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A Day in the Life: Pat McGrath

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A FAMILIAR FACE RTÉ’s Western Correspondent Pat McGrath is pictured at RTÉ’s headquarters in Dublin. Pic: City Headshots Dublin

MY day starts at 7am most mornings.
I’m married with three kids so it’s a busy house. I check the RTÉ News Now app on my phone, turn on Morning Ireland, and get the lunches ready for the kids.
I’d also glance at the Irish Times, Irish Examiner and Irish Independent newspapers and take a look at Twitter.
I walk the kids to school and call the RTÉ newsdesk in Dublin — this is the first of many calls to and from HQ during the day.
All the regional correspondents check in with the Chief News Editor to discuss the stories we’ll cover that day, and to chew over any breaking stories to see if there is an angle relevant to the west that we should look at. After the morning news conference in Dublin, radio, tv and online editors let us know what they need from us during the day.
That gives a focus to the morning as we set up interviews and line up material across counties Mayo and Galway.
Then I hit the road to wherever we’re working on a story, checking in with the RTÉ regional office in Galway en route.
The team there is the main point of contact with all corners of the area we cover and deal with calls and queries of interest to every RTÉ news platform from online and social media to TV news bulletins, Nationwide and the radio output. Ideally we’ll feed a TV report back from wherever for the one o’clock news, and provide clips or reports for the radio news bulletins and the News At One. It’s more and more about digital content too and getting stories out to the audience wherever they are and however they access them. The cycle continues through the afternoon, updating reports, filing copy, making calls and working towards the next ‘junction’ at six o’clock.
That’s when the focus is on Six-One — maybe getting the Satellite Unit to a location for a live insert to the programme or to feed material straight to Dublin.
If we’re on a developing story, we’ll hang around for the 9pm TV news and head back home after filing a late night update for radio and web.
The phone is always on. It’s our job to reflect the social, political, economic, sporting and cultural life of the region. And we do that to the best of our ability every day.
I’m really looking forward to covering the Papal visit later this month. It’s a huge occasion for the county and the west, and the symbolism of the Pope landing at Knock Airport gives another dimension to the brief trip.
Pope Francis will deliver a weekly message in Knock too that will give us another aspect to follow, along with the excitement and the expectation his visit brings.
We’ll be providing extensive coverage of the visit live from the airport and the Shrine on the morning — that’s exciting because of the live aspect.
There’s no doubt what the biggest story has been since I took over as Western Correspondent for RTÉ news — it was the R116 helicopter tragedy in Mayo last year.
There was phenomenal interest in that story and it was a huge task to report on the crash and it’s ongoing aftermath.
Much of the interest I think stemmed from an understanding that the Coast Guard are the people we depend on, often without thinking of the risks they take each and every time they serve.
What they do every day is the ultimate heroism, the ultimate expression of civic mindedness. That resonated with people all over the country, as did the meitheal spirit demonstrated in Erris during the weeks and months after the crash.
I think that was partly too because people in that area know all too well how vital the Coast Guard service is.
Every week I meet someone who brings up the tragedy, 18 months on. I have never experienced that level of engagement with a story.
My job is busy, but I love it.
I heard a great quote recently that you have to wait ‘til the evening to see how good the day was. For me, a good day’s work is when the finish line looms and you can say you did your best in whatever you turned your hand to.

In conversation with Mike Finnerty

Factfile
Name: Pat McGrath
From: Meath, via Cork,  c/o Galway.
Age: 42  
Occupation: Western Correspondent, RTÉ News

Quickfire Questions

If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Listen to music.

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I present a music show called ‘C60’ every Saturday on RTÉ’s digital radio station, 2XM.

Where’s your favourite place in the world?
Tra Mór beach in Donegal
 
What makes you angry?
Slime and loom bands.

First hero?
Noddy.

Name three things that are always in your fridge?
Milk, eggs, ham.

What makes you nervous?
Watching Mayo in an All-Ireland Final.

Favourite TV show?
Newsnight  

Who’s the most famous person you’ve met?
Seán Boylan.

Best holiday?
Summer holidays in Donegal.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Innocence.  

What’s your most prized possession?
My Meath jersey.

Best advice you ever got?
Pressure is for tyres.

Describe yourself in three words?
Happy and content.

How do you unwind?
Listen to music and read.

Advice for aspiring journalists?
Go for it. Find a job you love and you never work a day in your life.

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