A Day in the Life: Edel Hackett


ON HOME GROUND Edel Hackett is pictured in Colonel’s Wood close to her home in Knockranny. Pic: Conor McKeown

Name: Edel Hackett
Age: Got my first vaccine last week. Do the maths!
Occupation: Public Relations advocacy for NGOs
Hometown: Dundrum, Dublin

PRIOR to Covid, I would have done a good bit of travelling up and down to Dublin so I would have had at least one morning a week when I’d be up for the 7.15 train but ordinarily the alarm goes off at 7.30am.
Since the start of the pandemic, however, it has been great not to have to travel. I used to often wonder what it was like just to go straight home from work, instead of having to face into a three-and-a-half train journey after a long day’s work. Now I know and it is great.
One of the best things about Covid is that it has opened up the world of remote working. I spent years trying to get people to use Skype and other forms of technology but there was this obsession with ‘being in the room’. It will be good now to have a hybrid of remote and physical meetings and not to have to travel so much.
I usually walk into my office on the Fairgreen. Perhaps I was unusual through Covid in that I continued to work from my office, since I was the only person there.
For years I have eaten my breakfast in work. This is a bit of hangover now from the days when the kids were all in school and there was a conveyor belt of lunches to be made before getting out the door. Reading the newspaper in peace!
During weekends and holidays I still get up not much later than 8.30am as I’m not a great sleeper and rarely sleep in. I’m normally fairly alive in the morning. A housemate many years ago when I was in college once said: “I hate a happy sh*t in the morning.” So I must have been a really annoying morning live-wire.
We have three young adults now.
Sorcha (23) is attending Boston College this year where she is finishing a Masters while on an athletics scholarship. Cian (21) is in Trinity studying law. Many people around town would know him as a footballer with Westport United. Rossa (18) is doing his Leaving Certificate this year. Leaving Cert students  have been so hard hit by Covid. Rossa’s year had their final day in school but their graduation – normally a real rite of passage – had to be online and then there could be no post graduation blowout. I think they are fantastic and really showing their resilience as young people.
My husband, Fergus McAllister, is from Castlebar and we moved here to Westport 20 years ago. It was always a busy sports house when the kids were growing up and we spent  a lot of time bringing them to different training, matches, races.
I provide communications and advocacy support to a wide range of not-for-profit organisations and have worked for Safe Ireland, the national domestic violence agency, for over 12 years. Sadly, with the pandemic came the shadow pandemic of domestic violence. Work was extremely busy. But while Covid has been a huge crisis, it has also been an opportunity to try to ensure that we respond to domestic violence as a country in a much better way.
I was involved at the start of the 15- Minute Westport Group which I think is a fantastic idea. When we moved here first my only condition was that we would be ‘pram pushing distance to town’. I hope we can have a transport and planning system that can make that possible for many families.
Lately I’ve been trying to make time to have a lunch away from the desk. But, most of the time that doesn’t work as I tend to be chasing my tail. I always try to walk up town for a coffee during the day and meet Fergus – maybe we don’t have any other friends at this stage!
I try to get out for a run two to three times a week. At the weekends, if the weather is decent and there’s no big wind, I might go for a cycle. We live in an amazing place for cycling. Spectacular.
I like cooking. We cook almost every night. During the week, it’s generally something quick but from scratch. I get my veg from the wonderful Joe Kelly and so it doesn’t take much to make a tasty quick meal. At the weekends, cooking would be a longer affair.
For almost a decade, we went to a beach in the north of Spain, half way between Bilbao and Santander. It was like a Clare Island but with a bit more sun. Our kids were lucky enough to ‘grow up there’ over that time. I would go with them for four to five weeks and work from there for some of the time.
This year we’ll stay in Ireland. We have no plans yet – but our holidays tend to be quite active – walking, cycling, an attempt at a run maybe. Sure a run and a swim in the day and you’re set up!
Bed is normally about 11.30pm. I often go to sleep ok but then wake up a few hours later. I have gotten into the habit now of reading at night – invariably I will go back to sleep in an hour or so. But, too often, the early wake-up means staying awake, thinking over everything that has to be done, and then delight that morning has come! Things always seem better once you’re up.

In conversation with Áine Ryan

Quickfire questions

If money was no object, what would you do everyday?
I’d probably stop working. I often dream of being able to just take advantage of the days here in the west that are beautiful, sunny, bright days.

Most unusual thing you have eaten?
Lobster ice-cream in Maine, USA. It sounds wrong. It tastes wrong.

Favourite place you have visited?
Vilanculos, a coastal town in Mozambique.

What makes you nervous?

Lack of sleep.

Name three celebrities you would invite to your Zoom party?
Susan Sarandon, Jeremy Paxman, Richard Attenborough.

Best advice you ever got?
Always leave a party when you’re having a good time. Advice from my mammy.

Three things always in your fridge?
Mayonnaise, eggs, cheese.

Most prized possession?
A necklace I got from Fergus our first year of marriage.

First hero?
Maybe my sixth class teacher Mrs Furlong who brought history to life.

Sum up coronavirus in three words?
Build Back Better.

Last book you read?
Just finished Unsung Hero about Tom Cream by Michael Smith. What tough men. I couldn’t get the extreme hardship of their Antarctic expeditions out of my head.

Favourite Netflix series?
Call My Agent.