Eibhlin Ni Chonghaile
Eibhlin Ni Chonghaile, 34, is a radio presenter on Raidio na Gaeltachta. Born in Connemara, she lives in Salthill, Galway
Published 23/01/2011 | 05:00
My alarm goes off just before seven. I switch on Morning Ireland, and then I get dressed. When I presented the early morning radio show we did most of our interviews by phone, so I could be a little scruffy, but with Iris Aniar, the show I do now, we have guests in every morning, so that has changed my clothing habits hugely. I have to make sure that I wear something half decent. Then I go downstairs to brew a good pot of coffee for the travel mug.
I live in Salthill in a house with some friends. I'm the first up every morning. I leave the house before anyone else is up. By half seven I like to be in the car, and then I switch over to our own current-affairs show -- Adhmhaidin. Between half seven and a quarter past eight I go between the two stations. For most people it probably would be strange flicking between two languages, but it's normal for me. You want to know what's happening, and you absolutely have to listen to the local news on our own station. You have to know what your colleagues have covered and who they've spoken to, just in case it has made an impact. It's a 40-minute drive along the coast road. My coffee mug is usually drained by the time I arrive into work.
The first thing I do is switch on the computer and check emails. We normally have our scripts done from the night before, but if we need to update something, or follow up something that was on the news, we usually do that between twenty past eight and nine. I present a radio programme called Iris Aniar -- which means "story from the west". It's a morning magazine show which is on from ten past nine until a quarter past ten. All day long all my dealings are in Irish. I'm from the Connemara gaeltacht, but I've spent most of my career travelling. When I first came back here, having been at Sky News, I felt that my Irish was inferior, and it probably was, too. Although I was brought up with Irish and it was my first language, I noticed that a lot of the broadcasters here have very rich Irish. I started to speak more carefully and if I noticed they said something nice on air I would jot it down. We all have Irish here, but some people have amazing ways of saying things. I suppose it's like the way Stephen Fry would speak better English than some people.
I used to get nervous before I went on air, but not anymore. I started on radio three years ago. Before that it was all TV. On television you get 90 seconds to tell a story and, most of the time, it's all scripted and pre-recorded, and you've set out the general questions. With radio, no matter how many scripts you have, it's all ad lib, for the most part. I was very nervous in the beginning; thrown in the deep end. Somebody was ill one morning and I just had to go in and do it. Then I did the dating show for TG4 and Raidio na Gaeltachta decided, 'Oh, she's got personality, we'll give her the magazine show.' In comparison to current affairs, it's a bit more relaxed, and we have more time for items. I say hello to the guests and bring them into the studio. We like to start off with a story that most concerns people locally on the day -- it could be water shortages or electricity. We cover every subject under the sun. We feed off a lot of the responses we get from the public. The other day we remarked that the only subject that we haven't covered in the last six months is the economy. How strange is that?
A lot of people in Connemara would have been dependent on the construction industry, and so a lot of those men are in search of alternatives. We've featured some of them. They are getting into insulation and water conservation -- all the things that will help you save money in your house. We invite people to tell us what's happening. Sometimes it surprises me when people are willing to show emotion on air when they know everyone is listening.
If the programme ever feels long, that means it's a bad show, but it usually goes incredibly quickly. After the show I have a quick breakfast with Maire Aine, the producer, and we do the Irish Times crossword. Then we get down to putting the next day's show together. It takes a lot of work to fill an hour and a quarter every morning. We try to make sure we're out the door by six.
I love my job because there's a very positive feeling in our office. We normally get very good feedback. It's a terrible thing that your job depends so much on what other people think, but with this particular show, because we're so close to our listeners, you know after the show if they took to it or not.
On the way home, I normally call into my parents to say hello. They live nearby. They're both from Connemara and they've always been particularly passionate about the Irish language. Growing up at home, we didn't speak English until we were four. My cousins came home from England and we couldn't communicate with them. I think we learned English in a month. Irish isn't a political statement; it's just a language that we were brought up with, and it's a beautiful language.
If I'm very good I'll go to a Power Plate class. You stand on a plate and you do your different exercises while the plate vibrates and, seemingly, this makes the muscles work harder. Then I go home and try to cook something. I'm probably fairly healthy. My friends laugh at me because I yearn for lettuce. On weekdays, I'm in bed by 11.
I read quite a lot. At the moment I'm reading a PG Wodehouse novel. I've never read him before. It's a joy.
In conversation with Ciara Dwyer
'Iris Aniar' is on Raidio na Gaeltachta, 9.08am-10.15am, Monday to Friday
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