A phenomenon is described as something out of the ordinary, a rare occurrence, remarkable or exceptional – an impeccable characterisation of entertainment whizz kid Doireann Garrihy. We caught up with the Castleknock native to chat about her whirlwind year of Snapchat impressions, joining the Zoo Crew and getting back to her television roots.
Having graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2014, with a degree in Drama and Theatre Studies stamped on her CV, Doireann was on a fast track to follow in big sister Aoibhín’s footsteps. But she quickly learned that leaping into the world of acting was not going to be an easy navigation. “Once I finished the four year course, I was signed to an amazing agent and I was ready for it,” she recalls. “The reality was very different though. You might do two auditions a month, and hear nothing for weeks. It’s soul destroying, and you really start to doubt yourself. Am I too tall, too fat, too thin? It can be really tough. I knew I needed a back-up plan so I decided to enroll in the Today FM School of Radio.”
Following the 10-week course, the funny woman, like many successful broadcasters before her, took a post with AA Roadwatch on the Eoghan McDermott Show on 2FM. “So many people were negative about it, questioning why I would take such a random job. But it’s a means to an end – everyone has to start somewhere. I knew that, and I was well prepared to work my way up. The likes of Louise Duffy, Lorraine Keane and Ruth Scott started out on traffic.” A year on, and an impressive demo later, the social media star moved to her current home on SPIN 1038 where she began as an entertainment reporter before becoming one half of the legendary Zoo Crew with Martin Guilfoyle. “I actually didn’t even know Martin before the Zoo Crew, for all we knew we could have hated each other,” she laughs. “But I knew from the first time I met him, we were going to have the craic. He was brilliant and had so much experience doing all the nitty gritty stuff.
“He threw up my microphone and we had the craic! Radio came at a perfect time for me.
THE RIGHT TIME
Not ready to leave the world of acting behind entirely, Doireann and her older sister Ailbhe also run a Speech and Drama School for children in their native Castleknock. Teaching 60 students between them, the challenge is one that brings endless rewards which Doireann knows all too well. “My mum always said that sending us to Speech and Drama was the best thing she ever did. It really prepares you for life. It’s so gratifying when you see a painfully shy young kid in your classroom in September and by the following April, the same child is up on stage doing a piece on their own. Confidence building and watching them blossom – that’s what it’s all about!” she beams. Although she loves kids, Garrihy maintains the past year wouldn’t have been so successful if she was in a relationship. “The past year I was so focused and I didn’t have any distractions. A lot of my success was down to luck and timing too – timing is key with everything in life.” The comedy queen even praises timing for the success of her blogger impressions where she took to Snapchat to give her playful renditions of public personalities such as Pippa O’ Connor, Suzanne Jackson and Roz Purcell. “I don’t think I was calling anyone out, I think the impressions just came at the right time,” she explains. “I posted the impressions the day Trump was elected so it could have been lost in that mass hysteria. It turned out to be a day that everyone was online and needed a lift, and it just took off from there.”
Living your life through a screen can be somewhat taxing on the mind and soul. In a world where mental health is of the utmost importance, the blonde beauty strives to maintain a balance. “It’s no coincidence that I started going to the gym last year. It’s not necessarily a physical thing, it’s for my mind. I have to take breaks and sure if I tone up or lose a few pounds, then that’s no harm either!” she tells us. “There’s a lot of pressure to be ‘on’, but there’s no point in trying to force things. My dad has always said being happy 24/7 is an unrealistic goal”. Taking that self-care into her working life, the 25-year-old has recently taken the role of MC at the BEO Events, the brainchild of her older sister, and former Fair City star, Aoibhín. The day covers an array of mindfulness, fitness and nutrition, with keynote speakers and panel discussions. “We’ve had an amazing couple of weeks,” Doireann explains, excitedly. “Each weekend we hit a different location trying to inject positivity into people’s lives. Speakers like Annmarie O’Connor, Pat Divilly and Síle Seoige are an inspiration with their stories, tips and tricks on how to lead more productive and progressive lives.”
“All we can strive for is to be content most of the time, the rest is a bonus.
THE NEXT STEP
Determined not to surrender her love of acting, Doireann has erupted onto our televisions screens in the past few weeks with a whole host of impressions and parodies of well-known stars and classic Irish characters. Co-written with the talented Fiona Looney, ‘The Doireann Project’ is Garrihy’s pride and joy. “It was a brilliant experience,” she gushes. “It was also terrifying! It took a few months to finally settle on our content. We had so many ideas and we knew they had to be relevant by the time they got to screen. I think it worked, at least I hope it did! I just can’t believe I’ve come full circle in acting again.” With thousands of loyal followers behind her, and a number of awards under her belt, the future is extremely bright for this wonderfully humble, incredibly inspirational, and frighteningly ambitious woman. “I love everything I’m doing at the moment,” she smiles. “The Zoo Crew with Martin, The Doireann Project and the BEO Events. I’ll be presenting the Gossies this year too which I am so excited about! I want to keep all my options open, and never want to rule anything out. I want to stay grounded, but never stop gaining ground!”