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‘It got me won­der­ing,” says Lor­raine Keane, of her hus­band Peter Devlin's move into ra­dio pre­sent­ing ear­lier this year. “He got that and I got a bit jeal­ous. I thought, ‘Hmm, I wouldn’t mind a bit of that.’ And it’s such a strong medium, es­pe­cially in this coun­try, so I think, yeah, a ra­dio show might be a great idea.”

The day we meet, it is al­most ex­actly four years since Lor­raine Keane quit as an­chor­woman of Xpose on TV3 and she’s start­ing to give some se­ri­ous thought to what she wants. She’s not lay­ing out her stall, ex­actly, or pitch­ing for a spe­cific job — though she jokes that a week­day-morn­ing ra­dio show, while daugh­ters Emelia, 9, and Romy, 6, are at school would be ideal, thanks — but she’s at a point where she can see a shift on the hori­zon. With Emelia turn­ing 10 in Septem­ber, and with 10 years of be­ing a par­ent un­der her belt, Lor­raine knows that the teens are go­ing to gal­lop up and that the days of the girls want­ing to be with her all day, ev­ery day, will dis­ap­pear. And she knows also that her de­sire to per­form is still there. It has been fed to some ex­tent, since she left Xpose, with writ­ing a book, with a great deal of char­ity work and with last year’s foray into mu­si­cal theatre, but now, Lor­raine can feel her ap­petite for some real ac­tion re­assert­ing it­self.

“But now that I’ve had a life, I won­der what it would be like to go back work­ing full-time again,” Lor­raine says, with a laugh. “I won­der what it would be like to just hand over my life again? And it’s only re­ally since the be­gin­ning of this year that I’ve thought, ‘I do miss it, I do miss that part of me.’ But that makes me glad, too, be­cause it’s a priv­i­leged po­si­tion to be in where I still like what I chose to be my ca­reer.”

The last time I in­ter­viewed Lor­raine, six years ago, she had landed her fan­tasy job. Af ter 10 years as en­ter tain­ment cor­re­spon­dent on TV3, her dream of a ded­i­cated en­ter­tain­ment show, with her at the helm, had been re­alised in the form of Xpose. She was ex­cited, but in a way that seemed calmly con­fi­dent. In that re­gard, she was not much dif­fer­ent the first time I en­coun­tered her, maybe 16 years ago, when she was but a girl work­ing for AA Road­watch and be­ing slagged off for her pro­nun­ci­a­tion of “raahnd-abaaht”. As part of a fea­ture I was writ­ing for an Ir­ish mag­a­zine, Lor­raine took cook­ing lessons from a Cor­don Bleu cook and hosted a din­ner party to show off her newly ac­quired skills. She was ut­terly un­ac­quainted with the work­ings of a kitchen, but Lor­raine was gre­gar­i­ous, game, good fun and go­ing places. She was am­bi­tious and she didn’t apol­o­gise for it, and while that drive was undimmed as she em­barked upon Xpose in 2007, there was one ma­jor al­ter­ation. In 2007, she was a mother with two kids.

“Xpose wasn’t just work­ing full-time,” says Lor­raine, “it was over­time, too. It wasn’t just Mon­day to Fri­day, there were things to cover at the week­end, be­cause it was a mon­ster to feed with ma­te­rial and it was un­der-re­sourced, for what it was. I was a wreck. And it was a case of be care­ful what you wish for, be­cause I had wanted that for so long.

“And the first year was fine, but the sec­ond year was tough. The first year, Romy was just a teeny-weeny baby, and when they’re that small, they just need some­one to change their nappy and feed them and en­ter­tain them oc­ca­sion­ally, but in the sec­ond year, when she started to get more aware that I was go­ing to work, that was when the prob­lems started. Romy’s a very dif­fer­ent child to Emelia. Emelia is more like Peter. She seems shy, but she’s ac tu­ally quie tly con­fi­dent. Romy’s more like me — in­se­cure and needy. She loves love and we feed each other’s in­se­cu­ri­ties all the time.”

It was a case, per­haps, that their sim­i­lar­i­ties al­lowed Lor­raine to un­der­stand very clearly what Romy wanted — which was Lor­raine. Then, Lor­raine could un­der­stand, in turn, what she needed, which was Emelia and Romy. “The whole thing tipped pretty dras­ti­cally in the wrong di­rec­tion,” Lor­raine ex­plains. “I was cross and I was stressed and even when I was with the kids I wasn’t en­joy­ing them. I was a wagon to Peter and I was hor­ri­ble to be with. My ca­reer mat­tered to me, but if ev­ery­thing else was fall­ing apart, then what was the point?”

