The Shape I'm In: Brian O'Donovan, RTÉ Washington Correspondent

When the drive to go west hit Europe in the 19th century, it was not uncommon for fathers to cross the ocean ahead of their wives and children in search of work and a place to live.

Two centuries later, RTÉ’s new Washington correspondent Brian O’Donovan has undertaken a similar journey, although the circumstances couldn’t be more different.

His wife Joanna, a primary school teacher, and their two young daughters are staying in Ireland to finish out the school year and will head west in July.

“I’ll have six months under my belt by then. The hope is that I’ll have secured a property and will have researched the schools. Then the girls will start school in the US in September,” says the 37-year-old.

From Farran, he shares close ties to the Rebel county with his wife who is from Crosshaven. They first met as teenagers in Irish college in Ballyferriter, Co Kerry.

While the family is moving from the village Lucan to the capital of the US, he expects the girls — Lucy, seven and Erin, four — to make an easy transition.

“We visit the US quite regularly. I’ve a brother who lives in Philadelphia which is only two hours away.

"He has three boys who are roughly the same age as my girls and they get on really, really well. They are very excited at the prospect of having their cousins nearby.”

He is keen to embrace the world of social media, though is aware of its limitations as a news source.

“Social media allows you to get the story out there so much quicker. I’m big into Twitter. It’s a fantastic way of getting the story out there quickly. There are pitfalls in that it has allowed everyone to become a journalist.

“Donald Trump is very fond of using the term ‘fake news’ but he does have a point — there is fake news out there now maybe helped by social media.

It probably highlights, even more, the importance of when you are looking at your social media make sure it’s a trusted journalist and a trusted organisation.”

What shape are you in?

Better than I used to be. When I was 20 years old I weighed 120kg. I was not very good at watching what I was eating.

In our youth, we probably think it’s OK to eat bad things and not do a lot of exercise. I’m 6ft 2in. I was lucky with the weight — I was able to stretch it out.

My first job after college was with Red FM. I used to read the news in the morning on the breakfast show that freed me up in the afternoon and I used to head off to Leisureworld, a gym in Bishopstown.

I had a great trainer who designed a plan for me, which included healthy eating. I lost about 30kg. It’s been up and down a little since then but in recent years I’m happy with the shape I’m in.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I like soup and fruit for lunch and try to avoid bread. I do have a big dinner in the evening but I try to ensure it’s healthy with plenty of fresh ingredients. We’re big fish fans.

 

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I love munching peanuts and crisps in front of the TV. I’m more a fan of savoury than sweet.

What would keep you awake at night?

Indigestion from all the peanuts.

How do you relax?

Playing with my two children or walking the dog, a jack russell called Penny, while listening to the radio or a podcast. We are very lucky where we live in Lucan as there’s a fine big park right next door to us.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

RTÉ’s six previous Washington correspondents so we could compare notes before I begin my new job.

What’s your favourite smell?

Freshly brewed coffee. I love Lavazza in the morning. My wife is up first as her working day starts before mine. She gets the coffee ready and by the time I come down there’s a beautiful smell.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

Slightly smaller feet. I need size 13 shoes which can be very tricky to buy.

 

When is the last time you cried?

At a friend’s funeral a few weeks ago.

 

What traits do you least like in others?

Rudeness. It doesn’t cost anything to be polite.

 

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I’m a bit of a worrier and I sometimes care too much about what others think.

Do you pray?

Yes, quite regularly.

 

What would cheer up your day?

Seeing my two children smiling.


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