Hugh Wallace: The day I stopped drinking changed my life
Life Lessons: It was a new beginning, with new work, says the architect and RTÉ presenter
Hugh Wallace, presenter of The Great House Revival
What’s the moment that changed your life?
The day I realised that I had a nasty relationship with alcohol and stopped. This was a life-changer in so many ways; my respect for myself and my life, my friends and my partner, Martin. It was very much a new beginning, a new career, and new work in television, which I love.
Who do you most admire?
My mother, Sue, for being so resilient, positive and caring, and living with my dad, who was a drinker until I was 17. Sue and Ken, my father, were so happy together after dad stopped drinking... It was so sad that just as they were enjoying life Sue died.
What’s the most pain you’ve ever experienced?
Rupturing my cartilage playing a rugby game as a loose head in the scrum and ending my game.
Who is the biggest influence on your career?
Greg Collins, my fabulous English teacher at Sandford Park School [in Dublin], who had me diagnosed as dyslexic in 1975, allowing me to do subjects orally in the Leaving Certificate exams, which meant I got into Bolton Street College to study architecture. Happy days!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced?
Starting Douglas Wallace Consultants again after its collapse in 2009. Thank goodness for the support of my fellow directors, Joe and Gerry, as we hung on by our fingernails over the next three years, but we managed and it’s been onwards and upwards since then.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
From my mother, “There is no road without a turn.” How true, as no situation in life stays the same forever. Also, it is so important not to “blot your copybook”, so to speak, and do something that spoils your good record or makes other people respect or trust you less.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
Not to sell Douglas Wallace in 2007 and walk away with a small fortune, and instead to hang on for the crash of 2008.
What’s a practical thing you do to help your personal development is…
Read (slowly), travel, and watch the world while I learn.
What location do you return to for a sense of calm and time out?
Home. I love to close the door and cook meals for Martin and I. The best day is Sunday with the papers on the couch and great coffee.
What’s your biggest flaw?
Impatience. I get excited about an idea and want to do it immediately, but others have important things to do, so I throw a strop.
What’s your worst habit?
Not being patient when others are talking about a design or a concept. Or interrupting when I’m bored with a subject that others may be talking about. I’m shy but I’m also no shrinking violet.
What would your friends say your most dominant trait is?
Tenacity. That I never give up, especially when I’m wrong.
What’s an unfulfilled goal you don’t tell anyone about?
I have never lived in another country, as I started Douglas Wallace the day I left college with Alan Douglas some 40 years ago. The one thing I regret is never living in South America – Argentina or Brazil – and learning another language fluently.
What are you most proud of?
Working with great young architects and designers over the last four decades and being inspired by their talent, creating amazing projects and enjoying the results.
What’s your motto for life?
Enjoy the moment, do things outside of your comfort zone, and always be open to new opportunities. And do it today as tomorrow might be too late.
The Great House Revival returns to RTÉ One at 9.30pm on Sunday, February 16th