PMP240: Self-Care Lessons with Seán Óg Ó Duinnín

Seán Óg Ó Duinnín is Principal of Scoil Mhuire, a small Irish language medium school in Ballingeary, Co. Cork, Ireland since 2006. 

In his time there, he has seen many developments of physical facilities with the support of Cork Education and Training Board and implemented a Restorative Practices approach to school-based relationships.

He recently completed his Masters in Gaeltacht & Irish Medium Education at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. He is currently a mentor/supervisor for others on this course. 

He is also a Personal, Leadership & Executive Coach and posts on (Irish for Inspiration) where he also has an Irish medium podcast. The podcast is not education-based but enquires of guests what inspires them and how they have grown and developed resilience, amongst other skills, in their lives. 

Q & A with Seán Óg Ó Duinnín

WDP: Can you fill in the gap on the intro and tell us something else that might surprise listeners to know about you?

Seán: You will be surprised to know that when I was a boy, I was the voice actor for the Irish episodes of the cartoon character Arthur.  

WDP: Recently, you shared some thoughts with me on ways you’re applying lessons from Pause. Breathe. Flourish. Can you share some of those ideas with listeners?

Seán: As leaders, we often feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. It is why airline attendants remind you to place your oxygen mask on first. But I would take the metaphor further. We are not just a passenger, we are the pilots. When a crisis happens, we’re not riding in coach, we’re in the cockpit trying to decide how we’re going to land the plane. 

When I talk to leaders about self-care, they often tell me they just don’t have the time. We have to set the stepping stones, including good sleep, cutting back on caffeine, and turning off streaming devices. An early morning is great time to start the day. I charge my phone downstairs. I begin the day without the phone on. The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holliday has been really good for me for reading and journaling. I fit in time for meditation, drink coffee, water, and then I check my phone.

Consider these areas in your own practice:

  • Sleep
  • Meditation
  • Reading
  • Eating Well
  • Exercise
  • Gratitude

One way to foster gratitude is to use the words: ‘Rose, Rose, Thorn, Bud’…

Rose: What is something positive about the day?

Rose: What is something else positive from the day?

Thorn: What is something challenging from the day? (And listen without offering solutions.)

Bud: What is something you’re looking forward to?     

WDP: How are you applying those lessons to the ways you serve your school community?

Seán: Another priority we set during the pandemic has been “connection before content.” Even before the importance of covering the course, we must first have a human connection.

WDP: In what ways has your school been able to continue serving during the pandemic?

Seán: Even before the pandemic, we used restorative practices. While we have been remote, we’ve continued many of those same practices, including checking in with students and asking them rank themselves emotionally. We also choose wellness activities, including fitness, gardening, art, song, baking and cooking.

WDP: In what other ways have you been implementing restorative based practices in your school?

Seán: It’s not if conflict occurs, it’s when conflict occurs, knowing how to restore trust in relationships… Instead of getting furious, we get curious to know why something is happening… We are more comfortable with listening to each other. Schools are based on relationships. The human connection is at the core of our business. 

Let’s Wrap This Up

Listen to the entire episode for even more great takeaways on self-care and leadership during a pandemic! You can connct with Seán Óg Ó Duinnín via Twitter @seanogoduinnin or check out his podcast at

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker