Wagons east: 'I'm a homebird,' admits Charlie Bird

Charlie Bird is to quit his job as RTé Washington correspondent and return to Ireland, he will announce in the second part of a documentary on his turbulent US sojourn.

Part two of the programme, Charlie Bird's American Year, which is due to be aired tomorrow night, will focus on Bird's homesickness and on his decision to return to Ireland. Sources have indicated he will leave his post as Washington correspondent by the summer.

It is believed the vacant post will be filled by another RTé reporter. Possible replacements include business editor David Murphy, broadcaster and journalist Richard Downes, journalist Aoife Kavanagh, and foreign editor Margaret Ward.

When contacted by the Sunday Tribune in Washington, Bird said, "I cannot comment on this at the moment, but suffice to say the second show will be well worth watching." He could not be pressed for answer on when he is expected to return to Ireland.

One source in RTé said the development was unsurprising. "Charlie does not really see his future in Washington, and he has been hinting that he is homesick for a while now. Ireland is where his heart is, really."

In the first episode of the two-part, fly-on-the-wall documentary, Bird spoke about how he felt lonely and out of his depth when he first took over from his predecessor Robert Shortt.

"It takes time to get to know people. I actually didn't know anybody in Washington. I had to admit I found it really lonely. I don't know what madness possessed me to take on this job. I'm a homebird rather than a Washington person," said Bird.

"People who have come here before who were working for RTé have always spoken about the loneliness of the place. Certainly at my age I find it even more so. People have this notion that when foreign correspondents are abroad everything is fantastic," he continued.

Bird started his new job in 2009 shortly before the inauguration of US President Barack Obama. He was due to spend another three years in Washington before returning to Dublin.