Entertainment

Monday 5 December 2016

Life lessons with Dáithí Ó Sé: I probably didn't grow up properly until I got married and had a child

Chrissie Russell

Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30

Dáithí O Sé: When is a celebration of Irish women ever out of date. The answer is never. Photo: Fran Veale
Dáithí O Sé: When is a celebration of Irish women ever out of date. The answer is never. Photo: Fran Veale
On duty: Dáithí on stage with 2015 winning Rose Elysha Brennan. Photo: Steve Humphreys

From delivering weather warnings on TG4 to ruling the ratings with Maura Derrane on RTÉ's Today show, Kerryman Dáithí Ó Sé (40) has been a familiar face on our screens for almost 20 years. Now living in Galway with his wife, Rita - a former Boston Rose - and two-year-old son, Michael Óg, he returns to his home county this week for his seventh year hosting the Rose of Tralee competition.

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I get protective when people start attacking The Rose of Tralee. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that's fine, but if people are knocking it just for the sake of it, I think: "Just leave it alone." If you don't like it, don't watch it.

The Rose of Tralee is about a celebration of Irish women, and when is a celebration of Irish women 'out of date'? The answer is "never". I get frustrated when people try and reduce it to a "lovely girls competition", it's so much more than that. And it never feels like a competition, we don't even say "the winner is" we say "this year's Rose of Tralee".

TV was never my plan. I was doing a summer job working ferryboats out to the Blasket Islands and someone said I should do a screen test for TG4. I got a weekend job doing the weather and a teaching job during the week. After two years I was made full-time and I've been full-time ever since.

On duty: Dáithí on stage with 2015 winning Rose Elysha Brennan. Photo: Steve Humphreys
On duty: Dáithí on stage with 2015 winning Rose Elysha Brennan. Photo: Steve Humphreys

I'm not a celebrity and I don't want to be. I went into a school class recently and they all wanted to be famous, like Kim Kardashian. They wanted to be on TV so bad and I felt bad for them because I think sometimes when you want something so bad, you don't get it. I was trying to explain to them that the faster you go up, the faster you come down.

I'm just not meant for life in Dublin. Rita and I lived there for two years when I did The Daily Show and I remember saying to Rita: "I can't do this, I just can't." It just wasn't me. There was no space in the place, I didn't feel a sense of community, and, when you're thinking about having a child, you want to give them everything you had. We moved to south Galway and I wouldn't change it for the world.

I probably didn't grow up properly until I got married and had a child. Partly because until then I didn't really have to but then you get married and baby comes along and things change and you never look back at what you had before as coming anywhere close to what you have now. The other night Michael said: "Night, night daddy, I love you" and I started crying! It was the best thing I've ever heard in my life.

I'm very laid back and don't take myself too seriously. But if it's about the boy or Rita, then I'm very serious. Since becoming a dad, certain news stories affect me more. Like that little Syrian boy whose body washed up on the beach, all I could see was Michael.

I don't really care what I look like. I don't do Lent, or going off stuff for the first month of the year, but for a month coming up to the Rose, I go walking for an hour-and-a-half in the morning, just to kick me into shape. Since turning 40 in June, I've decided I'll try and keep it up in the winter too - at least at weekends.

I got verified on Twitter this week and have never been so excited by a little blue tick in all my life. I don't get snapchat though and I'm getting p***ed off with Instagram. All it is is people sucking in their stomachs and taking selfies or pictures of food. And it's never food I want to eat. I want bacon and cabbage, not this stuff that looks good but tastes like cardboard.

Social media is a bit of fun for me. But it's also how I got to really know Rita. We met at the Rose of Tralee but started messaging each other on Facebook. Five messages a day led to 10 messages, which led to 50, which led to marriage and a baby. So thanks Facebook!

I don't watch chatshows. When I'm off, I'm either watching the Discovery Channel or the Comedy Channel - Two and a Half Men, King of Queens or Frasier - something like that. Even after 20 odd years, I think Frasier is still the funniest thing ever.

You're only ever as good as your last show. Especially in afternoon TV. Maura and I have settled into the gig now and we've just signed up for another 144 shows, which I'm delighted about, and it's great the viewing figures are so positive, but you have to take the compliment and move on.

There's not a presenter in the country who would turn down The Late Late Show... but I certainly don't think I'd be offered it. I don't know, maybe they'd see me as too lightweight. Rita gets Google alerts every time I'm mentioned [in the news] and that [that he was a favourite for Ryan Tubridy's spot] is probably one of the daftest things I've read about myself.

'A pat on the back is six inches from a kick up the arse' is my favourite motto. That and: "It costs nothing to be kind." That's something I think a lot of people have forgotten, especially on social media. At the same time, I think people in the public eye need to stand up and be tougher, too. People say stuff about me all the time and seriously, I don't care. If they're not talking about me, then they're not watching... and if they're not watching, then I'm in trouble.

The 57th Rose of Tralee, presented by Dáithí Ó Sé, will be broadcast on RTÉ One on August 22 and 23 from 8pm

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