When introducing Síle Seoige, it is hard to know where to start. One of Irelands best loved TV presenter’s, she has gone on to produce her successful podcast “Ready to Be Real” where she presents some of the most hard hitting topics with a delivery that is both compassionate and emphatic. Mother to 4yr old Cathal and 5 month old Clíodhna, Síle juggles motherhood with a hectic career, keeping her social media full of refreshingly honest perspectives of her life and the realities of a mother doing it all. No stranger to hardship, Síle has bravely fought battles of her own with both cancer and two miscarriages, allowing her followers to share in her grief in a most dignified manner. Keeping it real is an ethos and principle that Síle brings to her public and personal life, following through to her career and most predominantly into her podcast “Ready to Be Real”. To find out more about the woman behind the name, we sat with Síle to find out more!
Síle, thank you so much for sitting to chat with us today! You recently welcomed beautiful baby Clíodhna into your family, congratulations! How has that transition of having both a boy and a girl been so far?
Thank you! It’s definitely a big change but one we are absolutely loving! We had waited some time for baby number two to arrive so we are just soaking up every minute with her. She is genuinely such a happy, content baby, life with her is so much fun and very busy. Obviously it didn’t matter whether she was a boy or a girl as long as she was healthy, but it is the icing on the cake knowing we have both a boy and a girl. Cathal is really enjoying being a big brother, he has taken to his new role really well which I am relieved about because I had heard from some friends that the transition can be hard at times. I think maybe because of his age, he is 4 years old, he is enjoying doing the little jobs to help out with Clíodhna, being involved, talking to her and playing. Her face lights up once she sees him, she is absolutely mad about him. I am really enjoying the new-born phase a lot more this time around with Clíodhna, I think it’s because we know for sure we are finished with our family, we feel very complete so I am just soaking up every moment with her. The new-born phase with Cathal was so different, it was an absolute whirlwind from having no kids to being a mother overnight. The struggle now for me is juggling work schedules with being a mom and I’m not going to lie, it is very hard. As soon as I have the kids put to bed, I open the laptop to answer work emails, I try and plan interviews during her nap schedules which changes daily so in that respect it is difficult to plan or commit to anything. For anyone that has children, you will know that the first year is intense and after that it is full on but we do know exactly how lucky we are to be in this position.
With your podcast, “Ready to Be Real” you have interviewed guests such as Amy Dunne and Charlene Masterson. How do you feel personally coming away from these interviews in terms of digesting some of the traumatic content you have just heard?
I feel very different depending on the conversation. There have been times where I’ve had to go for a coffee or just a bit of time out just to process everything I‘ve just heard. I do come away feeling a huge sense of admiration for my guests that I speak to, their strength, their willingness to talk to me about very difficult things, I am always just really in awe of them.
After that I do question myself, did I ask the right questions? Did I give them enough space to talk? I am always more conscious of the guests and their feelings than I am about my own. I would be thinking about how are they feeling after sitting to talk, the last thing I would want for anyone that had lived through something traumatic is to re-traumatise them. I like to check back in with them and see how they are doing because sometimes they can feel absolutely wiped after it and then other times they tell me they are glad that they talked to me, that it helped them. It can be cathartic in a way for them? I speak to people from all walks of life such as Geraldine Mullan who tragically lost all of her family in Donegal, her grief is something that I could just never comprehend so I was very conscious about her feelings and just letting her talk. With a podcast like this, you simply are there to just let your guests talk, it’s not about me as an interviewer, it’s about giving them the chance to just feel comfortable enough to open up and talk and if they do, I need to make sure that they feel okay afterwards. It gives me perspective and a feeling of gratitude in my own life..
“Ready to Be Real” has been a huge success! With a vast array of personalities, it challenges the listener at times with their own belief systems. How do you choose your guests, what qualities do you look for in them?
It is a very mixed bag when it comes to the people I feature, I talk to people that are well known and what I would like is for the listener to get a better sense of the real person behind the name if they are an actor or TV presenter. I want the listener to come away thinking “Oh, that’s who they really are” and to learn something new about them. Then I also do topic led conversations based on items such as menopause, sex and grief with a specialist so I do find them very informative. Then I do extraordinary life stories with people who have been through extraordinary circumstances such as Amy Dunne or Charlene Masterson who have both been through some very difficult circumstances but have come through that adversity, it gives the listeners hope. I always introduce my podcast by saying I hope the conversation inspires, challenges and educates the listener and that is exactly what I set out to do. I want to challenge the listener, I want to challenge their thoughts and perceptions of the person, topic or view that will perhaps give them a different perspective or level of understanding. The name of the podcast is “Ready to Be Real” and its about having authentic, real conversations it’s not about saying what people want to hear, it’s about tackling the conversations that people find tricky to listen to. It can challenge your own thinking and a lot of them do inspire the listener and leave them full of admiration for the guest with a new appreciation for what they have in their own life. Sometimes we complain about the small things in life and then you listen toa podcast with someone who has lived through so much and you just think, I actually have a lovely life, I have a lot to be thankful for. I don’t have a set criteria but I do divide them into 3 categories,; well know, topic led conversations with experts and then finally, people with extraordinary life stories.
