This much I know: Francis Brennan, Hotelier and TV personality

I’ve always been industrious, even as a child. I was a bit of a young entrepreneur. I had an ability with money. 

I never cost my parents a penny from the time I was 10 years old. I was always coming up with schemes. One of my earliest successes, when I was 11, was taking logs, sticking holly in them and selling them as Christmas table decorations.

‘When I’m not working’ is a bad phrase, in my book, because I really do work a lot and take on countless projects, but I never complain. I just get on with it. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from my father — ‘if you enlist, you have to soldier’.

I was born in Dublin and lived there for 27 years. I went straight to work in hospitality, doing the Jurys’ training programme when I left school, but then my father got very ill — he was only 53 — and I went back to run the family supermarket in Stepaside. We sold it, eventually, and I went to study in Cathal Brugha Street and then I moved to Kenmare.

I talk all the time now, so, sometimes, I love not talking. Once a year, I take a week’s holiday somewhere I can be silent. I’m off to Morocco, where I purposely picked a German hotel, because I don’t want to speak for a week.

I like the Trappist idea of no speech. I travelled thousands of kilometres doing signings and talking to promote my book, It’s The Little Things, in December, and now I need to get the mind back in order.

My light is never out until 2am. I’m up again at 7am. I can survive on five hours’ sleep.

I’m very disciplined. I can still fit into the sweater I wore for my confirmation. But, I watch what I eat like a hawk. When asked ‘would you like some cake?’ I’d say no ‘I don’t really need it.’

My main fault is impatience. I’m not into people wimping-out. If someone says they will do something and then does not follow through, I tend to jump up and do it myself.

I admire people who can delegate and then leave things alone. I don’t think it’s about control — I’m not aggressive, I don’t shout or roar. It’s just that I like everything to be right.

I like to dress appropriately for each occasion. I noticed that the altar boys were not properly dressed the other day — in my opinion, runners are not appropriate footwear on the altar — certainly not ones with flashing lights on the side.

I’m very organised. But I do hoard. There is a lot of clutter at home. I keep anything I think might come in handy in the future: tiny screws, magnets, little pieces of string. There are things in drawers that I haven’t touched for 40 years — but if your glasses break I will have the perfect screw with which to fix them.

I’m hardly ever home, though. I go on a marketing tour of the States from now until March, each year, and then the hotel opens and we’re flat-out for the rest of the season.

If I could be someone else for a day, I’d be Amelia Earhart. She was an adventurer, a pioneer.

My biggest challenge has been getting The Park through the recession. It was tough on five-star hotels. When your revenue drops 50%, that’s a challenge.

I am 100% happy. I have great faith. I always believe the man above will come through for me. I wouldn’t be one bit worried if I were to die in the morning. Faith, that is what life is about.

I ring my mother at 11.30pm each evening for a chat. She is 92.

I never had a notion of working in television. It happened by chance and I got a brand-new career at the age of 54, doing At Your Service with my brother, John.

If I wanted to, I could spend my entire time working in television at the moment — I’m asked to do so many things — but I have to turn most of them down.

Working with my brother, John, is no problem, we get on great, but we are very different. John is much more laid-back.

So far, life has taught me to be nice to people and spread a little kindness.

Hotelier and TV personality, Francis Brennan, launched Bord Bia’s ‘Pork Deliciously Versatile’ campaign, highlighting the ease of preparation, taste and versatility of Quality Assured pork. For pork recipes, check out the website, www.recipes.bordbia.ie 


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