RTÉ’s midlands correspondent Ciarán Mullooly has announced he is to leave the broadcaster at the end of the week, after nearly three decades.
Mullooly (54) started as a reporter in the Longford Leader in 1985, later moving to RTÉ, where he worked on the Ear To The Ground show, before becoming the broadcaster's midlands correspondent in 1995.
After 27 years with RTÉ, the reporter is to leave the role at the end of this week, to pursue other interests.
In a post on Facebook, Mullooly said working during the Covid-19 pandemic over the last 15 months had been "among the toughest periods" of his 36 years in journalism.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought us all in journalism face to face with huge loss and suffering, many have lost friends and loved ones, many have encountered serious illness,” he said.
The restrictions had “taken us away from the part of the job we loved most,” such as face-to-face meetings and social interactions, he said.
He said he had applied to RTÉ’s voluntary redundancy scheme in April, and his last day in the job would be on Sunday.
He said he was leaving RTÉ with “some regret”, but also with considerable optimism for the future, and looked forward to beginning “a new and exciting chapter of my life”.
“I am pleased to say that, in the coming weeks and months, my life will focus more and more on a new role in the areas of community development and social enterprise,” Mullooly said.
“The time is right for me to move on and I look forward to working with rural communities and disadvantaged sectors to help rebuild their own lives and communities after the difficult times of the pandemic,” he said.
He added he intended to return to education as well.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Mullooly said reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic had often left him with “a mixture of fatigue and distress”.
Reporting on the deaths of people in nursing homes following outbreaks of the virus, and speaking to their bereaved relatives, had been one of the toughest parts of the job, he said.
“You are trying to console people who haven’t got answers,” he said.
He said his decision to leave RTÉ was not solely due to Covid-19, but a number of factors.
“I’ve always talked about doing something more permanent in community development, particularly in social enterprise,” he said.
Mullooly added the country was “going to need” more community schemes and supports as it emerged from the shadow of the pandemic.