The Shape I’m In: Brenda Donohue

“Last week I cried at ‘The Young Offenders’ movie... happy tears”

Brenda Donohue has had a love for the GAA since her childhood days at Croke Park with her dad.

GAELIC football was one of Brenda Donohue’s first loves. She has vivid memories of her father lifting her over the turnstiles at Croke Park for the All-Ireland finals. “Remember all the Kerry games vs Dublin in the ’70s? I used to be brought to all them,” says the RTÉ radio and television presenter.

Coming from “a GAA house in Newbridge”, her father, mother and brothers were all involved in local clubs.

It’s only since she started working on The Marty Squad that she has discovered the joys of the tribal sport that is hurling.

“Being in Stemple Stadium for any big hurling match — you’d come back from anywhere for it — it’s amazing.”

“I love the crowd — I love the shouting and roaring. I feel that the passion comes very deep in the supporters. The shouts are coming from the stomach.”

Married to Dennis, they have three children, Ali, 17, Robyn, 14, and Harvey, eight. And now that school’s out for summer, there is even more pressure to juggle work — she also presents on Countrywide — and family.

“It drives you mad.”

But she has a live-in solution. “That’s what husbands are for,” she quips.

  • Join Marty Morrissey, Damian Lawlor, Brenda Donohue for their post-match analysis of all the weekend’s GAA action, RTÉ Radio 1, Sundays 6-7pm

What shape are you in?

I’m surprisingly in OK shape. I hibernated during the winter — translates into, didn’t want go out walking in the rain — but when I started again in spring, I was quickly back into the swing of things. So I try to walk for an hour three to four times a week. Also, juggling three children and a job that involves me being ‘on the move’ a lot means that I have a lot of both physical and mental energy.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I have a bowl of muesli — with banana and strawberries — in the morning which helps me to overcome the scone pinnings. Also, a kick on from my Operation Transformation days is I add water to my wine.

What are your guilty pleasures?

As above, scones. Every house I visit to do an interview they seem to offer me scones. It would be rude to refuse.

What keeps you awake at night?

Netflix... staying up too late on a work night and then not sleeping at night because I’ve Narcos or Breaking Bad or House of Cards on my mind. Also, if I’ve a lot on and I haven’t done a list before bed, it’s all going around in my head until I just get up and write it down and then off to sleep.

How do you relax?

Dancing in the kitchen to MY playlist — Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Thin Lizzy, Heaven 17, Bee Gees. I love disco music with a passion. Also, dinner/cinema with my husband, Dennis, and back to Netflix again.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Amy Schumer, Kieran Donaghy, Mary Burke from Crystal Swing, Christy Dignam, Sheryl Sandberg and, to throw a grenade into the mix, Tommy Tiernan.

What is your favourite smell?

A turf burning fire. It takes me back to wonderful childhood memories of holidays spent with my granny Cathleen on the Bog of Allen.

What would like to change most about your appearance?

My legs. I’ll like to go on a machine that would stretch them and add on a few inches. I’d go through any pain threshold because you can hold your weight a bit better, your legs look longer, you don’t have to get your trousers turned up. I was 5ft 2in but I recently got measured and I was 5ft 1in.

When was the last time you cried?

I’m a bit of a softie, I would cry at Fair City. Last week I cried at The Young Offenders movie... happy tears.

What traits do you least like in others?

That’s straightforward for me — snobbery. I strongly dislike anyone looking down their nose at others.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I’m too snappy. I’ll let a roar out of me and it sounds a lot harsher than I actually mean. I’m trying to control that.

Do you pray?

I do but more when I am anxious or need something.

What would cheer up your day?

It’s always the simple things and it involves my children. I love watching them heading off to school, happy, chatting away and full of the day ahead. Hail, rain or shine, I particularly enjoy being a sideline mum, watching the game, catching up with friends and of course cheering (not shouting) on Harvey and Robyn.

Irene Feighan



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