A good day in the outdoors makes me happy

Joan Dinneen is on the board of Meitheal Mara and has volunteered at Ocean to City for several years
A good day in the outdoors makes me happy
Joan Dinneen who is on the Board of Meitheal Mara and has volunteered at Ocean to City for several years

Tell us about yourself;

I’m a lecturer in Sport and Exercise in CIT, I’ve worked there for 21 years… it’s a great place to work!

I’ve been a board member in Meitheal Mara for 21 years also. I went to college in Limerick in the late 1980s, I did a PE degree. After that I spent six years working in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin as a PE teacher, I really enjoyed being involved in prison education, I had spent one-year teaching at 2nd level and it just wasn’t for me.

Where were you born?

In the Bons in Cork, but at the time my dad was station master in Limerick Junction, which confusingly is in Co. Tipperary. Nothing against Limerick Junction but it’s not the most exciting place in the world. I’m fairly pleased that we moved on before my first birthday.

Where do you live?

I live in the shadow of the County Hall in Cork city. It’s a lovely place to live I’m a five-minute walk from the Lee, Fields and I’m halfway between work and the city centre so I can cycle pretty much everywhere I need to go.


I’m the youngest in a family of four children. I have three older brothers which probably explains a few things about me, including that I’ve always been called a ‘tomboy’, I eat really fast and I’m not slow to stand up for myself.

Best friend?

I’m single but I have an amazing network of friends. Most holidays are spent mountaineering and rock climbing with my best buddy Orla. Together we’ve travelled the world over the last 25 years or so. Climbing takes you to awesome places, mountain regions are almost always culturally interesting too.

Earliest childhood memory?

When I was really young my dad was station master in Ennis railway station. My earliest memory involves running laps of the train station; along one platform, over the tracks, along the length of the second platform and across the flyover bridge to the start point. Santa had brought my eldest brother a stopwatch and for the first time, instead of having to compete against the three lads, I just had to try to establish my own new personal best. I loved it! We left Ennis when I was four so this athletics training was in my pre-school years; an early sign of my interest in sport and exercise, I guess.

Person you most admire?

In the public sphere I really admire Mary Robinson. Back in the early ’90s when she was elected President of Ireland it was just so affirming! It was, for me, a threshold moment, although it took a long time, and we’re still not there yet, her election was the beginning of the end of the dull, insular, black and white Ireland. Later, as she moved to roles in the UN, I followed her career with interest. I seldom disagree with her world view.

Privately, my hero has to be my mam, Bridie. She’s 87 and still totally independent, she drives (fast) and plays golf. Her outlook on life is so positive, even though she is slowing down a little lately she still attacks every day with vigour.

Person who most irritates you?

I am irritated daily by Donald Trump. Enough said!

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

Kermit the Frog, I’ve always been a fan of Kermit and some might say recent occupants of the office are from the same tribe!

Where was your most memorable holiday?

That’s a really hard question to answer as I’ve been lucky to travel a lot. I’m going to say a six-week trip to California in 2014. We spent most of our time in the High Sierra Nevada, mainly within the boundary of Yosemite National Park. America’s national parks are so well managed, they are often true wilderness areas; once you get away from the ‘honey pot’ tourist spots.

Favourite TV programme?

Homeland. I also love the quirky humour in the Big Bang Theory.

Favourite radio show?

John Creedon, RTÉ Radio 1, 8-10pm Monday to Friday. Great tunes and ‘guy next door’ company.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Tofu and mushroom stroganoff with brown basmati rice.

Favourite restaurant?

Café Paradiso… by a country mile!

Last book you read?

From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan… really enjoyed it.

Best book you read?

That’s too hard a question, I read a lot. The best book I’ve read in the last 12 months was Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self.

What music are you listening to recently?

Recently I’ve been listening to Villagers, A Trick of the Light, it’s a beautiful song.

Favourite song?

Crazy by Seal.

One person you would like to see in concert?

Leonard Cohen (RIP).

Do you have a pet?

No, but I volunteer as a temporary boarder for Irish Guide dogs for the Blind. This means I usually have a trainee guide dog living with me from September to Easter. I drop him/her to ‘school’ every morning and pick her up in the evening and then we hang out together at the weekends. It’s the perfect solution if full-time pet ownership isn’t an option. The dogs are always amazing, I’ve had six so far and you are helping to prepare them for their heroic work with people who benefit hugely from their skills.

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl, although whenever I do have to get up at dawn, I think I should do this more often!

Your proudest moment?

Finishing Ocean to City in my sea kayak in 2009. I found it so hard, I didn’t really train for it. I’ve volunteered for the event every other year.

Spendthrift or saver?

Somewhere in the middle, I try not to buy too much unnecessary stuff… but then it’s amazing what can be made to seem necessary!

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

Cycle lanes.

What makes you happy?

A good day in the outdoors.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a good pal!

What else are you up to at the moment?

I did a big renovation job on my house last year. I moved in in October but still have lots of bits to finish. I’m hoping to hang pictures, clear out the spare room and organise the shed before the summer break.


The Cork Harbour Festival is the largest annual event in the harbour and takes place from June 1 to June 9. Festivities began on the Bank Holiday Saturday with the flagship Ocean to City Race; continue throughout festival week with 70+ events; and finish with SeaFest between June 7 to 9.

From sea shanties to storytelling, boat trips to championships and water activities to shore festivities — this year’s festival has something for everyone.

Full programme: corkharbourfestival.com

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