The shape I'm in: Sean Gallagher, businessman

Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher loves desserts — anything with a biscuit base with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Sometimes you have to do things outside your comfort zone. 

So says former Dragon and runner-up in the 2011 presidential election Sean Gallagher.

No surprise then to see him under the grill for the final episode of this year’s series of The Restaurant on TV3.

His stint as a celebrity chef has given him a new respect for anybody who cooks for a living. 

“It’s an incredibly pressurised job. If you have 50 guests who all want to be served different things at the same time — there’s a real pressure to try to co-ordinate all that. 

"If I’m in a restaurant now and my meal is a bit late, I give them a break.”

Like most of us, Sean, 53, finds the political landscape intriguing. 

“What’s really fascinating is we have a whole multiplicity of different interests represented. The electorate is more sophisticated and demanding than ever. 

"The downside is this creates challenges for the status quo — more positively, it’s an opportunity for change.”

Would he re-enter the political arena? 

“I’d never say no about politics. I’ve always been interested in the economy, in youth, in rural affairs. 

"I went for the presidency so as to put my interests and experience to work for the country. But for now I’m very focused on my business interest,” he says.

For just short of two years, he’s been driving ahead his new business venture — Clyde Real Estate, a commercial property company that’s providing office and industrial facilities around Ireland.

“It’s about creating infrastructure to allow businesses locate, to allow job creation and sustainable communities.”

Married to Trish, the couple have a two-and-a-half-year-old son, Bobby. 

“Until you have a child, you never realise it’s possible to love a human being so much.” 

* The final episode of The Restaurant, featuring Sean Gallagher, airs on March 16 at 9pm on TV3.

What shape are you in?

I’m in reasonable shape but not peak shape. I used to be a fitness instructor. I spent 20 years doing judo and karate. 

But when you’re trying to drive a new business, spend time with your family and make room for exercise as well, it’s not as easy as before. When I’m not training, I feel it. 

I’ve done some yoga classes and Trish and I have joined Powerscourt Hotel Gym and Pool. We’re trying to get there a bit more often.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I eat a good breakfast — muesli or porridge with lots of fruit.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I love desserts — anything with a biscuit base with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

What would keep you awake at night?

I’m blessed in that I’m a good sleeper. I rise early and I’m usually not in bed until late. I’m asleep by the time I hit the pillow.

How do you relax?

I love to sit over a coffee and talk about business or life. I’m most at home and at peace with nature. I love nothing more than putting on a pair of boots and walking in the fields.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Elvis Presley, Mohammad Ali, Steve Jobs and Thich Nhat Hanh [Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist].

What’s your favourite smell?

That smell in a spa, of botanical oils. 

Also, the smell of an open turf fire. It takes me back to holidays on my father’s home farm in Co Donegal.

What would you change about your appearance?

If I could wave a magic wand, I’d happily restore a full head of hair. 

I miss coming out of the shower and shaking my head. I still forget, until I pass a mirror, that I’m actually bald.

What’s your favourite book?

Tuesdays With Morrie – I read it shortly after my father passed away. 

It was as if this older man was giving advice on life lessons. I had a sense of my father talking to me.

When did you last cry?

I would say on the death of my mother in 2005.

What trait do you least like in others?


What trait do you least like in yourself?

At times, I can be intolerant and impatient.

Do you pray?

I do, maybe not in the traditional sense of saying structured prayers, more in terms of gratitude and meditation. 

I start the first 10 minutes of the day in gratitude, then I sit quietly to meditate.

What would cheer up your day?

Being around people who are positive and optimistic.


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