When were you closest to death? ‘Last night on Ryanair’

In Conversation: radio presenter Rick O’Shea and author Julia Kelly

RTÉ radio presenter Rick O’Shea and author  Julia Kelly

RTÉ radio presenter Rick O’Shea and author Julia Kelly

 

To what do you owe a parent?

Rick O’Shea: I think I owe my love of music to my dad. He ended up doing various building jobs over my childhood. One of his jobs was working for Polydor in their warehouse. It meant that every now and then some records would turn up. He was a major trad fan, hugely into Planxty, De Dannan, the Bothy Band.

Julia Kelly: Neither of my parents are alive. My dad was a politician, my mum spent a lot of her life in the shadows; making his breakfast, ironing his shirts, looking after the five of us. My father hated us lying in in the mornings. He was always about making the most of every day. He died at 59. My mum was incredibly high-energy. She died swimming in the Galápagos on a holiday when she was 72. They both were high-energy doers, hard workers. I can’t say that comes naturally, but I’m always inspired by that. I feel my dad’s eyes on me if I’m in bed beyond nine in the morning.

What was your favourite item of clothing as a teenager?

Rick: A collection of increasingly tatty band T-shirts. 

Julia: A pair of black leggings I made. I was trying to look like Prince when he had huge white dots down the side of his flares. I cut them low and used Tip-Ex to do the dots.

What is your go-to late night snack?

Julia: I don’t have many late nights. I’m usually in bed by 11 at the latest. But I love cheesy toast. And I love Hunky Dory crisps, and the Lindt chocolate bar with caramel and sea salt.

Rick: Toast, occasionally with a boiled egg.

When were you closest to death?

Julia: Last night on Ryanair. 

Rick: I suppose every time I have a seizure. I have epilepsy. I have seizures and blank out and wake up four, five minutes later, hopefully with a crowd of people standing around saying “are you all right?” 

Julia: Do you feel wrecked when you wake up again?

Rick: Yeah, usually for a day afterwards, I feel like I’ve run a marathon because I’ve spent five or six minutes on the ground with every muscle in your body working at the same time.

When people ask you for career advice, what do you say?

Rick: Do not under any circumstances become involved in radio, it’s a terrible idea . . . It was always my advice and now it’s becoming more and more my advice because for kids who are 18, 19, 20, the landscape of what media is going to look like 10 years from now is going to be something that none of us can predict.

Julia: My brother always says to me – which is a quote from Mark Zuckerberg I think – “the biggest risk in life is not taking a risk”. People are often nervous about starting out, and wrestle with self-esteem. At any stage in a writing career you wrestle with self-doubt, it just comes with the territory, you just have to fight that negativity and always be brave and take risks.

How do you destress?

Julia: Walking really helps me. I’ve recently started running again and that helps. CBD oil is very soothing. I love reading in the bath with a pencil and a glass of wine.

Rick: Limiting my time online. For the last few years, I’m only online at work. I don’t do it at night or at weekends. I read a good book recently called How to Break Up With Your Phone. It’s full of practical ideas.

Is there any ambition in the back of your mind that you haven’t achieved yet?

Julia: I’m turning 50 this December and I’ve always wanted to walk the New York marathon. 

Rick: I have always wanted to be the host of University Challenge. I think Ireland needs a really good TV quiz show. 

Julia: It so does! That’s a brilliant idea.

Rick: Quiz shows, we don’t have anything like it. We deserve a decent quiz show and I want to be the one to host it.

Rick O’Shea is a radio presenter with RTÉ, and runs an online bookclub. Julia Kelly is an award-winning author. Her book Matchstick Man is out now. Both will be at the Ennis Book Club Festival March 1st-3rd.

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