Never seen without a smile on her face, Nuala Carey radiates joy and warmth. She’s got an infectious friendly manner that instantly puts you at ease, and after a few minutes in her company, you feel like old pals. And she didn’t lick these mannerisms off a stone. Her mum Ann is exactly same. A chatty, bubbly woman who treats everyone she comes into contact with like one of her own. She’s a genuine, lovely lady. Their relationship, while always loving and positive, has been strengthened over the last number of years as they’ve faced hardship and tough times together. The worst of all, being the death of Nuala’s dad Maurice in November 2018, just 16 months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Remembering him fondly, Nuala commented on how her dad would have loved nothing more than to see his wife and daughter beam in front of the camera, arm in arm. “This would’ve given him a right giggle,” she told us. “He’d want to see us happy and smiling.” And so that’s what they try to do; keep their spirits high and take hold of every joyous moment in life. Something we should all take note of…
Nuala, we had such a lovely afternoon with you and your mum Ann. Your relationship is so sweet…
Yeah, mom and I get along very well. In mom’s family, she was the middle of three girls and I’m the middle of three girls in our house too. We have similarities that sense, and we’re really good pals.
Have you always been this close?
Yes, but when dad passed away it brought us closer. When you lose someone, and we knew we were losing dad for a few months, everyone pulls together. That support continues even after the fact. We’ve all been through that devastating experience together and dad would be delighted to see how we’re all minding each other. When he wasn’t well, we were all still working full time and would co-ordinate with each other and our jobs to ensure he was never alone. Everything fell into place.
How did you manage to stay so upbeat and positive on air when you were dealing with such heartache at home?
I think going to work was great, it kept me busy for a few hours. I found it a safe haven. For a few hours, things felt normal.
How do you feel now, three years on after his passing?
You do change. Initially when it happened, I was relieved that he wasn’t suffering anymore and I’d like to think he’s with his parents again now. I do miss him, and it’s very sad to think he’ll never walk in the front door again. We talk about him all the time and we’d go to the grave at least once a week.
It’s sad, but that’s the way of the world unfortunately and no family escapes it. Pancreatic cancer is so tough. It doesn’t show up often until it’s too late. We had dad for a lot longer than others have their dads and we were adults when he passed away so at least mom wasn’t left with young kids.
That doesn’t make it any easier though…
Probably not, but I do keep saying to myself that I need to be grateful for what we had.
Has the last few years made you more conscious of your own health and well-being? I’m quite good in that I’ve always tried to be healthy. I’m not perfect by any stretch, but I love walking and I also enjoy eating well. I love treats too so I’m not a saint but I try to mind myself and have a positive outlook. Covid really made people realise the importance of good health.
How did you find that time, were you staying with your mum?
Yes, I lived with mom and I was very protective. I was going to work each day so that gave mom some space and then I’d be home in the evening so neither of us were lonely and we had each other. It worked well.
How do you feel about the world reopening now? Are you looking forward to seeing friends and family for catch-ups?
For a year and half I’ve been so cautious that I’m nearly afraid to let loose now but I’ll slowly get back into the swing of things. I’m meeting some of my friends this weekend for a bite to eat. I was good at keeping in touch with people during lockdown. While we mightn’t have seen each other, we were always on WhatsApp.
What about romantically Nuala, are you seeing anyone at the moment? Have you any dates lined up?
I’m not with anyone at the moment, but sure Covid hindered that because I couldn’t go anywhere! Nothing has been happening for the last while, but I don’t mind that. I’ve been kept busy enough but if something’s meant to be, it’ll work out in the end.
As you said, Covid did stop people meeting out and about, but lots turned their attention to dating apps. Did you do the same?
[Laughs] Oh no, I’ve never used dating apps. I know people who have had great fun on them, but I just know it’s not for me. Any time I’ve ever met anyone it’s been by chance encounter or through mutual friends. I think when you meet someone you know if there’s a bit of chemistry but on a dating app, you can’t be sure of that right away.
You worked the whole way through the pandemic. Did that offer you some relief and an escape?
Oh I loved it! It was a reason to get up. Working from home wouldn’t have suited me, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to keep going in. People were very nice too. A lady sent me in a miraculous medal at the start of the pandemic to keep me safe as she knew I was still working. I thought it was so sweet.
Would you get lots of letters?
Yeah, I do. People are lovely. I get some gorgeous hand-written letters and when they put on an address on it, I’ll always write back to them.
It’s hard to believe you’ve been on our screens for two decades now.
I know! I probably love it more now than I did when I first started. I like to think there’s nothing I can’t handle, I’ve been through it all. This will give you a laugh though, to be safe, I always write the jackpot for the National Lottery on a piece of paper and stick it in my shoe. When I’m live on air, if anything goes wrong, I could slip it off and tell you the jackpot. I’ve never, ever had to use it, but now if I didn’t do it, I’d be worried. It’s become a superstition.
That’s so funny! And Nuala, apart from that you were a guest presenter on RTE’s Today Show earlier this year. How did you find that experience?
Oh I loved it. I think variety is the spice of life and sometimes doing a few different things is great. It’s important to take these opportunities when they come about. I’ve always really enjoyed working on that show. There’s such a brilliant mix of topics and a wonderful team involved.
Was it always a dream for you to work in broadcasting?
When I was in school the teachers were fed up of me saying I wanted to work in RTE. I did my work experience here too. I loved it. I was only in RTE for a week but everyone was so nice and I always said I’d love to go back and get a proper job. It’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to work. I’m delighted with how it has all worked out.
Tell us Nuala, what are your hopes for the future?
You know the way people have five year plans and all of that, well I don’t. I’m very happy with what I’ve got and what I’m doing. I just want to keep going and look on the bright side of life. Nobody knows what’s ahead of them, but I always try to be positive and look at all the good things I’ve got in my life. There’s no harm in taking things one day at a time.
Interview: Michelle Dardis
Photographer: Lili Forberg
Make-up: Michelle Kinsella
Hair: Clayton Barbosa; hilary.ie
Styling: Zeda The Architect
This shoot took place at the beautiful Royal Marine Hotel in Dublin. For bookings visit royalmarine.ie or contact 01 230 0030.