“Any language that gives the world the word ‘craic’ has to be craic itself,” Gráinne Seoige says when we catch up for a chat.
I was bemoaning my poor ability to speak the Irish language, something that has often depressed me. Year after year I promise myself I will sign up for night classes, try harder and maybe one day be able to speak our native tongue with pride. One day…
After chatting to Gráinne I now feel inspired. “Try it, chance your arm, most people really enjoy it when someone makes an effort to speak ‘as Gaeilge’,” she adds.
“I have friends learning at the moment, it’s a fun thing to do. Some people say that the Irish language is synonymous with bad teaching, but that’s just not the case. It’s where we get the word craic from after all!”
Gráinne has had another busy year on the airwaves and is currently working on RTÉ’s Crimecall, a once-a-month TV show which she describes as “the granddaughter of Garda Patrol”. (She’s the daughter of a garda, just like me, so it’s in the blood!)
“Just before Christmas I was working on That’s Britain for the BBC,” she says. “Since then I have been working at home. I hop over and back a lot.”
Gráinne boasts a stunning CV, taking in several big TV launches from TG4 to TV3 and Sky News Ireland, plus several very popular RTÉ shows, not to mention appearing in front of more than 100million people the other week when she delivered the Irish results for Eurovision 2012. She describes Eurovision as a “huge technical colossus of a show”.
I’m always curious as to whether big name presenters still get nervous when working with that kind of pressure, so I ask her.
“Live television is the best, it’s just the best. Yes there are times, like Eurovision, where you are representing your country. It’s not just for yourself, there’s a little bit of extra nerves there alright. I love it and I enjoy it and it’s great fun.”
Away from the studio and the livepoint, Grainne is a big sports fan, loves Manchester United and adores horseracing. Her love of the latter is something she has been able to help one of her chosen charities with, the National Breast Cancer Research Institute, of which she is the patron.
“At the time that I was asked to become involved, there were no breast cancer screening facilities in the west of Ireland or along the western seaboard,” she says.
“It’s a national charity which happens to be based at University College Galway, so it was a no-brainer, as they say. My mother and my sister live there and to think that there were no facilities there should they ever need them, so I got involved. I just wanted to raise awareness and now we have raised a lot of money as well.
“I was very, very fortunate in that the great racehorse trainer Jim Bolger gave me horses to run. He wanted to make a contribution to charity and he helped us. The name of the first horse he gave us was ‘Toirneach’ (Thunder, as Gaeilge). He calls most of his horses by Irish names. And then he gave us ‘Radharc na Farraige’ (Seaview) which ran very well and even ended up at Royal Ascot. For a girl from Connemara to go all the way to the owner’s enclosure at Royal Ascot, well that was something else!”
She adds: “”I’ve hugely enjoyed the racing work I have done on the telly too, whether it be Cheltenham or the Galway races. It’s in our blood as Irish people to be interested in horses.”
So does Gráinne for some advice for any young person out there who has followed her career and would like a crack at the glamorous world of TV presenting?
“Try and get as much work experience as possible. Try and get a foot in the door somewhere. If you are in the door and an opportunity arises, you might be lucky. I have been incredibly lucky in my career, but it is extremely hard work. It’s not all lip gloss and glamour. The hours are extremely long, but the satisfaction at the end is just great.”
Go raibh maith again Gráinne!