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MOD on Monday: Bressie has found his true calling in life ... to help others in difficulty




Niall Breslin, Roz Purcell and trainer Mark Young on right

Niall Breslin, Roz Purcell and trainer Mark Young on right

Pat McDonagh

Pat McDonagh



"To think such a gorgeous man like Bressie had depression makes it all so real and easier to talk about."

This comment, read out by Marian Finucane on her radio show last Saturday, came from a listener who was reacting to the interview she was conducting with Niall Breslin. Ostensibly on the show to promote his RTE Series, Bressie's Teenage Kicks, Niall took the opportunity to talk about his life-long battle with depression and anxiety.

And in that listener's comment, the apparent contradiction that is Niall Breslin was perfectly summed up, referring as it does the shameful, sadly prevalent attitude that many of us have - how can someone as good looking and successful as Bressie suffer from depression?

The irony is, of course, that Niall is a perfect spokesperson for depression, as he is the very opposite to most people's stereotypical image of those who suffer from it. We associate depression with people who seem, outwardly, to have obvious reasons to be unhappy - plain looks, an unhappy family life, no job or girlfriend.

Niall, with his relatively normal upbringing, physical presence, media profile and - let's not leave it out, model girlfriend - is the very antithesis of this stereotype, and the fact that he suffers so badly from mental health issues should once and for all lay to rest this perception that it is some way a reflection of outward circumstances.

In an extraordinarily frank interview, Niall described how he used to get panic attacks every night at the same time - 2am - which would wake him up and leave him unable to get back to sleep. Realising that this was caused by a massive surge in adrenalin, Niall decided to combat this by burning off the adrenalin by going running each night as soon as the attack set in and, after several days in a row, he ran the equivalent of a marathon one night. The following night, he said, for the first time he could remember, he slept right through to 8am.

Listening to Niall talking to Marian, it is impossible not to be impressed by the man, and how perfectly in tune he is on the subject. "Don't be ashamed of it," says Niall of depression, "it's not a weakness," a point that he constantly re-iterated in the interview.

I had previously, to my eternal shame, poked fun at Niall a couple of years back, suggesting that his musical following was based purely on his looks, and that he used those looks to overcome shortcomings in other areas.

In so doing, I myself made the same mistake that I now criticise in others - that of equating physical appearance with the person inside.

Sure, it's hard even for a man not to look at Niall and be either impressed by, or jealous of, his physical attributes.

But there is so much more to him, and if his looks make it easier for him to be on television or in the press, that can only be a good thing, because what he says is not only honest and intelligent, it's also hugely important.

Depression may have destroyed two of his careers as a sportsperson but, without wishing to be glib about it, maybe that's not a bad thing.

Because Niall would have been wasted in the world of sport - he has so much more to offer than kicking a ball around a field.

Rugby and GAA's loss is Irish society's gain.


Supermacs V Big Mac  ... not loving it

Everyone loves a good David and Goliath story, and when the seemingly insurmountable odds of the former are borne by an Irish company, then our interest is piqued even more.

The story of an impending battle between Ireland's fast-food emporium, Supermacs, and worldwide food behemoth, McDonalds seems, at first blush, like an extraordinary one. But according to court documents, the latter are attempting to block Supermacs from registering their trademark, and opening stores in Australia, as they feel that it will damage their business due to potential confusion amongst customers.

There are, of course, two ways of looking at this story. On the one hand, as Supermacs founder Pat McDonagh points out, he should legitimately be allowed to trademark Supermacs, as "I was born with this name, so I hope common sense will prevail".And with the Irish chain being but a tiny player in the fast food market - its annual turnover is about €100m a year, compared to McDonalds' €5.7 billion - it is hard not to see this as nothing short of bullying on the part of the US giant.

On the one hand, perhaps McDonalds have a point.

After all, if your IQ is low enough to consider burgers, fries and milk shakes to be a suitable diet, then you probably could well believe that Supermacs and McDonalds are the same company.


Nadia's curve ball at critics

* Nadia Forde has emerged from the jungle, and immediately voiced her disdain for those who commented on the fact that she doesn't have the body of a stick insect.     "I am not going to let my body become a battleground for people to fight about what a woman should look like," she said. "I haven't seen the comments and quite frankly I don't care. It is my body and I am a woman. I am a curvy girl."

So despite her claims that the albeit relatively brief sojourn was potentially life-changing and empowering, Nadia actually doesn't seem to have changed that much. She was sensible and smart when she went in, and she's exactly the same now.

* With talk of a general election in the air, Fine Gael has apparently sent potential candidates on "Councillor Training Courses", to prepare them for the campaign trail. A media training group has been enlisted to teach these candidates how to come across better on TV and radio, something that cynics might suggest points to the party's continuing failure to grasp one fundamental truth.

The public aren't interested in how smooth and articulate candidates are when being interviewed, and the continuing scandal of TDs fraudulently claiming expenses should alert party leaders that there is only one thing would-be politicians need to be taught. Honesty.