Parents for the Planet: ‘Cycling is exercise — and really enjoyable’ says Máire Treasa ní Dhubhghaill

Cutting back on Fast Fashion, carpooling and eating her mum’s homegrown veg are some of the ways TG4 presenter Máire Treasa ní Dhubhghaill is playing her part for the planet as mother to little Aela, writes Ellie O’Byrne.

Máire Treasa with husband John Dunworth and their little girl, Aela Maggie Dunworth, 18 months. They'd love to see a safe route for Aela to go out on her bike, when she gets a little older.
Máire Treasa with husband John Dunworth and their little girl, Aela Maggie Dunworth, 18 months. They'd love to see a safe route for Aela to go out on her bike, when she gets a little older.

We want to set a positive example for Aela even though she’s very young and probably doesn’t understand a lot of what we do at the moment. But if things are never any other way, then they’re things she can carry through.

I’m more conscious of the environment since Aela came along. You can’t but be worried and fearful of what’s ahead for the planet and for our children. It’s frightening, but you just have to try to do your best to instil good values into kids. I think the good thing is that everyone seems more aware, and everyone seems willing to make small changes to make sure we do leave the planet in a good place for our children that are growing up.

I was a teacher before I worked with TG4 and I think everything stems from knowledge and awareness and the more there’s education around climate change and around sustainable living, the better prepared everyone is and the more aware everyone is of the choices they make.

Like everyone, we’re really conscious of recycling and we have compost too. My mom grows all her own vegetables and we use those vegetables as much as we can and try to use the freshest food available to cut down on plastic and buying food that’s covered in plastic.

A good few years ago, you wouldn’t think twice about buying something in a shop that’s covered in plastic but I think now that everyone is a bit more aware of it and conscious of cutting back and being aware of what we purchase.

We don’t buy the squeezy bottles of handwash soap anymore; I’ve gone back to the traditional bar of soap and that was influenced by my mother-in-law. I’ve completely stopped buying bottles of water, whereas before I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, because I drive a lot with work, going up and down the country going to the rugby matches I report on. Now I have my reusable bottle that comes everywhere with me.

We are a two-car family. A lot of my work will be based in the RDS or Thomond Park. I’m very conscious of the amount of time I spend in my car and the amount of driving I do. For a lot of those journeys, I try to carpool with my director or producer, because we live quite close to each other. My husband needs to drive for work too because he’s based out of home or out of Limerick and the nature of his job means he needs drive to sites.

Foodwise, I cook a big pot of curry or tagine at the start of the week and then try to use that all up before cooking again, because I’m very conscious of food waste. At the end of the week, I’ll usually make another big curry or pot of soup with any leftover vegetables just so we don’t end up throwing things out.

If there was one thing I could change, I’d love to be able to cycle to work. I live right next to my parents’ house in Inverin, where I grew up, and we live by a very busy main road. It wouldn’t have been safe for us to cycle when we were young; it wasn’t the norm even to go to friends’ houses or to the beach. I’d love to cycle, but the roads are treacherous and there are no cycle lanes. I’ve done it a few times and drivers don’t have patience for cyclists on that road. It’s awful, very stressful and frightening.

The amount of cars on that road has trebled since I grew up, so it’s even more dangerous now. It would be great if they could put something in place to make a cycle track; it’s such a beautiful place to cycle, too, out from Galway City. I’d hope that by the time Aela is going to school, there’d be a safe route for her to go out on her bike. Cycling is a fantastic mode of transport, great exercise and a really enjoyable activity.

I’m getting more conscious of where I’m getting my clothes. As a hobby or to relax, going out shopping with your friends is so nice, but over the years I’ve accumulated such an amount of clothes from attending different events or being on telly.

Rather than quantity, I’m trying to concentrate on getting one quality piece and I’ve been doing that for a year and looking at where clothes are manufactured.

It’s something I wouldn’t have been aware of at all five years ago, but I was looking at my wardrobe and at all the clothes I have. I think in TV it’s starting to be ok to wear the same dress twice now, which is great because after all, clothes are not made to be worn once.

I’m more conscious of where I buy my clothes now and I try to go to local designers if I have an event coming up.

A former primary school teacher and dedicated gaelgeoir, Galway woman Máire Treasa is the long-term presenter of Rugbaí Beo, as well as TG4’s new Sunday night series, Go Gasta, which sees village teams from rival villages take on an obstacle course to win bragging rights over get one up on their neighbouring community. She’s also presented and MCed at events as diverse as the first ever live broadcast of the Winter Solstice at Newgrange, the IFTAs, and the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, and, fitness being a large interest, she also hosts her own Wellness Workshop with celebrity food blogger Roz Purcell. Máíre Treasa She is married to John Dunworth, a quantity surveyor. With their little girl, Aela Maggie Dunworth, 18 months, they live in Inverin, close to where Máire Treasa grew up.

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