The shape I'm in: Mark Cagney, TV3 presenter

This week we meet up with Mark Cagney, the 60-year-old host of TV3’s Ireland AM.

What shape are you in?

I’m in remarkably good shape for 60. In fact, my trainer says I’m in good shape for 50. But I eat well and I look after myself. 

My wife Audrey is a Pilates instructor. I go to the gym. I don’t drink. I haven’t smoked for 30 years. 

I used to have a long-standing back problem but after successful double lumbar fusion surgery two years ago, that no longer bothers me.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I eat little and often and I have my last meal at least three hours before I go to bed. I have to as I get up every morning at 3am. 

I’m at the office by 4.30am and on air by 7am. I need to eat this way if I’m going to be able to keep going.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I love crisps and chocolate. What I really love is a crisp sandwich.

What would keep you awake at night?

I would worry about my children’s futures. (He has four children: Gerard 24, Sophie 18, Daniel 14 and Mary 12.) You just want to give them the best start in life, don’t you?

How do you relax?

By playing the electric guitar in my bedroom. That’s my personal pleasure. We all need something for ourselves and music is that for me.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love a cologne called Ultra Violet by Paco Rabanne. It’s got notes of bergamot and lavender and there’s something about that smell that just gets me. 

I also love the smell you get when you hug the children just after they’ve washed their hair, the smell of babies and, of course, the smell of freshly cooked bacon when I come downstairs in the mornings makes my mouth water.

Who would your ideal dinner party guests be?

I could say that I’d have Billy Connolly, Winston Churchill, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix but that wouldn’t be a dinner party, would it? It would just be me interviewing them.

Instead, I’d love to have both sets of grandparents and my parents and friends I’ve lost along the way, so that I could tell them that it all worked out OK and that we’re doing well.

When is the last time you cried?

We had Batman Ben (five-year-old Ben Farrell was battling a rare form of cancer) and his family on the show over the summer. When I heard later that he hadn’t made it, I cried.

What would you change about your appearance?

I’m not vain about my appearance. If I had to choose something, I suppose I’d like it if my hair hadn’t decided to evacuate my head. But really, I am what I am.

What traits do you least like in others?

I hate meanness. It’s a trait that manifests itself in all aspects of your character.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

My nasty tongue can get the better of me. The Cork sense of humour can be vicious and if I think of a good line, I let fly. Then, I see the hurt in someone’s eyes and I realise I’ve gone too far.

Do you pray?

I don’t pray in the sense of God and angels but I talk to people who are gone who were founts of knowledge in my life, especially to one aunt of mine, Mary Cagney Macbeth.

What would cheer up your day?

Luckily, I’m a glass half full person. If I wake up and I’m breathing and everything works, that’s a good start.

***

Mark Cagney was anxious to spread the word about for the new Boots Ireland shingles vaccination. This new service offers a vaccination that will protect adults against this disease.

“People think it’s just itchy, scaly skin but it’s not,” says Mark. 

“The pain with shingles can be extraordinary.”

Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox and anyone who has ever had chickenpox can get shingles. 

The virus remains in the body and if it becomes active again in later life, it develops into shingles. As more than 90% of Irish people have had chicken pox, shingles is a serious risk.

Yet in a recent survey, 47% of respondents said they didn’t know that having had chickenpox made them susceptible to the disease. 

Nor did 30% realise the serious health complications shingles can cause, including long-term nerve pain and damage, bacterial infection and damage to the eyes.

Mark Cagney has personal experience of shingles, having witnessed a close family member fight it 30 years ago. 

“I still remember it because it was so horrendous,” he says. 

“She was a young woman in her 30s at the time and she spent months in hospital.”

He urges everyone to get the vaccination. 

“One-in-five of us aged over 50 will get it and for the sake of the shot, it can be prevented,” he says. 

“Why wouldn’t you take it?”


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