Finglas-born Mairéad Ronan is a broadcaster with Today FM and presenter of Ireland's Fittest Family on RTÉ. She studied media at Ballyfermot College and started her broadcasting career on The Ray D'Arcy Show and produced The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on TodayFM. She won the 2019 RTÉ series of Dancing with the Stars. Mairéad has three children, Dara, from her first marriage and two daughters, Eliza and Bonnie, with her husband, Louis Ronan, whom she married in 2015.
What's your earliest memory?
Christmas 1984, when I was four. I'd asked Santa for a baby doll and he left me a moses basket at home but he left the baby doll at my Nana Murphy's house. Apparently he was shocked when he saw it still in his sleigh!
What was the first book you loved?
Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna. It was a wonderful but harrowing history lesson on the Irish famine.
What's your best holiday memory?
My first girls holiday to Cyprus aged 20. I paid for it myself by working in Arnotts and I remember the feeling of freedom and thinking I was so grown up. But really I hadn't a clue about anything other than having a good time.
What is your biggest fear?
Dying before my three children become adults.
What are you most proud of?
I should say something really profound here but really it's winning Dancing with the Stars last year. No one thought I had a chance (especially the bookies who had me at 33 to 1). I'd had a baby three months before we started training. But I worked really hard and the public supported me right to the very end.
What's your least attractive quality - and what is your most?
You'd need to ask my family to answer this one.
What's the first thing you'd do if you were Taoiseach?
Ask Leo for a pint.
What's your biggest insecurity?
Physically, it's my skin. I had acne as a teen and have spent a fortune over 20 years trying to fix it. Emotionally, my biggest insecurity is work because when you have a job in radio or television, there is generally no "security". I've been in radio 18 years and 14 years in television so I should try relax a little.
Who would you most like to go for a pint with?
Right now, in lockdown, I want to go for a pint with everyone. But usually my dream would be the tennis player Roger Federer. He's the coolest sports person in the world.
What fictional character do you most identify with?
Amy Schumer's character in I Feel Pretty. When I watched that film, I felt like I could have been her before she gets knocked on the head.
What is your most treasured possession?
My husband, he's all mine.
What's your guilty pleasure?
Eurovision, the greatest competition on the planet. I dream of having Marty Whelan's job.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Don't give up what you want most for what you want now. I had to say this to myself every day I was saving for a house.
What item in your wardrobe do you wear the most?
The honest but unsexy answer is my nude bra.
Who are your heroes?
My teachers are my heroes. I loved my time at school, even though I wasn't a straight-A or B student. From Martha Savage in primary school to Miss Russell Kennedy and Mairéad Garvey, my music and English teachers in St Michael's Holy Faith secondary school in Finglas. They always had words of encouragement and were of the opinion that there is far more to learning than grades.
When did you last cry?
Last week, during lockdown. My dad is 81 and lives alone. We're lucky he's extremely healthy.
How are you coping with lockdown?
Chocolate and Rioja.
What are you going to do right after this interview?
Make myself a Dingle gin and tonic.
What keeps you awake at night?
I've been told I have a gift for sleeping. Usually, the only thing that wakes me is the baby or the night before I have a new gig.
What's your greatest passion in life?
Radio. I always wanted to work in radio. I'm still a huge radio fan and had many people tell me, because I didn't know anyone who worked in radio, that I had zero chance of getting a job in any station (including an ex-boyfriend!).
If you had to choose three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?
Honest. Ambitious. Mother.
What's your favourite film?
I've two films. Gone with the Wind - I got my daughter Bonnie's name from it. When Harry Met Sally - I adore this film and the soundtrack and the whole idea that men and women can never be friends.
What's the last TV show you binge-watched?
The Tiger King. Each character is more bizarre and awful as the last.
What one piece of advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Believe in yourself a little more and stop thinking you are fat, you idiot!
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
To be invisible.
What does your dream weekend look like?
Eggs for breakfast, walk Murphy the dog, get the paper, a trip to St Anne's Park with the kids, then get a babysitter and head out with Louis to our local, The Baths, and have some yummy cocktails and enjoy the stroll home.
What job would you be terrible at?
A baker. I have tried so many times to bake something very basic and it always ends up in the bin.
Do you believe in a God?
Yes, I like having chats with him every so often.