Wednesday 25 April 2018

Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh enrolls at UCD and says she's 'terrified' to start college at 44

FRESHER: Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh starts her first day at college.
FRESHER: Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh starts her first day at college.
Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh and her husband Ciaran Byrne
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Presenter Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh started college this week, after years of feeling second-rate in the RTE canteen.

The RTE presenter and mother-of-four, who commenced classes on Monday, said she is finally fulfilling a need within herself, after skipping third level education to go straight into the hothouse of Montrose.

"I have never been to college. I went straight from doing my Leaving Cert into RTE. I know that sounds mad. I wouldn't wish it on someone now."

The presenter has decided to undertake the degree course in Women's Studies in University College Dublin (UCD) after noticing a common thread in her career.

Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh
Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh

Read more: Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh: 'Women mightn't like me, but they like my honesty'

"A lot of my work is focused on women," she says, referencing the female heroines of the 1916 Easter Rising and the contemporary feminist issues. "All these women [from the past and in the modern day], female genital mutilation… I have been passionate about that when nobody wanted to know about it."

Speaking about her regrets, she says: "I probably had a chip on my shoulder because I felt I was not like everyone else."

She added. "I love that it (the course) is nothing to do with work or the Irish language, but it is actually to do with something that is within me."

Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh and her husband Ciaran Byrne
Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh and her husband Ciaran Byrne

"It's different at 44. My daughter is starting in another college. Thank God. I think she would die if she bumped into me at the student union bar," she laughs.

"Will it be weird? We both headed off on Monday to our first lecture. It's scary."

On her fears of returning to student life, Blathnaid says: "Oh God, I am scared going back. The girl beside me or the man beside me with their degrees and I am going to go 'what are they talking about?! But I will get there.

Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh at the IFTAs 2013
Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh at the IFTAs 2013

"It's just new. I am just scared. And I am never scared. I would rather stand up there in front of a room full of people. I have no problem with a crowd. This is the challenge," she says.

"It's a time of my life … it is my brain, I need something. I am looking for meat in my life. I am not challenged fully. I am not working at my full capacity. It has got to me in the last two years."

The RTE star has taken to the airwaves this weekend for the first show in her new radio series, Bláthnaid Libh, on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. The Saturday morning magazine show will be broadcast from 11 am to 12am each week.

"This is very women- driven, not in an anti-man way. What are you doing on a Saturday morning from 11-12?

Read more: 'Marriage is no picnic' - Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh

"As a mother you are on your way to a football pitch and we are going to talk about things like child sexual abuse.

"That might sound funny on a Saturday morning but in a 'what to look out for' way.

"I am also delighted to have the opportunity to broadcast in my own native tongue, because I can be more at ease as Gaeilge," she said.

"We'll be featuring mainly human interest stories."

Each week, the presenter will have well-known personalities display how much they remember from their school Irish in 'Bain triail as', which translates into English as 'give it a go'.

Sunday Independent

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