Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Friday People: Karen Kirby

Karen Kirby

The 43-year-old is a Radio Ulster presenter and will be appearing in Tyrone's Bardic Theatre's production of From Broadway To Bardic. She lives in Donaghmore with her husband Darren and their three daughters, Kila (10), Lauren (8) and Cara (5).

* My husband Darren

We met at Queen's University in 1989. I was studying languages and he was studying town planning.

We were both in the halls of residence in our first year and then I had to go to northern Spain because of my degree and Darren came over to visit me.

We were friends for a long time at first as his friends and my friends would all hang out in the same place. He now works as a strategy planner in Derry.

* My children, Kila, Lauren, Cara

It was scary becoming a mum but I took it in my stride. I'm the eldest of seven and out of all of us I'm the least domesticated and was certainly not the first choice to call if you wanted a baby-sitter. When I was expecting my first child the family were wondering if I even knew what a nappy was for.

Instinct kicked in though, and away I went.

Having the three babies quite close together was a busy time but it was brilliant too. They're great craic and great company. Darren has a tough time of it -- he gets ganged up on as he's the only man in the house. It can be very loud but he loves his girls too. The older two of them are actually in the show with me -- they go to the local drama classes the weekends and this is their first adult show.

* My best friends

There's a group of girls I've known throughout the ages. Darren calls us the Donaghmore clique. There's Mary and Maeve who I went to primary school with, then we picked up Ciara and Helen when we went to St Joseph's in Donaghmore.

Sinead joined us at Queen's. We're all still in the country although a couple of them live in the Republic. With family we don't all see each other that often but we try to get one trip away together each year, with the odd meeting in Belfast also.

* My parents

My parents, Patsy and Margaret, still live Donaghmore where we all grew up. Dad works as a bread salesman and is very into music and sport. He taught me how to play the piano key accordion.

Mum is the eldest of her family of 12 and I've lost count of the number of committees and groups she's been in over the years.

She's getting very involved with Marie Curie Cancer Care at the moment and has just joined the local chapel choir. I'm the oldest of seven children -- Connor, Pauric, Claire, Cathy, Mari and Nuala -- and we've all stayed quite close to home. We do tend to get pulled back to mum and dad's house, particularly on Christmas Eve.

It can be mental with all the kids together.

We also try to organise a trip away with my sisters and sisters-in-law once a year.

* My secret crush is ... Gabriel Macht

Gabriel Macht plays Harvey Specter in Suits. He's a recent crush of mine as Andy Garcia was top of the pile for years and years.

* Who I go to for advice

I go to different people for different advice but I run everything I get past Darren. He cuts to the chase and leaves the emotion out of it -- he's very logical.

* My mentor

Miss Ryan and Mrs McCrory were the Irish language teachers at school and got me interested in it through their sheer enthusiasm for the language. It was Professor David Johnston at Queen's who encouraged me to look into broadcasting. I planned to be an interpreter and he thought I would find it a lonely career.

* My fantasy dinner party

I spent a flight from Belfast to France sitting next to Billy Connolly. It was my first ever flight and I was so nervous about it, and being beside him, that I didn't say a word the whole time. I would like to invite him so he can see I'm a normal person after all. Then I would ask Stephen Fry because he's so knowledgeable and so funny.

Next, I would ask Annie Lennox as she uses her celebrity for good causes. Finally, I would invite Nigella Lawson to do the cooking because I can't cook.

* For tickets and information on From Broadway To Bardic go to www.bardictheatre.com

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