‘Every time I was due to speak in the Seanad, my suit turned into Mickey Mouse fleece pyjamas’
Senator Lynn Ruane and Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin discuss bad dreams, tattoos and Jessica Fletcher
Lynn Ruane and Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin.
What is the worst advice you’ve ever received?
Lynn: I find that hard to answer because I have a tiny small number of people to go to for advice and they’ve usually proved themselves over many years to be the kind of people to give me reasonable advice. I don’t think I’ve had terrible advice. I don’t always ask for advice unless it’s for a particular reason or particular topic or issue. I usually go to people that know more than me in the area I need advice in. I strategically ask for advice mores than listen to people giving me random advice.
Bressie: Worst advice I ever got was from someone during my Leaving Cert who told me not to bother studying Yeats. It was the first question to come up. English was my banker subject, I didn’t bother studying Yeats, and the f**ker came up.
Like Lynn, as soon as I hear bulls**t I switch off. I don’t listen to it. I do have a very small group of people I would go to for advice on not even serious things but as much as my private life is documented publicly, I am still quite private. If there’s something that’s on top of me, there’s certain things you ask a professional, certain things you ask a friend. I’ve got the cop-on if it’s bulls**t advice not to take it. I’ve a very small group of friends.
Who is the first person you call when something brilliant happens?
Lynn: My ma. I call her when anything happens, even if it’s not brilliant.
Bressie: I’m the exact same. I’ve a very close relationship with my mother.
What’s your best memory of this year so far?
Lynn: One of them would be finishing my degree whilst in the Seanad. I work about 60 to 70 hours a week, and trying to fit in my final year of my degree, and being absolutely petrified because I’ve become the poster girl for education inequality – I couldn’t fail! I’d never live it down. I majored in philosophy and I passed.
Bressie: What was a very big moment for me was going back to college. I dreaded my undergrad. Hated it. Hated being in UCD, didn’t enjoy the process, so to go back there was a very big choice for me to make. I remember going in the first day and the relief that I knew I made the right choice to go back to study. They always say with memories you find difficult, you shouldn’t run away from them, you should go towards them, softly. That’s kind of what I did, went back to the one place I swore I’d never go back to, to do a masters in mindfulness, a ridiculous thing to do.
Lynn: I need to give out to you for that, saying something is positive and ridiculous in the same sentence. Own how positive it was!
Bressie: I’m Irish! With one hand I give, with one hand I take away.
What would be your death row meal?
Bressie: Anything with chorizo on it… And I’d have to have it with Jessica Fletcher. Don’t tell me you don’t like Jessica Fletcher?
Lynn: I’ve never really thought about it!
Bressie: That’s the fundamental difference between me and you.
Lynn: My last meal would most definitely be a crispy baguette with two packets of Mega Meanies crushed on it with butter. That’s very Tallaght in the 90s.
What do you dream about most often?
Bressie: Do you know what’s a weird dream for me?
Lynn: It’s Jessica Fletcher, isn’t it?
Bressie: Now that you say it! Well, I have a weird dream where I’m going to play a rugby match, I arrive to the pitch and I’ll always forget my boots or something so that I’m not able to play the match.
Lynn: I have a lot of nightmares. The most recent reoccurring dream was the week I was speaking for the very first time in the Seanad. In the dream I bought this blue suit I definitely wouldn’t wear, and I was due in the chamber to speak, but every time I went into the chamber the suit turned into Mickey Mouse fleece pyjamas. Obviously some sort of insecurity about not fitting in.
When did you last cry?
Bressie: The last time I proper sobbed was the day I finished the Ironman… I saw my mother and she had an Irish flag and I cried for 15 minutes to the point where my mother was going, “stop, you’re making a show of yourself!”
Lynn: I cry a lot more than I used to. I was quite hardened over the years, and as I get older I’m shedding a bit of that. Last week I cried twice. When the guys from TFMR shared their stories on the repeal committee. It was really hard. I also cried watching The Rehab [on TV3] about the guys in Coolmine. I worked in addiction for a long time. Being in politics, I miss working at that real human level of compassion and empathy and people’s real life experiences. I’m slightly removed from that now, and I do miss that. I got upset watching it because so many of my friends would be still caught in problematic drug use.
Favourite item of clothing?
Lynn: At the minute, my friend Joanne gave my daughter a load of clothes and in it there was a big huge woolly jumper. I’m writing at lot, and I keep putting on this jumper.
Bressie: I’ve a jumper that’s the most disgusting thing, but I love it. I was in Paris and I went into Kenzo and the woman in the shop said , ‘We have one XXL jumper’ and I just thought ‘I’ll have to buy this now’. Everyone hates it, I love it. It’s not pretty, but she was. She made an absolute fool of me.
What are some of the meanings behind your tattoos?
Bressie: I have the cover of Closing Time by Tom Waits on my arm. That album saved my life. I listened to that album every night for five years. The only problem with this tattoo is when I got it, a girl said to me at a festival, ‘oh my god, I love Simply Red!’ I thought, ‘If she thinks I’ve Mick Hucknall on my arm, I’m going to vomit in my mouth.’
Lynn: The ones on my arms are flowers researched based on the time of the year they grow. They represent my friends who have passed away, and the different months. The more I succeeded, I wanted to remember exactly where I came from and the stuff we’ve experienced in our lives.
What fault do you most tolerate in people?
Lynn: I tolerate a lot of faults. When someone’s fault negatively impacts me consistently, I continue to see past that way too much.
Bressie: Self-preservation. People who constantly look out for themselves. I think we’ve created a culture where we’ve made that an absolute must. People are scared… When they get scared they start looking out for themselves and their families, but that’s not how community works. But when I see that happening, I don’t say ‘selfish bastards’, I just see that they’re frightened.