This much I know: Sinead Desmond

I’m a natural morning person.

Which is just as well.

Getting up at 4am every day certainly curtails your social life. I hardly go out from Monday to Thursday, I certainly can’t drink. Even at weekends I wake up at 4am. I’ve been doing the job for five years now and you just get used to it. It’s a bit like having constant mild jet lag.

I love the sea and wanted to be a marine biologist when I was a child. My mother is an archaeologist and my dad’s big into history, so they instilled a great love for the past in me. I thought a job that combined the two things would be just perfect. I had visions of being some kind of underwater historian, discovering Atlantis.

I’m still mad about the water. After I talk to you I will put on the wetsuit and take my dog down for a swim in the sea. My father insisted we learnt how to swim when we were very young. I only found out years later that he’d been completely traumatised by seeing a pal of his drown in the canal in Dublin one summer. He was determined for us never to share the fear of the water which he’d had to overcome.

Scuba diving is a big passion. Once you’re under water you enter another universe. It connects you with the wonder of nature and I find it incredibly peaceful.

My brother Conor features in all my earliest memories. I clearly remember rocking in a wooden boat my grand-dad made us, in our garden in the mountains in Wicklow. I don’t remember Conor ever not being there. He is profoundly deaf and we are very close.

I never had any great desire to get married. Outside of work I’m a chaotic mess, so planning a wedding would be a living hell for me. We got married in France and it was Davey who organised the whole thing. I just looked after my dress and chose the music and readings.

Having a brain haemorrhage on set in 2008 was a real turning point. I was reading the newspapers on air when I felt a cramp in my neck. Then my vision went blurry but I still felt fine. I was about to head home to bed but my boss, Andrew Hanlon, sent me to hospital. I must take him out for that thank-you pint — it’s long overdue.

Getting sick made me question what I truly believe in. I was overwhelmed by the love and support I received, which helped me recover. I’m convinced in the power of kindness and some type of collective consciousness: our thoughts and actions really do affect others.

I’m a Twitter fan, but you can’t beat a good old-fashioned letter. They are such lovely things to get. I still write them. Although, nobody writes back.

I never set out to work in TV, print was my first love. After many years working in England, I returned home to work with the Sun and went on Ireland AM to promote the paper. I ended up with a regular slot, which led to a screen test for the anchor job when it became free.

You can’t be anything other than yourself on a live show like this. At the beginning it was terrifying. It was a baptism of fire.

Now, my biggest fear is not being able to do justice to a guest in the limited amount of air time we have. I just talked to Lorraine Mulvey, the incredibly brave woman who was raped and abused by her father and decided to speak out, in the hope that it would help others. I had 12 minutes to make sure we squeezed in the whole story while still trying to be fully engaged in the interview.

Learning to drive three years ago was one of the toughest things I have ever done. When I lived in London I never needed a car — there was a driver for work and the underground the rest of the time. Once I got over the fear that I was going to knock someone down I was OK.

So far life has taught me that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

* Sinead Desmond is an anchor on TV3’s Ireland AM programme.


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