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27th Aug 2019

PODCAST: Gavan Hennigan talks about his struggles with addiction and coming out

Brian Dillon

Gavin Hennigan on the Tramline Loop Walk in Howth

The Irish are a nation of storytellers. Our stories are embedded in us, and in our landscape. Tales and Trails podcast is a brand new and immersive audio experience that invites you to walk the Irish countryside with the nation’s most interesting people. This time, it’s extreme sports athlete Gavan Hennigan.

On this episode, we walked the Tramline Loop in Howth, County Dublin. (Find the full trail guide here).

Gavan overcame huge personal adversity to live an extraordinary life. He pushes the extremes of the human body and mind, from deep-sea saturation diving to taking on high altitude peaks in the Himalayas.

He talks about his struggles with addiction and coming out as gay:

“I grew up a fairly normal Galway lad. I realised when I was about 14 that I was gay. I wasn’t really able to deal with it. It was the 90s in the west of Ireland, and homosexuality was only legalised in 1993 in Ireland.

“I started drinking and then I got into drugs. I have a very addictive personality, so I do things in an ‘all or nothing’ kind of way. I ended up going down a pretty bad path for a number of years with alcohol and drugs. I ended up in a lot of trouble.

“I was living in a flat that had no furniture in it, with black bags over the windows as curtains. I used to like the fact that it was dark all the time. Sometimes, I would wake up in the morning, get stoned and just go back to sleep so I didn’t really have to deal with the outside world.

“I hadn’t come out at that stage, but there was a number of things that caused it.

“I spent five weeks in rehab when I was 21. I went cold turkey. I had been using a lot of pretty hard drugs and drinking a lot and didn’t stop for the best part of five years. So it was a shock to the system.

“When I first went to the rehab centre, the counsellor there was quite nice, so I kind of just blurted out that I was gay, and it was kind of the first time saying it. It was such a massive relief.”

For our full interview with Gavan Hennigan, recorded live on the Tramline Loop in Howth, County Dublin, listen to the full episode below:


For spectacular sights, invigorating sensations and unforgettable experiences, make your next short break a walking break in Dublin. Walking makes your break.

For more information or to plan your walking break in Dublin, visit the Tales and Trails hub here.