Variety is the spice of life for many people. For Cynthia Ní Mhurcú, that statement seems to run true.


The former RTÉ presenter is perhaps best known for presenting the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994, despite having started her career as a primary school teacher. During her 10 years at RTÉ, she became one of the most well-known faces in Irish television.


However, Ní Mhurcú decided to give up her new-found fame for a career as a barrister. After 27 years in that industry, she has once again opted for a change in direction.


The Carlow native has been selected to represent Fianna Fáil in the upcoming European elections, and says she is ready for the next challenge of her varied career.


Born in Carlow in 1966, Ní Mhurcú says she comes from a “very simple background”.


“I was born and raised in Carlow, with two parents from Carlow. My dad was from town, my mum was from a farming background in the country.”


“I come from a very simple background like most people, grew up in a housing estate in Carlow called Rathnapish. My dad worked for An Post and my mum was a stay-at-home housewife.”


“I would consider myself a grafter and somebody who likes to keep it real and somebody who goes the extra mile for clients or whoever I’m trying to help.”




Ní Mhurcú started her career as a teacher at a local primary school, before she pursued her career as a journalist and presenter.


“I started off as a primary school teacher in Gaelscoil Eoghain Uí Thuairisc, which is a Gaelscoil in my hometown of Carlow.”


“Then after a year, I moved into broadcasting journalism, predominantly with RTÉ, and obviously some of the print media as well.”


“I was self-employed in that area, presenting, reporting live and recorded programmes all around the country and in the studios for about 10 years.”


Ní Mhurcú fronted many major television shows and Irish language programmes while working for RTÉ. During the 1990s, she hosted the National Lottery Draw alongside her popular Irish language current affairs series ‘Cúrsaí’.


However, she is undoubtedly best known for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994 alongside Gerry Ryan.


The contest’s 1994 edition saw Ireland crowned winners for a record third consecutive year, but is famous for its interval act of Riverdance, which continues to tour around the world today.


Three years after the Eurovision success, Ní Mhurcú decided to pursue a career in law, taking night classes whilst still working for RTÉ. It is in that industry where she has worked for the past 27 years, and she goes on to describe her role as a barrister.


“I was helping people who have experienced difficulties, family law difficulties, predominantly in the circuit court, sometimes in other courts and also a trained mediator.”




Despite several career changes, Cynthia maintained an interest in politics throughout that time, and cites her exposure to political debates from a young age.


“I think it started off when I was a youngster. There was healthy debate in my house between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael supporters, parents, uncles, aunts and all of that.”


“There were lots of very interesting and sometimes heated discussions, so we’ve always been very interested in politics. I was constantly debating in secondary school and third level as Gaeilge and as Béarla.”


Ní Mhurcú says her career as a journalist sparked a further interest in politics, but also prevented her from becoming active in a political party.


“That interest then obviously became heightened when I went into journalism and I was predominantly recruited for ‘Cursaí’, which was a current affairs Irish language programme.”


“So the current affairs aspect obviously was very heightened and I would’ve reported on elections and political issues and all of that kind of thing, Árd Deis’s, all of that.”


However, Ní Mhurcú explains that she has always had an affiliation towards Fianna Fáil.


“I very much from the get-go as a youngster was aligned with Fianna Fáil. Quite simply, the progressive nationalist philosophy of Fianna Fáil is my philosophy also.”


“It holds my values of social justice, of community, of entrepreneurship, all of that, so I very much aligned personally with Fianna Fáil, to the extent that midway through my journalism career, I was asked by Fianna Fáil if I would run in Dublin South East in the early 1990’s.”


Ní Mhurcú says that whilst she gave it careful consideration, she was going in a different direction at the time and had plans to marry her childhood sweetheart John, who she has been with since she was 16.


However, over 30 years later, Ní Mhurcú now believes the time is right for her to pursue a career in politics.


“The time is right now because I’m interested in solving problems for people. I’m interested in shaping a better future for people and I’m interested in progressing matters for them and finding solutions.”


