School Daze with Daithí O'Sé: 'They tried to dupe me!'

My most vivid memory of primary school is my first day. I remember my mother brought me to school. I didn’t know what this craic was about at all. She took me to the shop across the road and bought me a packet of Juicy Fruits and all of a sudden I turned around and my mother was gone. They tried to dupe me!
School Daze with Daithí O'Sé: 'They tried to dupe me!'

My most vivid memory of primary school is my first day. I remember my mother brought me to school. I didn’t know what this craic was about at all. She took me to the shop across the road and bought me a packet of Juicy Fruits and all of a sudden I turned around and my mother was gone. They tried to dupe me!

I remember being kind of upset — that’s probably one of the standout memories of my first day at school. But it’s not like it wakes me up in the middle of the night any more!

The best day I had in secondary school is the day I didn’t go to school at all, a fantastic day I spent dossing with my friends PJ Locke, Brendan Russell and Karl Dineen.

We walked from Dingle out to Coláiste Íde. It was a gorgeous May day....it was like a day we stole from everyone. When I went home I was about six shades darker than when I had left in the morning but nobody copped it. Brendan has died since and we often think of him and that lovely day.

I was always a lone wolf or a lone ranger, but even though I liked being on my own I also liked hanging out with the lads and I loved football.

As for subjects I was good at, I was good at Irish, as we all were, as we spoke Irish at home. I also liked Maths, History, Technical Drawing, Home Economics, Economic History, English; now I think of it, the subjects I did for the Leaving Cert were very odd! I didn’t know where I was going in life - I still don’t!

I would say to my teenage self: Boy, slow down! I was in such a rush to grow up. I gave up playing football when I was 17 and I gave up too early. I was too eager to go out working - like a fecking eejit - and buy a car. I had lots of jobs during those years: I worked as a butcher, I worked on boats, I worked at bartending and tour guiding.

As for a plan, I never had any. Jobs fell into my lap. I was lucky. I think you can be in the right place at the right time. As Páidí Ó Sé said: A grain of rice will tip the scale. You can apply it to sport and to life as well.

Each year, on the afternoon after the Rose of Tralee had finished, I would call to see Páidí Ó Sé. One year I landed, and he said, Boy, we’re very, very proud of you here. This, coming from the man who had eight All-Ireland medals - it meant a lot.

I remember a disco I went to in Feothanach Hall and what I remember about it is I only knew one of the songs they were playing that night: Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.

The teacher that influenced me most was Boscó Ó Conchúir. He taught a number of subjects and I had him for Irish and Religion. What I liked about him was how he treated everyone the same. I repeated my Leaving Cert and he saw me as in need of a bit of encouragement. He was the sort of teacher who kept an eye out for everyone.

Broadcasting wasn’t even on my radar back then. If you had told me I would either land on the moon or work in TV I would have said I’d probably be on the moon first. I got it into my head I wanted to be a teacher and I went to Mary I. I got a call to do the weather on TG4 and I was brought back the following week. I was teaching at the same time. I feel like I have not worked a day since. I used to look over my shoulder and I used to feel, someone is going to tap me on the shoulder.

I always had lots of friends. I could go into any pub and talk to everyone. I got on with everyone and fell out with nobody. Even now, I am looking forward to going home to Dingle and meeting everyone.

As for these strange times, we are a day closer every day to the end of them. On social media and in person before you judge someone, bear in mind that maybe that person is after having a bad day. Maybe something has happened.

At the moment Ray Lally, the Today show fitness expert, and I are doing a fitness show on RTÉ One. It’s for people who are at home who cannot get out and about, the exercises are straightforward and people seem to be enjoying it.

People had been contacting me, especially over the last couple of weeks, about recording messages for friends and relatives who are cocooning. So I put a message out there offering to record video messages for people over the May bank holiday weekend. You have to think of other people in these times and of doing something that can help them.

Dáithí Ó Sé presents RTÉ One’s Today show with Maura Derrane and is the host of the Rose of Tralee. He also presents Ray & Ó Sé’’s Fitness 15 on RTÉ One each day at 2.20pm.

More in this section