How To Stay Sane in a Pandemic

With Dil Wickremsinghe

Dil is a mental health professional, an activist, a journalist and former broadcaster who presented Global Village on Newstalk.

Along with her partner, Anne Marie Toole they founded and run Insight Matters, a counselling, psychotherapy and wellness centre offering affordable and accessible mental health support, in Dublin.

The book recommendation this week was my suggestion and is the Dublin City Libraries One City One Book choice for 2021 and is the beautiful, gentle tale of Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession.

And the TV/Movie recommendation was The Morning Show – available on Apple TV

How To Stay Sane in a Pandemic

With Samantha Kelly aka The Tweeting Goddess

Samantha Kelly is a social media specialist, a twitter expert, a business coach and the founder of the Women’s Inspire Network which supports female entrepreneurs. She is currently working on the networks event for International Women’s Day on the 8th of March which features a great line up of speakers.

And she is the host of #soberstpatricksday 2021.

If you want a kick of positivity and some ‘can do’ attitude, you will enjoy what she has to say.

Sam recommends Vicky Phelan’s book ‘Overcoming’

Barbara’s book recommendation is The Dutch House by Anne Pachett

Barbara also recommends Summer of Rockets on Netflix

How To Stay Sane in a Pandemic

With Tom Clonan

Dr Tom Clonan is a columnist, broadcaster, security analyst, feminist and advocate for disabilty and a retired Army Captain. A calm and reasoned commentator, his take on where we are in this pandemic might just cheer you up.

He also has some cracking book, podcast and viewing recommendations which are listed below. Enjoy. And if you do, please share.

Tom’s recommended read : The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

Tom’s podcast recommendation : The Nobody Zone by RTE and Louis Theroux podcast, Grounded especially the episode with Ruby Wax

Tom’s viewing recommendations : Deuthscland ’86 available on All Four.

How to Stay Sane in a Pandemic

Episode 7 : SARAH CAREY

Columnist and broadcaster, Sarah Carey joined me this week for my How To Stay Sane Webcast.

She had some cracking book suggestions along with interesting radio programme suggestions too. And yes, of course, we talked about Bridgerton.

We didn’t get to all Sarah’s book suggestions but she kindly sent them on and here they are:


East West Street by Philippe Sands,

On Identity, Violence and the need to belong by Amin Mahlouf

Dominion, How Christianity Shaped the Western mind by Tom Holland

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James.


What Sarah called her ‘Spinster Lit’ recommendations

She recommends all the books of Barbara Pym, Muriel Spark and Anita Brookner

She also recommends Nancy Mitford who she says is a hoot.

Other favourites are The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen which she says are one of the most beautiful poetic books I’ve ever read. And other poetry such as Lullaby by WH Auden and ‘What Auden Can Do For You’ by Alexander McCall Smith. And Heaney’s The Cure At Troy

Also recommend On Kindness by Adam Philips, the famous British psychonalyst

Radio and Podcasts

Backlisted podcast – Brings new life to old books. It’s a joy.

Drama on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra -right now listening to Hercule Poirot!

The Archers BBC Radio 4

Soul Music (BBC Radio 4)

In Our Time ( BBCR4)

Delusions (short series on BBC Radio 4 you should be able to find it)

Cautionary Tales (Tim Hartford, behavioural psychology)

Thinking Allowed (BBCR4)

If you enjoy these webcasts please share the links either on Twitter, Facebook or right here on my website.

Scully’s Christmas Book suggestions

wind-in-willowsJust before Christmas I did my usual Christmas Irish Non-fiction book suggestion on Ireland AM on TV3.  In case you are using up book token presents or just want to treat yourself to a nice book here are this year’s suggestions:


WHAT IF…. A Chronicle of What Might Have Been

By Annie West.  Published by New Island (on special of 11.96 on website)

If you are on Twitter at all you will probably have come across the legend that is Annie West – illustrator and cartoonist, wit and Yeats specialist.  Her new book ‘What If… A Chronicle of What Might Have Been is a brilliant dip in and out of book of essays by various well known contributors speculating on ‘what if’s’.

