Words of wis­dom

New year res­o­lu­tions mean dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and while many will be hit­ting the gym, some will be learn­ing a new skill while oth­ers will have vowed to de­vote some qual­ity time to re­lax­ation and, in par­tic­u­lar, read­ing. Ar­lene Har­ris asks

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Fea­ture -

SINGER Eleanor Shan­ley has re­cently recorded an al­bum with Garadice and will be per­form­ing gigs this month in the Sugar Club, Dublin, and Gul­lane’s Ho­tel in Bal­li­nasloe. She found a book on mind­ful­ness to be in­cred­i­bly up­lift­ing and in­for­ma­tive. What is the most in­spir­ing book you have read? “The Power of Now by Eck­hart Tolle was my most in­spir­ing read as it in­tro­duced me to the whole idea of be­ing in the present mo­ment. Many peo­ple have de­scribed the present mo­ment and mind­ful­ness but no­body has de­scribed it in such beau­ti­ful de­tail as Eck­hart Tolle in this book and his sub­se­quent and even more pow­er­ful book, A New

Earth. He doesn’t like the word ‘mind­ful­ness’ be­cause it may in­di­cate full­ness of the mind whereas he ad­vises no think­ing at all, but pres­ence and mind­ful­ness is the same thing.” What is it about?

“The book is about liv­ing in the present mo­ment, it teaches us how im­por­tant it is to be present (mind­ful means to con­cen­trate on what you are do­ing so that you are not think­ing about any­thing else) and how fu­tile it is to worry about the fu­ture or dwell on the past. It also talks about how our thoughts take over and stop us from liv­ing life to the full, and that space of aware­ness with­out thought is the present mo­ment where we have the po­ten­tial to achieve a deep peace.” When did you read it?

“I read it first in 2002 dur­ing a par­tic­u­larly stress­ful time. I can’t re­mem­ber who sug­gested the book but I do re­mem­ber the im­pact it had on me. It changed my way of think­ing.” What did you learn?

“Stop think­ing and be present. That space of be­ing, aware­ness with­out thought, is the place of peace.”

Celebrity chef and owner ■ of Dublin restau­rant l’Ecrivain, Derry Clarke,

was gifted a his­tor­i­cal book about Baltimore in Cork by his wife Sallyanne and says it re­minded him of how im­por­tant it is to be aware of our his­tory. What is the most in­spir­ing book you have read? “It’s Des Ekin’s The Stolen Vil­lage (also known as The Sack of Baltimore).” What is it about?

“In June 1631 pi­rates from Al­giers and troops from the Turk­ish Army stormed ashore to the lit­tle vil­lage of Baltimore in West Cork and cap­tured al­most all the in­hab­i­tants. They were shipped as slaves to North Africa to await many dif­fer­ent fates. Some lived out their days chained to the oars as gal­ley slaves while oth­ers would spend long years in the scented seclu­sion of a harem or as a ser­vant within the walls of the sul­tan’s palace. Only two of the 700 cap­tured would ever re­turn to Ire­land. It is one of those books that you can­not put down. I bought sev­eral copies and gave them to my friends and fam­ily. I felt ev­ery­one should know about this.” When did you read it?

“Sallyanne bought it for me for my birth­day five years ago. I spent a lot of my youth in West Cork and these days we spend time on our lit­tle boat in Baltimore and Sherkin Is­land ev­ery

sum­mer. But in all the years I have been there no one ever men­tioned this and it cer­tainly was not taught to us in school, strange con­sid­er­ing that this was the most dev­as­tat­ing in­va­sion ever mounted by Is­lamic forces on Ire­land.

“Des Ekin paints a pic­ture of Ire­land at the time and a vivid description of what would have been wait­ing for those cap­tured from their homes in the mid­dle of the night amid the souks and the seraglios of old Al­giers at that time.” What did you learn?

“This is our his­tory, pure and sim­ple. I love his­tory and in to­day’s age of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion it’s good to read what life was like in those hard times. We have a huge, rich his­tory and I have since learned that Ire­land was pi­rate cen­tral for a pe­riod of al­most 300 years. We don’t learn that in school ei­ther. As a re­sult, I am in the mid­dle of read­ing Ire­land’s Pi­rate Trail, again by the au­thor Des Ekin. “For­get the Pi­rates of the

Caribbean, we have Wil­liam Lam­port of Wex­ford, Anne Bonny from Kin­sale, and

our very own Pi­rate Queen, Mayo’s Gráinne O’ Mal­ley or Gran­u­aile.”

Dr Nina Byrnes is a well-known med­i­cal doc­tor. Owner and prac­ti­tioner at Gen­er­a­tion Health Med­i­cal Clinic in Dublin, her favourite fac­tual book is one which

mo­ti­vated her in life and ca­reer.

What is the most in­spir­ing book you have ever read?

“Prob­a­bly Lean In by Sh­eryl Sand­berg be­cause it re­ally stood out dur­ing a dif­fi­cult time for me per­son­ally

and pro­fes­sion­ally. I felt very con­nected with her mes­sage and be­lieve it is some­thing we can learn from.” What is it about?

