This much I know: Derek Mooney

At one stage I considered being a garda, but it wasn’t to be.

My work is my life. That’s my work/life balance. I love my job.

I really always knew I’d work in broadcasting. It all began in school. I was a pupil in St Mary’s Boys National School in Donnybrook, which is just beside RTÉ. Occasionally I would see Gay Byrne and think ‘Wow, there’s Gay Byrne’ and then I’d watch him present the Late Late Toy Show and dream that one day I’d be the host. Well, you can’t have everything.

I always had an interest in natural history and it was thanks to the wisdom of Joe O’Donnell, former head of young people’s programmes in RTÉ, that I turned that interest into a career. Joe told me to find a niche and make it my own. I took his advice and so far so good.

There have been many very poignant interviews but one that jumps to mind was with a man who’s father has Alzheimer’s disease. He talked at length about their close relationship and how hard it was to watch his father deteriorate in front of his eyes. His father is now in full time care and I asked him what he wished for his dad. He simply replied that it wouldn’t be long. I knew exactly what he meant and so did the audience. His love for his father was unquestionable. His answer was filled with grief and suffering and compassion. I feel emotional just thinking about them and what has happened since.

I love radio, always did, always will. There is no visual distraction on radio so we have to create the picture and I enjoy that. I like the challenge of making something work on radio that really should only work on TV. We don’t realise that radio is a companion for so many people in Ireland. Take it away and there would be a revolution.

I’m health conscious to the point of hypochondria, or so my mates say.

When I was a kid, I worked part-time as a lounge boy in McCloskeys pub in Donnybrook. I think that was my first paid job.

We take nature for granted but without the wonderful colours it gives us the world would be very dull indeed.

I’m particularly proud of having been part of a team that built two gardens for two very good causes. One for a school in Cabra and the other for the Mary Aikenhead Day Care Centre in Donnybrook. I know that the legacy of those gardens will benefit generations to come and while it may not seem that important, I can assure you that even the hardest nut can be softened by the pleasant smell of a flower or a cherry blossom in full bloom.

If I could, I’d change lots of things in our society — inequality, prejudice, jobs for the boys, nepotism.

As I get older I think more and more about my own mortality. It’s probably not a very good idea.

Sometimes I believe in God. It’s usually when someone is sick and I want them to be better or when things are not going my way. I know this because it’s at times like these that I ask for his help. What greater faith can a man have.

The best advice I ever received and the best advice I would give to anyone else is be yourself.

Tomorrow is International Dawn Chorus Day and Derek Mooney and the team of experts will be broadcasting RTÉ Radio 1’s annual Dawn Chorus Marathon live from Cuskinny Marsh Nature Reserve in Cobh, Co Cork from midnight tonight until 6am tomorrow morning.


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