Thursday 20 June 2019

'You can't have it all' - Miriam O'Callaghan on the 'harsh reality' of self-employment

RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Miriam O'Callaghan and Steve Carson
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

RTE star Miriam O'Callaghan has asserted that having it all really is a myth, especially if you are self-employed.

The Prime Time presenter, who is the highest paid female presenter in Montrose with an annual salary of €299,000, said that she has long since accepted that the odds were stacked against her as a working mother. "When I started having my children in my mid-20s, it was very, very difficult because you daren't bring up the fact that you had kids or that a child was sick," she told the RTE Guide.

"So my philosophy has always been to accept that it's an unfair world and do your best to overcome that by fighting your corner."

Miriam has eight children - her four eldest are from her first marriage to Tom McGurk and her four youngest are with husband of 24 years Steven Carson - said that because she is self-employed, she has never been afforded the option of a full maternity leave with any of her children.

Miriam O'Callaghan at the IFTA Gala Awards 2018,
Miriam O'Callaghan at the IFTA Gala Awards 2018,

"I know that women have fought for generations to get the right to maternity leave and you should," she said. "But for someone like me or those who are self-employed, it's more difficult. If I had taken full maternity leave for each of my eight children, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now and that is the harsh reality of life."

Miriam, who also hosts a Sunday radio show on Radio One, said she has been struggling to find the appropriate balance between her home and family life for years, but has always priotised her children. "If you are going to have a large family, you have to be there all the time for your children. I never missed a parent-teacher meeting, I never missed a school concert, but at the other end, I remember running into Prime Time at 9:28 and my editor wondering where I was.

"I knew those parent-teacher meetings were never coming back and I erred on the side of never missed them and flying by the seat of my pants at work."

Her husband moved to Glasgow in 2013 to take up the mantle as Head of Production at BBC Scotland and returns home to Dublin at the weekends to spend time with his family.

"I drop him to the airport every Monday morning at 5:30am. We have a little routine - I love routine - we drink a coffee in the car and listen to Shay Byrne's Rising Time on RTE Radio One. Then I come home and if I'm not doing radio, I go back to bed for an hour," she told VIP Magazine last year.

"I look at it differently in that I think this is our only life. So I want everyone to have the best life they can have. This is a fantastic opportunity - he loves BBC Glasgow, he's so happy and I want him to be happy."

"It's such a busy house...and he never gives me any reason to worry. Somebody said to me recently, 'Only you Miriam could have a husband working away all week and not have a problem with it'."

Miriam O'Callaghan and Steve Carson
Miriam O'Callaghan and Steve Carson

Online Editors

Also in this section