BY SEÁN P. FEENY
A YOUNG Donegal man has taken a career break from teaching to become the newest face of Children’s Programming on Irish language station TG4. Micheál Ó Ciaraidh (27), from Letterkenny, has joined the Connemara-based station as one of the new presenters as it rolls out new children’s programmes on Cúla4.
A former Coláiste Ailigh student, Micheál spent the last few years working as a national school teacher in Finglas, Dublin, but has now left it to work in television.
The son of Michael and Marian Carey decided earlier this year that he wanted to take a break from teaching and travel, but then the opportunity of a lifetime came out of the blue.
“I had not made any specific plans to travel, when the screen test with TG4 came up. I’ve been involved in various things over the years from traditional music, to walk-ons in ads, and gone to a lot of auditions so when the call to do a screen test came, I didn’t think much of it.
“Then in August the call to join TG4 came totally out of the blue, and luckily I had nothing booked. I couldn’t believe it, within seven days I got the job.”
Micheál hosts the children’s wraparound programmes (4-6pm weekdays) showcasing new animated series such as Dennis & Gnasher, based on the original comic strips from The Beano, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, an animated spin-off of the ever popular live action drama series, as well as the ever popular Gumball & Spongebob.
After three weeks of intensive training, Mícheál finally began broadcasting on September 21. “I spent three weeks learning all the ins and outs at TG4 and getting to know my surroundings. We also spent a lot of time script-writing and working on outdoor shoots.
Having grown up speaking Donegal Irish, Micheál also did a lot of training working on the language. “There are certain words you have to replace when you are presenting on national Irish television, that’s just one of the tricks of the trade.”
As part of his daily routine, Micheál works with six other people on the one show, working on different energy levels from office to set. “Everyone is really supportive and are at the top of their game. Most of them have been with the station since the beginning.
“I am still establishing myself on television and building up my stage presence, but I am feeling very confident already, although the hardest part of the job is looking back at yourself and seeing things you want to improve on, whether it’s a word or a hand gesture you use.”
But being on set is what Micheál loves best. “When you put your ear piece in and you go live on air, that’s the best part of the job. It’s a short period, but it’s incredible the amount of work that goes into our live segments,” he said.
Micheál said he still is in awe when he walks into the TG4 canteen and sees people he grew up watching on television. “There is so much history to the station and you see people like Paidí Ó Loinaird or Daithí Ó Se and you have to pinch yourself.”
Watch TG4 weekdays from 4 to 6pm to see Micheál Ó Ciaraidh on Cúla 4