What’s your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
I've always enjoyed the Cat Laughs weekend, but in a more general sense, I love planning a weekend in Kilkenny where I can get a good run of two days catching up with my friends who still live here. My family has started a Christmas Eve tradition over the last five or six years, and it's become a day out in Kilkenny I really look forward to. My husband Brian and our kids Séimí and Peigí always come to Kilkenny for the few days- Santa arrives in Bamford for us, not Dublin! We bring my sister Áine and my parents out for a big Christmas lunch before a stroll around town while the place is buzzing. There's usually a quiet pint or two before heading home to get ready for Santa.
Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why? I have huge admiration for Kilkenny people who make national headlines. Our hurlers and camogie players are the obvious ambassadors, but I admire people like Angela Hayes and Teac Tom, John Mc Guinness TD and former GAA President Nickey Brennan. I keep in the loop about local politics and community (Dad!), and I know that these people do as much behind the scenes for our city and county as they do when it's picked up by national news.
What’s your first Kilkenny memory?
Some of my earlier memories are of the-then 'new' Presentation Secondary School being built. The school was moving from town to a green field site in Loughboy and my Dad, being vice-principal, was so excited we'd take a family trip to see the progress after Mass on a Sunday. Sounds quaint, because it was! I also have fond memories of going to the KCR makeshift radio studio in Ballycallan with Dad, during the pirate radio years. there was a rickety old emergency exit staircase leading to a loft of some sort, with a compact little studio inside. The stuff of dreams for a budding broadcaster.
What’s your favourite part of the county - and why?
I love Kilkenny city; I love strolling around, or meeting friends for a coffee. It made me profoundly sad during the recession when the place was so quiet, but the city is buzzing again and there is always something happening. Kilkenny is also attracting lots of attention for the local brands who've made their home here. Folkster is a great example, with a thriving business in Temple Bar, and a huge pop-up about to open in Dundrum Town Centre for Christmas.
What do you think gives Kilkenny its unique identity?
Kilkenny is unique in that it's not too big to feel unanimous all the time, not too small to feel like everybody knows your business. As a child and teenager, Kilkenny offered me access to every single hobby I decided was my latest obsession. I was so lucky to have the School of Music, The Forristal School of Dance, and any number of sports facilities and clubs on my doorstep.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the county today?
As the city gets bigger and the county gets smaller, I think the greatest challenge will be to hold onto the community feeling that has always been present in Kilkenny. GAA clubs and community groups are the heartbeat of the social lives of Kilkenny people.
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Kilkenny, what would it be?
To do the hurling and camogie double in 2019, and to beat Cork out the gate in both finals!