Myles Dungan writes about “what if Irish historians told the full story about women’s’ contribution to Irish History.”  David McCullagh explores “what if London has listened to the unrest over taxation that was demonstrated at the Boston Tea Party” meant for example a union jack had been planted on the moon!  Colm Tobin wonders about  “what if the Big Fella had been short?”

All great fun and all ponderings accompanied by one of Annie Wests wonderful illustrations.


Dublin in the 1960s

Edited by Michael Hinch, photos from Independent Archives.

Published by Mercier. 19.99


Looking Back – The Changing Face of Ireland

By Eric Luke.  Published by O Brien Press 24.99

 Two wonderfully nostalgic and endlessly fascinating photography books that would make great presents especially perhaps for your parents or older relatives.  Although everyone can get lost in the pages of the most evocative photos of an Ireland that is now gone.

‘Dublin in the 1960’ will strike a chord with anyone who remembers Dublin at that time with gorgeous photos from the Independent Archives.

Eric Luke is a photographer with the Irish Times and his book spans more recent decades and includes colour photos.  Eric’s book is divided into sections such as The Country, The Capital, Personalities and best of all Music.  Eric’s photos of Irish musical icons such as Rory Gallagher, U2, The Chieftains and the glorious Thin Lizzy are just stunning.

Both books great way to pass a rainy day


Healing Creations – Discover your mindful self through mandala colouring and journaling

By Patricia Fitzgerald.  Published by The Collins Press.  19.99

Even if the ‘trend’ of adult colouring passed you by – many of us know how tempting it is to join a small kid as they colour in.  It is hugely relaxing and grounding.  In other words, it calms your mind from the rubbish many of us have spinning around in our heads regularly.

This book is designed to get the maximum psychological benefit from colouring as has been designed by Patricia Fitzgerald who is a mindfulness expert.  Mandalas – are circular intricate art forms which have long been associated with calmness.  This book has 40 mandalas and 10 which also have guided meditations.  And the book is sprinkled with inspirational quotes from people such as Maya Angelou, Henry Ford and Confucius.  There are also blank pages to you to record your experience – journal!   A new year’s treat for yourself perhaps?


This year I also looked at some children’s books.  I selected three for inclusion:

First up is my favourite kids story ever, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Graham – a classic story and this edition by Walker Books, retails at 22.00euro and is simply beautiful.  I found it in a treasure of a book shop called TALES FOR TADPOLES on Drury Street in Dublin (they also have a small shop on Nassau St I believe).  They stock the most gorgeous editions of children’s classics along with prints of the illustrations.  Peter Rabbit series, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl – the common denominator is the books are beautifully illustrated.  They also sell prints of some of the illustrations.  The shop is well worth a visit and a must if you want to gift a book that will become a family heirloom.

Next is an Irish book – the second in a trilogy called The Nine Lives Trilogy – this one is The Book of Shadows (the first being The Book of Learning) and features the adventures of Ebony Smart and her pet rat Winston.  (Her grandpa dies and she uncovers her secret past) It’s by ER Murray, published by Mercier and retails at 7.49 on their website (special price).  Great Irish book for young adults..age 9+

Finally,… one for all the family to get involved with over the Christmas.  The Whiz Quiz Book – third edition of this brilliant book which was compiled by the National Parents Council.  A general knowledge quiz book for all the family., Questions on sport, music, history etc…  laid out in ten rounds of ten questions.  Great way of teaching without teaching.  Collins Press 5.99


A gorgeous book of short stories – THE GLASS SHORE, edited by Sinead Gleeson published by New Island 14.96 euro on special on the website.  These stories are all by women writers from the North of Ireland. A follow up to the very successful LONG GAZE BACK which Sinead edited last year.  A lovely book for anyone who loves short stories…

Finally, for the feminist or the historian in your life – A CENTURY OF PROGRESS – IRISH WOMEN RELFECT.   A book of essays by various contributors on the role of women in Ireland over the last 100 years.  Book comes from the Markieviez School thro Arlen Press and available in various bookshops including Books Upstairs, Connolly Book Shop in Temple Bar, An Siopa Leabhar Harcourt Street and also with free post