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Doireann Ní Bhriain (pronounced , born 1952) is an Irishmarker independent radio producer. She was a radio journalist, and started out reading children's stories on television. From those beginnings, she went on to work for RTÉ for over 20 years before retiring in 1993.She is best known for her work and affiliation with RTÉ Radio 1.

She was a long-running reporter on the radio current affairs programme Women Today, for which she is well-known. She was the mistress of ceremonies at the Eurovision Song Contest 1981, held in Dublinmarker. In 1993, she won a Jacob's Award for her work on RTÉ Radio.

Early life

Doireann was the first of three children born in Baldoylemarker, north County Dublinmarker, to Neasa Ní hAnnrachain, an actress, and Seán Ó Briain, a civil servant. She made her broadcasting debut at the age of eight, in a radio play with her mother, who was part of the Radio Éireann Players. Being fluent in Irish and English, she had always shown acute interest in learning languages. She studied at the University College Dublinmarker and graduated in French and Spanish. Soon after, she spent some time teaching in Nigeriamarker and has travelled extensively around the world outside of work duties.

Early RTÉ career (1972-1981)

Doireann started her career with RTÉ in 1972, as a presenter of children's programmes. She then went on to co-present the magazine show Tangents and became one of the first Irish female broadcasters to break into the current affairs arena. She remarked, "...everywhere you went people knew who you were. I couldn't stick my nose outside the door, and I thought this might be getting to me a bit." She then left RTÉ, in spite of her blossoming career at the time, and taught at a school in rural Kenyamarker for a year before returning to Ireland in 1976.

In 1979, she started a job as reporter of the landmark radio current affairs programme Women Today, which was hosted at that time by Marian Finucane. Regarding the opportunity, she said, "Women did domestic and female style issues. There were no women presenting current affairs in those days, so when the programme I came in on was a mixture of a magazine programme and current affairs, that was quite a thing." As time progressed, she eventually took over hosting duties from Finucane.

Eurovision 1981

Outside of Ireland, Doireann is best known for being the sole presenter of the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest. In preparation, she studied the basics of all the languages of the nationalities taking part, although only actually conversed in English, French and Irish for the Contest itself. Before the Contest, she declared that she would let the jurors vote in any language they liked.

The dress she wore for the occasion was designed by Richard Lewis, while the shoes and gold jewellery were her own.

As a lover of traditional Irish music, Doireann expressed her appreciation for the "Timedance" interlude during the Contest, performed by Planxty. Although when asked of her favourite Eurovision song, she surprisingly chose the tongue-in-cheek English-language number "Ding-A-Dong", winning the Contest for the Netherlandsmarker in 1975.

In a 2004 interview with The Irish Sunday Times, she said of the experience, "I did it for a was offered me because I was quite well known, and because I spoke French and Irish with some ease...I always tell people that there was no autocue in those days: I had to learn it all off."

Continuing career with RTÉ Radio 1 (1981-1993)

After hosting Eurovision 1981, Doireann left RTÉ again, this time to pursue a scholarship granted to her from the Journalists in Europe programme in Parismarker. Throughout the 1980s, she worked in the RTÉ Belfastmarker newsroom (where she met her husband, Andy Pollak) and presented the Book Program on RTÉ Radio 1. The late 1980s saw her take her first courses in radio production, and soon after she helped produce The Arts Show with Mike Murphy. She retired from RTÉ in 1993 to run the L’Imaginaire Irlandais festival in Paris, where she stayed until 1996.

Recent life and career

Currently, Doireann Ní Bhriain is based in Dublin, working in arts management; she also works at producing radio programmes independently. In recent years she has also served as a voice and presentation trainer for RTÉ and TG4.

Doireann and her husband have been involved in preserving the Gaeltacht, and she has coordinated operations at the Cumann Merriman Irish summer school in Lisdoonvarnamarker, County Claremarker since 2007. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Culture Ireland.

Raised Roman Catholic, Doireann stopped actively practicing in her early twenties, and converted to Unitarianism in the mid-1990s. She has produced radio documentaries both about minority religions in Ireland and the influence Roman Catholicism has on today's Irish social fabric. Originally against the idea of doing a radio series on Catholicism, she later wished to address the how and why regarding the dwindling influence of the Church on Irish society. After producing the documentary, she said, "I have a great fondness for reflective radio, and there's very little of it these days."

See also


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