A Day in the Life: Eavan Murray

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YOU CAN'T BEAT BEING THERE Mayo fans Eavan Murray and her son Bobby at Croke Park after the Mayo win against Dublin. Pic: Steve Humphreys/Irish Independent

Factfile
Name: Eavan Murray
Age: 40
Occupation: Western Correspondent for the Irish Independent
Home town: Knock

MY day starts at around 8am most mornings unless some major news event happens late the night before. In situations where there has been a tragedy of some kind, I could be on the road as early as 6am. Sadly, this happened recently with the horrific death of four people on the M6 motorway near Ballinasloe.
I cover the whole of the west of Ireland, but if there is a major news event in Donegal, Clare or Derry, I will be sent if I’m the first person to get there. I’m fortunate in my current role as terrible events like that are rare.
My phone is always on. It’s my job to reflect the region’s social, political, economic, sporting, and cultural life. And I see that as an honour, and I always do my best.
I’m really looking forward to covering the build-up of the All-Ireland final over the coming two weeks.
I’m married with a young son, so we are a busy house. Bobby is four, and he’s a bit of a dream in the mornings in that I am always up before him.
That means I can read all the news on my phone, turn on Morning Ireland and get his clothes and breakfast ready while he is still asleep.  
I read our paper, The Irish Independent, first, then glance at The Irish Times and The Irish Examiner. It’s good to know where they may have gotten a better angle on a story than I have. I try not to let that happen too often!
I always look at Mid-West, ShannonSide and Galway Bay FM news. Local news reporters are, without a doubt, the hardest working. They make my life a lot easier.
I always look at Twitter to see what people are either complaining about or championing that day. I think Twitter is a brilliant resource for a journalist, but it can be very hostile, and it’s not a place anyone should spend too much of their time.
I send an email to the newsdesk around 9am and let them know what’s on my schedule for the day. For example, it could be a court case in Castlebar or Galway. But I could be called off what I am doing at any point and redirected to something else.

Working from home
I’m working from home and I usually receive a call from my News Editor around 10am. After that, I have a fairly good idea of where my day is going. I’m more often than not working from home. And a large part of my day is spent on the phone.
The big thing I take away from my job is that people are great. Irish people and particularly Mayo people, are generally very sound and generous with their time.
Often I have to figure out how to find people I don’t know. It gets easier with time.
It is wonderful to work in the west of Ireland because I often know someone who either knows or lives near the person I need to track down.
If you connect people and a place, you almost always find who you are looking for.
I generally have a coffee and toast for breakfast. However, if I’m on the road, I have to grab something in a petrol station, which is not ideal. I can say, though, from driving all over Ireland for years, the food offering in service stations has improved a lot in the past ten years.
I started my job officially in February 2020, just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
I had anticipated that a lot of my work would require me to travel, but I found myself at home when the lockdown hit.
Had you asked me before how I would have coped with a three-year-old and working full-time at home, I would have thought it impossible. But we managed fine. I think he was a good age in that I wasn’t juggling homework.
I love working from home, and I think it suits working mothers. I used to work in Dublin for The Sun newspaper and reported mainly on crime-related events. I was on the road constantly all over the country. You appreciate the blessings in your own life when you see the terrible cruelties and injustices inflicted on people and their families.

Move west
I had to move west when I had my son as my partner, now my husband, was living full-time here, and his work was non-transferrable.
I struggled for a long time, worrying that my career as a journalist was over. I couldn’t have returned to my previous job considering the hours involved.
There were few opportunities in journalism in either Galway or Mayo at the time. I was so happy to be offered the job in the Independent.
We are currently the only national newspaper to invest in a Western Correspondent, which I think is a shame.
I do not enjoy cooking, but you can’t avoid it, especially when you have kids. I love when I have a job in Castlebar because I always run to Café Rua and get our dinner there.
I relax late at night when everyone is in bed, and I watch TV by myself for an hour or two.
I watch a lot of comedies as it helps me switch my brain off. I usually go to bed around midnight, and I’m not the best sleeper because I find it hard to drop off.
The best thing about my job is that every day is different. You don’t know what is ahead of you on any given day. And I love meeting and chatting with people and telling their stories.

In conversation with Áine Ryan

Quickfire questions

If money was no object, what would you do every day?
Live in Spain, sunbathe and watch Netflix.

Most unusual thing you have eaten?
I did try snails once. Once.

Favourite place you have visited?
San Sebastian in Spain and Westport

What makes you nervous? 
Deadlines.

Name three celebrities you would invite to your post-pandemic dinner party?

Aidan O’Shea, Pádraig O’Hora and Sharon Horgan.

Best advice you ever got?
Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Three things always in your fridge?
Hummus, tomatoes and pesto.

Most prized possession?
It used to be my Mini Cooper, but I had to sell it when I had my son. So I don’t know. I’m not big on possessions.

First hero?
My dad.

Sum up pandemic lockdowns in three words?
Surreal, lonely and healing.

Last book you read?
A Dream of Death, a book about the Sophie Toscan Du Plantier murder, written by my friend and colleague Ralph Riegel.

Favourite Netflix series?
The Queen’s Gambit or The Office – US version.

Is this Mayo’s year for Sam?
YES!