Friday 24 January 2020

'Everything happens for a reason' - Mary Kennedy on embracing her next chapter

Mary Kennedy is among the celebrities to have signed up for the fourth season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’. Photo: David Conachy
Mary Kennedy is among the celebrities to have signed up for the fourth season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’. Photo: David Conachy
Mary Kennedy and dance partner John Nolan
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Mary Kennedy said she believes "everything happens for a reason" after being required to retire from RTE since turning 65.

Kennedy has been a stalwart on Irish television for four decades for 41 years and is embarking on a new chapter of her life, one which no longer involves fronting Nationwide, which she has hosted for 11 years. "I am sad be to leaving Nationwide. I do think it's ridiculous to be saying to people, just because they're 65, that that's the end of it," she told TV Now magazine.

"People were asking me were there any loopholes they could have found to keep me on, but I would not like an exception to be made for me and I would not like an exception to be made for anybody else. If that's the rule, that's the rule.

"So, you just have to accept it, make your point and then move on. I thin dancing is the way I'm moving on."

Kennedy is currently starring on Dancing with the Stars, a fitting transition from her more serious broadcast work to something more light-hearted and personality driven. It's viewed as a launch pad into the next generation of one's career and this year's batch of celebrities includes Glenda Gilson, Gráinne Gallanagh and Fr Ray Kelly.

Kennedy is considered beloved among viewers who have followed her career on-screen and for those off-screen, she is praised for her unwavering honesty, in particular about loneliness, which prompted bouts of anxiety.

Mary Kennedy and dance partner John Nolan
Mary Kennedy and dance partner John Nolan

"I was just too busy doing too much, stumbling from day to day. I was short of breath, I had this general feeling of dull flatness and I was waking at three in the morning in a total sweat. I know the feeling of loneliness and sadness and accept it as part of life's rich tapestry, but this feeling was different," she told VIP Magazine last year.

"It was like a lot less energy and enthusiasm for everything, even for the ironing, which I was usually always on top of. My wardrobe was chaotic, clothes were pulled over the back of a chair in my bedroom. It was a habit alien to me. I felt ashamed even to admit my messy secrets.

"I rang my GP and outlined a shortness of breath that was beginning to cause me alarm. I thought it was health related, something to do with my lungs, but he obviously recognised it and said, 'Are you worried about anything?' and I said, 'Nothing in particular', and he said, 'Just relax, it's anxiety.'"

The last 12 months in particular have been a rollercoaster for Kennedy, who suffered a dramatic fall, which she says left her feeling vulnerable, but eventually with a fresh appreciation of her health.

"It was seismic. I have never experienced anything like it. I don't know what it's like if you have an impact in  car crash, but I mean, I am a tall woman and I went from running to on the ground...there was no stumble...straight down. I ended up with six stitches under my chin, loose teeth and very, very shook," she explained.

"It definitely was an important moment in my life. I felt very vulnerable and my confidence was knocked. But I was lucky it wasn't worse. It forced me to slow down even more.

"We are all responsible for our own wellbeing, you can't depend on somebody else for that. I don't think it's right and I don't think it works."

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