'I was very protective of them' - RTE's John Creedon on being the dad of four talented young women
Cork-based animal behaviour consultant Nanci Creedon is great pals with her RTE presenter dad John
Nanci Creedon and her dad John are massive Cork City football fans and love going to matches together. Her earliest memory is her dad throwing her five-year-old self in the air with delight over a goal, and then landing on her knees on the concrete. "He claims the crowd moved but I think he forgot to catch me," she laughs. "Dad was great fun and he was always up to mischief."
RTE broadcaster John came tenth in a family of 12 when growing up in Cork. He was very close to his mum Siobhan and dad Con, who both passed away when he was in his mid-20s. "I was the funny kid in the class growing up, and was very enthusiastic and keen to share things," he says. "It's a family thing, as no one in my family shuts up."
John did an arts degree and was married to Mona at 20. They have four daughters, Katie, Martha, Nanci and Meg, who range in age from late 20s to late 30s. They moved to Dublin where John worked at anything to provide for the family, including being a cleaner in Penneys. He had a passion for radio and got into RTE in 1987 through a public competition. Then they returned to Cork, where John presents The John Creedon Show on RTE Radio 1 on weekday evenings. He is also currently in the middle of filming Creedon's Shannon for TV.
What was it like for him having four girls? "I love them all to bits and we are great mates," he says. "I came from a gentle household where difference and eccentricity was celebrated, but I had been knocked around a bit by corporal punishment at school. As a result, I was very protective of the girls' physical, mental and spiritual well-being."
Katie is married in Cork with two little girls, Mollie, seven, and Rosie, four. Martha is in Australia with her partner, and Meg has just come back from there and is working in property. Second-youngest daughter Nanci is a dog trainer and certified behaviour consultant based in Cork.
"Thankfully the girls are all happy and doing well," says John.
Nanci says that she and her dad are very alike, so things can get heated when they disagree, but it never turns into an argument. "Dad always knows the right thing to say to make someone feel better, and he's definitely one of life's good guys," she says. "Everyone who knows him loves him, and he always stands up for what is right. He's very hard-working and generous to a fault."
John and Mona's marriage ended about eight years ago, and Nanci says that it was a "bit weird" for the sisters, but definitely for the best. "They are both happy people with happy lives and they have a great relationship with each other and with all of us," she says. "Our mum would do anything to make sure we're OK, and is a real nurturer."
John subsequently met his partner Mairead and they have been together very happily for seven years. Nanci, 31, is currently single, but she hasn't time to date as she's so busy with her business. They're a family of animal lovers, but John recalls how Nanci's huge affection for all kinds of creatures was evident from an early age. He is very proud of her and says her childhood dreams of being surrounded by animals have come true." When Nanci was only tiny, I was planting tomatoes out the back, and out of nowhere she said, 'Ants are the most curious creatures'," he recalls. "I was shocked as she was only learning to speak."
Nanci studied zoology and then did animal psychology, dog training and dog grooming courses. She holds a master's degree in animal behaviour under her belt, and has become one of the country's leading experts on pet behaviour. She is just about to rebrand her doggie daycare business as Creedon's Dog Care, where she will run a FETAC-approved animal education and training college alongside the day care, pet hotel and grooming services. She is also an ambassador for the Pettura range of veterinarian-formulated dietary supplements specifically tailored to dogs' nutritional needs. They have just been launched on to the Irish market, and include different supplements to boost flexibility and mobility, relieve stress and promote calming, and bring a shinier coat and general health and nutrition.
"They contain genuinely good stuff," says Nanci. "I have worked with dogs who have needed to go on medication to help them overcome anxiety while getting behaviour treatment, but I have found Pettura Calming to be much more effective. If I recommend something, it's because I'm 100pc behind it, which I am with the entire Pettura range."
Nanci is also going to embark on a PhD and wants to educate Ireland around pet bite prevention. She thinks herself and John are wired similarly, because they have a lot of ambition, love to learn and are both creative. "When I'm having a tough time, I go to my dad because he empathises," she says.
"We are always up the walls and working from one adventure to the next, so while being buddies, we are always there for each other. I love tuning in to his show, because listening to him almost feels like I'm spending a bit of time with him.
"Also, there is no one more fun than my dad when you go out for a few drinks."
creedonsdogcare.ie and creedonscollege.ie. The John Creedon Show, RTE Radio 1, Monday-Friday at 8pm