At Home With... Sinead Desmond

Sinead Desmond is a presenter on TV3’s Ireland AM, a job that gets her out of the house by 4am. But it’s never too early for a house call.

Sinead Desmond lives in the Dublin suburb of Dun Laoghaire, on the top floor of an apartment block that looks down on the denizens of the area. “I have this marvellous view out over Dun Laoghaire Harbour and across Dublin Bay to Howth Head and the Irish Sea," she says. "It’s great to see the boats sailing around the bay and we can see the ferries coming in too. I even enjoy a good storm blowing in from the sea.”

Despite being situated beside the busy DART line, which also carries its fair share of grown-up trains hurtling to and from Rosslare Europort, the apartment is extremely noise-free. “I suppose it’s quiet because we’re so far up that the sound doesn’t carry," she says. "On the other hand, there’s quite a lot of building construction going on nearby, so if you open the windows at certain times it’s can be quite noisy but it doesn’t bother us. But then we used to live in London for a while, and anywhere seems quiet after London!”

In fact, it was the very view that first sold Sinead and her partner Davy when they viewed the location. They are both fans of the sea, especially kayaking and sailing, so there were several benefits for moving here. “It had other advantages too," she explains. "Dun Laoghaire is fairly well self-contained and we can get everything we need within a short walk. The Purty Loft is only a few yards away, and a few minutes walk gets us to the railway station. There are fabulous pubs and restaurants and we have lots of really good friends who live locally, so we only go into Dublin for plays or gigs.”

Working on an early morning slot means she has to be up and about quite early too. “TV3 send a cab to pick me up every morning at 4 am. At that time of the day Dun Laoghaire is like a ghost town. The most you’ll see will be somebody straggling home after a late night out.”

Dun Laoghaire has benefits apart from the magnificent views and walks along the pier. It has a major shopping centre and all the cafes you could want as well as the Pavilion Theatre. Mention of the Pavilion reminds Sinead that she made her first public appearance on an old site somewhere close to the new theatre.

“When I was about seven or eight I played the part of Sneezy in a show. I remember wearing a ballet dress and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I’m really very familiar with the area as I was actually born in St Michael’s Hospital which is right at the back of the apartment I now live in.”

Her comparatively recent move here means that much of her music collection, including a substantial amount of vinyl, is still in storage. “I use an iPod now and my musical tastes tend to be fairly broad. I listen to divas like Roberta Flack, Sarah Vaughan and so on, but I also have room for more contemporary stuff like the Aphex Twin and folk and electronica and some opera.”

She does most of the research for her Ireland AM show in the house, but for those who think she should have a proper day job as well, that’s not her only gainful employment. “I also write weekly columns for both The Irish Examiner and The Sun, and I do all of that in the apartment during the day on my lap top. After I finish at TV3 most days I go to the gym and leave the writing for the afternoon.”

Despite the reputation Dun Laoghaire enjoys as a magnet for celebrities, the only example of the species Sinead’s spotted so far is Ryan Tubridy. “I saw him walking along the pier one time.” I presume she resisted the temptation to give him a nudge waterwards, but she says she actually likes his broadcasting style and there’s not a hint of professional rivalry about her.

She’s an avid reader of books, especially those of a political nature and recently devoured the Alastair Campbell Diaries, his memoirs about his years with Tony Blair. “It appealed to me because I love political books and I lived in London when all that stuff was happening and met Campbell. I’m also a fan of graphic novels, I particularly liked Black Hole by Charles Burns Pantheon. Davy dismisses them as cartoons, but I have a sizeable collection of them and make regular trips to the Forbidden Planet to replenish my stock. I also love the novels of Philip Roth. He’s probably the one author I automatically get each book he brings out. I also spend a lot of time at weekends reading book reviews.”

Looking around the apartment, you notice it’s not overly replete with ornaments, but your eye is drawn to an odd object on the mantelpiece. “It’s of an outstretched hand and we brought it back from Thailand," she explains. "There’s something very special about it.”

Sinead has also started to pick up the occasional painting since she came back to Ireland.

“Paintings of racing horses really appeal to me and I have one here by James Moran which I bought in Kinsale. It’s called The Last Furlong. I have another by Miriam Kavanagh and I’ve only recently commissioned another one from her.”

The couple moved here only last December and Sinead can’t think of any reason she might want to leave. “Maybe I’d be attracted away by a place with a garden, but since my schedule doesn’t really leave me with much time for gardening anyway, I can’t see us leaving here for the foreseeable future. It’s got everything we need.”

Her desire for a garden will have to be fulfilled for the time being by her balcony garden which contains two very precious plants. “We have some lilies which were given to us by my grandmother and a bonsai tree which was a present form my grandfather,” she says. "They bring beautiful memories of both of them.”

Sinead Desmond presents Ireland AM on TV3 every morning Monday to Friday 7am to 10am.

 

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