'Motherhood or the idea of being a mother never featured in my life' – Anne Doyle reflects on family choices

Retired RTE star Anne Doyle said she has never yearned for children and is just as baffled by people who choose to have large families as they might be by her desire not to.

In a conversation about loneliness, reflection and contemplation, Doyle, who retired from her role as a newsreader in 2011, said that “every normal person has felt lonely”, but is wholly satisfied with her life as she’s lived it and what lay ahead. When asked if she ever regrets not starting a family by RSVP magazine, she said: “I haven’t the faintest idea. I am not making a short answer. I don’t know. Motherhood or the idea of being a mother never really featured in my life. I had a very happy childhood and I am the youngest of seven siblings. I have said jokingly in the past that maybe it is the curse of a happy childhood. Maybe there is truth in that.”

She went on to say that she never felt a maternal urge familiar to many women and always content on her own. She has been in a relationship with publican Dan McGrattan for 15 years.

“Family is certainly a consideration for many women and they are looking at their biological clock because they desperately want children or even if they don’t crave a family, they are looking at it in case they missed the boat. It’s just as puzzling to me people having six or seven children, I can’t imagine taking on all that clamour myself,” she said.

The questions began when she was asked about Ryan Tubridy’s recent comments that he wished he had more children, such is the level he adores fatherhood.

“Tell him to cheer up though, he has plenty of time left,” she quipped in response. “His biological clock will be doing for another 50 years or so. Sure, didn’t Charlie Chaplin have a child in his 70s? I have never had the slightest desire to have children.”

During her 30 years on air, Doyle maintained a certain ‘ice queen’ image, a personality she never courted, but never corrected, and it’s only in her retirement that she is allowing the public to see the ‘real’ her.

In 2015, she welcomed the Irish Independent into her Dublin home, which she shares with McGrattan and spoke candidly about her life to date, including an in-depth explanation behind her rationale at never wanting marriage and babies.

“Maybe when I was in the first flush of some love affair, I might have thought about it but I never followed anything through. It just didn’t figure on my agenda. I wasn’t against it, but I also didn’t have positive inclination towards it, and if you don’t, then you are probably as well leaving those things alone,” she said.

Her approach to romance remains as pragmatic as ever, as she said her opposite schedule with her long-term partner suits them both. “I know it works for some people, but I couldn’t imagine a life where you do everything together as I’m too set in my ways. Dan is a very nice, practical man, and he’s very smart. While I don’t agree with him on everything, he never gives a stupid opinion, and I may even think later on reflection that he might even have had a point,” she explained.

“I wouldn’t be too difficult to live with – maybe I’m a bit cranky at times, but I don’t set out to be difficult. Life amuses me really, and I have a sharp tongue and find my own little quirky things that amuse me. I’m happy and I enjoy life.”

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