Tanya Kearney strides into the lobby of The Shelbourne Hotel, clearly alight with all the confidence and prestige that becoming an almost overnight op-ed sensation brings. She greets me, and immediately I witness the quick, impulsive opinion-offering on which she has built her wildly successful career. “Opinion: lose the coat,” she tells me. I thank her, and after a light lunch of salad which she judges as “too green”, we get right into it.
Kearney, originally from Dalkey, is a mother of two and an English graduate who shot to fame following her op-ed piece in the Irish Independent about the U.S. Presidential Election. When asked what inspired her to write the piece, which featured the writer’s strong opinions about both presidential candidates, Kearney answers: “Well, I was just starting to get fed up. It was all Trump this, Hillary that, and I felt the real issues like, eh, healthcare, were getting lost in the debate. I felt compelled to write. Why should everyone else have their opinion heard and not me? So, I did my research – I spent like two hours on Wikipedia, it was insane – and got writing.”
I ask Kearney about her opinions on the recent elections in Northern Ireland. “I’m all for a united Ireland,” she says. “I took honours history until junior cert, and I feel that knowledge has served me well in my career. It’s something that I’m really passionate about.” What, I ask the writer, does she feel are the real issues in Irish politics today? “Water charges. They’re a joke. Not to mention Brexit.” What does she think of Leo Varadkar’s bid for leadership of Fine Gael? “As Minister for Transport, in my opinion, he doesn’t seem qualified for the position.” Feeling mildly confused, I try to veer the conversation elsewhere.
One of Kearney’s fortés is social media, with the writer frequently offering up her opinions of social media websites, technology and ‘Generation Selfie’. “I truly believe that that’s why our world is in such a state of despair. Selfies. They’re the bubonic plague of this generation! Young people today are just so self-obsessed, it’s tragic.” When asked about the rumours circulating that she’s tipped to have her own editorial in the Independent, she smiles wickedly but unfortunately says no more.
Finally, I ask Tanya, what is it that makes a great op-ed writer? “Well,” she begins, “I think the important thing is to have a broad base. You don’t even really have to be informed on anything, but the crucial thing is to make sure you’ve got an opinion on everything.”
Undeniably, it seems, Tanya has found the key to success.