We’ll be bringing our positive energy and fun to Cork city's St Patrick's Day parade

Gene Cahill will be among more than 100 Sanctuary Runners, who are the Grand Marshals in this year’s Cork City St Patrick’s Day Parade
We’ll be bringing our positive energy and fun to Cork city's St Patrick's Day parade

Gene Cahill, Sanctuary Runners

TELL us about yourself;

My name is Gene Cahill. I’m on the organising committee of the Cork branch of the Sanctuary Runners.

I teach History and Politics & Society in Carrigaline Community School in Cork and I’m also Director of Adult Education there.

I’m an avid sea kayaker and general outdoors enthusiast.

Where were you born?

St. Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork.

Where do you live?

Cork city – we tried to live outside of the city in Riverstick for a few years when we first got married but both my wife and I are city people at heart and we moved back to the Southside a few years ago. We’re back where we grew up and we love it.


My mum and dad. I have one sister, Aoife. I’ve always been her favourite brother! Married to my wife Úna, and three daughters. 

I’m surrounded by women at home. Even our dog is female!

Best friend?

My wife Úna. Outside of that I have a few small but close groups of friends from work, sea kayaking and running.

Earliest childhood memory?

Playing Lego on the floor on a Sunday morning at home while my mum cooked the dinner and my dad looked at the sports pools in the Sunday paper.

Person you most admire?

My parents.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

I have two stand-outs – the first when I was six, my family went to Ballinskelligs. My parents had rented this small bungalow at the foot of a mountain that looked out over the sea to the Skelligs. I was young but the vista and setting has stayed with me.

The second was a holiday to Zell Am See in Austria with Úna back in 2006. Just a really magical, peaceful setting – a lakeside town in a valley surrounded by mountains. Pure bliss!

Favourite TV programme?

The Wire – it’s over 20 years old and there’s no show has ever come close to being as good. It’s a brilliant analysis of crime, policing, education, media and politics within a city. 

In recent years, I’ve been a big fan of the Star Wars spin-offs that I watch with my youngest daughter – The Mandalorian, Book of Bobba Fett and Andor.

Favourite radio show?

Dermot and Dave on Today FM. Although I’m more of a podcast listener than a general radio listener. Really enjoy listening to podcasts in the car or when out for a long run. Peter Attia’s The Drive, Feel Better Live More, Huberman Lab, The Way of the Runner and No Finish Line would all be in my podcast library.

Your signature dish if cooking?

I make a great scrambled eggs and toast! I’m not really a foodie but I do make a homemade hybrid mix of chips and roast potatoes that the kids love and call Genie Dories.

Favourite restaurant?

That’s easy! Jackie Lennox’s on Bandon Road. Drive to the Lough and eat the food in the car while looking at the swans! 

Who says romance is dead?

Last book you read?

Never Finished by David Goggins (builds on his brilliant first book, Can’t Hurt Me).

Best book you read?

Born Yo Run by Christopher McDougall. It made me fall in love with running.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Welcome 2 Club XIII by the Drive-By Truckers. Saw them with my dad in Vicar Street last summer and they were brilliant.

Favourite song?

Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Over nine minutes of triple-guitar heaven, and the live version is 14 minutes with a brilliant piano solo thrown in.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I’d love to go back in time and see Rory Gallagher. 

I was just starting to learn the guitar when he died but he’s my all-time favourite guitar player. He was from Cork too!

I also regret not going to see Tom Petty when he played the Marquee a few years back.

Do you have a pet?

A dog – Leila (she’s a miniature Schnauzer). She’s like a fourth child in the house and gets spoiled more than anyone.

Morning person or night owl?

Probably more of a night owl.

Your proudest moment?

I’m not sure there’s any one specific moment but watching our three girls grow up to be kind and caring and just all round lovely people is a very special feeling. Also, when Úna said yes after I asked her to marry me!

Spendthrift or saver?

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I probably walk a delicate line between both.

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

Better and safer cycling infrastructure and a reliable and efficient public transport system.

What makes you happy?

Many things – listening to good music, day trips and holidaying with family, walks on the beach with my wife, a long day sea kayaking and camping with friends off the coast of West Cork, long solo runs along some country trails, teaching my students, going to gigs with my dad, park runs with the Sanctuary Runners every Saturday.

How would you like to be remembered?

Just as a good son, dad, husband, friend and person. Nothing more, nothing less!

What else are you up to at the moment?

I’ve gotten very involved with the Sanctuary Runners over the last few years. It’s a brilliant movement that brings people together from all different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. 

We’ve been asked to be Grand Marshal at this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade in Cork so we’ve a bit of work to do getting ready for that.

The Sanctuary Runners were founded in Cork and over the years we have received huge support from the City Council and the people of Cork generally. We have the Council logo and Cork Coat of Arms on our running tops, so to be given this recognition and for the Sanctuary Runners to be leading the St Patrick’s Day Parade through our wonderful city is just amazing for us.

We will have over 100 Sanctuary Runners taking part in the parade. Our runners come from countries all over the world but we will walk in the parade as one team, one movement, one people, and we’ll be bringing our usual positive energy and fun to the event.


The Cork St Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Friday, March 17 at 1pm, on the familiar route from South Mall to Merchants Quay. The 2023 Festival will see Cork’s largest parade ever. The feast of colour and pageantry will feature over 3,500 participants in 55 groups, to a theme of ‘A Century of Stories’. The Sanctuary Runners are the Grand Marshal of the Cork St Patrick’s Day Parade.

See www.corkstpatricksfestival.ie

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