(L-r): Professor Arnold
Hill, Professor of Surgery,
RCSI and Consultant
Breast Surgeon, Beaumont
Hospital pictured with
Mr George Hook, radio
journalist and rugby
pundit, after the 22nd
Th e 22nd Carmichael Lecture was delivered by Mr George Hook,
broadcaster, journalist and rugby pundit.
"My entire life has been a failure, with the exception of a short period
of success at the end." Th at was the arresting opening of Mr George
Hook's presentation and an uncharacteristically negative introduction
to what was an upbeat, no-nonsense distillation of the broadcaster's
hard-won life lessons.
Mr Hook began by giving us a glimpse into his early years in Cork
city where he grew up in "a two-up, two-down house on Albert Road."
Mr Hook was the apple of his mother's eye, he told all assembled,
and it was her determination that ensured he got a good education
at the local Christian Brothers school, an expensive undertaking in
those economically tough times. He recalled: "My mother went to the
principal, Brother Alphonse, and told him she wanted her son to be
educated at his school. `However, Brother,' she added, `I can't aff ord to
Th at small detail did not deter the redoubtable Mrs Hook, who
reached an agreement with the Brother that she would pay the school
fee in installments every two weeks. "Th at's how I got an education
which was ultimately to save my life. It ensured that I have the ability
to read, write, add and subtract, multiply and divide."
Mr Hook recalls that he was one of three of his generation growing up
in Albert Road that completed the Leaving Cert. "Aft er the Leaving,
I couldn't aff ord to go to university so I worked in the UK for a while
coming back to Ireland in 1965 to study. I got work as a salesman,
selling the fi rst range of offi ce computers in Ireland."
Soon, Mr Hook says, his ego led him astray: "I wanted to start a
business of my own and decided to go into the catering business.
Unfortunately, I had never been interested in catering, I couldn't cook
and I couldn't manage a business. So began a 30-year run of failure."
Th at mistake taught him a tough lesson, he said. "Do what you love.
Do what you feel passionate about, whatever it may be, whatever
anyone else thinks. If you want to be a piano player in a brothel, do it."
He described three dark decades punctuated by stress and trauma. He
was pursued by debt collectors and one particular day, he was sued
simultaneously by all of the major banks in the country. "People with
baseball bats were looking for me."
A SPORTING CHANCE
A change fi nally came one Friday morning, 17 years ago. "While I was
waiting for the ESB to come around and cut off the electricity, I got
a call from RTÉ to do a spot on Saturday Sport. Now, if they call you
on a Friday to work the following day, it means one thing they're
Mr Hook made the most of the opportunity: "I'm a preparer. I spent
hours preparing for what was intended to be a few minutes of
comment on an Ireland versus Italy rugby international taking place
"On the Saturday, I was due in at noon. I arrrived at 8am, sat in a
corner and got ready with the intensity of a presenter preparing for
the Oscar ceremonies!"
As the morning progressed, the weather worsened across the UK and
Ireland, and, one by one, the day's sporting events were cancelled:
"By 2pm, the programme's entire schedule consisted of the Ireland/
Italy game and me. As we were about to go on air, the producer asked
me if I could talk for four hours. I told him it wouldn't be a problem.
How was I? I was awesome! Th e preparation had paid off ."
It was the beginning of the end of the era of failure...
BROADCASTER TURNS MISTAKES INTO LIFE LESSONS
The key lessons that life has taught the popular
broadcaster and rugby pundit.
1. Get a good education.
2. Do what you love.
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
International Congress of the European
Society of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Saturday 31st May Tuesday 3rd June 2014
Convention Centre, Dublin
We are excited to welcome colleagues
from all around the world to Ireland for ESPO 2014.
The event will include a range of exciting social events and activities
plus a full scientific programme which will consist of parallel sessions
of the sub-specialities within Otolaryngology:
Airway Cochlear Implant General
Head & Neck Otology Rhinology
Register your attendance, submit an abstract and view the
programme online at
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