It’s been almost a year since broadcaster Mairead Ronan told her bosses at Today FM that she was dropping the popular lunchtime radio show.
After two years leading the show, she’s grown her audience by a third – to 136,000 listeners – and seems to be on top of her game. To say that the news of her passing was unexpected would be an understatement.
However, the mother of Bonnie, 4, Eliza, 7, and Dara, 15, said wanting to spend more time at home with her family was one of the reasons she stepped back.
“I don’t want to be Miss Rabbit [the overworked character from Peppa Pig] any more, working 10 jobs,” she said.
“I announced that I was leaving in November 2021 and I gave my last concert on December 10. Honestly, I have not regretted my decision for a second. I’ve been back to the building a few times since, and I’ve been rattled when I parked and walked in.
“But there is no regret there, just no. Coming home I feel numb – and I still get my kicks from Ireland’s Strongest Family and do quirky photo shoots.
“But I had to get off that treadmill. I just can’t continue at that rate. Even when I’m at home, I’m still working. It’s not like you’re finished when the show is over. That’s the tough thing about what we do.”
She commends RTÉ’s Claire Byrne for deciding to ditch her Monday night TV show and achieve a better work-life balance, while being honest about how challenging it can be.
Ronan (42) has spent most of the summer in Dunmore East, Co Waterford, enjoying quality time with her family and enjoying all the little moments she feels she misses out on while working so much.
“My summer was all I was looking forward to,” she said. “Last summer, I worked every day. I’ve received pictures of girls in St Anne’s Park eating ice cream or walking the dog, and I wish I was there with them. “
She’s still busy, but at this stage she can choose her own projects, and she’s learned to say no if something doesn’t work for her.
“I know people always talk about juggling being a struggle, but it really is. Anytime. It’s hard work, working full time, and having kids. I totally understood when Claire Byrne said she wouldn’t do it again.
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“She gave up her weekends for the past seven years to do that show. She is on top of her game and will remain there. She can come back and do that show when her kids are 15. If she wants to, it will happen.
“And I hope I can get a full-time job again if I want to do that. But right now, I’m very busy with the kids, with my FARO scope, with voiceovers and with Ireland’s Strongest Family. “
Ronan says a common misconception about radio and television work is that presenters only work the hour or two that they stand in front of their show.
“One might think that for Claire’s TV show on Monday night, she’d come in at nine, watch the show and go home,” she said. “But having a comedy after the live means she can sleep very late on Monday night, leaving her tired on Tuesday morning.
“There will be a lot of calls and work to do on Saturday and Sunday for that program. And that’s why the show was so good.”
Now Ronan wonders how she managed to fit all in herself, after signing up Dancing with the stars when her youngest was only four months old (she went on to win the RTE show in 2019).
Speaking of new co-host Doireann Garrihy, she thinks she would be “absolutely perfect” for it.
“It’s the kind of job that’s really good if you’re used to radio,” she says.
“It’s all in the moment, reacting to what just happened – and I imagine her and Jen [Jennifer Zamparelli] will work really well together. “
Ronan is now back to the leader Ireland’s Strongest Familyis in its 10th season and has a new coach, former chariot champion Nina Carberry.
She revealed that the gloves were actually gone among the trainers – Davy Fitzgerald, Donncha O’Callaghan, Anna Geary and Carberry. Plus, there are some amusing moves by a certain hurdler manager to try to get the upper hand.
“Coachs are not allowed to watch each other’s families play. They have to come up with their own tactics for events, so they all get kicked out,” said Ronan.
“But let’s just say I caught Davy Fitz watching a few times on this year’s recordings. Literally he was hiding among the reeds, and I said, ‘Davy, I can see you!’ And then he was gone.”
Ireland’s Strongest Family on RTÉ One on Sundays at 18:30.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/i-didnt-want-to-be-miss-rabbit-any-more-working-10-jobs-says-fittest-family-presenter-mairead-ronan-42080849.html Mairead Ronan, host of ‘Fittest Family’, says: ‘I don’t want to be Miss Rabbit anymore, do 10 jobs’