This much I know: Kathriona Devereux, broadcaster

Hilary Fennell gets to know Kathriona Devereux, presenter of RTÉ's 10 Things to Know About, a showcase of Ireland's weird and wonderful.

I’m pretty grounded and sensible. Growing up in Cork as an only child, I spent a lot of time in the company of adults which could be the reason why.

When I was a child I wanted to be a paediatrician or an astronaut but by the time I got to secondary school I realised I probably didn’t have the patience to be a scientist. I did communications in DCU instead.

I left Cork for Dublin City University when I was only 16. Being independent from such a young age builds character but, although I really wanted it, in hindsight I was probably too young for the whole experience. I lived with a family friend for the first year and then in a series of the mankiest student houses ever.

After college I taught English in Korea for a while. Then I started out making the tea in television production companies. I worked my way up the ladder, from assistant to researcher and then to presenting a science show called Scope. I love working on science shows in particular, such as the latest series of 10 Things to Know About which is currently on air on RTÉ 1 on Monday nights.

I was definitely nervous when I began presenting but I was working with people I liked and trusted, and I trusted the process too. The advice I give to anyone we interview is that we want to make them look good — we are not going to ‘edit in the bad bits’. People seem to find that comforting.

After several years working on science shows, I’d learnt quite a lot about the subject, but in order to formalise that knowledge I did a Masters in Science Communication in DCU which was a very useful period of reflection.

My idea of misery is doing the same thing every day. One of the plusses of being a self employed freelancer is the lack of predictability. You have to embrace it and be confident that new projects will come up.

I met my husband Darragh 15 years ago at the Cork Jazz Festival. He was in college with my best friend. I will always be grateful to her for studying electrical engineering.

After all that work, she is not actually an electrical engineer, but I did get a husband.

I love food. Eating and cooking it. My idea of happiness is good food, good weather and good company.

I have a two-year-old and am expecting my second child and have just moved house. So when I’m not working I’m unpacking boxes and trying to get some sleep.

Before I became a parent I used to travel a lot. Once a big job ended I would go away for weeks on end — Asia, Indonesia, South America, North America, Canada. I particularly loved The Philippines.

I believe that what’s for you won’t pass you by. Life throws up challenges and opportunities — it’s how you deal with them that matters.

I struggle with the notion of an afterlife. I’m not very religious. I go for the scientific approach to things.

My introduction to motherhood has been my biggest challenge so far. My son spent a week in intensive care and a month in hospital. He’s perfect now, thankfully. He is the benefactor of wonderful developments in science. But there was also a little bit of a miracle thrown in there.

I am a planner and a list person. I like to know what’s happening.

My biggest fault is that I am very impatient.

If I could be someone else for a day I’d be Donald Trump, to get some insight into how he really thinks.

I’m a natural optimist and realise that is a blessing. So far life has taught me that there are highs and lows. You need to enjoy the highs as there will surely be another low coming along soon. When it does, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, that’s all you can do: take small steps and remember ‘this too will pass.’

  • Kathriona Devereux, with Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Jonathan McCrea, presents another series of the award-winning 10 Things to Know About, on RTÉ 1 television at 8.30pm on Mondays until December 19 — showcasing the weird and wonderful Irish science behind aspects of modern life, from virtual reality to botox, and aliens to the internet of cows.
  • 10thingstoknowabout.ie


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