On a good run
With her first baby due next month and a new TV show under her belt, Aoibhín Garrihy is staying as active as ever, she tells Claire O'Mahony
When the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon takes place on the bank holiday, Sunday June 3 of this year, Aoibhín Garrihy won't be running or walking it. The date is too close to the due date for the actress, who is expecting her first baby with husband John Burke. She will however be urging on participants enthusiastically, as Aoibhín, sisters Doireann and Ailbhe and mother Clare are all members of the Vhi Run Squad and will be documenting their journey to the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon across their social media platforms, to help inspire and motivate women around the country.
"Even if I'm not taking part on the day I will be cheering from the sidelines and it's an iconic day out for women who enjoy getting active. It's such a fantastic atmosphere and it's really empowering," she says. "Obviously I'm pregnant now but I haven't stopped being active. I think it's just so important - healthy body and healthy mind - and it's a big part of my own life so I just think it's a nice fit."
The mum-to-be confesses, however, that she wasn't able for very much in her first trimester.
"There were 12 weeks of what was 24/7 sickness for me and I wasn't expecting it and it really hit me like a tonne of bricks. My mum always said that she earned me and I totally know what she meant now. I was low in iron as well so I was really lacking motivation and it wouldn't have been like me at all because I'd usually be such a get-up-and-go person. I was almost bedridden for the 12 weeks. But once the 12 weeks passed, it was like a switch and I was fine and was able to do everything I had been doing and getting out."
Aoibhín and her hotelier husband, who climbed Everest last year, are based in Clare, although Aoibhín travels to work in Dublin two to three days a week. Both like keeping fit.
"I love the fresh air - we're beside the sea - and what that does for your head or even your soul. It was a transition at the beginning but now I just feel such a sense of calm when I'm on that Limerick road and I'm heading west. That's where my dogs are and we get out a lot and it's just a slower pace. It's a nice balance to have" she says.
"We spend lots of time in the hills. I love to kayak and I love swimming so I've been keeping all of that up and nothing that I hadn't been doing before I became pregnant. I think it's important not to put your body into any kind of state of shock but every pregnancy is different and as I said, I wasn't able for it at the beginning so it just depends on how you're feeling. I think that if you listen to your own body, it will tell you what you're able for but I certainly haven't been overexerting."
The expectant mum was recently forced to defend herself from online criticism when she and John hiked up Carrauntoohil.
"I usually don't respond to any negativity and I would usually just throw it over the shoulder but I felt just a bit obliged to respond because I think somebody mentioned the rescue services and that I had put them in a compromising position," she explains. "My cousins are involved in the Doolin Coast and Cliff Rescue service and I've done a lot fundraising for the RNLI and I would never, ever take any of that lightly. It was a really lovely day. We had met mountain rescue guys who were friends of John on the way up and they said you had picked a perfect day for it. I never said I was going to try and make it to the top - it was just putting one foot in front of the other and spending the day on the hills and it took us three times what it usually takes."
The actress is celebrated for her style choices but has found maternity fashion options to be quite limited. "It's quite archaic and I thought there would be a lot more on offer. Your shape is completely changing so you have to reassess your whole wardrobe but I've just trying to mix things up a little bit. I'm wearing a lot of shifts, looser fabrics and materials, and buying up a size or three sizes, whatever the case may be. It's a challenge but look, it's a complete first world problem," she laughs.
Pregnancy is not getting in the way of her career either and the former Fair City actress recently shot a new pilot for RTÉ Player called New Mum Hacks. She reveals how unfamiliar she was with a lot of the terminology relating to pregnancy and childbirth - when asked if she was going to have an epidural, she didn't know what that was - and the show is geared towards women who might be in a similar position. For new mums, Hacks to speaks to a nurse in Holles Street about birth plans and whether or not to have one, and to a lingerie expert on what breast changes to expect and the best kind of bras to wear.
"You go through phases in your life and this is something I wouldn't have even thought of and you get to a certain point and it's all you're thinking about and talking about, so hopefully there's an audience there for it and it's something that might appeal to people," she says. Being a freelancer means that there won't be much in the way of maternity leave for her - she has jobs lined up for July - but the fact that she doesn't work 9-5 gives her some leeway.
In terms of her parenting goals, she will look to her own mother and father, who are very excited for the arrival of their first grandchild, for inspiration. "I think my parents could give a masterclass. We had an amazing childhood and they did everything right. I just have such great memories and I think if I could do just half the job that they did in terms of the amount of quality time we spent together. There was just such an emphasis on praising their young and a problem shared was a problem halved and the lines of communications were always open. I felt like I could always talk to them," she says. "I feel like when you have that support, no problem is too big and that's really important especially now when people can feel so alienated, despite how connected we are as a generation in terms of online. You have 5,000 friends on Facebook and not being able to pick up the phone and talk to someone is a real problem. To have that support network and a close family unit is really important."
Her pregnancy must-haves include her hot water bottle for back and other pain; Dr Hauschka products to prevent stretch marks and Trilogy oils for her face. Orange juice was, and still is, her major craving.
"I've been swimming a lot and that's great because yoga, while it's quite gentle, I sometimes feel I'm not able for it."
It's unlikely that her husband John will be planning any major expeditions like his Everest trip in the very near future with their new baby's imminent arrival, but his wife says that the adventure bug is always there.
"It's definitely his happy place. He's involved in the hospitality industry and he's surrounded by people all the time and the comforts of hotel food, all of that, and he just loves the idea of getting back to basics and being in the outdoors, " she says. "It's definitely his therapy and he still gets out when he can. I think there's no higher mountain to climb but there are probably ones more technical, more dangerous that he still needs to tick off the bucket list. It could be worse; he could be going for pints every night of the week so I have to count my blessings!"
Those who register for the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon and pay the €23 registration fee will be able to get the full fee refunded if they have private medical insurance with Vhi. Vhi customers can claim their €23 reward using the Snap & Send online claiming tool on the Vhi App. Members can 'snap' a photo of their registration fee receipt and 'send' it via the Snap & Send process. You can download the free Vhi App via the app store.