We see her most evenings on the 9 o'clock News but how well do you know Eileen Dunne? We recently met up with her to give her the 3rd degree !
Being a news anchor on RTE and the daughter of Mick Dunne, how does it feel to be instantly recognised no matter where you go?
You know what, it becomes 'part of what you are' - that's not to sound blasé about it, but it's just part of my life and always has been because of Dad.
Do the public at large leave you alone or do they nearly feel like they know you?
I always make the distinction between Dublin and the rest of the country - in Dublin it's no big deal to see Anne Doyle or Pat Kenny walking down Grafton Street so people generally leave you alone, but in the country - it's 'is it her and what is she doing here?' and they don't rest easy until they find out! However that's fine too, 99.9% of the time people are lovely and they only want to say 'hello'!
Are you originally from Laois? Nope, I was born in Dublin (Clontarf) - my father was from Laois and my Mother is from Westmeath.
What’s it like being married to someone who’s also on our TV screens?
Well again it's no big deal - having grown up with it, to me it's normal. It probably makes it easier to function as a couple though, we would each understand where the other is coming from.....
Are you generally a very private person or do you like attending various functions & balls?
Oh, I do enjoy the functions and balls now and again, but I also love my 'me time' - I think it's very importnt to be able to take time out for yourself!
Tell us how you met your husband & who made the 1st move?
Well, I used to see him around town - I knew who he was and he knew who I was, but it was actually a mutual friend, David Hanly, who had a hand in getting us together, though I don't think he ever thought it would last!
If you could invite 5 guests for dinner (dead of living) who would they be & why?
The De Valeras, Éamonn and Sinéad, he for the historical perspective, she because she was a writer and teacher and in the days before 'women's lib' always struck me as a very strong woman - as a child I loved the notion that she had been his teacher! Alasdair Campbell - 'cos I'd love to see what they would make of each other, and he's bright and entertaining, my pal Mary Kennedy - she lights up a room when she enters it, and is always good company and John Sheehan from the Dubliners to lead the sing-song and the story-telling!
If you were getting married again would you change anything?
Not a thing - we had a wonderful day - we were married in St. John the Baptist Church in Clontarf, and had the reception in Sutton Castle ( no longer an hotel unfortunately) - it was one 'helluva party' and as a bonus - the sun shone all day. I was 35, and had spent a long time planning it (picking up ideas as I went along) - I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it!
Are there any particular news stories that have stayed with you over the years?
The massacre at Dunblane in Scotland in 1996 stands out more than most - my son was just six months old and for the first time I was dealing with a story like this from a 'Mammy's' perspective! I also remember the day Dominic McGlinchey was captured, St Patrick's Day 1984 - I was on an early radio shift and all was quiet on the bank-holiday - suddenly all hell broke loose ( I was still working part-time in the Newsroom at that stage, so it was my first experience of a big story)
People generally assume that you have an “easy number” come in to work, read the news and go home – tell us what really happens!
Well the first thing is - you need to stay on top of the news - sometimes when I'm off, I like to switch off completely, but then I have to catch up because you can end up interviewing someone a week later and looking very foolish! My working day starts about 2.30 and I read on radio for the afternoon, then hit make-up and once the Six-One news is over - it's heads down for the 9! Its' a team effort so I'd be liaising with the Programme editor, director and chief sub editor on headlines, scripts, interviews etc. and hopefully we're all singing from the same hymn sheet when we get into studio!
If you won the lotto – what are the 1st 3 things that you would do?
If I won the lotto, I would pay off all my debts and those of family and close friends, I would give a few bob to some of my favourite charities and I would but a little cottage in Brittany!
Who has been your favourite person to interview?
The first person I ever interviewed for a news bulletin was, believe it or not, Gay Byrne. His autobiography had just been published an we pre-recorded an interview for the Six-One news ... I was shaking, but we have a mutual admiration society going, and he was very nice to me - I still have it on tape in my locker! I also interviewed the late Tony Gregory on radio in Irish! I'm sure I made lots of mistakes, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Do you or did you in the past find it difficult not to let your own personal opinion on a subject effect the reporting of it?
I actually work very hard at that - if it's a disaster-type story, obviously your emotions will come through, but if it's a political story, there is no way you should know how I feel about it - I am merely the messenger!
If you had one wish, what would it be?
Well if I told you it wouldn't come true now would it!