Q&A with Minister Brendan Griffin TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

You have witnessed The Daily Mile in action in Primary Schools in Dublin and Kerry – what have been your thoughts on this new school’s initiative?
I think that The Daily Mile has been hugely positive for the children and staff involved. It is clear to see the enthusiasm of the children when you visit a school doing The Daily Mile and the children always tell me how much it benefits their concentration, mood, energy levels and general well-being.

Did watching The Daily Mile evoke any special memories of your own Primary
School days?
It evoked very fond memories…I loved sport as a kid and any chance of sporting activity with school friends was always welcome!

Where did you attend Primary School?
I was in Castledrum National School in Keel, a small rural community on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. It’s a lovely school beside Groyne River on the foot of the Slieve Mish Mountains. My son just started there last September.

Was there much focus of fitness in the school back then?
We rarely formally got out of class for sport, but unless the weather was very bad, many of us cycled or walked to school, in some cases walking through the fields. We would play soccer or football before school in the morning for fifteen or twenty minutes, at 11 o’clock break for five minutes, at lunch time for a full half hour and at 2 o’clock break for another five minutes. After walking or cycling home from school, we’d wolf down the dinner, watch a bit of Zig and Zag. And then we’d play soccer again, often until darkness fell depending on the time of year. I was lucky that I lived up a small road to the mountain where there were 8 young boys all within two years of each other. We had some epic matches over the years!

What were your favourite subjects in Primary School?
I loved History and Geography. I also enjoyed English most of the time.

How would you rate yourself as a student back then?
I was a bit of a messer and preferred comedy to academia…

Did you participate in any sports?
Our formal sport at school would have been in the form of the school Gaelic Football team, which usually played matches in April, May and June. From about 4th class I would have been involved with the team. Most of our football though was with Keel GAA Club. I still remember my first under 10’s match when I was seven years old in 1989, on the occasion of the club’s centenary celebration. It was a one off under 10’s game for the centenary, as that time, under 12’s was the youngest age group. I also used to participate in the local community games every year and still have my medals!

What special memories do you have of your Primary School days?
I think my fondest memories are of free-wheeling down the road to school on the cold frosty mornings, with your hands red from the cold when you’d reach the school before getting a game of soccer in before the start of class. Our teachers all had strong connections to the locality so we went through school listening to loads of stories about local history and folklore. And the craic with the lads was always great. Most of us still hang out together when we get the chance – friends for life!

What did it feel like to be back in school yards and joining with children in The Daily Mile?
I really enjoyed it. Some days in this job can be quite stressful, so being able to get out in the tracksuit is a real treat!!!

Is The Daily Mile (Walking or Running) something that you would like to see adopted by members of the Dail?
I’d love to see the Dáily Mile getting going…

What from your experience do you see as the top three benefits of The Daily Mile?
I think it 1. Improved mental well-being, 2. Improved physical fitness and 3. Early normalisation of exercise as part of the daily routine.