Sunday, March 28, 2021

Aoife Kearns (23) is a native of Tubrid, Mooncoin. Daughter of Jack and Anne Kearns, Aoife has two siblings – Kate and Seán – and also lives with her Nanny Catherine Kearns who turned 90 this year. Aoifes other grandmother is Mary OToole so she feels doubly fortunate on the Nanny front! A multi-platform journalist with WLR, Aoife worked as a part-time news and sports journalist with Beat 102-103 while in college.

Life in a day

If I’m working on the afternoon shift I’m up at 8:30am and have some scrambled eggs with my Nanny Catherine. We always listen to the morning news. There is plenty of scrolling on Twitter and news apps and if my mother has a day off I get to have a glance through the papers. Then it’s off to work in the Avensis and into the Brodcast Centre in Ardkeen.

On the news shift when you arrive, there’s some more sifting through papers, reading emails and listening to ‘Déise Today’. There will, more than likely, be an interview to follow up on when I’m in, along with a discussion around the news of the day with the morning journalists. During the day there are news bulletins to be read, articles to be written and more interviews to be recorded.

Every few weeks there’s a reporting shift where you get the chance to go out and about but of course since Covid, that line of work has been restricted. I must admit, this is where I’m in my element. I love meeting new people, hearing how the public feel about whatever the story of the day might be and just having the opportunity to tell whatever story needs to be told.

What school did you go to?

I went to a convent primary and secondary school; it was all-girls until I headed off to college. For primary school it was the Presentation Convent GNS in Mooncoin (now Scoil Mhuire) and then I headed across the Tipperary border for secondary school to Scoil Mhuire (Greenhill) in Carrick-on-Suir, which is a Mercy school.

What teacher do you remember most vividly?

I’m going to focus on the happy memories on this one. In primary school I have to say it was Breda O’Shea, the then Principal of the primary school in Mooncoin. She taught us songs and poems I can recite to this day! In secondary school, Fintan O’Mahony was my history teacher from First to Sixth Year which was undoubtedly my favourite subject. He was the kind of teacher who really encouraged creativity and in Transition Year held politics classes, drama and film studies which was probably the first time I didn’t see school as a chore and really engaged with the classes.

One stand-out moment in school for me was when former county councillor and teacher at Scoil Mhuire, Mary Greene, brought us to the Dáil and the Criminal Courts. That day, The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was to be debated in the Dáil and I bought the Irish Independent that morning, so I’d be up to date on the latest developments.

And it was that morning that Ms Greene said to me: “In all of the years I’ve brought students on this trip, you are the first to bring a newspaper, you’ll definitely be a journalist,” and here I am!

What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?

That is definitely a loaded question. I think the first piece of advice I would give to 15-year-old Aoife is to try and talk to your parents. I moped around with the weight of the world on my shoulders, but I didn’t want to talk about it. The second thing that comes to mind, is to stop trying to camouflage. I met an old school friend recently who was surprised I was doing what I am now as I wasn’t particularly outgoing in school. That was something I developed in my teenage years – I tried my best to be transparent.

How do you relax?

Honestly, I do struggle with relaxing and switching off, but when I do I love a glossy magazine or a book, and a cup of coffee on my days off. I love true-crime documentaries which may sound like a strange way to relax, but I think it’s informative switching-off. Otherwise, I enjoy something nice and fluffy on Netflix, I recently finished ‘Ginny and Georgia’ and I loved ‘Bridgerton’ with our own Jamie Beamish.

What is your favourite film and piece of music?

I love Richard Curtis films. I think ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘About Time’ are masterpieces as rom-coms go. Curtis does a fantastic job of creating these real-life characters and friendships full of dry humour and wit. I am a sucker for some romance too. My standalone favourite album would probably be Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’. That got me through many a bad day (and a break-up). I also am a bit of a ‘Swiftie’ and I loved Taylor Swift’s album, ‘Folklore’ which was released last year. I was delighted Taylor has returned to her country-folk roots. And my feel-good song has to be The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’.

When was the last time you cried?

Oh, it was a break-up. Taylor Swift and Joni Mitchell were more than likely blaring at the time.

What has been your happiest moment of recent times?

Definitely getting my college results. I was already on a high that month as I had just started working full-time with WLR. In school, I was by no means a star pupil, so when I did well when it came to my college degree, I was flabbergasted. My family were really delighted, and it meant a lot to me as they supported me in many ways during college.

Do you pray?

I do, every night. I am not overly religious but I like saying ‘thanks’ to God, or the elements, or the universe or whatever is there; for getting me through another day. Even if I’m not in a good mood.

I try to say thanks because I do believe there is good in every day as cheesy as it sounds. If I was to pick a religious prayer it would be – perhaps because it isn’t overly religious – ‘Little flower, show your power, at this very special hour’, a prayer to Saint Therese of Lisieux.

What is your biggest fear?

Turning bitter as I get older and losing hope in life. In the past I think I would have said that the fear would be that I wouldn’t be happy or satisfied with my life. Now I think the fear would be, that it would be too difficult to continue to try and be positive.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t think of her as a possession really, but I’m probably looking for an excuse to mention my little dog Biddy. She’s a rescue Jack Russell and has brought me so much joy. I am extremely proud of my car too, which my Auntie Siobhán had before me. I guess your first car is a big deal and it’s still trudging through the backroads like a proper Toyota.

What is your favourite thing about Waterford?

Brennan’s taco chips (!) and of course I love the history of Waterford. My Mam called me after Aoife MacMurrough who married Strongbow at Reginald’s Tower and so that was probably where the love began. I think my favourite area of the city and county is The Mall. If those streets could only speak, could you imagine the tales! You have Reginald’s Tower at the top, then of course the Tricolour was flown by Thomas Francis Meagher, but I really feel the Bishop’s Palace is a breathtaking example of John Roberts’ architectural legacy to the city. I hear there are a few ghosts roaming around the building too!

If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be?

One thing that struck me about the URDF funding for the Cultural Quarter and the Viking Triangle was that it’s going to put money into the buildings and communities already in existence. I think, going forward, that is something that Waterford will increasingly need to do: to hold onto the culture and history that’s already on our doorstep. Places like O’Connell Street, Ballybricken, the Millennium (William Vincent Wallace) Plaza – they are all gems in their own right and deserve attention.

In conversation with Dermot Keyes

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