Retired RTÉ news anchor Eileen Dunne said she “would always be a teacher” but loved her 40-year career as a journalist at the national broadcaster.
Unne made the shocking announcement of her immediate retirement at the end of a newscast last week, ending a decades-long career of reading the nation’s news.
Eileen, who is known for the clarity and delivery of her bulletins, admitted getting emotional during her last post on camera for RTÉ News.
“I tried to keep the lid on. I was overwhelmed by the reaction. I still deal with emails and texts and haven’t even gotten close to letters or cards,” Dunne told Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ radio.
“If people had known that beforehand, I would have fought. I had them all [work colleagues] tortured not to tell anyone, I had warned her. Towards the end, if I had to walk much longer, I would have – I started to get wobbly.
“I’ll be 65 next year, but my 40 years are up and I’m walking out the door as one of the lucky few [had a] permanent and pensionable position. I just decided I’m outta here. I know that some of my colleagues had to leave at 65 and weren’t ready. But I’m ready. I almost left a few years ago but didn’t end up. I’m glad I stayed and worked through Covid but now I’m ready.
“[Covid] taught me that there is more to life. I also look at friends that we’ve lost or who are sick, so I want to get out and travel a bit and go to the theater and the concert hall… I’ll never say again that I can’t because I’m working,” said Dunne.
She acknowledged that many people who didn’t know her felt a connection to her, attributing it to “familiarity.” Acknowledging the many well-wishers who paid for drinks for her, she told her, “I grew up seeing you on the news with my mum and dad. It was really nice,” Dunne said.
“I don’t know if it will be like that in the future as people don’t watch the news every day like they used to. I get stuff from people saying you’ve been in my living room every night for the last 40 years. That won’t happen again. Because no one else is going to stick around for 40 years and also because people aren’t watching on the same level.
Ms Dunne admitted the job can be difficult at times as she has to break bad news to the nation, but said: “When the red light comes on on the camera you go on autopilot. After that you would think about things.
“The story that struck me the most was the Dunblane massacre – the guy who went to school and shot all the kids. That was because I had just become a mother myself. It impacted me in a way that nothing had impacted me before, including Ethiopia [famine] a few years earlier,” Dunne said.
Sixteen children and a teacher were massacred at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996 when a gunman entered the school and shot them dead.
Eileen is from Clontarf of Laois and Westmeath parents and her father Mick was a GAA correspondent. She studied at UCD and then taught English in France for a year before coming home to work at RTÉ.
The era of her work that Dunne says she keeps coming back to was covering the Good Friday Agreement.
“I remember driving from Athlone on Friday April 10th when news of the Good Friday Agreement broke and I stopped at the side of the road to listen to speeches by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern who were coming from the Stormont building came. That was my first wow moment. It was history, yes,” Eileen said.
https://www.independent.ie/news/i-just-decided-i-was-out-of-here-newsreader-eileen-dunne-reflects-on-sudden-ending-to-stellar-40-year-rte-career-42175789.html ‘I’ve just decided I’m out of here’ – news anchor Eileen Dunne reflects on the sudden end of 40-year RTÉ career