Olivia O'Leary

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Olivia O'Leary
Born1949 (age 69–70)
EducationSt Leo's College, Carlow
Alma materUniversity College Dublin (UCD)
OccupationJournalist, writer and current affairs presenter
Spouse(s)Paul Tansey (d. 2008)

Olivia O'Leary (born 1949) is an Irish journalist, writer and current affairs presenter.

Educated at St Leo's College, Carlow and at University College Dublin (UCD), she worked with the Nationalist and Leinster Times in Carlow. In the late 1970s, she began working for The Irish Times as parliamentary sketchwriter.

She currently broadcasts a weekly a political diary on Drivetime, a radio programme broadcast by Raidió Teilifís Éireann's channel RTÉ Radio 1.[1]

In 1972 she joined Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) as a current affairs presenter[2] and later worked as a presenter on Today Tonight, Questions and Answers and Prime Time. She became the first regular female senior presenter of the BBC's current affairs programme, Newsnight and also presented First Tuesday, a monthly documentary strand produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV.

O'Leary won three Jacob's Awards during her broadcasting career with RTÉ, her first came in 1973 for her work as a radio news reporter. In 1982, she won her second Jacob's Award for her hosting of Today Tonight, her chairing of Questions and Answers brought her a third award in 1986. She has also won a Sony Award for her BBC Radio 4 programme Between Ourselves.

She has co-authored the book Mary Robinson: The Authorised Biography, with Dr Helen Burke, and in 2004 wrote Politicians and Other Animals, a sketch on Irish politics.

She was Chairperson of the Office of the Ombudsman's 20th Anniversary Conference.[3]

In 2009 she left the Roman Catholic Church over the cover up of clerical abuse scandals and the long-standing refusal of the church to ordain women.[4][dead link]

She was married to Paul Tansey, Economics Editor of The Irish Times, he died suddenly in September 2008.[5] She has one daughter, Emily Tansey. On 5 December 2011 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by her alma mater UCD.

She is a cousin of TV personality and wine expert Oz Clarke.


  1. ^ "Drivetime Thursday 14 April 2016 - Drivetime - RTÉ Radio 1". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  2. ^ "The Afternoon Show: Olivia O'Leary - Party Animals". The Afternoon Show. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Archived from the original on 2 March 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  3. ^ "Press release" Archived 20 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Office of the Ombudsman Ireland, 15 October 2004.
  4. ^ http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/republic-of-ireland/oleary-leaves-catholic-church-over-stance-on-women-priests-16095543.html?r=RSS#IDComment247782885
  5. ^ "Irish Times' Paul Tansey dies suddenly". RTÉ News. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.

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