'Very sad' Anna Daly: 'It’s heartbreaking to see a family business die, but we will see brighter days ahead'
Glamorous Ireland AM presenter Anna Daly was heartbroken when her husband's family-run business, Mothercare, closed its doors. But the mum-of-three, who is renowned for her sunny outlook, remains optimistic about his new online store...
Ireland AM presenter Anna Daly needs her shut-eye - but she went to bed with a heavy heart on a sunny Thursday in June, knowing sleep would never come.
The following morning, her husband Ben's family-run business, Mothercare Ireland, was to close the doors forever on its 14 Irish stores, and mum-of-three Anna found herself in a similar place as many a household badly hit by the pandemic.
The TV presenter says: "It was heartbreaking to see a family business like that go, after so many years of investment and passion - but it's just one brand after another going to the wall.
"It was very sad, but they probably did it at the right time, before they racked up a whole load of losses and more worry and any more stress. They did it in an honourable way, and every staff member was phoned, you know. They just could not have done anymore with it.
"You never set up a business to see it go the wall; see all those family brands die. I mean the high street was decimated, not just Mothercare, after battling through so many recessions, but we just have to adapt."
Ben's dad, David Ward brought Mothercare to Ireland and then Ben ran it along with his brother Jonathan and his sister Laura.
With a track record dating back 100 years of collective family knowledge in the nursery and baby business, Ben and his siblings couldn't just walk away - they have just launched an off-shoot of Mothercare called Kaelidy.com, promising next day delivery,
"The name comes from the word 'kaleidoscope' - it is colourful and playful. You look into a kaleidoscope and you see many different things, and the thinking is, they see different ways to suit different families. They know what they are doing - they have about 100 years of experience," explains Anna.
"It is a difficult time to start a business, it's brave, and I include my husband in there. But it's all about online, especially now.
"My parents would say, why would anyone buy a buggy or a car system online? But it's about reviews and what your friends tell you about their buggies, and what the experts say. It's not about touching and feeling it anymore.
"You ask the people you trust to do more research than you would do yourself."
Learning to do her own hair and makeup for TV during lockdown, and being there for the nation during the changes that Covid-19 brought, was a learning curve for Anna - and Virgin Media saw record viewers for her three-hour morning show.
She says: "Ireland AM has stayed on the air and our numbers went crazy, and this is not a Virgin Media publicity call or anything, but this was because there were loads more men at home and switching on.
"We also got the big names on Skype, and people were patient and forgiving if a line didn't work. I got to talk to them on my own to test the line before we went on air.
"I had a moment with Graham Norton just having the normal chats with him. I was like; 'Howya Graham, I saw that girl from Arklow, Róisín Murphy from Moloko on your show and she was so cool, and I really like her.'
"And he said: 'Yes, I really like her too (Anna mimics Norton's familiar 'toooooo') and her new album is so fab in the background if you are having a cocktail party; a lot of it sounds the same, but that works for cocktails.'"
Anna - who is from Templeogue in Dublin and started off in the marketing department before she ventured into TV - is flattered when people stop her to say hello.
"People do kinda know me because I am on air for three hours a day, so I have to be myself or it wouldn't work.
"They always have a great idea for the show, and I'm like, 'Nothing to do with me.' It is lovely and it is funny. They are all looking for the scoop - who is a wagon and who is not. As if I am going to give it to them in the frozen aisles in Dunnes Stores."
Anna believes young people starting out should look to the presenters they admire, and above all, be themselves.
"Personally, I am a big fan of Dermot O'Leary. I have interviewed him so many times that it was a running joke when Mark Cagney was there, about how much I like him.
"I just love him. He is so chatty, not like lots of men, if I can say that, and he made presenting The X Factor look easy. You would know he is a nice fella, and he has a really nice way about him now, when I see him on This Morning.
"You have to be yourself on TV. If you have an accent, don't lose it, be who you always are, but more polished."
Despite her beauty, Anna sees all her flaws when presented with a picture.
"I am just like everyone else. My mum always thinks the pics look great though."
TRICK OR TREAT FOR TEMPLE STREET
Anna Daly was speaking to Magazine+ to promote the fund for Temple Street Trick or Treat, proudly supported by MiWadi.
The bright and breezy tone of her voice slips into mum mode and she tells me, as if I am nine years old: “Halloween 2020 is going to look a lot different, but it will be fun. It will be about going for walks and looking at the spooky houses.
“It will be about knocking on our own kitchen doors and having really nice treats at home and helping Temple Street Children’s Hospital.”
She switches back to professional Anna and reveals: “It is kind of sad, because normally, I would do a Christmas and Halloween broadcast from Temple Street, and it amazes me to see some of the kids who would have been part of an earlier broadcast, and now I see them on TikTok.
“I have also filmed a lot in Temple Street over the years. It should be a very sad place, especially for the children who almost live there, but I go through the day laughing. It is only when you leave and you are on the steps that the sadness gets you.
“One year, I had to text the cameraman to say I was so sorry for sobbing on his shoulder after Temple Street, and he said, ‘Anna no bother. I cried when I got to the car.’
“It is such a special place; it is like one big house, and it should feel very sad, but it doesn’t feel like that. That lovely homely environment comes from the staff; the nurses, the porters and everybody else around the hospital.
“They need your help to raise funds this year, so if you can help at all...”
The popular fundraiser is celebrating 20 magical years this year.
- Visit templestreet.ie/trickortreat to register for a free party pack and host a spooktacular safe event at home or virtually, and help raise funds for Temple Street.