Blind lawyer, double PhD and Guinness World Record holder, Adventurer and Consultant, Dr. Sinead Kane continues her “Coffee with Colm” in Bewley’s

This is part 2 of 3.

Recently I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sinead Kane, PhD, BCL, LLM, Lawyer, International Speaker, Blind Adventurer and Consultant (Phew!) over a delicious cup of Bewley’s Coffee in my old alma mater, Bewley’s Café on Grafton St. in Dublin.

It was a thoroughly fascinating experience for me and when we finished recording the video we realized that all of it deserved to be seen and/or heard so rather than cut it up, we have decided to offer it out in three parts.

This is part 2.

Truthfully, the best way to get the most from this lady’s fascinating tale of overcoming and achieving, is to watch the video (9 mins, very highly recommended) or listen to the podcast (9 mins, highly recommended) but in case you prefer the written word I have done my best to capture the spirit of the conversation in writing below.

Buckle up!

Enjoy…

Ps, in case you missed it, I have provided a link to Part 1 at the end.

Last time… we finished when Sinead said

… I’m a ‘habits’ person, so when I get up, I cannot leave the house unless I know my bed is made. The day only starts when the bed is made. But I also like to air it, so that requires a process of making sure the bed is aired and then going back to make it. If you leave your duvet to the side there’s always that temptation to get back in and snooze for the day if you’re feeling in any way sorry for yourself! Being self-employed, means I am not speaking every day so it does’t matter to people if I get back into bed, but it matters to me.

Part 2…

Me: Powerful stuff. Can I ask, what’s been a highlight for you to date? Have you one stand-out moment that was particularly special?

Sinead: There have been many.

  • One that comes to mind is when I did a TEDx talk around the importance of not being a bystander when it comes to bullying – we have to stand up to bullies.
  • Another one was having the opportunity to talk to 7,500 students and for them to hear my story.
  • Going to Antarctica. Completing the World Marathon Challenge – seven marathons on seven continents within seven days (actually six days, nine hours!)
  • Running in the driest desert on the planet, the Atacama Desert

And, I suppose simply qualifying as a Solicitor – that was both a happy and a sad day for me; happy because I was always told I wouldn’t make it, sad because while most people could see me on the TV news, some people in my life who are also visually impaired, couldn’t see me. I didn’t really care about being on the news, I just wanted them to be able to see me.

Yes, there have been lots!

Another again was in 2nd Year UCC, when I was finding it extremely tough, my parents brought me on a ‘sopping trip’ to London. At least, that’s what I thought we were doing, however, the real reason they brought me to London was to meet a Judge who is completely blind! He became a role model for me. We all need role models in our life. We need to realize that every time you meet someone you can be a role model for them, through your actions and through your words.

When I came back from the World Marathon Challenge, Allianz Ireland had a TV ad featuring me and so I was being recognized a lot. One particular night, it was about 9.30pm and I was coming back from the supermarket when these two little girls, 7 or 9 years of age, said to their mother, “Mammy, mammy, there’s the girl from the Allianz ad.” They wanted to come over and have a full-blown conversation with me. It was late, cold, dark, raining, I was tired, I was hungry and I was not ion form for talking to people about goal setting, mindset, or being a role model… but at the back of my mind I said to myself, “Did that Judge say that to you, Sinead, when he became your role model in 2nd Year UCC?” So I stood there and I did the gracious thing and talked to them even though I wasn’t on form and I think that when you’ve been afforded an opportunity to be inspired, then you should try and inspire.

Me: That’s a wonderful story. I think it’s great. You identified in that moment you really didn’t want this to happen, but it has and you’re back to your being grateful, rather than being put out, you decided to be grateful for the opportunity; somebody had done it for you, you then did it for somebody else; well done. Now, can you tell us your most embarrassing moment?

Sinead: Again, many!

In running, one of my most embarrassing moments was when I did my first marathon. I met my run coach, John, in October 2014. I had a sore knee and he somebody recommended I go to John who, in turn, might connect me with the right person. John has done a lot of work with Mark Pollock, Mark and I both being visually impaired, so I was going to John to ask advice as well for my first marathon with a guide runner. After our meeting, he asked had I any questions? I said, “well, do you know now, if it’s raining on the day of the Dublin Marathon, will they cancel it?”

He looked at me as if to say, “Is this girl serious?” I was being serious – until I realized he thought that was a stupid question! So I tried to pretend I was only joking but I still wanted the answer. He kinda firmly told me, when he realized I was being serious, “Sinead, three things in relation to the Dublin City Marathon,. Firstly, this event happens every single year and the minute one finishes, they start organizing it again. It’s not an event that just happens, it’s a year-long preparation. Secondly, over 15,000 people compete in this event and third; you’re living in a country where it always rains.”

I was just, “Oh right, okay.” So that will just show you how clueless I was about running. Literally four weeks later, when I started training for my first ultra-marathon, my first 50k, I was out on the track for four hours running around in the rain, and this was the girl who was frightened to do a marathon in the rain.

I suppose that just goes to show that even though that situation was embarrassing, you learn different things by going through different experiences.

Another one was when I was going to the Atacama Desert I felt very fearful, so much so that I actually wasn’t going to go. Fear stops us. So I had to talk to myself and tell myself, “Calm down Sinead, you’ll be fine. Go do something to relax.” I was flying out the following day.

So, to calm my nerves I went to the swimming pool. Swimming around anyway and this guy started talking to me. Because of my bad sight, I more see colours and shapes. Bright natural light is very difficult for me; I much prefer artificial lighting –  I’ll can describe my eye conditions in a minute  – so anyway, I’m in the pool and this guy comes over and starts swimming beside me and he sounded very much like Bertie Ahern (our former Taoiseach, – Prime Minister). I’m thinking would this be a compliment or an insult, to tell him that he sounded like Bertie Ahern? So I decided to just say it, I said – “I hope you don’t mind me saying but you sound very much like Bertie Ahern”. And he says, “That’s because I am Bertie Ahern.” And I’m thinking, “What do I say now? What do you talk about now? So I just blurted out, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m going to the Atacama Desert, this is why I’m in the swimming pool, blah, blah… ‘ I can’t even fully remember what I said but just to get over that awkward silence, I just started talking.

It just shows the power of networking, that you can meet absolutely anyone, anywhere.

Me: That’s a great story. I agree, you can meet anyone anywhere, so long as you are out there. Sinead, there are two last questions I want to ask, but before I do, you mentioned you’d like to tell us about your visual impairment, can you tell us more?

Sinead… To hear what Sinead’s multiple eye conditions are, to hear her Man on the Train Moment and to find out why Sinead is so excited about the future, tune in next week and join us again for the final part of Dr. Sinead Kane’s “Coffee with Colm”.

END.

Check out Sinead here

Would you like to feature in a “Coffee with Colm” interview? Contact Colm here

Come back next week for the final Part 3 of 3.

See you then.

END.

Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly.

Colm

Watch | Listen | Read | Think.

Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • Dr. Sinead Kane’s Interview: Part 1. Sinead has “Coffee with Colm” in Bewley’s Café on Grafton St. Dublin – click here.
  • What I learned when I narrowly escaped a 200 Kph head-on collision – click here.
  • What happened when Mandy decided to become a fighter jet pilot – click here.

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