Mary Kennedy is a Dublin-born teacher who became a television presenter at RTÉ. Her final job at the national broadcaster was co-presenting Nationwide . She has four adult children - two sons and two daughters - and one grandson. Recently retired from RTÉ, she last appeared on our screens on Dancing with the Stars. Mary lives in Dublin.
What's your earliest memory?
I remember having picnics with my siblings and cousins in the back garden. We would sit on a rug and my mother and my aunt would bring us out banana sandwiches and Ribena.
What was the first book you loved?
Uncle Tom's Cabin. I was captivated by the story of slavery and the resilience of those people who suffered great cruelty and injustice.
What's your best holiday memory?
Sliding and running down the sand dunes as a child when we would be brought to the beach on either a day-trip or during a family holiday. I still can't resist a good dune - I have to give it a whirl. What is your biggest fear?
At the moment, my biggest fear is not unique. I am very fearful for my family and friends, that any of them should succumb to Covid-19.
What are you most proud of?
I am very proud (in a good way) of the adults that my four children have become. They are all very different in terms of personality, they are all individuals; but they share a common thread of being kind, honest, caring and fun.
What is your least attractive quality - and what is your most?
Anxiety. I'm a terrible worrier. I like a good laugh and don't take myself too seriously. And I'm non-judgmental.
What's the first thing you'd do if you were Taoiseach?
Present circumstances aside, I would feel it an obligation to abolish homelessness. I would legislate for an appropriate mix of social and private integrated housing.
What is your most treasured possession?
The older I get, the less meaningful I find possessions. I'm not into things any more. I'm much more interested in people, gatherings, experiences. What's your guilty pleasure?
Crusty white bread and real butter. I try to avoid both, except when the bread is really crusty - then I can't resist.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Be yourself. If you try to be something you're not, you'll be found out eventually. This advice was given to me by Gay Byrne - may he rest in peace - when I was auditioning to present the Eurovision Song Contest. I was unsuccessful in 1993 and 1994, and third time lucky in 1995.
What item in your wardrobe do you wear the most?
Probably my jogging gear. I'm all for comfort. Although I do feel we should have a sense of occasion. I think it's important to dress nicely when we are invited to events. It's a mark of respect to the host.
Who are your heroes?
Adi Roche, Debbie Deegan, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy. Three amazing Irish women who have changed the lives of vulnerable people at home and abroad.
When did you last cry and why?
Last April, when my daughter Eva phoned me from Limerick Maternity Hospital to tell me that I was a granny. Paddy Sonny Boland turned one this week.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
It would have to be one of my nephew Dermot Kennedy's beautiful songs. I'd pick 'All my Friends'. The chorus is perfect: 'To all my friends, you'll find your way
Some summer night, I hope I see you again
All my friends, I'd love to stay
Some summer night, I hope I see you again.'
What are you going to do right after this interview?
I'll go for a run. I don't want to lose all the fitness I gained doing Dancing with the Stars. If you want to lose the pounds and tone up, take up dancing.
What keeps you awake at night?
Worry. I worry about anything and everything. When I wake up in the morning, I realise how silly that is.
What's your greatest passion in life?
People. Family, friends, colleagues. I could never be a hermit. I find the company of people exhilarating and essential to my well-being.
If you had to choose three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?
Loyal, irreverent, shy.
What's your favourite film?
Funny Girl. I saw it about three times in the first month it was released. I love the music and the story. It probably became my favourite initially because of Omar Sharif but it has remained my favourite because of Barbra Streisand. Her voice, her acting and her wonderful portrayal of a vulnerable, sensitive, ultimately feisty and strong woman.
What's the last TV show you binge-watched?
Grace and Frankie. A favourite for me and my daughter, Lucy. Also Grey's Anatomy, a favourite for me and my other daughter, Eva.
What phone app do you use most?
Google Maps. I have no sense of direction and always get lost.
What piece of advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Lighten up. I was a very serious, studious 18-year-old. I think I would have had much more fun in UCD if I wasn't quite so serious as I was back then.
What do you regret not doing in the last year?
Nothing. Last year was fab.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
I'd love to be able to wave a magic wand and my house would be clean and tidy.
What does your dream weekend look like?
Sunshine, a bit of gardening, coffee with a friend, a hike, champagne.
What job would you be terrible at?
Anything in the medical field, unfortunately. I have a phobia about blood. I couldn't even look at my children's cut knees when they were small.
In the 2000s, fashion TV was booming. Trinny and Susannah were telling us what not to wear, Gok Wan advised on how to look good naked, Paisean Faisean proposed the way to a woman's heart was through her wardrobe, and Off the Rails sought to make over much of the country.
It's all go for Jennifer Zamparelli when I meet her in RTÉ Radio Centre. It's only a Monday afternoon but her working week is already well underway, having hosted Dancing with the Stars the night before and a three-hour radio show that morning. She acknowledges that things are a bit hectic with the two shows running concurrently. "I find it gets a bit crazy towards the end of the run," she says, settling into a quiet corner of the canteen.