“That’s what I have done for the past 27 years and in fact all my career, even as a teacher and even in my personal life as a mother and a carer for my own mother. That’s what you do, you listen to people and that’s what I like to do. So that’s why it’s right at this stage of my life.”


“I think that the skillset that I have as a family lawyer, as a mediator and I think those skills and then that freshness that I bring to politics means that it’s the right time to represent the people in Ireland South.”




Many would say that going down the European route might be tricky for a first-time politicans, particularly when there are local elections being contested at the same time.


However, Ní Mhurcú is adamant that she will be able to make an impact in a parliament that “really, really matters”. She also believes that her career as a barrister may give her a greater understanding of future European Union legislation.


“My first intention was always to look at the European because Europe really matters and unfortunately, in Ireland South we have a number of MEPs that don’t take Europe that seriously, that don’t believe Europe matters and there’s no room here for a protest vote.”


“There’s no room for any MEP that’s not going to work very hard for constituents and voters in all of the 10 counties in Ireland South and particularly, in my regard, in the South East because I come from that side of the South and therefore, we need people who will actually listen, take action, and shape a better future for the voters on the ground.”


“So it’s not about being out in Europe and considering laws in a vacuum. I want, and I will be, listening very keenly to make sure that those laws suit people.”


Farming is one of the biggest issues that the European Union faces at the moment, with farmers all over Europe, not least in Ireland and here in Waterford, protesting against the wide-range of green legislation being introduced by the EU.


Ní Mhurcú insists that she will “most definitely” be doing her best to stand up for farmers in Europe, and supports a “just transition” to green policies.


She also revealed that she has already met with a number of farming groups and organisations to discuss their concerns.


“It’s very important that we support farmers by funding the just transition for farmers. There’s got to be carrot if there’s also going to be stick, and I’m very much focused on insuring farmers who haven’t felt that they have been listened to over the past number of years and who have been deluged with directive upon directive associated with that, which is putting immense pressure on them.”


Clearly very passionate about the Irish language, Ní Mhurcú believes that more representation of the language is needed in the European Parliament.


“The Irish language got official status only a year ago. It’s very important that the official language of our nation and our country is developed in the EU, supported in the EU, it is at the moment.”


“There are upwards of a hundred jobs out there in terms of translation etc., but I want the European MEPs to know that Irish is not just important in terms of its linguistic effects, but also in terms of its economic and its cultural effect and also that it is alive.”




Asked about issues relating to Waterford, Ní Mhurcú is hopeful that the Waterford Airport runway extension will get over the line over the coming months.


“I want Waterford Airport to be progressed and redeveloped, I want it reopened. If possible, it’s going to bring a benefit socially, culturally and from a tourism point of view.”


“There are regional fundings planned in the EU to fund our regional airports and I want that done in the South East.”


The Fianna Fáil candidate also wants to see further developments at the South East Technological University (SETU).


“I also want to capitalise on SETU, our fantastic university. I want to get more foreign development investment (FDI).”


“Companies want to come where there are universities and I want young people who graduate from SETU and other colleges we have in the South East, to be able to find employment and homes and to live in the South East.”


In her final remarks, Ní Mhurcú outlines her suitability for the role and explains what holding such a position would mean to her.


“Everybody wants to actually be listened to. That’s a key element of human contact – I’m good at that.”


“Not only do I listen, but I’m a person who’s trained to take action and to bring that to a platform called the European Parliament, which I would really relish the opportunity to do.”


“Remember, public service is not about the person that’s doing the service – it’s not about Cynthia Ní Mhurcú, it’s about the people.”


“It’s a privilege to be asked to run, it would be a privilege if I get elected and it’s about doing the job and bringing it home,” she concludes.


The 2024 European Parliament Election is scheduled to be held on the 7th of June.


For European elections, there are 3 constituencies – South, Midlands-North and Dublin. 5 MEP’s will be elected from the South and Midlands-North respectively, with 4 Dublin MEP’s completing Ireland’s European representation.


Local elections and a referendum on the Unified Patent Court will also be held on the same day.