Everyone knows that women have to increase their calorie intake in the latter stages of pregnancy
. . . but Ray Foley is learning the hard way that fathers definitely don't have to eat for two.
"The minute Kate got pregnant, I started eating like a pig and drinking like a fish, just enjoying myself," he laughs. "It was a sort of sympathy kind of thing. I've put on a lot of weight, and it does bother me, but not enough to do anything about it. We've been doing these video podcasts recently, and I can see myself in the monitor for them and it's like, 'Oh, God!' I always think I look like your man off the posters and promos for Take Me Out, which was filmed a year and a half ago, but, Jesus, I don't look like that any more."
We're having tea in the lovely herbstreet eatery on Hanover Quay, and the funny 98FM DJ and TV3 presenter is firing on all cylinders. He looks great, by the way, even if he doesn't think so, but says that while he'd like to shed the extra few pounds, he hasn't found the motivation yet.
"I was actually heavier than I am now about eight or nine years ago," he says. "I was 17 stone and my normal weight is around 12, so I decided, 'F*** that, I'm going to sort myself out'. I went to the gym and ate properly and lost the weight, so I know I could do it again. Kate got her figure back instantly. She does Pilates and this TRX thing, where you hang out of the ceiling. So every week I'm like, 'I'll start on Monday', but I haven't so far, which is down to pure piggery and laziness."
Now 32, Ray and his beautiful wife Kate Carolan (35) had a good run at being child-free, as they met when both were working in Spin 103.8 in 2002. Having worked in RTE for several years, Kate now works as a 2fm newsreader. So what was it like for Ray becoming a dad?
"I was a reluctant father," he admits. "It was an ongoing negotiation, as I wasn't entirely keen in participating in the parental experiment. My wife is a couple of years older than me, and she was itching to get going, whereas I would have liked to have waited another few years but that wasn't an option. Kate said, 'We're doing this. I've waited long enough' and to be fair, she did wait a long time, so we went for it."
Baby Matthew was born in April 2012 after a difficult birth that required a Caesarean, as he was facing the wrong way around. Ray admits fatherhood is much easier than he anticipated, and has changed him. He's more mellow, for instance, and has a different perspective now on life.
"I think it's mostly a male thing, that sort of, 'Oh Jesus, no, I can't have a kid because our lives will be over," he explains. "Puke, bottles, nappies, no freedom and the house being in s***.
"All of that is kind of true, and a lot of things we used to enjoy are gone, but the thing that lads need to know is that your own life still happens as well. And although the baby should be adding stress in my life, in that I'm going to have to send him to school, buy him stuff, feed him and not end up on the street, for some reason, I'm just enjoying him and enjoying life. He's great."
Ray says that Kate is a better mum than he is a dad, and while she doesn't nag him or give him a hard time, he feels guilty, at times. Like when he arrived home from work recently with a raging headache, compounded by exhaustion from not having slept in three days. He lay on the sofa and played with Matthew for a while, and then the baby left him and toddled into his mum in the kitchen.
"Kate was cooking dinner for us and chatting to him and playing with him at the same time," he says. "I was like, 'God, I'm such a s***,' whereas before I never used to mind being a s***!'"
So has the bold boy from Ballina developed a conscience then? "Yeah, and I don't know what to do with it," he grins. "I suppose you can get them out, can you? Like your appendix? Ah I'm trying to spoil Kate more if I can. Our lives are busier, and that has changed our relationship as well. I only want the one child, to be honest, but I'm not going to get my way, I'd imagine. I've kind of resigned myself to that as well. I shouldn't have publicly capitulated, because it's a yes then and we're planning. Well she's planning, I think, and I'm taking each day as it comes. I can only imagine it being hell, as everyone always says two is full on. I would like to have the one and give him everything, but I think Kate would like to have a little girl as well."
Thanks to his skilfull handling of the contestants on the TV3 dating show Take Me Out, Ray has also become a very successful TV presenter. He was surprised to be approached for the gig, but enjoyed it and is open to doing more television work in tandem with his radio job. He seems genuinely taken aback when I tell him that most women I know fancy him, and says that he's glad to be out of the dating scene now.
So with all the attractive young girls flirting with him on the show, does Kate ever worry? "No, not at all," he answers, firmly. "Look at me, for Christ's sake, you've seen my wife. I'm a radio presenter, so it's not in my vocabulary that people might be attracted to me. On the show the girls say, "Well, if you have a brother, Ray" or "If you were single, Ray," but that's all bulls*** for the sake of the cameras. They're doing it for a laugh. It's great to not have to think about dating, and I'm not tempted either. Kate trusts me implicitly and I trust her, so it's a given."
Given that Ray met Kate relatively early in life, did he mind that his days of being a carefree bachelor and playing the field were over? Surprisingly, as anyone who has ever seen him on TV will testify, the presenter says that he was no good at chatting up girls. "I was very good at being friends with girls, but terrible at the moving it on to the next level and saying, 'I fancy you'," he says.
"With Kate, I was awkward and s*** as a boyfriend, as I kind of didn't know the right thing to do. But I muddled through it and I fell in love. That's the wonderful thing about being married.
"I don't need to say I fancy you now. You know I do, I married you. But, thankfully, I'm in love so it's not like a chore and I'm glad I'm out of the dating scene. I don't miss the desperation of being on my own."
A few months ago, Ray left his midday slot at Today FM to present the breakfast show on 98FM, alongside his friend and sidekick, JP Gilbourne. It was a risky move, as the sharp, witty banter between the presenters and their general irreverence and straight-talking edginess went down a storm with the Today FM listeners. Presumably leaving a national station for a Dublin one was a difficult decision, so was he anxious about making the move?
"Yeah, of course I was," he says. "I was happy enough doing my old gig, but both JP and I just needed to do something else as we were so long inside the other place. It's a big four-hour breakfast show for a big city, whereas the old show was national and two-and-a-half hours.
"It's only early days and we're still only building it. I think it's going well. Take Ray D'Arcy for example, it took five years to turn his show into a winning one, where people started turning it on and checking it out.
"So, I'm confident that our show is going to get there. It's a different offering for Dublin and, as I flick around in the morning, no one is doing what we do, which is quite simple. We're just DJ-ing, playing a good bit of music and having a laugh."
Changing to the breakfast show means that Ray's alarm goes off at 4.45am, but his wife Kate gets up even earlier as she has to be in 2FM at 5.20am. The childminder comes in at 5.15am and she stays until midday. By his own admission, Ray is terrible for staying up late and "faffing around," whereas Kate will be in bed by half nine or 10. So now that he has the big one, the breakfast show, hopefully he won't wreck it for 98FM, I tease?
"It's a matter of turning it around, he says. "You just need to turn it around very slowly, and hopefully people will start going, 'That's actually pretty good'. The station as a whole over the last few years hasn't been doing great and it's kind of been suffering, I think, from an identity crisis, in that it hadn't really had one.
"When it was originally set up in 1990, it made its name by being a bland product, like wallpaper. You stick it on, and there's some tunes, you get the news, and that'd be it.
"And then other radio stations have come along in the last 23 years and everyone's doing something different, and the radio station that has prided itself on being vanilla and as bland as possible suffers, obviously, and now they're in a place where they're kind of going, 'Do we have a personality? Do the people who live in Dublin want to hear bland or do they want to hear something a bit different?'
"They're going with the different route with us, for now. We're not trying to be brilliant or amazing or say we're the dog's b*******, or anything like that. We're just us and hopefully you'll like us, but we're really happy and excited about the show."
The Ray Foley Show, weekdays, 6am to 10am on 98FM