I had the pleasure of interviewing Glen Gannon today for my show ‘Addicted’ on 103.2 Dublin City FM. Glen spoke to me about his recovery from alcoholism and his experience of being homeless in Dublin. Glen is now 12 years sober and has found happiness in his life.
Glen grew up in Dolphins Barn in Dublin 8, near Rialto, an area also known as the liberties. This is an area of Dublin, that is well known for its artists, singers, actors and creative people in general. If you want a second hand piece of furniture you go to the liberties. If you want to go to the National College of Art and Design you go to Thomas St. If you want to brew a good beer you go to James St, the home of Guinness.
It was this creative energy and history that fueled Glen’s recovery as he discovered acting and writing. Glen did what his peers did at the time, halking or selling on street stalls and from there he went on to own his own shop on Meath St. Drink was embedded in the culture and it was normal to drink after work. Glen talks about how normal it was for him to drink most people under the table. His da was a heavy drinker. “You work hard, you play hard” as the saying goes. Like alot of people one drug leads to another and for Glen he started taking prescription drugs.
His drug use led him down a dark path. His shop folded (closed) in the late 90’s, he became seperated from his family, ending up sleeping in freinds houses and eventually to the street, where he lived homeless for three years. Life on the streets for Glen was “hell on earth”, because ‘You dont exist”. He remembers many people who did care and showed compassion to Glen when he was homeless. This was so important to him, to know that people cared.
Glen hung around with a guy from Rialto, called “Tommy”. Everybody knew Tommy, he was a lovely man, a philosopher, everybody loved Tommy. When he passed away, hundreds turned out to his funeral. It was probably after that that Glen knew things needed to change and it was Dublin Simon Community that reached out to Glen. Meeting Dublin Simon Community was a life changing experience for Glen. On the street you were a problem for people, in the way and to be moved. However with Dublin Simon, they cared, they were different and they made the difference.
From there Glen was referred to Cuan Mhuire down in Athy, Co. Kildare. Glen spend nine months there receiving treatment for his alcoholism. Cuan Mhuire is one of the few treatment centres for alcoholism in Ireland. After that he went to the Ashling Adult Education Centre, which was set up by Christine Buckley.
Glen discovered the passion for learning and started to rebuild his life. “You get some good days and some bad days”. Its a daily thing, one day at a time. Glen did the 12 step meetings, but discovered that they were not for him. Creativity is what drives Glen’s recovery. He went on to join a drama group, later studied drama for three years. Later he went to the factory, in Ringsend. In no time he found himself on a film set with Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore, in “Laws of Attraction”.
Since then Glen has stared in many more films, plays and has just finished a book, soon to be published, called “Miracle Man: from homeless to hollywood”. I really enjoyed meeting Glen and listening to his story, he is a real gentleman.