National treasure Eileen departed our screens last month, having retired from the station she first joined 44 years ago
National treasure Eileen departed our screens last month, having retired from the station she first joined 44 years ago.
As a staff employee Eileen would have to retire at the age of 65, which she turns in April, but decided to leave early so she could free up time over Christmas.
She had been rotating a week on week off with Sharon Ní Bheoláin as the two main anchors of RTÉ’s flagship news programme.
The Nine O’Clock news was previously presented by legendary Anne Doyle (70), who gave her last broadcast on Christmas Day 2011, 33 years after she joined the station.
Eileen has been the main host from 2011 until 2018, when Sharon joined as co-anchor.
RTÉ insiders are now tipping 52-year-old Ray Kennedy as Eileen Dunne’s replacement. He is currently the Weekend Anchor at RTÉ News.
“Ray is seen as a good pair of hands and it might be a good fit to have a male and female combo between him and Sharon week after week,” reveals an insider.
“His main competition would likely to be from Sharon Tobin, who would also probably be up for the job. Other possible runners would be Kate Egan and Eileen Whelan.”
But sources say RTÉ bosses may wait for the appointment of a new Head Of News, to replace recently departed chief Jon Williams, before rubberstamping who the new anchor of the plum role may be.
Sources say it’s unlikely the Six O’Clock news presenters, Caitriona Perry or David McCullough, would go for the Nine O’Clock role.
“With the Six O’Clock news gig the presenters have the evening free to be with their families pretty much from 7pm every day,” our insider observes.
“Ray would see a huge advantage in going for the Nine O’Clock gig as it would free up weekends for him to be with his family. ”
Father-of-two Kennedy previously worked as a reporter and news anchor for Irish channels TV3 and Sky News.
His career began in 1989, as a reporter with the Irish Independent and Irish Press newspaper groups.