Mind magician Keith Barry powers through the day on as little as four hours’ sleep a night. Given his profession, you’d expect him to point to magic as the source of his extraordinary energy levels but, no, he says it’s all down to the genes he inherited from his father Ken, who he describes as a “businessman, entrepreneur, and party animal”.
“I get a lot of my resilience from my dad. He set up a lot of companies... he’s an amazing character and has strength of character. I probably get [my drive] from him and even the entertainment. He wasn’t a magician but he was a singer all his life — especially the early days,” says the 43-year-old Waterford native.
While he works internationally with high-profile TV appearances on both sides of the Atlantic, he relishes his time at home, growing vegetables in his back garden and going fishing whenever the opportunity arises. Married to childhood sweetheart Mairéad, the couple live in Sandyford, Co Dublin with their children, Breanna, 11, and Braden, eight.
What shape are you in?
I have loads of injuries that I have to work around. I had a car accident in 2007 — I broke my knee, demolished my tibia and fibula, dislocated and broke my ankle. Because of that and because of the stunts that I do as well, I have a plethora of injuries.
I contacted [personal trainer] Paul Byrne recently and I’ll be starting back at Body Byrne soon. I weighed myself today. I’m actually only 2kg over my holding weight, 83kg. I’ll lose that in the next couple of weeks.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
Overall I’d eat very healthily, especially at home. My wife cooks fresh all the time.
Once or twice a week we have wild Atlantic salmon. I catch quite a bit of the fish we eat. There’s a lot of space for vegetables too. And, instead of starchy rice, we eat cauliflower rice — you can buy it frozen in packets. It tastes delicious.
And then for breakfast, I vary it up a bit — this morning I had a mashed banana with two eggs — I cooked that like an omelette and then strawberries, blueberries with a spoon of almond butter.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
Alcohol. Some weekends I’ll have a couple of beers — Miller — and a few whiskeys — Redbreast 12 year old.
What would keep you awake at night?
I sleep way less than I should. I survive on four to five hours’ sleep most of the year round, just because I’m so busy.
Also, I do a lot of work abroad and that means that at eight or nine o’clock here, LA is only waking up. I do a lot of my creative work at night.
How do you relax?
I do all the normal things — at the moment, I’m binge- watching Stranger Things on Netflix with my wife.
I do the Wim Hoff breathing technique coupled with self-hypnosis. I try and swim in the sea as much as I can.
And then I grow a huge amount of our own vegetables. I’ve got about 20 edibles growing in the back garden. And fishing.
What’s your favourite smell?
I have zero sense of smell. The doctor thinks it might be genetic. My mother doesn’t have a great sense of smell but I’ve none. I don’t mind at all.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I’m very comfortable in my own skin — the only thing is, as a magician, I should have better nails. I’ve been for a manicure — I need to go back and get another one. I’m very open to all that.
When is the last time you cried?
A number of years ago at a Fergus O’Farrell concert in Galway. He was the most amazing singer I’d ever come across. I’d never cried to music before.
What traits do you least like in others?
Selfishness is the number one thing. I don’t think enough people are willing to give of their time and energy to others without expecting something back.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I’m a workaholic. I am very conscious of spending enough time with my family and my wife and my kids but I feel like I could always be better.
And sometimes I’m too honest with people. But I’ve gotten better — I don’t give my opinion unless it’s asked for.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
My happy place is Dingle. I go there all the time, I always stay in the Skellig Hotel. For me, it has the best kids’ club and the best breakfast in Ireland. I’m pretty much considered a local at this stage.
What quote inspires you the most?
"Imagination is more important than knowledge". Einstein.
Keith Barry returns to the Everyman, Cork, with his new show Insanity, on February 15 and 16, and March 13 at 8pm.