At the time, none of the other Xpose pre­sen­ters had chil­dren. This didn’t mean that they didn’ t ap­pre­ci­ate Lor­raine’s po­si­tion, though — she con­cedes no one re­ally gets it un­til they’re liv­ing it — but she felt that it meant she had more to prove. “I was nearly vol­un­teer­ing for over­time,” says

Lor­raine, who is cur­rently read­ing Sh­eryl Sand­berg’s Lean In, with an at­ti­tude of “what­ever works for you”.

“I think women are the most amaz­ing crea­tures in the world,” says Lor­raine, “but just be­cause we can do ev­ery­thing, that doesn’t mean we have to. I’m a con­trol freak. I love to be busy. I give ev­ery­thing 110 per cent. Peter says I think there are 28 hours in the day and it’s true. I think I can do six things in a day, when re­ally I can only do three and a half, and then I’m al­ways late, al­ways rush­ing, al­ways apol­o­gis­ing. But I think I like stress — I think I feed off it.”

Back at TV3, how­ever, some­thing had to give. She stresses that there was no pres­sure from the man­age­ment to work as hard as she did and Lor­raine in­sists that any pres­sure was self-ad­min­is­tered, but she just couldn’t do it any longer.

“I have this lovely wardrobe of clothes, you know?” Lor­raine ex­plains, “And it’s triv­ial, but that’s what I love, I love clothes and dress­ing up and fash­ion and all of that. But back then, look­ing at my wardrobe of gor­geous dresses, it made me an­gry. I al­most be­came al­ler­gic to the thing I love.

“I sup­pose it was be­cause the job was al­low­ing me to af­ford all those clothes, but it was a huge trade-off. And I was ridicu­lous, I never wore the same out­fit twice in two sea­sons of Xpose, and that was my own crazy de­ci­sion. But I had all this ma­te­rial stuff and so lit­tle of what was im­por­tant.”

When Lor­raine’s hus­band, mu­si­cian and pro­ducer Peter Devlin — of The Devlins — started to get work as a mu­si­cal di­rec­tor, on RTE’s Class Act and The All-Ire­land Tal­ent

Show, she saw a chance to make a change. “I saw a gap and I squeezed through it,” says Lor­raine, “be­cause I could see that if I didn’t the girls would sud­denly be 12 and 15 and I’d be full of re­gret.”

The clothes shop­ping had to slow down, ob­vi­ously, Lor­raine says, but she had squared that with her­self long be­fore she quit Xpose. It was strange when the salary stopped drop­ping into her bank ac­count, she ad­mits, as some­one who had worked full-time since she was 18, but it was OK. “I’m Lor­raine Keane un­til my bank ac­count is

‘Back then, look­ing at my wardrobe of gor­geous dresses, it made me an­gry. I al­most be­came al­ler­gic to the thing I love’

empty,” she says with a laugh, “but then I’m Mrs Devlin, no prob­lem.”

The sum­mer of 2009 was heaven, Lor­raine says. The four of them went to Dis­ney­land and spent a stretch in France, where Peter’s par­ents lived at the time, and she loved the long break, af­ter, “you know, 20 days’ hol­i­day a year for so many years.”

But Septem­ber came quickly, and Emelia went back to school at the Lycee Fran­caise near their home in south Co Dublin and Lor­raine had a mo­men­tary panic of ‘what next?’ The school wanted to take in Romy that au­tumn — the French way is for chil­dren to start at the age of three — but Lor­raine wouldn’t hand her over. As any mother will tes­tify, with the sec­ond, the hand­ing over is harder, be­cause you know what you’re giv­ing up.

Lor­raine wanted to pro­long the time with Romy but, she ad­mits, she gave a huge sigh of re­lief when a con­tract with Garnier hair colour came through. She hadn’t in­tended work­ing at all, she says, but it has worked out that she has been tip­ping away for the past four years and that has suited her.

“Women have tough de­ci­sions to make, all through their lives,” says Lor­raine. “I re­mem­ber ask­ing my friend Caro­line Downey once, if it’s re­ally pos­si­ble to have it all,” Lor­raine con­tin­ues. “And she said, ‘Yes, you can.’ And I thought, ‘Oh no, I’m a fail­ure, I’m a bad per­son, I couldn’t man­age.’ But then Caro­line fol­lowed on, ‘You can, but not all at the same time.’ And she’s so right. It prob­a­bly ar­gues with the Lean In rule, but I think it’s more true.”

So, Lor­raine hasn’t had it all, but she’s had her fin­gers in a lot of pies over th­ese past four years. There’s the su­per­mar­ket voice-over work; her book about her days on the red car­pet; a line of clothes that she is de­sign­ing; and the char­ity work, which means a huge amount to her.

