes from within the community to change.

But, I think a good example for us in Tipperary is the work of the Cloughjordan Eco Village in terms of sustainability. We all have our obligations in terms of environmental protection and climate change.