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Meet Lesser Spotted Ulster presenter Joe Mahon and his son Patrick

By Karen Ireland

Joe Mahon (64), from Londonderry, is presenter and producer of Lesser Spotted Ulster and is married to Phil. They have five children: Patrick, Kevin, Brendan, Sarah and Emma. Patrick (29) works as a researcher and assistant producer on the UTV programme

Name: Joe Mahon

Age: 64

Occupation: TV presenter and producer

Relationship to Patrick: Father

I own a production company, Westway Film Productions, which I started in 1996 in Derry, where I live. We present Lesser Spotted Ulster, which is now in its 20th year, and is back on UTV now in a new format called Lesser Spotted Journeys, where we travel all over Ireland.

I was a teacher working in Derry, teaching history and English, when I was approached by BBC Radio Foyle to come on and talk about bits and pieces and it just sort of spiralled from there.

I got more and more involved until I finally took up a post as a producer and then manager at Radio Foyle.

I later worked for Northland Films before starting my own company.

I am married to Phil and we have five children, three boys and two girls. My son, Patrick, and daughters Sarah and Emma all work for the production company.

Patrick has been working for me since he was about six years old. He later worked for me part-time before heading off for a year and travelling around the world.

When he came back, I suggested he take it more seriously and consider it as a career path. He has been working for me ever since.

Patrick is very patient and he just gets on with the job. Even when he was younger, he just had a way of applying himself. He always seemed to have an older head on his shoulders.

At the start, I wondered what it would be like having my son working for me and being on the road with me all the time, but it has been great. We get on really well and when we are at home, we never talk about work.

Patrick is a great lad. His only fault is that he is my toughest critic.

He never wants dad to look uncool, so he will always pull me up on stuff, but I suppose that's not a bad thing."

Name: Patrick Mahon

Age: 29

Occupation: Researcher and assistant producer

Relationship to Joe: Son

My job with Westway Film Productions is fantastic and I get to travel around all the nicest parts of Ireland and meet new people for a living.

When I was younger, I studied at the University of Manchester, reading history and film studies.

I then worked in Manchester and London for a while - I even had a job on Big Brother, which was amazing and a real learning experience.

When I moved back home, I started working for Westway in the office and then I decided to go off travelling for a year.

That was something I always wanted to do and, when the opportunity came, I jumped at it.

When I got back, I decided to settle down and seriously commit to the job.

My two sisters also work for the company.

Emma runs the entire office and keeps us all on our toes and Sarah is an editor.

Most of our filming is done in rural areas and, for many of the people, this is the first time they have ever done anything like this.

Dad just has a way of working with them and getting the best from them - he puts them at ease.

Then, back in the studio, he writes all the scripts and puts the voice-overs together.

He really is a man of many talents and it is down to him that the programme is such a success.

As you get older, you get closer to your parents and speak to them on the same level.

I really admire my dad. His only fault is that he is a bit of a control freak and he finds it hard to let go.

He has to oversee everything, which can be frustrating at times, but I suppose, at the end of the day, the buck stops with him and he wants Lesser Spotted Ulster to be the best it can be."

From teaching to TV presenting

  • Joe Mahon was born in Londonderry and started his career as a schoolteacher, teaching English and History
  • He went on to work on BBC Radio Foyle as a contributor before taking up a full-time post as a producer. He then became manager of Radio Foyle, before moving to TV. He worked at the BBC and then took up a post with independent production company Northland Films
  • In 1996, Joe launched his own production company, Westway Film Productions. He has been working on Lesser Spotted Ulster with the same cameraman for 20 years
  • The current series, Lesser Spotted Journeys, sees Joe travel the length and breadth of Ireland, meeting local characters along the way.. His son, Patrick, is a researcher and assistant producer on the show

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