Sharp dresser

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Paul Harrington - Irene Feighan

WHEN his weight be­gan to pile up, Euro­vi­sion star Paul Har­ring­ton did not take it lightly. He no­ticed he was slow­ing down and that he could no longer wear his stylish clothes. “For a good two to three years, I was dress­ing more ca­su­ally. I was al­ways quite a sharp dresser and I re­ally, re­ally liked that,” he says.

He de­cided to take ac­tion and over four months, dra­mat­i­cally lost three stone. His ap­proach was de­ci­sive and sim­ple: cut it out. “I cut out red meat, chicken, dairy and the ob­vi­ous things like bread.”

How­ever, there was cake re­cently when he cel­e­brated his birth­day with friends at his lo­cal pub, Kennedys — “they had a Black For­est gateau for us”— while watch­ing the fi­nal of the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test on a big screen.

“I loved Ryan’s song and I was re­ally in­vested in it this year. I was rag­ing at the re­sult. I thought his per­for­mance was bril­liant. The re­sult didn’t make sense to me.”

Aged 58, he is mar­ried to Karol, a sec­ondary school teacher — they share their Drum­con­dra home with Bobby, a lassie col­lie. His son, Daniel, from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage is aged 28 and a lawyer. Im­por­tantly, “he’s a great mu­sic fan”.

It’s eight years since he re­leased his last al­bum and he’s ner­vous about the re­cep­tion it’ll get. “I was sur­prised again by the anx­i­ety of pre­sent­ing some­thing to peo­ple who might say ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’. But I al­ways work on the ba­sis that if you like some­thing your­self there’s a great chance other peo­ple will.”

Paul Har­ring­ton’s new al­bum Lights of Home is out now. What shape are you in? I’m in pretty good shape for my age. I walk about 6km a day and I cy­cle. You can ac­cess prac­ti­cally any­where in Dublin from Drum­con­dra by bi­cy­cle. I also go to the gym once or a few times a week. It’s to keep my­self toned and spiky.

What are your health­i­est eat­ing habits?

I take al­mond milk in­stead of cow’s milk. My diet is very ba­sic. I’d love to be able to eat or­ganic food all the time. I don’t be­lieve in tor­tur­ing your­self.

What are your guilti­est plea­sures?

On a rare oc­ca­sion, I would have a very nice crumbly piece of ched­dar cheese with a granny smith ap­ple and a cou­ple of pints of stout. One of my favourite haunts in Dublin is Dy­lan McGrath’s Rus­tic Stone. But for a su­per guilty plea­sure it has to be the Tro­cadero restau­rant. What would keep you awake at night? These days not a great deal. Over years I’ve lost a lot of close fam­ily mem­bers and they are al­ways trou­bling times. Of course, there is also that ever-loom­ing ex­is­ten­tial angst creeps in from time to time. How do you re­lax? Some­times train­ing helps if I’m a lit­tle bit anx­ious. I love to walk with Bobby, which I do ev­ery day. He’s got one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary souls that I’ve ever come across. Some­times Karol and I go out to have a bite and a chat. It’s a lovely fo­rum for peo­ple to be at ease. I also en­joy scriptwrit­ing for a se­ries, a brief his­tory of bal­lads, for The Pat Kenny Show on New­stalk. Who would you in­vite to your dream din­ner party? Fam­ily first — un­for­tu­nately a lot have al­ready gone. I’m a huge ad­mirer of Bono, Stephen Fry and Pat Kenny.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love my wife’s per­fume — it’s Coco Made­moi­selle. I wear Chanel Blue. At home, when gar­lic and gin­ger hit the pan, I’m in heaven.

What would you like to change about your ap­pear­ance?

Noth­ing. But we’d all wel­come look­ing a bit younger.

When is the last time you cried?

Re­cently, I was talk­ing on the phone with my sis­ter-in­law in Canada. She was mar­ried to my brother Derek, who died aged 66 a few years ago. I al­ways wanted to go to Wim­ble­don with him and I said it’s some­thing I might to do with her. Talk­ing about that, it was deeply up­set­ting.

What traits do you least like in oth­ers?

Non lis­ten­ers. I feel con­ver­sa­tion is a two-way street. And I find rude­ness un­ac­cept­able.

What traits do you least like about your­self?

I would be a part-time pro­cras­ti­na­tor. I prob­a­bly tend to beat my­self up a bit too much. I would like to stop that. Do you pray? I do. Not nec­es­sar­ily at bed­time but when it’s still, par­tic­u­larly when you’re in na­ture.

What would cheer up your day?

To hear one of my tunes on the ra­dio. That’s a thrill that never goes away, that I never take for granted. It puts a pep in your step.

“I’m in good shape for my age. I walk and cy­cle”

Pic­ture: Brian McEvoy

SHARED PLEA­SURE: Paul Har­ring­ton loves go­ing out to eat, say­ing it’s a good fo­rum for peo­ple to be at ease.

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