This much I know: Cormac Ó hEadhra, radio presenter

My best advice is to look at life from all angles.

The truth is often in the nuance.

I don’t really have a good work/ life balance at the moment. I’m working an awful lot. I work on a programme for RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and on RTE Radio 1. There’s a huge amount of research and current affairs now move at such speed it requires diligence to keep abreast of it all.

I didn’t really plan to work in broadcasting. My parents were not ‘media people’. Like a lot of children, my siblings and I would ‘pretend’ to be on television and radio. 

One brother in particular would take on the role of Taoiseach and we’d take turns to interview him. He later ‘appointed’ another brother as his minister and would promote or demote him based on the how he would perform in our interviews! An early lesson in politics.

Growing up, I loved sport, which allowed me to be outgoing in certain areas of life, but I was also studious. I was fortunate to have a great balance.

I studied Finance, Computing and Enterprise in DCU as my undergraduate degree. I qualified as a lawyer later. But those skills are easily transferable to broadcasting … and no matter what you read, study or observe, it’s always applicable in broadcasting, which is great. 

I’ll keep doing this as long as I enjoy it and as long as it stimulates. But it’s always good to keep an eye on the future, otherwise the poison of stagnation takes over.

I admire people who are authentic and have the confidence to express their opinion, no matter how many disagree. That takes courage and real independence.

For some reason, my earliest memory if of my first day at Scoil Náisiúnta Mhic Dara in An Cheathrú Rua, I remember being chased through the school by a classmate Diarmaid Ó Raighne. I didn’t know him at the time, or why he was chasing me but I remember the tension and urgency of it clearly. I felt no fear. I felt it was ‘part of the new experience’.

I’m very disciplined. I never fail to eat a biscuit with tea. Seriously, I know this sounds austere, but discipline can be a great source of happiness if used correctly.

A wise man once said to me “in my job, every day, I’m either putting out fires, or lighting fires”. 

Expecting challenges as part of your day can be strangely liberating. Being in that frame of mind helps you roll with the punches while throwing a few too.

My idea of happiness is hearing my one-and-a-half year old say “suígh síos, maith fear” to his teddy as my wife and I look on in amusement. We’re raising him as Gaeilge so I hope his language skills continue.

My idea of misery is seeing those close to me unhappy. And on top of that, seeing so many in Ireland have genuine struggles. The scale and depth of it is frightening.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d love to live a day in my parents’ shoes some time back in 1981 to see how I compared then with my own son now.

If I could change one thing in Irish society, I’d tackle the housing crisis; the poverty; the health crisis; the hopelessness some sections of society have despite their best efforts; access to education and real chances for progressing economically and socially. 

How do you pick any one of those over another? And that’s not even an exhaustive list.

I’m more of a day than a night person. I hate wasting tomorrow because of a late night.

The most useful invention was the printing press – that Gutenberg was some boy! Most gadgets since are fundamentally based on it in some way.

My biggest challenge in life so far has been learning to become more patient.

My main skill is I can usually develop an interest in any topic. Give yourself a few minutes to get curious about something and before you know it, you can be drawn in by any topic.

One thing I didn’t learn in school, which I wish I had, is Latin or Philosophy. Or, the skill to ask binary questions effectively and how to avoid answering them.

* Cormac Ó hEadhra presents live debate and analysis of all the news and political stories of the day every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10pm to 11pm, on RTÉ Radio 1.


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