Alison Comyn: "I've never been more at ease with myself"

AT THE age of 14, Alison Comyn cycled every day to Bettystown beach during to summer to work in a newsagents, “pulling ice creams so I could have my own money”.

It’s this work ethic that has fuelled her varied career, working as an air hostess, TV presenter and print journalist along the way. “I just like to fulfil the potential that’s within me. I think it’s an awful waste of your life not to find out what you are good at and hopefully to be able to do that and be happy doing that,” she says.

Born with ink in her blood — her father Pat Comyn was a high-profile journalist — she speaks in complete sentences, building a vivid picture of a busy life, jam-packed with family and work commitments.

Starting next January on UTV Ireland, she is set to present news and current affairs programme, Ireland Live at 10. It’ll be a return to familiar ground. In the past she worked as a presenter for RTÉ, Sky News, Channel 4 and the BBC.

Being in the public eye carries its own stresses. “Now I have to learn to cope with pressure a bit more... I mightn’t have been able to handle it as well in my 20s as I can now.”

Aged 44, she is married to Malachy Murphy. They live in Drogheda with their two children, Holly, 11, and Luke, 10.

What shape are you in?

I’ve never been more at ease with myself. I like to stay slim. I think the best way to do that is to eat a healthy and balanced diet. I do a moderate amount of exercise, I definitely don’t live in gyms but I do run. And I’ve two dogs — they walk me every evening.

Do you have any health concerns?

I’d have the same worries as most people but I don’t smoke and I try to keep alcohol consumption within Irish guidelines and have a healthy diet. If there was one thing I’d have to pick it’s looking after mental health. My business is very pressurised, competitive, stressful, always working to a deadline and irregular hours. All that can take it’s toll.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Much to my children’s horror, I love vegetables and salads. I could never be a vegetarian because I love meat and fish.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I’m Irish so it’ll probably be a Tatyo sandwich or chips with lots of salt and vinegar — every now and then is nice.

What would keep you awake at night?

Being a ridiculously light sleeper — everything. I know now that worrying is a big waste of time. if there is something you can change do it, if not, go to sleep and deal with it the next day.

How do you relax?

I find it really hard to switch off and relax but I know how important it is. So I head off to one of the many beaches near to me with the dogs or the children and let the east wind blow away the cobwebs. That’s the best way of getting the head straight.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

To be able to have a dinner party would be a dream. So rather than surrounding myself with high-falutin, albeit interesting, strangers I’d have my closest friends over for good food, good wine and set the world to rights as only we can.

What’s your favourite smell?

Cinnamon, you get these part-baked buns from Ikea — when you put them in the oven the whole house starts to smell warm and Christmasy.

What would you change about your appearance?

I’m really used to myself by now. I’m not perfect but I’m really happy with what I have.

When did you last cry?

Working in news hardens you to so much in the world. It is generally only something to do with my home life that would make me emotional and half the time it’s one of my children showing me one of these ridiculously mushy things on YouTube — cute babies or something like that.

What trait do you least like in others?

Laziness. I have a very strong work ethic — so it annoys me to see people throw away opportunities or to rely on others just through laziness.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

I’ve got a list: lack of patience, striving for perfection, being a control freak, basically all the traits that come with being a classic type A personality. I find it hard to relax so I really have had to learn to let others take the strain and just switch off. And I check my iPhone far too often.

Do you pray?

Not as much as much as I used to. I’ve probably become a fair-weather prayer, turning up when the chips are down.

What would cheer up your day?

An unexpected lunch date with a friend, or someone making me a cup of tea or a little bunch of flowers. I am quite easily pleased.


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