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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-08-16 06:50:11







Photography: Lili Forberg

t ’s e a s y f o r a c o v e r s t ar t o ap p e ar We talk about his dance background, something he came
to ‘relatively late in terms of people who are good now,’ and
something that kickstarted his media career.

al o o f o n p ap e r, t o b e m y s t e r i o u s , t o Aged 18 and studying in UCD, Eoghan met Julian Benson,
g i v e a s e n s e o f i n t r ig u e an d s e c r e c y. now his agent, who was choreographing a student dance show.
“He’s the dance world and so I got into it very quickly and
What isn’t as easy is to relate just how bloody likeable Eoghan started taking every class I could, it just became an obsession
McDermott is. The radio and television presenter is upbeat, overnight. I flew to London and was taking classes because the
but not achingly so, engaging, funny, able to laugh at himself classes you could get here just weren’t advanced enough at
and, well, sound. There are no diva demands, no fussiness that stage.
about meeting and an honesty and relatability that impressed.
“My girlfriend at the time, her sister was married to Richie
The current holder of the Most Stylish Man title in association Baneham, the Irish guy who won an Oscar for Avatar and they
with Arnotts, awarded to him at the second ITM Men of the lived in LA. We went over to stay with them for a while and that’s
Year Awards – see overleaf for his Zoolander moments – is in where all the big choreographers who choreograph the big
demand career wise. artists live.

Though starting in TG4, Eoghan got his big break in the UK, “I was taking classes then took over the Dance Society in
being whisked off to Xfm. UCD and ran it for a few years. It was kind of nonexistent
when we started and when we left it was a bit of a monster. I
“That’s an incredible heritage and the people who have was making money at this stage teaching classes and at that
worked there. Russell Brand is a huge idol of mine... he’s raw stage I thought, ‘There’s something’s here, I’m going to
entertainment, he’s raucous and he was always really clever, explore a bit.’”
articulate and even if you hate what he does, he’s always
veered a little into social conscience and I love that. Loads of Then came what he describes as a ‘lightbulb moment.’
people on Xfm are cut from that kind of cloth so going in there “Justin Timberlake brought out his first solo album and
was a massive deal and it went well quite quickly. Our ratings released his first solo single, Like I Love You. In the video you
went whoosh and there was a bit of pressure on.” see three guys dancing in a car park, it’s very masculine and
incredibly cool. It’s real syncopated, it’s not cheesy and it’s still
The Voice was to follow after the then RTÉ commissioning one of my favourite dance videos to this day. I looked up the
editor Bill Malone heard Eoghan on the radio. guy who choreographed it – Marty Kudelka – and he was
based out of LA but on a guest faculty at this New York school,
“He called me over for a screen test. I guess The Voice was that took international students [Broadway Dance Center]. I
my big major intro into Ireland in terms of media. auditioned for it, got in, and then just went home to mam and
dad to tell them I was moving to New York for dance college.”
“It is what it is. ‘Let’s read out some tweets,’ and ‘Let’s play Eoghan was there for a year, being taught by the best, until
some stupid jokes’ and I had massive hair at the time so it was he ran out of money.
almost like this Jedward character. It was brilliant and the people “At that point, I was 21, 22 and I guess I was quite good but
were amazing and what a gig; it was so much fun and I made I would have needed a lot more money to move to LA and stay.
great friends and it allows you to do other things but in terms I maybe could have made it work but I don’t know if it was a
of an introduction to people, I guess it sets you up in a space bit of self doubt or maybe because I started a bit later... so I
where people think you’re a bit court jestery and a bit, ‘Oh moved home.
there’s that fucking idiot off The Voice,’ so I guess I don’t really
want to do a whole lot. I kind of want the perception to change
organically rather than me make a bit of noise.”




His can do attitude is evident but he laughs at the idea of

being a planner.

“No, I have no plans. I have ambitions but I have no plans.

Mind you, they do say ambitions plus plans equal success so

maybe I should make some plans...”

He has put down roots however, buying a house in Dublin.

“That seems kind of grown up. It’s weird though as this is a

real Peter Pan industry. So friends who have had normal jobs

since they left college at 22, their existence is different, and

this is kind of transient and it’s fun, and you’re trying to do

something that means something to somebody out there. I

love that element of it and I also don’t like it.”

But he’s a grown up now, we say.

“I feel like a little bit of my soul has died. Placing emphasis on

something that’s not important, like, ‘Oh, that’s a lovely lamp!’

I’m emotionally invested in lamps now; I hate myself a little bit.”

He laughs. “But no, it’s lovely, I know presenters who are really

talented but just not getting jobs, so with so many people at a

certain level who can do any given gig, there’s just not enough

work for people. I’ve had quieter spells and busier spells but

I’ve never not been able to pay a bill. And I know people who

have been in that position and that’s horrible.”

Further grounding – not that he needs it – comes from his

A&E working doctor girlfriend.

“She’s seen heavy things, three or four incidents in one shift

that if one person saw one element of that it would affect

them for months. Recently she was on a 14-hour shift and took

a break for less than ten minutes for a cup of tea.

“You put the trivial trials of this industry into perspective.

At the same time, she loves it because it’s such an antidote from

what she’s doing.”

