ON HOME GROUND Maria Walsh pictured with Harold Conway and his children Harriet and Simon at the launch for the Western Alzheimers’ Peak of the Reek fundraiser in Murrisk earlier this month.
I GET up between 7am and 7.30am. I would consider myself a morning person. Usually it’s coffee and I worry about breakfast later. If I’m driving, because my work brings me all around the country, as long as I have coffee anything is game.
More of my money gets spent in petrol stations around the country. I always pretend I’m organised to have my breakfast pre-prepared, but if Noreen Walsh [mother] doesn’t have the shopping done then that doesn’t happen. I’m a big lover of eggs, for breakfast lunch and dinner because it’s the only thing I can make myself, and I should probably add croissants too.
A lot of my work is in Dublin so I would have just spent the last five weeks back and forth to Dublin working on the Dublin Honours Magdalenes event, where we brought 250 Magdalene laundry survivors to Dublin from all around the world, so we have just wrapped that up.
Now I’m back working on more pitches for TV shows, radio shows, hopefully picking up some stuff locally. I do stuff with development and humanitarian organisation Plan Ireland, so that takes me around Ireland too and when schools kick off again I do Q and As too, so work varies.
This August I’m the regional judge for the Rose of Tralee, so I’ll be judging all Irish Roses and I hear Ballintubber’s Rachel Gibbons will be flying the Mayo flag this year.
I was working on a TG4 documentary for two months with Cora Staunton earlier this year, it comes out in September, we’re just wrapping up that. It’s the story of Cora going out signing with the Sydney Giants. I was out in Australia for February and March. We had planned on only going out for four weeks but the Giants kept winning, it seems to be a trait that Cora likes to have!
I’m a devil for procrastination and I should probably be using spare time for better things like cleaning my mother’s house, but for me I do a lot of reading when I’m home. I read anything that’s in the newspapers or magazines and then if it sparks an interest in me I read a little more and that builds your ideas.
Conversations I would have had with Magdalene survivors have made me feel that it is a really interesting part of in our history and I’d write those ideas down or write my own stories down about LGBTQ+ issues. There’s still a lot of assumptions there and stereotypes here, in Northern Ireland and abroad.
People keep suggesting podcasts but I haven’t really gotten into them yet. I’m a big radio fiend. When I’m local it’s anything from Midwest and Galway Bay and then anywhere past the Shannon it’s Q102 or 2FM. I like to pretend I listen to Radio 1 and Newstalk all the time, but I don’t!
There’s days when I finish work at midnight. During the Dublin Honours Magdalenes we might not finish until two or three in the morning.
When I was working on the Cora documentary we’d start at 7am and finish at 11pm. It varies, when I’m at home I could start at 9am and finish at 10am. I always try and give myself some structure.
I’ve signed up again to Sea2Summit in Westport in November, so that was my birthday present to myself. I will start training for that with some long bike rides and I use a local gym, Andrew Shaughnessy in Caherlistrane. If I’m home I’m in there every day.
I use these challenges so I have no choice but to work out. I go through phases of uploading and deleting Netflix on my phone. I’m trying to get into more reading but it’s really hard with social media just there. I’d usually switch off from social media on Sundays.
In conversation with Ciara Galvin
Name: Maria Walsh
Occupation: Media broadcaster
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
I would spend six months volunteering in various parts of Africa, working with female community leaders in developing business plans to support community initiatives. The remaining six months I would spend between Ireland and the world.
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I once broke my arm running up to take a much-needed penalty in Shrule NS. Unfortunately I didn’t lift my foot high enough, slipped over the ball... and well, the rest is history!
This question makes it hard for me to show face at home in Shrule! Both my parents are my superheroes but if I had to choose one – my mother Noreen Walsh, the anchor to our family.
Biggest achievement to date?
Many would assume my answer would and should include being crowned the 2014 International Rose of Tralee was my biggest achievement to date, but for me it was deciding to become a Pioneer at the age of 12.
Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul – it is full of little stories, anecdotes and wisdoms.
Last time you cried?
I am not one for emotion (as my family can confirm) but just this week a group of us welcomed home local girl Maria Hannon back into Headford after her heroic three gold medal victory at the Special Olympics. She was joined with her fellow Connacht sport stars who won medals too. Often the greatest inspiration comes from local heroes – absolute pride for all involved.
Most prized possession?
My Philadelphia Rose of Tralee sash. I am forever honoured to have represented a remarkable and cultured city. The committee in Philadelphia were trusting in my character, stories and personality to have selected me. Forever grateful to call the City of Brotherly Love my home and my first chapter in my Rose of Tralee story.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
Paddle your own canoe. Follow your gut. Spend time on being self caring, it’s not a selfish trait, it’s a giving trait.
Who’s the most famous person you have met?
President Barack Obama in the White House on St Patrick’s Day 2015. I also briefly met President Clinton visiting Dublin in 2008. Remarkable charismatic characters.