The Shape I’m In: Evelyn Grant, Cork Pops Orchestra

The Shape I’m In: Evelyn Grant, Cork Pops Orchestra

Evelyn Grant tells Irene Feighan about her healthy habits

Along with presenting RTÉ lyric fm’s Weekend Drive, flautist Evelyn Grant tours the country as part of the station’s outreach programme and is the musical director of Cork Pops Orchestra, which has introduced generations of school-going children to live orchestral music.

She credits her boundless energy to the company she keeps. “We always seem to be working with young people and it’s so refreshing,” she says.

An “incurable romantic”, she didn’t hesitate when she met cellist Gerry Kelly — they married aged 19 and 22, respectively.

Even though we are together for 40 odd years it’s like being through several different marriages with the same person. You move from one phase to the other and you have to adjust to that.

They live in Cork city and work closely together — Gerry is a co-founder of Cork Pops. And, following in their parents’ footsteps, their four children are all professional musicians.

The arrival almost three years ago of their first grandchild, Rose, is a source of great joy. Says Evelyn: “She gorgeous and we’re completely besotted.”

The Lord Mayor’s Tea Dance with the Cork Pops Orchestra, takes place on Sunday, January 26 from 3pm to 5pm in the City Hall, Cork

What shape are you in?

I’m always very well-intentioned and mean to get fitter but it never quite happens. I love the bike rental scheme in Cork. I walk an awful lot but I’m not a great one for going for a walk. I prefer to be sitting down reading a book. Dancing would be my ideal exercise. I’m a mad thing at a wedding or a party. Once the music starts, I’m on the floor.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Since our second child was born, Gerry has brought me breakfast in bed every morning. It’s a cup of tea and a slice of brown bread toast with marmalade. Recently, I decided porridge is definitely the thing. I absolutely loathed it but now every morning, after my tea and toast, I make myself a bowl of porridge. If I can make myself eat porridge I can do anything in life.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Dark chocolate. I could easily buy myself a box of Black Magic — I eat all the soft ones that nobody else likes.

What would keep you awake at night?

I’m a pretty good sleeper but as I get a bit older I don’t expect to sleep through the night. I have a [device] called Pillow Talk — a headphone that plugs into the radio beside the bed. It goes under the pillow and I listen to music on it if I wake up.

How do you relax?

We live near Douglas Street — we’ve just done a massive renovation on the house — and close to the marvellous Coughlan’s Bar, so we can pop over and meet family and friends there. It’s a great unwind.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Musicians make fantastic friends. They are interested in current affairs as well as being great craic. The sensible thing would be to invite Kay Harte and Maróg O’Brien from the Farmgate — you’d be assured of great company and a good eye kept on the food as well. Family and friends are definitely the best dinner party material. And no celebs.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love fresh lavender.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

You’re part of a family and you’ve picked up bits and bobs from everybody — you’ve just got to get used to yourself. While I wouldn’t be delighted about my appearance there’s not much point in worrying about it.

When is the last time you cried?

A listener wrote about how the last six months of their life had been and asked for a particular piece of music to thank family and neighbours and all who had supported them. The story made me cry. There was also that heart-stopping thing when you realise the impact music has on lyric listeners.

What traits do you least like in others?

I don’t like arrogance and I don’t like tightness or any kind of meanness.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I talk too much. I’m also very stubborn.

Do you pray?

Don’t we all when the going gets rough.

What would cheer up your day?

To bump into someone who raises a smile.

What quote inspires you the most?

The one that keeps coming up is ‘life is not a rehearsal’. Gerry’s one is there has to be a bit of devilment in every day.

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