The day after Ireland’s 32-14 win over Scotland in the Six Nations, Cian Healy makes himself another espresso and settles into an oversized couch that seems barely adequate for his 110kg powerhouse frame. His body aches, but apart from the eight stitches above his left eye, he’s not showing it.
The quality of his, and Ireland’s, performance the previous day will help the healing process as he eases his way through a rare day off during four consecutive weeks of competition.
The England versus France game is on the TV in the corner but Healy barely glances at it. The 24-year-old Leinster and Ireland loose head prop forward is focused instead on our discussion of the music and art interests that set him apart from the usual athletic jock. As DJ Church, alongside his flatmate DJ Gordo, Healy has appreared twice at the Oxegen Festival near Dublin. A passion for painting also provides emotional expression for the Clontarf native, who includes BMXing and rollerblading among his interests, but won’t be seen teeing off any time soon.
Red Bulletin: Most rugby players play golf for relaxation, but you’re not like most rugby players.
Cian Healy: No [laughs]. I’m not the right shape for golf, I don’t think.
Tell us about the interest in music. Where does that come from?
I’ve always been mad about it and my iTunes library was always fairly big growing up. As I got a bit older, I started noticing remixes of things and I asked my friend Gordo how to use a set of decks. It’s gone on from there.
How would you describe your style?
Dancey electro. It’s fairly upbeat. I wouldn’t be into playing the Beyoncés or anything like that. I do a bit of R’n’B on my own, but in the clubs or at a festival it would be pretty dancey and heavy going.
How often do you DJ in public?
I haven’t done a lot lately. I’ve been very rugby-focused, but during the summer I’ll pick it up again. That’s when I’ll get a break from rugby and really get to let my hair down and play a few gigs.
When did you start playing gigs?
Three years ago. Gordo brought me into Krystle in Dublin. He’s one of the resident DJs there and as part of his teaching he just stuck me on the decks and said, ‘Right, have a go.’
Has Oxegen been the pinnacle so far?
Yeah, that was brilliant. We’ve done two years of it and the first year we did two gigs and the second year we just did the one in the Red Bull Electric Ballroom. It was a great crowd. There was a great vibe in there.
Were you nervous?
A little bit. Not too bad. I don’t get too nervous about anything. I never have.
How does it compare to rugby nerves?
It’s completely different. You’re not getting ready to get bashed! But it’s good. They’re different things. It’s a nice release. Rugby’s kind of high tension and a stress on the body, whereas getting to play a song and drop the right note on it is a completely different release.
Do a lot of players wear headphones in the Ireland dressing room?
Yeah, a good few lads are into music before they play. Some changing rooms have music banging out, but I don’t think too many lads are into that because everyone wants to listen to their own thing.
Tell us about your interest in painting. You did portraits of your team-mates for charity with a real street-art feel.
I tried to do them a few years ago when I was doing proper portraits, trying to depict every part of the person, but I wasn’t really enjoying it. It’s kind of more in the style of Banksy now.
And what about the rollerblading?
I did it when I was younger and broke the body up a fair bit. I loved it. It was a big part of me, that and BMXing. Everything high adrenalin I’m allowed to try I’ve tried. I can’t really do any of that anymore.
Have your team-mates seen you DJ?
Yeah, a few of them have. Tommy [Bowe] and Jamie [Heaslip] and a few of the lads came down to Oxegen and they had a right old party with us. They were dancing up on the side of the stage and everything. Then, I’ve done the odd night in nightclubs when we’re all out together where I’ve gone up and done a few minutes.
Read the full interview with Cian Healy in May's issue of The Red Bulletin.