HER SHINY new 2fm breakfast show has been described as “an aural assault of inanity”, (Larissa Nolan, Indo), and her comedy sketches on The Doireann Project were deemed “feeble and repetitive” by the Herald’s Pat Stacey. None of this has prevented RTÉ from embracing Doireann Garrihy as its new golden child. This status is regarded in some quarters as a poisoned chalice, given that the broadcaster has a history of relentlessly shoving the incumbent holder in audiences’ increasingly resentful faces until they’re nationally loathed. Can Doireann buck the trend?
RTÉ swooped, predictably, when it realised in 2017 that Garrihy had become Insta-famous, thanks to her talent for impressions of social media influencers such as Roz Purcell, Suzanne Jackson and Pippa O’Connor. Building on its penchant for taking a buzz-worthy small concept and blowing it up to monstrously bloated proportions, three series of The Doireann Project were commissioned.
Garrihy collaborated on some funny and many truly terrible sketches with writers like Fiona Looney and Kevin McGahern. Her mimicry skills were stretched beyond her capabilities to include RTÉ favourites like Dáithí O Sé and Maura Derrane, but nobody at Montrose appears to have noticed. “A hideous mess of chronic corniness and relentless luvvie backslapping,” is how Liam Fay of the Sunday Times described the most recent series.
However, Doireann’s star has already ascended higher in the national broadcaster’s firmament than that of her older sister Aoibhín, another former darling; an ex-Fair City actress, she was runner-up in the 2017 series of Dancing with the Stars. The difference between the sisters is that while Aoibhín exudes an air of cool refinement that ultimately makes her appear aloof, RTÉ is relying on Doireann’s brand of “infectiously goofy irreverence” (Mick Heaney, Irish Times) to draw in the yoof audience it struggles to attract.
It will be hoping she doesn’t follow in the footsteps of her godfather, Ian Dempsey, and defect to a commercial radio station before it has wrung all the pulling power it can out of her.
Garrihy originally wanted to pursue acting and completed a degree at Trinity in drama and theatre studies, but a career in the footlights didn’t result. She did a 10-week radio production diploma course at the Today FM School of Radio, and began working as an on-air broadcaster with AA Roadwatch.
Doireann moved to Spin 1038 and co-presented The Zoo Crew with Marty Guilfoyle. She left the station at the end of 2018, telling the Sindo that she was “doing too much” and had “reached a point of overwhelm”.
Now represented by agent-to-the-stars Noel Kelly, she began presenting the 2fm radio show in May 2019 with Eoghan McDermott, who suddenly departed the station last February. RTÉ built a new version of the show around its beloved Doireann, adding Donncha O’Callaghan and Carl Mullan to the mix.
It’s early days but the format is weak and lacklustre and the buzz around the show appears to have already fizzled out.
Doireann (29) has openly admitted to having her eye on a TV career, although her first outing as host of the Podge and Rodge Show came to a crashing halt when it was put out of its misery after just one season in 2018.
Whether her abilities are commensurate with her ambition has yet to be proven. While she has comic timing and a zany frothiness, her ability to handle light and shade or tackle subjects with more gravitas remains untested.
The Garrihy sisters grew up in the well-heeled Dublin suburb of Castleknock with another sister, Ailbhe, sandwiched between them. Viewed as Ireland’s answer to the Kardashians, their combined glamour, social media savvy and star wattage has turned them into a much-sought-after trio when it comes to magazine covers and press coverage.
Their parents, Eugene and Clare, are from Co Clare, and founded their construction business, Castleknock Construction, in 1985. It had accumulated profits of €885,000 in August 2007, but the economic downturn of 2008 saw the figure fall to €242,000 by August 2009. The company was liquidated in 2011.
Eugene changed tack and founded Dublin Bay Cruises in 2012. He had experience in this area as he co-owns Doolin2Aran Ferries with his brothers. While Eugene and Clare are the directors of Dublin Bay Ferry Services Ltd, its shares are owned by Doireann and Ailbhe. It made a profit of €27,000 after tax in 2019, reducing accumulated losses to €6,400.
Ailbhe is general manager of the cruise firm and also works in PR and marketing. Earlier this year she set up her own entity, ACG Promotions Unlimited Company.
Naturally, all three of the Garrihy gals have been playing a blinder in plugging the cruise business. Doireann even helpfully posed with O’Callaghan and Mullan on the deck of one of the company boats shortly after the new 2fm line-up was announced.
Aoibhín lives in Clare as she is married to John Burke, who owns the Armada hotel in Spanish Point. His company, Armada Hotel Holdings, made a profit of €600,000 in 2019, bringing accumulated profits to €1.2m.
Aoibhín owns the private firm, Aoibhín Garrihy Unlimited Company, the profits of which aren’t publicly disclosed. She also is co-owner with Sharon Connellan of the health and wellness brand Beo Wellness, established at the end of 2018.
As well as selling a range of products like eye masks and silk pillowcases, the company hosts events in hotels around the country “designed to inspire, motivate and encourage self-care for the body, mind and soul”. Primarily female audiences pay €99 for the pleasure of sitting in a hotel ballroom and listening to talks by wellness advocates like Síle Seoige, with brunch and a goodie bag thrown in. The company behind Beo, Magcas Ltd, had accumulated profits of €61,000 at the end of 2020.
Doireann regularly MCs events for Beo, and has also been a star attraction at the Armada hotel’s annual wedding fair, interviewing suppliers and exhibitors in front of the assembled audience at the event in 2018.
She is dating Paddy Wilson, account manager with the events agency Fuel.Doireann recently presented the Healthfest event on behalf of Fuel’s client, the National Dairy Council, which was organised and filmed by the agency.
She also has a well-received podcast, The Laughs of Your Life, sponsored by Aussie Hair, and has featured, unsurprisingly, RTÉ colleagues Ryan Tubridy, Dáithí Ó Sé and Marty Morrissey.
The RTÉ work, podcast sponsorship and outside presenting duties have helped Doireann’s finances. Having set up Doireann Enterprises Ltd in May 2018, her firm made a profit of €84,500 up to the period ending August 2019.
Recently filed accounts show that she made €151,000 profit in the year ending August 2020, bringing accumulated profits to €235,254. She owns 80% of the shares and her mum Clare owns the balance.
A note on her accounts indicates that the company was affected by Covid-19, which presumably refers to the cancellation of Beo events. This probably won’t unduly disturb her as, with RTÉ cheerleading wildly behind her, Doireann may well be in a position to swap MCing events for middle-aged mammies in rural ballrooms with stints interviewing celebs on a Montrose couch before long.