Tuesday 24 October 2017

Rollercoaster marriage proposal for Roisin

It's that time of year when students all over the country knuckle down to the really hard work. That's the scramble for debs dates, of course. The proper elderly advice might be to tell them that it doesn't really matter who you bring and that the Leaving is more important anyway, but one Irish TV personality might beg to differ.

Roisin Ni Thomain met her husband, Alan Curran, on a blind date on the night of her own debs. "I was away in Spain for two weeks beforehand and was completely disorganised", she recalls. "By coincidence, he'd been in Spain for the two weeks beforehand too, but I only knew him to see; I'd never had a proper introduction. Nothing happened the night of the debs but we became friends for three or four years afterward and then we started going out. So the message is: watch out, ladies, you might meet your husband!"

Alan, a teacher, would eventually pop the question to Roisin in unusual circumstances: "Two and a half years ago he got me a trip to Orlando, Florida, for my 30th birthday. We went on all the rides at Universal Studios first thing in the morning. Then he said to me 'come back on the log flume' (a roller coaster) and he'd actually timed the moment between two drops so that he could ask me then. He had a fake ring in case we lost it. And he goes to me 'you've got ten seconds to decide Roisin or this ring is going in the water' and of course I said yes. And then we got to the bottom and I was like, 'wait, did that actually happen?!"

Roisin has presented a variety of programmes on RTE and TG4 over the last decade, with her good looks and Galway roots naturally prompting comparisons with Grainne Seoige. She currently presents TG4's star search programme Busker Abu, and says the level of talent as well as the language skills of the contestants have consistently surprised her. "I've been blown away by the talent. I've seen a few bands that will make it huge in the future. They'll go far for sure."

She says that she has noticed the amount of effort that people put into Irish and how the music on the programme helps them engage with the language. "We have people come on this programme, they might not have done Irish since school, but they enjoy the nostalgic element of throwing in their cupla focal. I see in the contestants that they're getting more and more confident in their Irish."

Roisin's Irish has never been a problem. She grew up being spoken to in the language by her mother in Galway city, and helped out in the family bar which she says laid the groundwork for her future career. "I think it was the best media training I ever got because you meet all different walks, you learn how to communicate naturally with them, and you have to know how to have the craic with them."

She went on to train as a national school teacher before auditioning to be on TG4, at the urging of a colleague. "She showed me an ad for one of their children's shows and I went for it. I did a screen test and got a job reviewing films. I had already planned to go back to do a masters in communications, so it all tied in and worked out. There's an unknown element to media, you never know who is going to call you. But then if the phone doesn't ring for a few weeks, it can be quite nerve-wracking also."

Since her initial stint in TG4 she spent a stint travelling in Australia. After returning, she went on to work in young people's television in RTE and presented the RTE series Sisters Of Science, which was warmly reviewed. And she still job shares a few days a week as a teacher.

Since the rollercoaster proposal Roisin and Alan have got married, and last year they had a baby son called Eanna. "He's adorable but he's tough work", she says. "He's getting to the point now where he knows his own mind. Let's just say I didn't realise that my child would have tantrums, but he does!"

With two jobs and a little boy she has a lot on her plate at the moment. "It's busy but it's fantastic", she says. "It's the happiest time in my life."

The second semi final of Busker Abu is on tonight at 8.30pm on TG4

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