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Foxrock, Dublin, Ireland
|Alma mater||University College Dublin (UCD)|
|Employer||Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ)|
|Spouse||Tom McGurk (1983 - 1995)
Steve Carson (2000 - present)
Miriam O'Callaghan (born January 1961) is an Irish television current affairs broadcaster, chat show host and radio presenter with Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). She has presented the leading current affairs show, Prime Time, since 1996, and her own chat show, Saturday Night with Miriam, since 2005. In the summer of 2009, she began a radio show, Miriam Meets.... O'Callaghan has eight children.
O'Callaghan was born in Foxrock, Dublin, the second child in a family of five. Her father, Jerry, a senior civil servant in the Department of Energy, came from Currans, a small village outside Castleisland in County Kerry. He grew up on a small farm at Callaghan's Cross, where the young Miriam spent her childhood summer holidays. Her mother, also Miriam, was born in Ballylinan, a village in County Laois where her father was the local garda sergeant. Miriam Snr. became a primary school principal and taught her daughters at the local St. Brigid's National School in Foxrock.
O'Callaghan attended secondary school at the Sisters of Charity School in Milltown. She did her Leaving Certificate exams at the age of 16 and then studied law at University College Dublin, where she also completed a post-graduate diploma in European Law. She studied to be a solicitor at Blackhall Place, while articled to a solicitor's practice in Merrion Square.
Soon after qualifying as a solicitor in 1983, O'Callaghan moved to London with her then husband, Tom McGurk, and applied for a researcher's job in Thames Television. She secured a position on This Is Your Life, then presented by Eamonn Andrews. She subsequently moved onto researching current affairs programmes for Thames and in 1987, she left to train as a BBC producer in the BBC Television Centre in west London. As a producer, she worked on shows such as Kilroy, Family Matters, and Prime Time, responsible for specials from Hong Kong and Jerusalem. Though reluctant to move away from television production into presenting roles, in 1989, she agreed to present a BBC show called Extra, which was partly broadcast from Budapest. It was while working on this show that O' Callaghan was spotted by the Editor of Newsnight, Tim Gardam, who recruited her as a high profile reporter on the BBC's flagship news programme, Newsnight, with Jeremy Paxman.
On Newsnight, O'Callaghan covered major news stories in Northern Ireland including all of Newsnight's coverage of the peace process. She also reported and investigated on a number of major miscarriages of justice including the case of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who was subsequently released from prison after a long campaign, and the case of the UDR 4.
O'Callaghan was head-hunted by RTÉ and returned to Ireland in 1993 to present Marketplace, an economics and business programme. She also acted as editor of the series for one season. She juggled working with the BBC and RTÉ at the same time and also worked on the debut series of the ITV show Tonight with Trevor MacDonald. From 1996, RTÉ secured her services exclusively as the presenter of Prime Time. She continues to present RTÉ's Prime Time programme on Tuesday and Thursday nights, as well as budget and election programmes. She has anchored the Leader's Debate between the Taoiseach and the leader of the opposition for the last three general elections.
In 2005, she began the first series of her own chat show, Saturday Night with Miriam, during the summer months. O'Callaghan made her debut as a radio presenter on 11 July 2009 on the programme, Miriam Meets, to run for eight weeks. It was confirmed in August 2009 that the programme would return permanently to RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday mornings. In May 2010, O'Callaghan, confirmed the death of her colleague, Gerry Ryan, on her Twitter page, an hour before the national broadcaster officially reported his death.
In May 2011, she fronted RTÉ's coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's visit to the Republic of Ireland.
On 12 October 2011, she did the Prime Time TV debate with the seven candidates standing in the Irish presidential election, 2011. Her treatment of Martin McGuinness resulted in more than 100 complaints to RTÉ.
O'Callaghan separated from her first husband in 1995; she had four daughters at the time. She met her present husband, Steve Carson, while working on Newsnight. In 2000, the couple married and set up their own television company, Mint Productions.
O'Callaghan was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) degree by the University of Ulster in Derry on 5 July 2011.
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