Tuesday 18 June 2019

Three broadcasters with more in common than just current affairs

Health Minister Leo Varadkar with Miriam O’Callaghan outside RTE last week
Health Minister Leo Varadkar with Miriam O’Callaghan outside RTE last week
Miriam O’Callaghan speaks for the first time about how she landed the interview with Health Minister Leo Varadkar which has dominated the news agenda for the past week. Photo: Damien Eagers
Marian Finucane with husband John Clarke as the couple arrive at the ‘Philanthropist of the Year’ award in Dublin
Claire Byrne on the set of her new show.
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Miriam, Marian ... and probably not too much further behind them when it comes to first-name terms, Claire.

They are three of the nation's foremost presenters - let alone female presenters.

Household names, they are welcomed into every sitting room in the country - their faces are almost as familiar to us as our own.

They each share certain characteristics: fiercely intelligent and well-versed in current affairs, all formidable and all feisty.

All three women have coincidentally been in the spotlight recently to express either vocally or wordlessly, the contentment of their home lives.

Each had been previously married before finding joy with partners who are all doggedly low-key in comparison to their starry other halves.

Miriam O'Callaghan's (55) domestic happiness is well documented.

Her eight children range from 28 to her youngest who is almost nine.

Her first marriage to broadcaster Tom McGurk broke down and she found happiness again with TV producer Steve Carson, the Belfast-born media boss who she met while she was working on the BBC's 'Newsnight' in 2000.

Miriam's wedding ring is engraved with the letters ALWFS, which stands for: "A Long Way from Strokestown."

It is a sentimental reminder of the day she met him.

Steve is part of Miriam's 'DNA', she has said in the past.

"He is in my soul, part of my heart and in my emotional DNA ... I love him more every day and thank God all the time for sending him my way."

At the end of 2013, Steve Carson left his job as Head of Programmes at RTE and took a job as Head of Productions with the BBC in Belfast.

He comes home on Wednesdays and for the weekends, while Miriam often travels up to Belfast to be with him.

On the days they are apart, they text each other back and forth.

It is an arrangement that, though perhaps unconventional, works.

Marian Finucane (64), who is famously private when it comes to her personal life, gave a public declaration of her love for her partner of some 30 years, John Clarke, when the couple exchanged vows last Tuesday.

A previous marriage to an architect at the age of 24 lasted five years before it broke up.

Marian subsequently found happiness with Clarke, a farmer and horse trainer.

The couple guard their privacy jealously and rarely appear at social events.

Finucane and Clarke suffered personal tragedy in 1990 when they lost their eight-year-old daughter, Sinead, to leukaemia.

The couple's first-hand experience of grief has encouraged them to support the work of the hospice service.

Finucane and Clarke also established the 'Friends in Ireland' charity in 2002, following a trip to South Africa where they witnessed some of the devastating impact of HIV and Aids on South African communities and the orphaned and vulnerable children left behind.

As for Claire (39), her public demonstration of happiness came with the tumultuous arrival of two babies in rapid succession - following her engagement in March 2011 to Gerry Scollan, who works for Microsoft.

"He was loading the dishwasher and said: 'Will we get married so?'

"And I said to him: 'Are you proposing?' He said: 'Yes.' 'And I said: 'Yes, I will'," Claire recalled.

Two babies by necessity left the fuss of the wedding day on the long finger.

The couple met on December 18, 2011, when Claire and one of her four sisters had been to a Neil Delamere stand-up show in Dublin and, afterwards, ended up in O'Donoghue's pub, where she met Gerry.

The former TV3 star split from radio company boss Richard Johnson in 2006 after three years of marriage.

The separation was "the worst part" of her life, she recalled. Now everything is coming up roses for these top broadcasters, both on and off air.

Irish Independent

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