NATIONAL Treasure Mary Kennedy believes that she has been robbed of a year of her life by the global pandemic.
The RTE star was forced to retire from her job at RTE last year after reaching the age of 65.
And Mary (66) revealed she had big plans to travel and to dance and enjoy the “nice things in life”.
But she admits that the last year has been difficult for her and she is now more conscious that she has less time ahead of her than she has behind.
“I have an appreciation of time now,” she told the Sunday World.
“I am very conscious that I have less time ahead of me than I have behind me.
“And I don’t want to get to the end of my life and days, and think; yes, I worked really hard but I wish I had more time for socialising.
“Fitness and health is important to me but I want to appreciate the nice things in life; things that we took for granted a bit before they were taken away.
“We were robbed of 12 months this year.
“My sister turned 60 this year and she is convinced that she is only 59 because this year never happened.
“I think we should be all entitled to subtract a year from our age.
“But we have lost a lot, I miss the tactile connection, that is so strange, and I find that very, very hard and I hope that we can get back to giving hugs.”
New granny Mary revealed that her eldest daughter Eva and her husband Benny will welcome their second child at the end of this month, after welcoming son Paddy in 2019.
And she says that her retirement from RTÉ has given her the time to pick and choose what she wants to do, leaving her time to devote to her family and friends.
“My retirement is measured, that is the best way to put it,” she said.
“I’m trying not to get too fat but I am fighting a losing battle but I have enjoyed the things I have been doing.
“I loved working on Nationwide but it was a juggernaut that keeps going and going.
“I did the Dancing which was gorgeous but from that I went straight into lockdown.
“So, look, change is good and variety is good and these are opportunities that I am able to take on now because I am not racing and chasing all over the country.
“It is not like I miss Nationwide; I am still working; it is just at a pace the befits a retired woman.”
While Mary has managed to keep busy during the pandemic, she says her heart goes out for artists like her nephew Dermot Kennedy, whose income has been wiped out.
“I had jobs and gigs that were cancelled, but that’s okay,” she said.
“My heart goes out to people involved in entertainment and arts because they have just gone from thriving to zero and they are on the floor.
“Look at Dermot and then my daughter, she has been in lockdown with me.
“She is his photographer and she has been with me since they came back from Chicago.
“It is just so hard for them, it is sad and they all want to be performing and creating and it is hard for them.
“I had plans to travel and they are all gone yes but I can still work.”
Another creative personality that has fallen victim to 2020 is Dingle’s Fungie the Dolphin; a local landmark that Mary had been visiting since she was a teenager in school.
And while conformation of his passing has yet to be made, Mary says his disappearance is heartbreaking.
“Dingle without Fungie though will be weird,” she said.
“I started going down to Kerry in secondary school because my Irish teacher was from Kerry and she sent us down to learn Irish.
“And it was shortly after that when he arrived.
“So, I feel that Fungie is a part of Dingle in my life and to think that he is not there is just bizarre, it really is.
“I hope people will still come there.
“Again, Irish people are adaptable and I am sure Dingle will thrive again with whatever they come up with to replace him.”
The former RTÉ staffer is making a welcome return to TV this month as host of a new TG4 show called Guaranteed Irish.
The six-part series showcases a selection of Guaranteed Irish member businesses across various sectors throughout the country.
Throughout the series, Mary will hear the stories of eleven Irish business members that carry the Guaranteed Irish seal of approval.
While the series goes out on TG4, the interviews have been carried out in English and will carry Irish subtitles.
“This programme is a good fit for me,” she said.
“All the time I was working on Nationwide I was very impressed by the level of adaptability of Irish entrepreneurs.
“I started in 2004 and then we had the recession and then came out of it.
“And the way Irish companies and communities adapted to the recession was so inspiring.
“I think that is part of our national personality, to be able to pick ourselves up and to be able to cope.
“It is a sit down, one on one interview, with these amazing business people.
“And they were so conscious about keeping their workers employed during the pandemic and being conscious of the community that they are part of.
“What I was taken with was that these people were acutely aware that it was not about them making a fortune and showing profits.
“These are guaranteed Irish businesses and they are invested in the economy and by supporting these businesses we are helping one another."
Guaranteed Irish starts Monday, at 7.30pm on TG4.