Tuesday 22 January 2019

'If I'd wanted to be an astronaut, she’d have encouraged me' - RTE's Nuala Carey on her mother

Nuala Carey, aged five, and her mother Ann in the kitchen of their family home in Monkstown, Co Dublin.
Nuala Carey, aged five, and her mother Ann in the kitchen of their family home in Monkstown, Co Dublin.
Nuala Carey. Photo: Brian McEvoy Photography
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

RTE weather presenter Nuala Carey describes herself and her mother Ann as "the best of friends".

Nuala, who is a household name after nearly 20 years of forecasts and weekly Lotto draw broadcasts on RTE, will be working for Mother’s Day.

But she and her mother Ann will be somewhat connected today, since Ann still never misses her daughter's broadcasts, almost 20 years since Nuala took up her post in RTE.

The weather never stops, she says, much like her mother's love.

“Even now, she’s always watching if I’m on anything. She’d never miss the lotto draw. Even at weddings she’d excuse herself from the wedding and go upstairs and watch the lotto draw.”

“She’s never anything but encouraging, I’ll give her that - almost too encouraging. She’d be full of praise.”

Carey has shared a throwback photo of herself and her mum in honour of Mother's Day. It's a photo that shows their incredible bond, and it's the one photo that she considers the most precious.

“I particularly love this picture as it is one of just a few photos that captures us alone. It is also a sweet spontaneous moment between us, with me scooped up in her arms.”

“It reminds me of when I started going to school; each morning she would help me put pigtails in my hair.”

“It is funny looking at it... I laugh when I see that huge watch on my wrist too. I have always been obsessed with time, and often use watches as jewellery. I didn't realise this was a long-standing habit of mine, until I found this photograph.”

Nuala’s fledgling interest in amateur dramatics growing up turned out to be a formative stage in her career, and it was keenly supported by her mum, she says.

“If I’d have said I wanted to be an astronaut, she’d have encouraged me. I used to do amateur dramatics in school, and she’d give me lifts to rehearsals and she’d pick me up that night. The understanding was that once it didn’t interfere with my schoolwork, it was fine.”

“The very first time I ever auditioned for a play locally was for Big Maggie. I got a copy of the play and learned the lines and I went for the audition, and I was excited and would have loved to get it.”

“Rosary Morley, who played my mother in it, rang to say I got the part. I told my mam and the two of us started jumping up and down in the kitchen. I’ll always remember it because we’re quite steady people usually and there we were, jumping up and down in the kitchen.”

“She was a very hands-on mom," Nuala added. "She had to leave her job because of the marriage bar because she got married in 1969. She was in the civil service. That was the culture of the day that you had to give up your job once you were married. She really enjoyed her job. She’d often reminisce, and tell me stories, for example about getting to work in the snow in the 60s.”

Nuala and Ann's relationship has changed in the practical sense over the years, as happens when time ticks by.

“When you’re younger, your mum needs to keep you on the straight and narrow, but when older, I think the tables turn in that I think I’ve turned back into the taxi now, and if mam was going anywhere I’d ask her ‘oh do you want me to drop you down,’ or ‘will I collect you?’.”

“Before the snow got really bad, I was calling them to ask ‘do you need anything?’”

“We are the best of friends, but also as you get older, the daughter can become a parent, in a lovely way.

She added: “We get on very well. A lot of people know my mum… I often bring her to events. When I’m invited to something, nine times out of 10, it’s often something she’d be interested in, and I always give her first refusal. So people know her and she’d know my colleagues over the years.”

Nuala, though a confident forecaster, was once shy, she says. A brother to play with, along with her sisters Brenda and Lynda, would have been the icing on the cake.

“I would have liked a brother, I wouldn’t swap my sisters but I would have liked a brother. I went to an all-girls school and I had two sisters so I was very shy and I didn’t know how to relate to men, even when I went to university. My dad was the only fella I had in my life, so I always felt that I would have loved a brother as well as my two sisters."

"But you always want what you can’t have,” she muses.

A recent survey by Fujifilm Imagine showed 80pc of Irish people have lost photos they've taken and stored digitally, while 42pc have lost photo memories due to corruption or damage to their digital device. Some 38pc of Irish people changed or lost their phone or PC without saving or printing their photos, and 32pc deleted photos by accident.

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