Daithí Ó Hey | 

How Daithí Ó Sé spent almost five days recording 1,000 shout-outs to lonely fans during lockdown

Today Show host sent out 1,000 messages during Covid lockdown

Daithi surprised his fans with a special shout-out© Andres Poveda

Daithi is urging us to get ourselves checked© Andres Poveda

Eugene MastersonSunday World

Telly favourite Daithí Ó Sé spent almost five days recording nearly 1,000 shout-outs to lonely fans during the height of lockdown.

And the big-hearted presenter admits he could have made around €50,000 if — like other celebrities — he charged for such messages, with many stars using professional websites to make from €50 a pop upwards.

Daithi is urging us to get ourselves checked© Andres Poveda

But the Kerryman says he went out of his way purely out of the goodness of his heart — and laughingly points out his mother Kathleen would have been down on him like a tonne of bricks if he had done otherwise.

Daithí (46) came up with the idea during the May bank holiday in 2020, just several weeks after Ireland went into its first major lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think we were in a news break or something. I recorded a piece and I said ‘look, if you’ve anybody cocooning or anybody at home that you’d like me to say hello to, no pressure at all, if you don’t want it no hassle, let me know and I will do it’,” he recalls.

“I got over 940 requests. I started [recording messages] on Thursday evening when I got home. I did all day Friday, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, bank holiday Monday, and I think I did the last one or two on the Tuesday morning.

“I was just trying to put out these positive vibes because these are people who’d watch our show every day as well. These are people who couldn’t leave their home, they were cocooning.

“These are the people who are most vulnerable in society, these were people who were just unsure of what’s happening after living all their lives being able to walk around places like Kerry, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, everywhere. So I just wanted to send out some positive vibes, didn’t want anything back from them.”

Daithí says the reaction he got made it all worthwhile.

“If you saw the emails I got back; ‘you are after lighting up someone’s afternoon’, that was just fantastic,” he smiles. “I was told I could make a lot of money out of those things and I said, ‘listen lads you’re missing the point here’. Like Jesus Christ almighty, my mother would be ashamed of me if she thought I was charging €50 to put a smile on someone’s face.

“Other people might do it differently, it’s their business, I’ve no problem at all with that. That’s just not for me, I was happy to do those messages and to send positivity out into the world.

Daithí, who is married to former Rose of Tralee contestant Rita Talty and lives with his family in Co Galway, is promoting Benecol anti-cholesterol drinks, and is encouraging people to get their health checked.

His own father Maidhc died at the age of 71 from a heart attack in 2013 and Daithí says its important people get regular medical checks.

“I went for my own [body] NCT done every year, get all the plugs done and I know people always say ‘men are bad for getting checks’, but I think that is changing as well,” he says.

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