Getting on with life since my husband's death has been hard, but son Dara is my rock

Dragons' Den star tells of new business opportunities and her breakfast radio slot

Claire Murphy

DRAGONS' Den star Norah Casey has been busy signing contracts lately -- but not before running them past her 13-year-old son first.

The publisher turned broadcaster has had to make some major adjustments after losing her husband Richard -- he died last year aged just 49 -- and has opened up to the Herald about how she has managed to cope.

Magazine chief Norah will now be visible in three forms of media -- on TV, in print and on radio.

As first revealed in the Herald, she is the new co-anchor of Newstalk Breakfast, and is set to front a new RTE show on Friday afternoons -- although she won't confirm this yet.

But Norah says that for her new role on the airwaves, she plans to leave her journalist's hat at the door.

"I am really going to enjoy doing current affairs again and as a businesswoman, I hope to bring a fresh viewpoint to the show," she told the Herald.

"Chris Donoghue is a great co-presenter and radio journalist, so while I started my publishing career in journalism, I think we'll make a good team if I concentrate on my experience and opinions rather than my journalistic past.

"I think the business viewpoint is often missing from the discussion, and yet one of the pivotal issues in Ireland's economic recovery is the success or otherwise of indigenous business and new start-ups."


Mum-of-one Norah is no stranger to early starts and a demanding work schedule. She gave up a career in nursing to follow her passion in journalism and by her mid-20s was CEO of a medical magazine.

She then went on to head a management buyout of what is now Harmonia publishing, which is currently Ireland's largest magazine company, publishing over four million magazines a year.

But when it comes to the life's major decisions, Norah says 13-year-old son Dara is her right-hand man. And now she is looking forward to balancing the new, exciting challenges in her life with being a mum.

"Although it's an early start, Newstalk Breakfast is a great slot because you get to set the agenda for the day to some extent," Norah said. "I also think it's a great time to be joining the team, because we're facing into a pretty tough winter with lots of really important issues facing the Government and the country.

"I have always juggled the demands of work and home and I never see it as a negative," she explained. "I am so lucky to work in a job and own a business in a sector I absolutely love. I also don't see the two as separate, my work is so much part of my life and my life is part of my work -- it doesn't happen between nine to five.

"Since Richard passed away, myself and my son Dara have had to readjust to our new life together -- he's amazing for a 13-year- old and the first person I talk to about anything new I am considering taking on."

Norah lost the love of her life, Richard Hannaford, last year.

The pair bonded over their mutual love of communications -- Richard was an author, broadcaster and editorial director at the Harmonia Group.

Norah said he helped her to appreciate all forms of media.

"My husband, who was a BBC correspondent for 18 years, always said radio makes better pictures," she said.

"Although, given my passion for magazines, my first love is print -- but I know that you can make a different and more powerful impact through radio and television."


And she said that the key for any busy working mum was incorporating your home life with your own career.

"I really enjoy all aspects of my life. I don't get stressed and I almost never think of things in terms of work or time off. If it's enjoyable and stimulating, that's all that matters to me," she said. "Learn to incorporate your career into your life, rather than seeing it as two separate components that have to be balanced or juggled," she advises.

"In the early years Dara used to rate comics for me at the table in my office, giving them marks out of 10!"

Norah ventured behind the cameras again this year when she helped employees rejuvenate the Tea Time Express shop on Talbot Street for a new show on RTE.

"I really like doing television and was a regular contributor and presenter in London," she said.

"Here in Ireland most people know me as a Dragon on Dragons' Den, and I really enjoy doing that show and the chance to meet so many budding entrepreneurs. I also enjoyed doing The Takeover part of the Format Farm series for RTE2. It was a great opportunity to work with people at the coalface to try to help a business facing significant challenges.

"Television is a powerful medium and I believe we have great production talent in Ireland," she said.

"I would love to work on new formats and help to create fresh programming, especially where my own experience and skills would work best."

She firmly believes that Irish women need to build confidence to take on the traditionally male preserves of politics and the media.

"We have a lot of women in entertainment, for instance, and more and more in areas like writing and music, but women need to have the confidence to take on the tougher issues in news and politics.

"We have some iconic women leading the way."