Loving life | 

Muireann O’Connell opens up about getting married, turning 40 and the ‘baby issue’

From a new podcast to a surprise engagement, presenter Muireann has had a busy couple of years.

Muireann O'Connell

Alan Hughes, Muireann O'Connell and Tommy Bowe at the Virgin Media Television Spring 2023 launch at Virgin Media Television Studios

Muireann O'Connell on Ireland AM with Tommy Bowe and Alan Hughes

Muireann O'Connell

Sunday World

Muireann O’Connell is somewhat of an enigma. Brimming with charisma, the Ireland AM star charges between chaotic energy and poised, thoughtful reflections as she confesses that she sometimes wishes she came with an off button.

“Sometimes I am a lot for myself and even I want to turn myself off,” says the straight-talking Limerick native earnestly.

“I am a lot as a human being. I have an opinion on everything — well, not everything. There are a of lot things I don’t give a crap about.

“Sometimes I get so angry about things, like ‘Why is this happening and why is that?’ I think I have always been like that.

“At times I do chill out and I can hear my dad in my head saying, ‘What’s it all for, gal? Calm down and have a bit of craic’.”

Speaking of her beloved dad, who passed away in 2021 following a battle with cancer, Muireann reveals: “He had a great sense of fun and a brilliant social life.

"He was also a person who really enjoyed life, which makes me think, ‘So what are you doing sweating the small stuff?’

“Tommy (Bowe) has two children at home. He is a busy person, way busier than me and people that have children have a timetable and a schedule, whereas I have loads of time to be thinking about things and losing the run of myself inside of my head.

“I probably just don’t have as much going on as people with children, that’s basically it,” she laughs.

But some might say it has been the 39-year-old’s candour and forthrightness on weighty issues that include violence against women, misogyny and everyday sexism that has made her a headline act at Virgin Media.

Despite her public views, Muireann treads a fine line between her public and private life, refusing to relinquish any notable detail about her romantic life.

The presenter revealed her fiancé, whom she often jokingly refers to as her ‘roommate’, had popped the question last year while the couple enjoyed a trip to Kerry.

Alan Hughes, Muireann O'Connell and Tommy Bowe at the Virgin Media Television Spring 2023 launch at Virgin Media Television Studios

Fans were equal parts perplexed and delighted.

“I just kind of assumed that people would know that the ‘housemate’ was my boyfriend because your one is ancient.

“I found it really nice that people were like, ‘Ah, she hasn’t had a shift in years, the poor thing,’ that’s lovely.

" It was just a bit mad. He has his life and I have mine. I do keep that part of my life private.”

And as far as impending wedding plans are concerned?

“People don’t ask me anymore because they know I am useless, I have no clue.

"People can ask him though. It turns out in life that generally, if you want to do things, you should plan them.

“I don’t know whether it’s being an accident and never planning anything and not being planned: I just open a spreadsheet and break out in hives.

Muireann O'Connell on Ireland AM with Tommy Bowe and Alan Hughes

"I love going to weddings. I just can’t imagine having one.”

Known for shooting from the hip, having made no qualms about not wanting a family, approaching her 40th birthday has at least made the social media star more aware of that decision.

“I am 39 years old and I am having a wobble. Every time I have a wine I think, ‘Oh my God, do I want children?’

"I have no idea if I’d even be able to have children and there are so many people in this world who are fighting for their right and ability to have a child so I understand it’s hard, listening to somebody like me.

“I have no idea whether I could even have a child, even if I did want one, but certainly at this age anyway I am definitely going, ‘Jesus, should I?

"What’s going on?’ But I think that’s just an age thing. I love children and it’s certainly not a stance.”

Having recently launched her newest podcast And Another Thing, which she helms alongside comedian Emma Doran, the TV presenter talks freely when she says there has been no road map to her career successes.

“Our lives are so ridiculously different,” she smiles. “Emma has had a child since she was 18. Sometimes she manages me — she turns into my Dublin mammy.

"She is the funniest person and she is just brilliant to be around. It really doesn’t feel like work, we have the best time. One day I just said, ‘Come on Emma, let’s do this’.”

Ireland AM has also made the former Today FM presenter a permanent fixture in the nation’s morning routine — something which she doesn’t take for granted.

“Right now, I can honestly say I love going to work. That probably sounds ridiculously smug like, ‘You asshole’,” jokes Muireann.

“That people are willing to turn us on in the morning and welcome us into their homes is a privilege. I grew up with Ireland AM and it’s amazing to be able to walk into that institution.

“I suppose I never really had a plan so that’s kind of good. If you don’t have a plan for your life it kind of puts the disappointment away, which I’ve been quite lucky with.

“It is the people that set the tone if you are spending that much time in work, and I work with incredible people. Nothing lasts forever, so while I have this piece of work happiness, of employment joy, it is just amazing.”

And as far as turning 40? Magazine+hardly needs to ask, but unsurprisingly, Muireann has no plans of organising a party.

“There is a bit of taking stock,” she admits. “Age is not just a number. Our bodies are breaking down.

“It is definitely a bit of time of reflection and careers like this are finite. I feel I have Peter-Panned my way through life a little bit and now is the time to catch up.”

Muireann O'Connell

But with age comes a greater acceptance of life and the cards you’ve been dealt.

“I used to always roll my eyes reading interviews, but I always remember Cameron Diaz being questioned about age and babies and saying: ‘30 is great’, and then she turned 40: ‘This is fantastic’, and then: ‘50 is so much better.’

“I am not equating myself to Cameron Diaz at all,” she laughs. “But I get it now because women are definitely time-stamped through their lives.

“I do think there is a comfort that comes with age and the ability to let things go over your head a little bit more.

“I definitely don’t take life too seriously. I think, ‘Ah sure, Jesus, we are going to be gone very soon, lads. Enjoy it while you can’.”

​- Catch Muireann on Ireland AM every weekday from 7am until 11am on Virgin Media One

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