You have been extremely open with the public, but more so you have been very open on your heartbreak with pregnancies. How did it feel to open up that conversation to your followers and beyond?
It’s not easy to make yourself vulnerable or to talk about something that causes you pain but I ultimately knew it was the right thing to do. I knew I couldn’t hide it, I had been absent from social media for some time because I was feeling really down, I was grieving, I was very sad. I knew I couldn’t come on and pretend I was fine when I wasn’t, so the only honest thing I could do was to say “Hi, I haven’t been on and this is the reason why. . .” The outpouring of support and solidarity from people absolutely blew me away, I just didn’t expect it. I think people are really craving more real content and for anyone that has gone through the pain of miscarriage, whether they were able or not to open up to friends and family, they were glad that I had. They felt less alone, whenever we acknowledge something bad or we have gone through something, there will always be someone who had gone through something similar. Miscarriage in this country has been such a taboo subject for far too long, it’s been ingrained in us down from generations that we just don’t talk about it. That was the whole premise behind making the documentary that I did about miscarriage
You documented that journey in a documentary, “Deireadh Tochta”, exploring Pregnancy Loss Research Group in CUMH. In your opinion, have you seen changes in the right direction, could more be done?
The documentary, End the Silence, was to end that stigma and encourage people to talk about it. I do think services still have a way to go, but CUMH are doing some incredible work down there. I do think the service you receive depends on the hospital you go to, I’ve been hearing some are better than others. When you make a programme like I did, you get a lot of feedback from people and some will compliment hospitals and services, certain doctors and nurses, whereas others will say other services are very behind, that they weren’t spoken to with compassion. My own experience was very positive, I had 2 miscarriages and 2 D&C procedures in the coombe hospital in Dublin. I could not say anything but positive words about how I was treated, I was treated with such care and compassion the whole way through and I just felt like they got it? The pain of it, they understood that this was a big thing for me and treated me with compassion. It’s disappointing to hear that this may not be the case everywhere.
You recently said of the pandemic “I hope life doesn’t go back to normal after this, I hope we learn what is important” What have you personally taken from the pandemic that you will try to keep in mind going forward?
The pandemic was very subjective, it very much depended on the individuals life to begin with. For us personally, Cathal was 2 at the beginning of the pandemic, being at home with him we were able to go out on the bikes, bring him to feed the ducks, have picnics and just be together as a family. To be honest it was very blissful, when you are used to being very busy and work taking you away a lot. That first March, my work diary had 2 foreign trips booked in, wall to wall work which is great when you work freelance and then the virus came along and all of it stopped. I realized quickly how precious this was for us, but that might have been different for say a couple going through a rough patch and all of a sudden they find themselves isolating together for months, other people living alone might have found it extremely hard to be so isolated. I personally just reassessed everything in my life and what was important to us as a family. When we look back on our lives are we really going to think about all of the hours that we worked or will we remember the people in our lives that mattered? Being present with the ones you love is the most precious and important thing of all.
On your social media you posted a 30’s snapshot where you documented a high or low in every year of your thirties. From Cancer, engagement, pregnancy, miscarriage, you have been through so much. What do you hope for your 40’s and your career going forward?
I’m hoping for a lot less drama! All I want is my kids to be healthy and happy, I want to be around for them. Once myself, my partner and our kids are happy, anything beyond that is a bonus, it really is that simple isn’t it? If there are bumps in the road we will deal with it in the best way that we can if and when they come our way. Career wise, I am doing the podcast every week, I am back MCing some are virtual and some are in person. I am currently in talks with some production companies in relation to TV work down the line. So right now I am enjoying the time with Clíodhna and my family, my podcast and I am looking forward to a fun summer ahead.
Síle, thank you so much, it was an absolute pleasure to have you here with us. For further information, Síle’s podcast, “Ready to Be Real”, can be found on all good podcast platforms. To keep up to date you can follow Síle on Instagram @sileseoige
Photos by: Siobhan Coyne, Lili Forberg and Bryan Brophy