Tommy Bowe reflects on 'exciting' new chapter as a first time father: 'Everything has been turned upside down'
Irish rugby star Tommy Bowe has gushed over the exciting new chapter in his life - as a father to five-month-old daughter Emma.
The Ulster player (33) and his wife Lucy Whitehouse, a nurse and former Miss Wales, welcomed the new arrival in April in what was a surprise announcement to those outside of his inner circle.
"It wasn't really intentional, it was only that it was getting close, I could have let it slip," he told Independent.ie Style. "At that stage, Lucy was trying to keep it on the down low so there was no extra pressure. It’s really exciting. She's just under six months and she’s a lot more interactive now: in the first few months, she didn't really recognise anyone apart from her mum. Now, when I walk in the door and she hears my voice, she’s looking around and I get the odd smile and giggle, that’s been really exciting.
"It's hard. Everybody tells you it's hard, but you don’t really get it, certainly the first few months are a challenge, everything has been turned upside down. We’re very fortunate, she's sleeping really well."
But the couple, who are based in Belfast, aren't short of babysitters - his parents live only an hour away in Monaghan and he joked that his little one is already a mini-globetrotter travelling to Lucy's native Wales to meet her and friends and family there.
"They’re in Monaghan, they're only too happy to get up the road to see the little granddaughter and Lucy’s parents in Wales also. She's turned into a bit of a jet setter, she’s been to Wales so much," he said.
A fondness for travel clearly runs in the family - earlier this year Bowe took up a presenting role on RTE travel show Getaways alongside Vogue Williams, Mairead Ronan and Joe Lindsay, a job which he hopes to balance with rugby if the opportunity presents itself.
"We got to see some really great hotels and different places. It was a really good experience, it was something completely different and fun," he said. "Obviously the rugby season has started so it’s difficult to get away, I need to be away for a week or so to film segments and during rugby season, it’s hard.
"Three of my four weeks holidays this summer were spent filming, Lucy probably wasn't too happy, but it was a great opportunity. I really enjoyed it, hopefully I get to do more of it in the future."
His foray into presenting wasn't exactly surprising - he was recovering from a broken ankle and has more versatility to his name than most athletes, including a clothing and shoe line, and now burgeoning presenting career.
"I had put it out there that I was looking into that sort of thing," he explained. "When I was injured, I was out for the rest of the season and heard RTE and BBC were happy enough.
"It’s hard. It came through very fast, I'm normally used to standing in front of a camera answering questions about rugby and things I know; it was difficult to learn a script and not fluff my lines. It was a new experience, that’s what it’s all about – pushing yourself in new avenues.
"You could tell Mairead and Vogue were pretty top notch compared to me, so I had a lot of catching up to do."
But he's been kept busy since returning to the pitch - this time launching the Sports for Schools project with Subway. "It was really good fun, getting out to primary school getting kids involved, it was something I really enjoyed." Were any of them starstruck?
"They're all cheeky, they tell me that I wasn't great in the last game," he laughed.