This much I know: Keith Duffy, Actor

With acting, I’m pretty much still on a learning curve. I’m very ambitious and hard working and I see it all as a very exciting challenge, but it’s sink or swim a lot of the time.

I’d advise anyone who wants to get into show business to follow their dreams and to work very hard but, most importantly, always have a plan B.

I always enjoyed performing and entertaining people, even as a kid, from an early age. I think my mother always knew I’d end up on stage.

I did a year of architecture after school, but it wasn’t for me.

I’d have preferred to have been famous for being a drummer, rather than a singer. I was a drummer before I ever sang. And it’s no secret that Stephen and Ronan were the ones with the stronger voices in Boyzone!

I’m very thankful that having a profile lets me make a difference with my charity work, but other than that, I don’t enjoy being in the public eye so much any more. It was great fun when I was a teenager in Boyzone and all the girls were crazy about the band, but it’s a bit different now. When you’re out with the wife and kids trying to enjoy some family time you don’t really want attention.

Everyone has a different idea of success. The goal posts change as you get older and become more aware that the best things in life are free. At this stage, being able to provide for my daughter and son, and giving them the ability to achieve their own goals in life, is what’s important.

The greatest challenge I’ve had to face so far was when my daughter was diagnosed with autism. She is thriving now and has done fantastically — after four years of mainstream school she is just about to begin secondary.

I’m terrible at time management. Shocking. I double book myself so much that my wife is always giving out to me.

I do a lot of charity work and then I have to balance my own career with that.

I’m Dublin born and bred and it will always be home so I was honoured to be asked to be ambassador for the Tall Ships Races. I remember what an eyesore the docklands used to be when I was a kid. To see the job they’ve done now on the quays, where the ships will be, makes me very proud.

I’m pretty fit. I was into Gaelic football and hurling until I was eighteen, when Boyzone took off. Then it was golf or the gym until I started doing marathons.

Now, I’m constantly taking part in sports events to raise money, awareness and support for autism. We organise celebrity teams for golf and football — even for events like the Iron Man which is coming up in Galway. I’ll be racing as part of a team to raise funds for Irish Autism Action, along with Matt Cooper, Roseanna Davidson, Ray D’Arcy and Gráinne and Síle Seoige — and a whole lot of others.

I train all year round, two or three times a week, whether or not I’m preparing for a specific event. But in the lead up to something like the Iron Man, I’d be doing 25 to 30 hours a week.

The best advice I ever got, in a career that spans 20 years, is to be nice to people on the way up as you are going to meet them again on the way down. Don’t burn your bridges.

Keith Duffy is ambassador for The Tall Ships Races which return to Dublin from Aug 23 — 26 for the first time in 14 years.

By Hilary Fennell


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