Singer-songwriter Gráinne Holland: I joined the local camogie team but was terrified of being hit by a camán or sliotar

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Castlewellan singer-songwriter, Gráinne Holland

Singer-songwriter Gráinne Holland: I joined the local camogie team but was terrified of being hit by a camán or sliotar
Singer-songwriter Gráinne Holland: I joined the local camogie team but was terrified of being hit by a camán or sliotar

Gráinne Holland. Traditional Irish musician with bodhran. Bealtaine Fire Festival on the Hill of Uisneach is one of Ireland's oldest traditions at the heart of the ancient Kingdom of Mide. In ancient times, a great assembly would gather on the Hill to witness the fire being lit by the High King of Ireland. The Bealtaine Fire is traditionally seen as marking the arrival of Summer in Ireland. In recent years, this tradition has been revived to become one of the key events in the Irish cultural calendar..


Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

My kids make sure I'm up bright and early every morning. Coffee is a must. I try to squeeze in a walk after dropping them off at school when I can afford the time.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

Porridge with fruit and yoghurt, washed down with a coffee and oat milk.


Lunch is either something healthy like soup or something horribly calorific like a steak and cheese wrap with fries – there is no in-between. At the minute, I'm trying to be healthy.

Evening meal?

A one-pot dish – something with pasta, or maybe a stir-fry, curry or stew.


Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

I don't take health supplements, but I am trying to make healthier choices when planning meals. I do want to be fitter and healthier so that I can spend more time outdoors with my kids without running out of energy. I try to include more veg in meals and when I snack, I try to snack on fruit. The trouble is, I love bread, chocolate, cheese and red wine and I find it really difficult to give them up when it's time to cut down.


Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I tend to go between healthy eating – until I meet my target weight – and then eating whatever I like until it all the weight goes back on. I'm trying to change that at the moment, though, and I hope I can achieve balance by eating well during the week and cheating at the weekends.


Weekend treat?

Fish and chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

I try to go walking as often as possible. I go to the forest or the coast and it always clears my head, as well as helping me to stay fit. I also love to go cycling with the kids and kayaking when we get the chance. I then reward myself with a hot chocolate or an oat milk latté.


Best tip for everyday fitness?

A 20-minute power walk.


Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I wasn't great at sport. I joined the local camogie team but was terrified of being hit by a camán or sliotar. I left after three weeks...


Teetotal or tipple?

An occasional tipple.


Stairs or lift?

Depends on what mood I'm in.


What book are you currently reading?

The Wheel of Time [fantasy novels] by American author, Robert Jordan.


Best Netflix?

It's gotta be Bridgerton.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself over the pandemic?

I wrote and recorded a book/album of songs for children over the pandemic and it has really had such a positive impact on my life.


Any new skills or hobbies?

After years of sitting in on edits and doing little bits myself, I did an editing course during the pandemic and I now edit material for broadcast which is weird because I always thought of myself as a technophobe but I've managed to stick at it and it's going well.


How do you relax?

I find meditation, hot baths, music and gardening all help me to relax.


What are your goals for 2023?

I am writing another book of songs for children and I hope to have it finished and published this year.


What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I tend to work a lot at nights after the kids have gone to bed and it's quiet, but I'm usually in bed sleeping by midnight. I normally sleep all night unless a couple of small people pay me a visit.


Biggest gripe or regret?

I wish I had travelled more before I had children. I did a fair bit of travelling, but there is so much of the world that I would love to see.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Having children changed my life completely and also changed me as a person. Seeing the world through their eyes as they are growing and learning is really beautiful and makes me appreciate every moment.


Has coronavirus – or any health epiphany or life event – changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

When people close to me died it really changed my outlook on life. We are living in a world where over-working is glorified because that means ‘success', but all that matters are those you love and my goal is to work less and spend more time with the people who really matter. It is difficult to do that in the current climate, but I will get there.

:: Gráinne Holland will be taking part in the free Belfast Equinox cultural event on Saturday March 25 at Belfast Harbour Marina, staged by ArtsEkta and Belfast City Council,