Áine O’Neill - Life & soul

By Taylor Gleeson

Tallaght local Áine O’Neill has helped bring a new series to RTÉ One that explores different ways of expressing faith.

Life & Soul, a four-part occasional series from Scratch Films tells the stories of people from all over the country and how their lives have been impacted by their faith, or how faith impacted their lives.

Aine ONeill and fellow presenter Colm Flynn 1

Aine O'Neill and fellow presenter Colm Flynn

Áine, series producer and presenter of Life & Soul, talked with The Echo about the new series and how it has impacted her and also how it has opened up new ways to explore and express faith.

Where are you from?

I’m from Tallaght myself. I was born and bred in Old Bawn.

How did you start Life & Soul?

So I was working with Liam McGrath, who is CEO of Scratch Films, and I had worked with Liam before on The Rotunda, which was about the Rotunda Hospital. I was one of the producers on that. Then Liam had the idea for this show and not only am I a producer, I am series producer and presenter.

What is the show about?

It’s a four-part series that looks at people’s faith and how it inspires them, challenges them or sustains them on a day to day basis.

Have you ever done television before and if so, what did you do and how did you get started?

Yes, I have been working in television for the past eight years. I started when I went into RTÉ doing an in-studio show with Katherine Lynch, the comedian. I worked for free because I made a fake job of holding the bathroom door open so it wouldn’t squeak, and I made it that it was an important job. I worked my way up from holding the bathroom door. I was willing to do anything and I pushed myself to get in anywhere.

What went into making this show and how long did it take?

We were working on it for a good couple of months. Probably about five to six months actually. Episode one aired on Sunday, July 7 and the second episode airs on Sunday, August 11, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the starting of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. The programme will feature stories of how faith has brought people through incredibly difficult times and indeed where it has brought around reconciliation between people from different backgrounds

What do you enjoy the most about making the show?

I think speaking to people that, no matter what, have such a strong faith and genuine hope. I enjoy meeting people and seeing the faith they have and learning how they have leaned on that faith, because I can relate.

Do you ever face any challenges when presenting?

Yes. When I interviewed Trevor O’Neill who had attended a treatment centre. It was hard for me because I had been trying to get my brother into that treatment centre for years, but he passed away. I was so moved because Trevor reminded me of my brother’s story. It was bittersweet because it reminds you that there is still hope for some people, and it gave me hope for what can be done if you reach out.

 Aine ONeill with Trevor ONeill 1

Aine O'Neill with recovering addict Trevor O'Neill

What do you want the audience to get from watching the show?

I think for us we want to show people that there are other outlets to have faith. You don’t have to be part of an institution or church to have faith. People may have a relationship with God outside of the church. In Ireland,

86 per cent of people are Christians, but not all are attending church, but it doesn’t matter because they show their faith differently. We want to give people a different outlet to access faith.

Life & Soul episode one aired on Sunday, July 7 and is now available to watch at www.rte.ie. Episode two will come out on Sunday, August 11.

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