Her work also puts his professional ambitions into


“It’s funny, I used to place a lot of stock in landing a big

entertainment show and then literally my girlfriend puts that

“Then I was choreographing an Irish girl, Shelley [Smith], all into perspective. I guess I would like to be top of my game;
who was like a Britney style person. We got asked to open for I’d love to work in the UK in the entertainment industry. I look
Chris Brown on tour and other small things but that was the at what Bressie’s done in Lust for Life [mental health and
big one. And then someone at that [concert] was directing a wellbeing movement] and he’s trying to do something that
drama series for TG4 set in a performing arts school who said, resonates with people.
‘Hey, would you like to audition for this show?’ So that
kickstarted the media thing.” “He works so hard on stuff that he isn’t the face for now
and that’s an incredible way to do it. He’s not out there trying
“A random segway,” he says. So is it a case of right place, right to cloak himself in glory. There’s so much going on that people
time? Maybe he says, but there is always the sense of what if. don’t know he’s responsible for that he is responsible for. I’d
love to do something similar, establish something and then let
“My mam and dad gave me money to go over [to New it continue in your absence.”
York]. I also took out a bank loan because you had to have
funds in your account to prove that you wouldn’t work. They He hopes too to see more of the world.
gave me a top-up loan three quarters of the way through but “I did just under five years in London and before that, was
dad said to me, ‘I always regret it. Because you said you were over here on TG4 and local radio and bits and bobs, then The
coming home and that was it and I knew you didn’t really want Voice kicked in. I’ve never had a steady job for more than, I
to come home. I regret just not giving you more money.‘ I guess the longest is three years in London with Xfm. I lived in
guess it was like a crossroads moment. Maybe if I had gone London, I’ve lived in New York but I guess I feel I haven’t seen
back, I wouldn’t have made it.” enough of the world. I do kind of feel I’m on that tipping point
of where I can be footloose for only so long. I want to go and

be a bit of a hermit, travel on no budget, do a bit of that.”


On St Stephen’s night, 2016, Eoghan was assaulted
while trying to get a taxi home. This resulted in a
brain scan, concussion and the loss of taste and
GENERATION EOGHAN smell (“it may or may not come back. If it happens,
it’ll happen over a year or 18 months”).

Eoghan flew in to our shoot from Paris in the midst of creating Eoghan posted on his Facebook about the attack, saying, “I
a documentary based on Generation What?, a pan European would put up things on my social media all the time about
questionnaire aimed at millennials (18 to 34-year-olds). The things that interest me – music or boring mundane stuff or pop
150 questions focus on social enfranchisement, sexuality, culture. That one got a whole lot of traction and it reached
religion, economics and give a look at similarities and people who wouldn’t naturally subscribe to my stuff or follow
differences of the participating countries. me online. It was a really strange phenomenon that I was
posting stuff that was personal.
“Thirty three thousand young Irish people have taken it.
It’s easily the most comprehensive snapshot of youth ever,” “The reason I did the post was the amount of people who
says Eoghan. wrote to me in the context of ‘get well soon and it happened to
me, my dad, my brother, my friend too.’ I had over 200 people
“We were comparing some Irish stats with the European too who were saying they were also randomly attacked.”
counterparts. There’s different elements that are encouraging
and discouraging but it is fascinating. In France, there’s stuff It could have been, he says, much worse.
around integration and immigration and cultures which isn’t “The gardaí have been brilliant. They haven’t caught them
really an issue for Irish people. but they have them on video from behind so they can’t see
their faces. They found the taxi driver – your man’s hand was
“In my mind the younger the person the more liberal they bleeding and he bled along the back of the taxi seat. They took
are but... wrong. Slightly younger people would have more a sample of the DNA and they’ve run it through the database.
opposition to having open borders for refugees and also slightly If he has criminal record, they’ll get him but I don’t think they
more of a homophobic sentiment which I thought was really will. It was a long shot but that was a solid amount of effort
surprising coming off the back of the Equality referendum.” from the gardaí so fair play.”
Finishing our conversation, the gaeilgeoir is leaving to help
Eoghan, a millennial, ‘by the skin of my teeth,’ chats about promote Seachtain na Gaeilge, but not before one last
an article he read ‘that hit the nail on the head.’ question: would he describe himself as a positive person?
“I’ve had a very charmed run so far in terms of the average
“The thing with people of the last decade or so, everyone’s Joe Soap. I haven’t had any major hardships in my life. All my
horizons are infinite, their ambitions are likewise, their skill set family are well, I have a nice job that I enjoy going to which is
doesn’t necessarily match it and this is what is being beamed more than 90 per cent of the population. I’ve had a really
into everybody, there’s this constant projection of everyone charmed run so I have no reason to be anything other than
having a whale of a time and putting the best version of positive.” ITM
themselves online. Their expectations are up there, the reality
is down there and the space in the middle is everyone’s

“[It’s] reality versus perception which is why I think this big

swirling mental health conversation is so prevalent because

everybody is just a little bit unhappy or desperately unhappy or

some version of it at some stage.”

We chat about Eoghan’s acceptance speech at the Men of

the Year Awards, and how he mentioned Harry Potter actor

Devon Murray who spoke on his radio show about his mental

health – and how there is a need for more honesty.

“There’s no immediate solution to it either, it’s a healthcare

system reform,” he says. “You’re not going to reform that in an

election cycle.

“Even if people don’t want to talk to their friends, want to

keep anonymity, there’s way more avenues to do that. It’s not

perfect but it’s progressing.”

Given his rising profile, we talk about being asked to front


“I do say no to most of them. Not because I don’t think what

people do is incredible. The thing why I was compelled to get

involved with Pieta House and do the video was because it felt

disingenuous to be involved and not talk about it [Eoghan

posted a video about his personal experiences].

“I feel if you’re known for something and you lend your hand

to anything, it dilutes the potency in the area you really care

about. And not that I don’t care about things, there’s some

major work happening all over the place, but I guess I don’t have

personal experience of that in a way.”

The Eoghan McDermott show is
on RTÉ 2fm weekdays at 4pm


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Photographer: Lili Forberg |
Styling: Roxanne Parker |
Hair: Conor McAllister for Grafton Barber @ Arnotts
Make-up: Chloe Hiseman for Smashbox @ Arnotts

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