The plaque outside the house where he lived on Merrion Rd, Dublin, points to an accomplished medic and a man
with many interests. Father to the famed writer Oscar, he is described as an “aural and ophthalmic surgeon, archaeologist, ethnologist, antiquarian, biographer, statistician, naturalist, topographer, historian, folklorist”.
“I like new things and new challenges. I would love to have that epitaph,” says Ciara.
“We live in an age where we are lucky to be in a position to do all these things. We need to take full advantage of the opportunities we have. We only have one spin of the wheel.”
However, she recognises that her life circumstances are somewhat different to those of Dr Wilde’s. “I don’t have staff,” deadpans the mother of four, who lives in Greystones, Co Wicklow.
Yet, as she runs through her current workload — a presenter on NewsTalk, an expert on RTÉ’s Operation Transformation and a GP — it’s difficult to understand how she manages without at least a PA.
“I work more than most people,” she acknowledges without as much as a hint of self-pity.
The Irish medical profession is traditionally seen as conservative and aloof. It’s a perception not lost on the outspoken doctor.
“There is little to be gained by acting superior. This illusion doesn’t protect anyone. It is more humanising to say, ‘I’ve walked that road’, and to step into the patient’s shoes.”
By sharing the difficulties in her own life — she openly talks about her past weight issues — she has broken a professional mould. However, far from being isolated, she has “experienced nothing but support from colleagues”.
In many ways, she’s beyond caring what other medics think. “I’m too old to be an
enfant terrible,” she laughs. “Ageing is liberating.”
What shape are you in?
Not as good as I would like to be. I had to take a break from running following injuries. Last year, I had a hernia that needed surgery. I’m not a great fan of the gym. Mostly, I walk. l live near the sea so there are lots of options — an hour-long loop or a half-hour loop. I aspire to doing more yoga.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I like vegetables and salads. Also, I’m not a massive fan of carbs. When spaghetti bolognese was first introduced here, I was one of those kids who eat all the meat sauce and left the pasta behind.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
Ice cream — I like Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough and Cherry Garcia. And chocolate — my favourite is Cadbury’s Double Decker.
What would keep you awake at night?
I’ve never been a good sleeper. I worry about finance, about my children and about what I’m going to do with my life. But I’m not a great worrier in general.
How do you relax?
I find walking and running very relaxing. I like to read, to listen to music or to look at a movie either at home or at the
cinema. I’m currently reading East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Oscar Wilde, his father William, Countess Markievicz, Emily Pankhurst, Graham Norton and Joan Rivers.
What’s your favourite smell?
Vanilla, followed closely by coffee and rashers. Cut grass is lovely too.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I feel that after 40-odd years you come to terms with your imperfections.
When is the last time you cried?
I’m not a big crier but I certainly cried when my mum died in May.
What traits do you least like in others?
I hate nitpicking over little details. Also, someone who is mean or a skinflint.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I’m not great at saying no and I should learn to — I can land myself in a lot of work. Also, I’m very clumsy and extremely untidy outside of the workplace.
Do you pray?
What would cheer up your day?
I love to laugh and enjoy being around people who can make me laugh.