Its just over 12 months since I made the life changing decision to drop the microphone and leave a radio career that spanned almost 25 years. Do I miss it? Not in the slightest, which surprises me.

My decision to leave the media world behind also meant an end to my decade of penning columns here on the pages of Irish Country Living.

While journalism and broadcasting are inextricably linked, they are completely different mediums.

Imposter syndrome

I was comfortable at interviewing, presenting, and editing radio programmes on RTE Radio 1 from years of experience but not so confident in the art of writing. So, when Mairead Lavery came calling to ask if I would start Damien’s Diary, I panicked and immediately went into a state of imposter syndrome, something that never quite left me for the duration of sharing my weekly thoughts on paper. Sunday afternoons were always put by to sit down and write my 600 words. And by Sunday evening, the final version would rarely bare much resemblance to the first draft. A bit like Father Ted trying to fix the dent in his car, while creating another and another, it wasn’t always enjoyable, particularly when I would let my emotions get the better of me. Many times, I wrote myself into trouble, pressing the send button whilst blessing myself that I wasn’t going to offend, upset or antagonise. Then again, if you are not provoking some reaction, the idea of an opinion column becomes redundant.

Thankfully, a text or an email would arrive on a Thursday morning with positive vibes from a colleague or a reader I didn’t know. And indeed, there were often lovely handwritten letters sent to the Farm Centre from readers dotted around the country. I used to say that it is testament to the loyalty which Irish Country Living developed over the years that I would often be asked what else I did apart from writing the column when I would bump into readers randomly. And yet, I was simultaneously presenting a weekly national radio programme with 275,000 listeners.


There were occasions when I reflected what was going on in my children’s lives.

They were young primary school children when I began the column. Now Deirbhile is in her final year studying agricultural and environmental science in UCD while Patrick is in Leaving Cert. Did people really want to read about my children? Well, I discovered early on that they did. Indeed, after one such column back in 2014, I received a lovely handwritten letter from Liam MacHale who was working for Bord Bia in Germany, himself a father of young children at the time. It was such a lovely letter both in its handwriting and sentiment that I held onto it. Last December, when I moved to Brussels, I showed Liam the letter, as he is now the IFA Brussels office director, next door to my office. That letter is sitting on my office sideboard along with other memorabilia from my journalism and broadcasting days.

And there is a copy of my book Countrywide sitting there too. A marriage of both my radio programme name and a selection of my columns written here, it was published in 2017 and launched in Copper Face Jacks.

This column is written as part of the Irish Farmers Journal 75th birthday. The ICOS office in Brussels celebrated its 50th birthday this year, so did yours truly, a child of 1973 when Ireland joined the EU.

I am living the dream in Brussels. A new career, a new country, a new responsibility and a new language and I have adapted smoothly. There is a lesson; never be afraid to make a giant leap to better yourself. If I can do it at 50, anybody can.

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Meet The Maker: Siobhán Kennedy of