“The book is ba­si­cally about be­ing a work­ing mother and how we, as women, have an in­trin­sic need to be liked in our per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life. But in or­der to be more suc­cess­ful, we need to de­velop cer­tain male at­tributes with­out los­ing those which make us dif­fer­ent — so it’s okay to want to be around your chil­dren and re­ceive hugs from them, it doesn’t make you any less able at work.” When did you read it?

“I read the book in early 2015 as I had been giv­ing a speech in Rome and af­ter­wards a per­son came up to me and sug­gested that I read

Lean In as what I had been say­ing was sim­i­lar to what a lot of women were go­ing through.” What did you learn?

“If I could give any ad­vice I would tell peo­ple, men and women, to be­lieve in them­selves and make de­ci­sions based on their own feel­ings. Men and women are equal but we are also dif­fer­ent and that is okay too.” Ath­lete and race walker

Rob Hef­fer­nan says a book given to him by his un­cle as a young boy was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind his ca­reer.

What is the most in­spir­ing book you have ever read?

“When I was a child I read a book on Bruce Lee, I can’t re­mem­ber the ti­tle but it was fierce in­spir­ing. He was such a good role model and the way he trained had a mas­sive in­flu­ence on me. Be­cause of him, I set up a

gym out­side in the back gar­den and even wrote Bruce Lee on the wall to keep me mo­ti­vated.” What is it about?

“Bruce Lee was way ahead of his time and in his book he talked about how noth­ing was out of reach if you want it enough. He said there was no ex­cuse and de­ter­mi­na­tion was the most im­por­tant fac­tor in get­ting ahead. He tried so hard in ev­ery­thing he did, even break­ing into the act­ing world, and made such a suc­cess of ev­ery­thing.” When did you read it?

“I was about 11 years old when I read the book and my un­cle, who was a big Bruce Lee fan, passed it on to me be­cause I was al­ready into sport at the time. It was the first book I ever read.” What did you learn? “Be re­silient — things aren’t easy but the re­ward for achiev­ing some­thing tough far out­weighs any re­wards for get­ting some­thing the easy way or, for that mat­ter, get­ting likes on In­sta­gram. Life is what you make of it and it’s up to you to push your­self and make things hap­pen.” Writer and broad­caster Mary Kennedy has re­cently re­leased her own book, Home Thoughts from the Heart (pub­lished by Hatch­ette €14.99), and says her most in­spir­ing read was the au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of the leg­endary Nel­son Man­dela. What was the most in­spir­ing book you have ever read? “The most in­spir­ing book I have ever read was The Long Walk to Free­dom by Nel­son Man­dela. It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary book and although I thought it would be very heavy go­ing I was cap­ti­vated from the first page.” What is it about?

“The book is about the in­cred­i­ble life and dif­fi­cul­ties which faced him for so long. It’s hard to be­lieve he was in pri­son for 27 years, through­out which he started writ­ing. With­out proper ma­te­ri­als, he would write on any scrap of pa­per he could find and hide it away for safe­keep­ing.

“It’s amaz­ing that he man­aged to write it at all and I

have to say I found it en­thralling.” When did you read it?

“I love Africa, I have been there many times and would go back in a heart­beat, so when I found the book on my mum’s book­shelf af­ter she died, I de­cided to read it as I had al­ways meant to but just hadn’t got around to it.” What did you learn?

“Never give up — life can be tough, but it’s im­por­tant to keep go­ing. And also, make sure to act on your thoughts from the heart as kind­ness is es­sen­tial, par­tic­u­larly in to­day’s world.” Fair City ac­tress Sorcha Fur­long is an avid reader and says a book she read in drama school was the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind her ca­reer.

What is the most in­spir­ing book you have ever read? “Many books in­spire me, but my favourite is my bat­tered old act­ing book, A Dream of Pas­sion by Lee Stras­berg. What is it about?

“It is about act­ing and be­ing an ac­tor, but it touches on all of life — hon­esty, cre­ativ­ity, and, of course, pas­sion. Pick­ing it up now, I still get the buzz I had in drama school, hav­ing so many dreams, and this book felt like a link to them. It still does. Fun­nily enough, when my fi­ancé Ken and I got our own place I saw he had a copy too.” When did you read it? “I started read­ing A Dream of Pas­sion in 1996 be­cause I was in drama col­lege.” What did you learn?

“Al­ways lis­ten to your heart and trust the place it leads you to.”

Pic­ture: Larry Cum­mins

<<< Rob Hef­fer­nan, race walker and world cham­pion, took in­spi­ra­tion from a book about mar­tial arts ex­pert Bruce Lee.

Eleanor Shan­ley: Guided by the ‘The Power of Now’.

Pic­ture: Moya Nolan

Derry Clarke: ‘In to­day’s age of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion it’s good to read what life was like in those hard times.’

Dr Nina Byrnes: ‘Lean In’ by Sh­eryl Sand­berg stood out for her per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally.

Mary Kennedy: In­spired by Nel­son Man­dela’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

Sorcha Fur­long: Bat­tered old act­ing book is her favourite.

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