Maya Dunfi talks about love, lockdowns and losing her mother – ‘I’ve definitely learned the hard way to keep things to myself’ –

Oftentimes, when Maya Dunphy walks somewhere with seven-year-old Tom, something nice might happen. The traffic light turns green, the rain may stop or heavy traffic may drop. Tom might say, “This is Nana.” “I did it.”

s Maia says he associates his darling Granny Helen with the good and positive things that happen: “When he makes that connection, it’s amazing.”

It’s been more than six months since Helen died of pancreatic cancer, leaving the 46-year-old broadcaster and her family completely deprived. It was a six-month period unlike any other, Dunphy notes. There are quiet moments, like the green traffic light guy, but the upheaval of an unexpected part of the sadness, like the time her mother’s phone number was reset and WhatsApp notified her: “Mom left.”

“People told me to watch out for that six-month mark, so I said, ‘No, I’ll be fine,'” Dunphy says. “On Mother’s Day, my phone caught fire with messages from friends. And I wasn’t even a wreck for that. I don’t think I’ve even recognized the six-month mark. It was my mom’s birthday yesterday. I was ready for it.

“But then this week, I had to go Ireland in the morning And I was taking Tom to my friend who was taking him to school.” “He vomited out of nowhere and was terrified. And I was really upset because at any other time, I would have called my mom and said, “I know it’s not after seven in the morning, but can you come over?” She was like Harvey Keitel in Pulp FictionLike, “Leave the mess to me.”

Over the years, Dunphy, native to Dalkey, has made no secret of her closeness to Spanish-born Helen and her father Tom, the former chief of Dublin Zoo.

When I came back from London as a single parent [after splitting from husband Johnny Vegas]which wasn’t actually my life plan, my parents kind of became the main unit of my family again,”

“Single parenthood can be quite lonely, so I started hanging out with them and spending weekends with them.” During Covid, the family is closer than ever. “I kind of formed a bubble with my parents because they were 5 kilometers away, so I started to see them a lot, but I’m still at a distance.”

Dunphy didn’t know it at the time, but she will still be very grateful for spending quality time with her parents. In the summer of 2021, Helen received a devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

“You do a Google search and you see very low survival rates, but you still think, ‘It doesn’t matter, you’re going to be in those five pieces,'” Dunphy says. She was so determined, it was unreal. They had a plan to go on vacation to Mallorca in June and my mother kept a picture of this balcony in Mallorca on her phone and said, ‘I’ll be on this balcony in June.’

Helen was admitted to private St. Vincent’s Hospital in January and died five weeks later.

Dunphy says the day Helen died was “extraordinary”. “I made a piece for [RTÉ show] Sunday Variety At the time when my grandmother got lost in Paris. That morning, I could hear my voice Sunday Variety piece and song non, I don’t regret anything [by Edith Piaf] Reducing the size of the aisle. You cannot make it up. The next day I had to keep things normal so I went back to the school gates with my baseball cap and mask on, just exhausted.

“I now think the world is divided into two groups – the people who understand and the people lucky enough not to do so.”

after my chain What planet are you on?Maya had hoped to start a master’s degree in climate change policy last year, but has since made plans to study on ice, in part because an on-campus degree didn’t suit her. “It’s definitely an area that I’m really interested in,” she says. “Putting on the show for RTÉ, puts you in people’s minds in a different way, rather than just being one pony.”

This does not mean that there is much opportunity for that. Earlier this year, Dunphy launched a podcast, Read the roomwith actor/comedian Paddy C. Courtney, with whom she shares her thorny sense of humor.

“This just came from a conversation with Paddy, where I said to him, ‘If you want to do something together, just let me know.’ I had just started a podcast called How do we build a person?, which were largely parental conversations, and then realizing the ones I was trying to make, I wasn’t sure I was going to listen to them, so why should I expect other people to listen? “


Paddy C. Courtney and Maya host a podcast together. Photo: Ruth Medjer

Dunphy has amassed a large number of followers on social media. After becoming a mother to Tom, I wrote word m, a book that eventually became a popular online community on Facebook for “people who just became parents”. She is no longer involved with the platform and admits that she “misses her a lot”.

“The Facebook page really started and was just a nice space for people to share stories and ask questions like, ‘Is this normal?'” Dunfy says. “When you’re in the center of the storm, that’s when support really comes in handy.”

Dunphy is also busy with a number of ambassadors and charities, among them Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services, Dog’s Trust, and Dublin Simon Community.

Today, we’re chatting as Dunphy spearheads Zenflore’s Mind Your Mates campaign, which encourages friends to keep an eye on each other, even in post-lockdown times.

“I feel like, after lockdown, if you’re 20 you’re probably dying to go back to bars, but I’m not,” she says. “A lot of things like meetings for coffee or occasional walks just haven’t been put back in place. We keep saying we’re going to meet and we really don’t. I’ll be really honest — when we think about checking in on people, we tend to think more about older people. , but a lot of other people, like single parents, are really isolated.”

From a dating perspective, Dunphy admits she “dipped her toe in those murky waters,” but is determined to keep this aspect of her life more private in the future. “I definitely learned the hard way to keep things to myself,” she says.

After appearing in Dancing with the Stars In 2018, Dunphy was forced to deny rumors that she was romantically linked to dance partner Robert Rowensky.

Deardre O’Kane, who was on the show the same year I was, has a big joke about it. The producers said, ‘Would you be worried about strictly a curse? There are a lot of people in the UK and US who got on the show and then left their partners for the younger, hotter dance partners. She would say, “Okay, sign me up.” We always get a laugh out of it.

“It was not an easy time in my life and I was such a bad dancer [when I signed up for DWTS], so I was like, ‘Okay, we’re never going to win this, and we might as well be friends. And he became a very, very good friend.”

However, the rumors tickled her. “More than anything, I loved that nobody looked like, ‘He wouldn’t look at her twice,’” she says, “or ‘Eight years younger than him and spanning a full distance, so that can’t be true.’” It was a complete ‘yesss’ moment. “

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