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‘There was a realisation that he was never going to come back’- RTE’s Una O’Hagan opens up for the first time about the tragic death of her only son


Una O'Hagan. Photo Credit: RTE Archives

Una O'Hagan. Photo Credit: RTE Archives

Una O'Hagan. Photo Credit: RTE Archives

RTE’s Una O’Hagan has spoken for the first time about the loss of her only son Sean (20), who tragically passed away nine years ago after a battle with cancer.

The newsreader’s life was devastated by the loss of her only child, who died on Christmas Day 2007, two and a half years after his diagnosis.

Speaking to The RTE Guide, Una said: “The day after Sean died, the sun was shining through the window where I lay on the bed. I could feel his absence in the house, this realisation that he was never going to come back.

“Sean was the love of my life, a wonderful child and we were so privileged to have all those years with him,” she said.

The newsreader and her husband Colm Keane admitted that Sean’s illness was tough on their relationship, but has ultimately made them stronger.

“I remember when we knew it was cancer but it hadn’t been confirmed,” Una said.


Una O'Hagan with her husband Colm Keane

Una O'Hagan with her husband Colm Keane

Una O'Hagan with her husband Colm Keane

“Colm and I were sitting on Bray Head looking down on the town. Colm said to me: ‘You know Sean could die?’ and I was really angry and upset with him for saying that.

 “[After he died] it didn’t seem feasible that we would leave each other. That would mean forgetting all that we had been through with Sean, a whole life would have disappeared. So we linked each other and decided silently to stay together,” she said.

The couple have been through so much together, including Colm's own battle with cancer in recent years.

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However, Una believes that there is no alternative to grief than to just get through it as time ticks by whether you like it or not.

“Sometimes people say to us, ‘I don’t know how you got through it’, but really there is no alternative,” said Una.

“The thing is that the sun rises every single morning and you just have to get through it,” she said.

Before his death, Una admitted that Sean insisted the couple get a dog to keep them company, which has come in the form of Labrador Frankie.

“For four or five days before he died, Sean couldn’t speak. But he wrote all sorts of things, including his will. In that he left us €35 to buy a dog. He was worried we would be lonely.”

Although the couple never did get a dog in the years after Sean’s passing, they were in for a surprise when they moved to Waterford two years ago where a Labrador made their acquaintance from the next door over.

Now the couple say Frankie is like "part of the furniture".

“He has brought light into our lives,” said Una.

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