Enter the Dragon: Norah Casey

Norah Casey says her nurse’s training stands to her during stressful work situations.

DRAGON’S DEN star and publishing chief Norah Casey has been co-hosting Newstalk’s daily breakfast show since September. She also fronted RTÉ Two’s The Takeover, for which she went into a company and told the CEO to stand aside, while the workers took over.

The mum-of-one — son Dara is 13 — also presents new RTÉ One show, Today, with Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, on Fridays. Norah’s husband, Richard Hannaford, a former journalist and broadcaster, died a year ago.

What shape are you in?

I’m in better shape than I was. I’ve joined a gym. I’ve felt the need to get fit, and well, for autumn and to stretch parts of my body that haven’t been stretched in a while. I got a personal trainer and she gave me a great circuit to do.

Do you have any health concerns?

I don’t. I’m extraordinarily healthy and never get sick, but my boy has very severe asthma, so I’m careful to ensure the house is as allergen-free as possible.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I was a vegetarian for a long time. I eat meat now, but I’m much more inclined to have fish ... I’ve been making an extra effort to find fresh fish. I’m also a big believer in super foods. I take spirulina fairly regularly – it’s a good product to clear the system.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Carbs. I try to stay off starch — bread and potatoes, but if I’m sitting in a restaurant I’d be inclined to a piece of freshly-made brown bread.

What would keep you awake at night?

I’m one of life’s insomniacs, and more so in the last year. I try to relax and read a book. I’m quite good at managing work-related stress. I trained as a nurse and nothing in business would ever come near the stress of life-and-death situations. I worry about what has happened to my own little family unit, about making sure Dara is fully supported.

How do you relax?

I really like walking. When I come home, and I’m not quite ready to make the transition from work to home, I go for a walk to adjust my thinking. This year, I made a conscious effort to go around the country and spend time with people I hadn’t seen in a while. I took long meandering drives in the Burren.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I’d rather sit next to a clever person than a beautiful one. I’d invite Janine Benyus — the world’s greatest guru in biomimicry, which is about emulating what nature does. Brian MacCraith, who’s head of DCU — he has a big brain and is a thinker. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who made the single biggest discovery in astrophysics — it won the Nobel Prize for physics. She’s one of my heroines.

What’s your favourite smell?

Freshly-mown grass. I like it so much that I found somebody who bottles it and I keep it in the house.

What would you change about your appearance?

I’d like a flatter tummy. If I was more dedicated to press-ups I could achieve that.

What trait do you least like in others?

Arrogance, people who believe they’re greater than others.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

My intolerance of stupidity. I’m drawn to intelligent people and I’m obsessive about learning new things. I’m very intolerant of someone who doesn’t give the same back to me — like somebody who comes looking for a job and knows little about the magazine they want to work in.

Do you pray?

Not in the traditional way. There’s a lot about repetitive prayer that’s incredibly meditative. I like to go into a church with Dara or on my own and to find that lovely peace and calm where you can be alone in my thoughts.

What would cheer up your day?

My boy is a comedian. He definitely has a comedy streak in him. He has to tell me a joke at least once a day.

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