Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

21.12 10 Sep 2020


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Anne Doyle says she never "thought through life's decisions to any great extent" - something she believes "maybe wasn't such a bad thing".

The legendary newscaster joined Kieran Cuddihy for this week's Thursday Interview on The Hard Shoulder to discuss retirement, Dublin during the COVID-19 crisis, and never learning to drive.

Anne Doyle: 'It's important you remain feckless when you are no longer young'

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Anne grew up in Wexford, and she says that county is still her soul.

However, she said she "fell in love" with Dublin the day she arrived in the city, aged 17.

Five decades later, she feels the "heart seems to be ripped out of the centre of Dublin" due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

She observed: "I would imagine similar problems exist in other cities.

"We are reaping a whirlwind here in Dublin: the policies that apply in lots of European cities, that encourage people to have a living community in the city, that has been very sorely neglected in Dublin.

"Regrettably now you can see the effects."

The broadcaster said she's been lucky enough that she and her friends, family and loved ones have remained well during the pandemic - but unfortunately many others haven't been so lucky.

Anne retired from RTÉ at the end of 2011 - a year she remembers as 'miserable' due to the impact of the recession at the time.

She explained: "[There was] that ominous feeling that worse was to come... I had worked through other recessions - the 80s were pretty grim in every sense.

"There comes a point perhaps where you start running out of steam - by the middle of 2011 I thought the next time there's a chink in a doorway here, I'm through it."

'You have to have some laughs'

Anne told Kieran she never "thought through life's decision to any great extent" - something she believes perhaps wasn't such a bad thing.

She said: "It doesn't do to overthink anything... you can meet yourself coming backwards then. I find generally with younger people they take their responsibilities very seriously. I applaud that.

"Maybe I was a little too wayward and a little too feckless, but you have to have some laughs along the way.

"I would think it's much more important you remain feckless when you are no longer young - and I'm happy to say fecklessness stays with you."

Anne believes she was not meant for the job of primary school teaching, so was astonished to 'get the call' for teacher training.

However, she managed to persuade her mother to let her study English and history in UCD instead.

Anne said she had a great time in university, but she was also lucky to have had a happy childhood before that.

She said rural Ireland in the 50s was a harsh and poverty-stricken place, but she had a "hard-working father and joyous mother".

She recalled: "We were very self-sufficient, and it was a very, very happy time.

"I had a very tomboyish upbringing - I was the kind of girl who climbed trees, and threw stones at people."

Never learning to drive

Anne said she never had a desire to learn to drive, although there'd have been "no question" she would have done so if she lived in the country.

She said: "With great affection, I think some of the blame for this - if you want to call it blame - would go to my beloved sister, who was probably the worst driver in the world.

"For about a year, we did every highway and byway of Wexford because she hadn't learned to reverse... we might have done a 20 mile circuit."

She recalled one trip to Slaney Street in Enniscorthy, which was a two-way system at the time.

She said: "Ailish had a little blue Mini. There was a woman putting the tea out on the table... a low house with a very wide door.

"My sister panicked... and drove into the woman's doorway.

"The woman was putting ham and tomatoes on the table, and we launched through the doorway. The fellas from the butchers' shop next door came out, lifted the Mini back out on to the street.

"No harm was done - the woman offered us a cup of tea. [But] it didn't exactly inspire me that I was going to rally."


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