20 questions: Hothouse flower man Fiachna Ó Braonáin about not getting enough sleep and exercising when he can


1 UP AND at it – what is your morning routine?

I used to get up and run 10km three times a week, which got me fit for the day. Unfortunately, I’ve slipped out of that habit lately, but I need to get going again. I bought a rowing machine during lockdown that I would use for 40 minutes first thing in the morning – I’ll have to reconsider that too. However, I get up and walk to my local beach and jump in for a swim most mornings.

2 What could you eat on a typical work day for:


Breakfast usually consists of a bowl of cereal followed by whole wheat toast. And a cup of tea and then a coffee.

Having lunch?

Lunch depends, sometimes I sail right past it, other times it could be a pita with haloumi and pickle or a nice salad. I also like a pitta with hummus. Sometimes lunch is a quick organic cheddar sandwich with pickles – and a little sprinkling of English mustard.


Dinner usually consists of either a piece of fish or chicken with some vegetables or rice. We try to buy only wild or angler fish and organic meat and vegetables. I enjoy a steak maybe once a month – usually with a salad and oriental dressing. In winter, the side dish will most likely consist of fried potatoes and green vegetables.

3 Is diet important to you – do you take supplements?

Yes, nutrition is important to me and I do take supplements occasionally, but not when I feel like I don’t need them.

4 Have you ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I did the blood type diet once and cut out gluten, sugar, wheat, caffeine and dairy for a few months. I lost a bit of weight and calmed down, but in hindsight I think it was too strict.

5 weekend treats?

I work late most weekends, so I have a sneaky piece of chocolate or nougat to keep me going.

6 How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit?

I don’t overdo it with sweets and I don’t eat processed foods at all. I walk, swim, and bike regularly and stay calm most of the time.

7 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Just take the exercise if you can. I fall into the trap of telling myself I need two hours of exercise when sometimes a 10 minute walk is better than nothing.

8 Were you a fan of school sports/sports or do you have a memory from that time that you would rather forget?

I didn’t mind sports at school and I can’t remember anything particularly bad about it.

9 Teetotal or tip?

I’m practically teetotal these days, but I enjoy the occasional sip.

10 stairs or elevator?

I usually take the stairs.

11 What book are you reading right now?

I’ve been a fan of Joseph O’Connor since reading Star of the Sea. His diction is simply masterful and his half-imagined portrayal of the life of Bram Stoker in Shadowplay is also exceptional. He has a level of attention to detail that really brings life and time to life in the reader’s imagination. I stole a line from Star of the Sea for my song Bottle of Rum years ago and embraced the idea of ​​being at sea with “just a screeching seagull for company” – brilliant.

12 Best Netflix?

Peaky Blinders is incredibly well written, extremely well cast and the cinematography is second to none. The ups and downs of Birmingham in the early 1900’s and how extremely hard life was is portrayed in such a vivid way. And the soundtrack is amazing, setting the scenes against such raw but contemporary music is really effective. I found it really gripping.

13 The most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

I was just lucky to live where we lived – near the sea and next to the forest. I appreciated nature more than ever. It’s not a huge surprise as I already loved all of that, but I took these things a little bit more to heart.

14 Any new skills or hobbies?

Acting – I started acting on the TG4 series Ros na Rún during the pandemic.

15 How do you relax?

I like listening to music or going for walks – sometimes a combination of both. I also love making music and I find it relaxing.

16 What are your goals for 2022?

I’m hoping to write some new songs to make a follow up album to my Winter Sun EP. I will also be touring with friends Tom Dunne and Alan Connor and of course I will be doing shows with my musical brothers from Hothouse Flowers.

17 When do you go to bed and do you think you’re getting enough sleep?

It varies. If I work late on the radio, I don’t sleep until 3 am at the earliest. I usually like to sleep before midnight and then get up at 7am. That doesn’t always happen because my work causes the routine to shift each week. In short, I don’t get enough sleep.

18 Biggest point of criticism?

Too little sleep or downtime.

19 Have your life priorities or perspectives changed?

I’ve always believed that if you take care of your friends and family, everything else will fall into place. I’ve always felt this way. I think the only thing that has changed over the years is that the fear of missing out is gone.

20 Has Corona changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

No, not really – I still think I’ll live forever.

:: Hothouse Flowers will perform at this year’s EastSide Arts Festival on Thursday 4th August at the Banana Block, PortView Trade Centre, Belfast.


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