Julie grew up in Waterford (in Avondale), the daughter of footballer Dave Kirby and his wife Angela. She has a brother Alan – himself well known to Blues fans – and a sister Lindsey, a teacher in the Ursuline. Julie has been recently appointed News and Sports Editor in WLR, having been with the station for a number of years presenting the business show The Hot Desk, and more recently producing Damien Tiernan on Déise Today.
Julie first cut her teeth in journalism with the BBC in Belfast, and spent 12 years with the broadcaster as a producer and reporter in the Dublin office. She returned to her home town in 2015 after two and a half years living in Chicago with her family – husband Andrew, and kids Faye (8) and Patrick (9).
Life in a Day
My typical work day is an early shift, so out of bed by 5.45am to be in work for 6.30am. First news bulletin of the morning is at 7am and it’s pretty much non-stop all the way from there!
It’s an incredibly busy job, reading early bulletins on the half hour, some days with Nigel Kelly for company on sport and some days news and sport fall to me. In between time, there’s news to gather, the web to update, morning meetings with the Déise team, phonecalls and emails to answer and generally just dealing with events as they arise.
Once the work shift is done, although in truth I rarely truly switch off, it’s home to the kids, homework and ‘what’s for dinner?’
If I can I try to escape for a walk or run in the evenings, or I do a barre class online, which I love, otherwise it’s running round to kids’ activities before finally sitting down for an hour or so of TV (starting with the 9 o’clock news of course!), and early to bed with a good book (always fiction).
What school did you go to?
The Ursuline primary and secondary having grown up close by in Avondale.
What teacher do you remember most vividly?
Eddie O’Keeffe. Eddie was my honours maths teacher, but he taught us media studies long before it was a ‘proper’ subject. He had a little TV studio and radio studio in the school and my favourite school memories revolve around lunchtime requests on the school radio, embarrassing friends by announcing to the school who they fancied and playing music! It sparked my enduring love of radio. Eddie died in Spain a few years ago, but he will always be fondly remembered by me and many others too I’m sure.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
You’re not actually going to marry Eddie Vedder (lead singer with Pearl Jam) so best to stop obsessing over him! Being cool does not mean pretending you don’t care. And please stop thinking you’re ugly…
How do you relax?
My favourite way to release the stresses of the day is a long walk with good music on the earphones or with a friend. I also love a good book and a good boxset – who doesn’t – and if there’s no early start the next day, a glass of wine features from time to time too.
What is your favourite film and piece of music?
I’m useless at picking favourites – I adore a good drama, especially one based on a true story and my taste in music is eclectic, but if you’re forcing me let’s go with Zoolander for guaranteed giggles and ‘Black’ by Pearl Jam as sung by the aforementioned Mr Vedder on MTV Unplugged in 1992 (sigh…)
What has been your happiest moment of recent times?
I literally jumped for joy when I was offered my current role, but watching my one-year-old niece shrieking with laughter when my kids play with her is pretty hard to beat.
Do you pray?
What is your biggest fear?
The same as every parent’s – something bad happening to my children.
What is your most treasured possession?
My grandmother Winnie O’Connor, who is now in a nursing home with dementia, is from Kerry and she told the best stories and poems; she would stand up in the middle of a pub and start doing her recitations (poems and stories) enthralling all who heard her. I did a book for her 90th birthday containing all her recitations and old family pictures. She signed it for me and I will treasure it always.
What is your favourite thing about living in Waterford?
Once I couldn’t wait to get out of here, now I would say that returning home is the best decision I ever made. It’s everything everyone always says – the sea, the mountains, the coast, the people, the pace of life, Geoff’s, bacon blaas and people greeting me with ‘well girl’.
If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be?
The one thing I wish for Waterford more than anything is for it to be properly treated as a regional city. There should be no question and no hesitation that we should have a properly funded stand alone university, an airport, a regional hospital with at minimum the same level of cardiac care enjoyed by other cities. It drives me insane that we are so often overlooked and ignored. However, I do believe our fortunes are changing for the better.
In conversation with Ger Lawton