She be­gan trav­el­ling to the de­vel­op­ing world with Tro­caire al­most four years ago — “when I couldn’t say I was too busy with work and had to put my money where my mouth is” — and she is cur­rently fin­ish­ing a doc­u­men­tary about her trip, ear­lier this year, to Gu­atemala. Fur­ther, Lor­raine is in­volved with L au­ra­lynn House, the Make-A-Wish Foun­da­tion and World Vi­sion. “How could you say no to any of them?” she says.

Then, last year, came mu­si­cal theatre, a move that few would have pre­dicted for Lor­raine, even though she is keen to point out that in the UK and the US, tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ties reg­u­larly try out the theatre. “I think I was the first to take that chance

over here,” she ob­serves, “and the reaction was a bit, like, ‘The state of her.’”

Lor­raine was the bawdy Liza, aka Bessie Bo­tox char­ac­ter in Girls Night: The Mu­si­cal and she loved it, al­though her singing-and­danc­ing de­but on The Late Late Show wasn’t the high­light of the ex­pe­ri­ence. “Per­form­ing on the Late Late was never a box I wanted to tick,” she says. “Be­ing in­ter­viewed on the

Late Late, I have done that over the years and, fine, love it, it ’s a huge hon­our. But per­form­ing? Je­sus Christ, it was the hard­est thing I’ve done in my whole life and I don’t think I en­joyed it. But it went OK, I think, even if at one stage I went left as the oth­ers went right.”

The four-month tour of Ire­land was fan­tas­tic, though, Lor­raine says, and it gave her a taste of some­thing she liked and some­thing she had for­got­ten a lit­tle bit. “The live buzz was amaz­ing,” she con­fesses. “And the stand­ing ova­tions! Wow! They’re se­ri­ously ad­dic­tive. I can see how peo­ple lose the run of them­selves. Peter used to say af­ter­wards that even when I made the din­ner I ex­pected a round of ap­plause.

“I did it for me,” adds Lor­raine. “I knew there’d be loads of peo­ple out there say­ing loads of things, some of them un­savoury, but you have to get on and live your own life. And that’s one of the best things about get­ting older, the fact that you don’t care any more what other peo­ple think. Within rea­son, ob­vi­ously.”

If that’s the as­pect of get­ting older that Lor­raine likes, what does she dis­like, then? “The rest!” she ex­claims with a laugh. “All of it. But as much as there are bits of me that I’d like to change and en­hance and lift, I wouldn’t want my girls to think that was the thing to do. So you look at Helen Mir­ren and you look at Joan Rivers and you think, ‘Who would I rather be?’”

The idea of hav­ing more chil­dren is also ver y much some­thing that Lor­raine con­sid­ers. She’s young enough and she’s broody enough. Her mother had seven chil­dren — Lor­raine is the sec­ond el­dest and her youngest sib­lings are in their 20s — so it’s not in­con­ceiv­able to her. That said, she’s hop­ing that an of­fer to babysit her sis­ter’s four daugh­ters, in­clud­ing the four-week-old baby, for a week­end will get the brood­i­ness out of her sys­tem. “We’ll see,” says Lor­raine. “If it hap­pened, and I was preg­nant, I wouldn’t be dis­ap­pointed at all.”

Lor­raine says she’d go back to sleep­less nights and chang­ing nap­pies in the blink of an eye, and I don’t doubt her, but, at the same time, she’d go back to broad­cast­ing just as eas­ily and happily. She talks about how much she loves that her fan­base in­cludes kids her daugh­ters’ ages and women her granny’s age and, while Lor­raine says she has no fear of be­ing for­got­ten, she can’t but be aware that, in her busi­ness, mem­o­ries are short.

Peter Devlin’s ra­dio gig, with Ra­dio Nova, came out of a co-pre­sent­ing job he did with Lor­raine last year, when they stood in for Sean Mon­crieff on New­stalk. “It was bril­liant. I loved it,” says Lor­raine, “though you’d have to ask Peter for his side of that.” She ad­mits, how­ever, that she thought that she’d be the pro, show­ing Peter the ropes, while he trailed in her years-in-show­biz wake. “But there he was, qui­etly con­fi­dent again,” she jokes. “Took to it like a duck to wa­ter and got his show off the back of it. But it’s a great show and he’s bril­liant at it and it’s Satur­day e ven­ings, so we still have our fam­ily week­ends.

“Per­fect, re­ally,” Lor­raine says with a laugh. “If I had the week­days slot, now it would be just per­fect.”

Cover and this page Bodice, Cadolle, Su­san Hunter. Shorts, H&M Contents page Top, Topshop. Skirt, The Kooples, Brown Thomas Page 21 Swim­suit, River Is­land Page 22 Top, Amer­i­can Ap­parel. Trousers, Topshop. Shoes, Saint Lau­rent at Brown Thomas Page 23...

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