Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Television in Ireland 2012
2012 was dominated by the hype and sometimes hysteria over the digital switchover in October with the ceremonial switch off of the analogue signals. Along with the arrival of digital viewers are increasingly watching on mobile devices rather than the traditional ‘box in the corner’.
RTE still led the way with viewership and home produced topped the TAM rating that were compiled by AB Nielsen. Sport and drama led the way along with the Late Late Show. RTE produced an eclectic mix of programming. The Late Late Show’s Toy Show and the 50th Anniversary Show topped the ratings. Drama output included returning series like the Restaurant based RAW and the gangland based ratings winner Love/Hate. Drama also included the popular soap Fair City. Comedy was another TAM winner with the launch of Irish Pictorial Weekly and the return of the new series of Brendan O’Carroll’s Mrs Brown.
RTE 2’s rating toppers were dominated by Sport. The Republic of Ireland’s Euro qualifiers and appearance at Euro 2012 boosted viewers and advertisers. The Six Nations and Premiership highlights continued to do well.
TV3’s success was maintained with UK based programming including The X Factor and Coronation Street. Their domestic programming done well with Ireland AM and Tonight with Vincent Browne performing well.
3e perhaps has made the biggest impact of the year with ITV’s I’m A Celebrity reality series and repeats of programming previously shown on its sister channel TV3. Sport also performed well on 3e with live coverage of the UEFA Cup.
TG4 also relied on sport for its schedule with high ratings for their rugby and GAA coverage. Documentaries were also strong on TG4 with Basu and Congo receiving critical acclaim. Reality dance series An Jig Gig also performed well now in its fourth series.
Dublin Community Television expanded its reach arriving on the AerTV platform. DCTV broadcasts on 802 digital and the station had hoped to move up the EPG but remained at the latter end of the spectrum. One of the highlights of their schedule was their coverage of the Occupy Dame Street protest and their returning Dole TV series.
Cork Community Television highlighted programmes included The Street and the Fight Game that focussed on the Cork City boxing clubs.
Oireactas TV continued to broadcasts proceedings from Dail Eireann, including the main house, the Seanad and Committee meetings.
Outside the main broadcasters 2012 saw the launch of a new station on the internet Feck TV. Balcony TV continued to expand and pirate channel LTV2 from Millstreet in Cork continued to inform and entertain viewers.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Eugene was born in County Sligo in 1928 and spent his life involved in puppetry entertainment. His father was a librarian giving the young Eugene access to books on ventriloquism. At the age of ten he began to make his own dummies putting on shows in his local community and at school. In 1950 he married Mai and moved to Dublin. After winning a talent show he got a gig at the Queens Theatre. While appearing on stage Eugene supplemented the family income as a refridgeration engineer with a company called ‘ReCold’ located on Pearse Street.
In the 1950’s he quickly found a good living as a ventriloquist appearing on many of the major Dublin stages at the time moonlighting as an engineer. In 1954 he appeared on the same bill as Laurel and Hardy at the Olympia Theatre. His dummy ‘Finnegan’ became a household in Ireland by the early 1960s. He began to appear with his act on Radio Eireann’s ‘Take The Floor’ radio programme hosted by Din Joe.
In 1963 he first appeared on RTE television with his puppetry show ‘Murphy agus a Cairde’. While making this show he was appearing with Maureen Potter at the Gaeity Theatre on ‘Gaels of Laughter’ and five nights a week on the Jury’s Cabaret Show. ‘Murphy agus a Cairde’ stayed on air until 1968 when Eugene and his director US born TV director Don Lennox began discussing a new programme idea.
He is most famously associated with Wanderly Wagon, an RTE children’s programme that ran from 1967 until 1982. On the show Lambert played O'Brien with puppets such as Mr. Judge (pictured), Mr Crow and Snake. Lambert and Judge starred in a major road safety campaign in the 70's. The plots were set in a covered wagon which was purposely built by RTE. The wagon was pulled by a horse named Padraig which was also bought by RTE.
In 1972 he founded the Lambert Theatre at the rear of his home in Monkstown County Dublin. A 250 seat theatre produces puppetry shows for thousands of children and a good few adults as well.
In the 80's his family were involved with the creation of another famous RTE puppet Bosco. Eugene died in February 2010.
Eugene was married to Mai and the couple had ten children.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Frank Hall was born in Newry, County Down in 1921. After a brief unsuccessful attempt at becoming a musician he moved south of the border to Dublin. He began his journalistic career in 1947 working for Independent Newspapers. He started working for the paper’s picture desk but in the early 1950s began writing a Saturday night dance column ‘Tempo’ for the Evening Herald then in heavy competition with the Evening Press. Under the pseudonym Frank Lee, he began the Evening Herald’s first diary which became known as ‘Going Places’. He also wrote a regular record review column for the paper under the by line Rick O’Shea. Frank interviewed the Beatles on the occasion of their visit to Dublin for a concert in Abbey Street and famously reacted after the interview that he believed that their popularity would not last.
He started in the RTE News room in 1964 presenting a topical programme called 'Newsbeat' but is most famously remembered as host of the political satire show Halls Pictorial Weekly that also starred Eamon Morrissey and Frank Kelly. The show ran from 1971 until 1980 broadcasting almost 250 episodes. In an interview Frank revealed that the programme was recorded on a Thursday with the crew in studio from 10am until 8.30pm that night. The show was the edited and broadcast the following Thursday. A far cry from Jon Stewart’s Comedy Channel ‘Daily Show’ that is on air today. It is said that during the halcyon days of \Hall Pictorial that Frank single handily kept comedy alive on RTE television. The show was set in the fictional town of Ballymagash and Frank trawled the local and provincial newspapers to get the funniest stories. An ensemble of characters appeared on the show with Frank and they themselves became household names like The Minister for Hardship and Cha and Miah, two Cork wits who knew everything about nothing. (A Youtube clip of Cha and Miah can be found at The show is thought by many political commentators as a major part of the downfall of the Liam Cosgrave led Fine Gael/ Labour coalition Government of 1973 – 1977. His depiction of a Dickensesque Minister for Hardship, played by Eamonn Morrissey satarized the then Government seriously damaging its public perception. In the 1977 General Election Fianna Fail’s Jack Lynch swept to power with one of the biggest majorities seen in Parliament. Franks depiction of local county councils is still referred to today as the ‘ballymagash’ style. Frank Kelly when asked about the controversial axing of Halls Pictorial Weekly said that the then RTE controller of Programme Muiris MacConghail had taken the final decision and had persuaded Frank to give up the show after twelve years on the air. His fame never phased him. He counted one day that he had met a school friend from Newry who had been working at a border customs post until the IRA blew it up. When they met his friend asked him ‘what are you into?’ to which Frank replied ‘television’, ‘Is that making them or selling them? Came the reply proving that Frank’s fame was struggling to travel even around the island.
‘Ballymagash’ was a short lived reincarnation of the show in January 1983 broadcasting on Monday nights. Location filming for the series was done around Summerhill in County Meath. In keeping with the times, the show’s fictional town had its own pirate radio station. He was host for one season of the Late Late Show in 1964 when Gay Byrne briefly departed to broadcast in the UK. The critics were not kind to him and only relented when the show reintroduced the panel to the show.
In the mid 80s he was presenting a Sunday Night programme called Hall and Company but would leave RTE to take up a new role on behalf of the State. Frank was appointed the Irish Censor replacing the late Dermot Breen then leaving the position to Sheamus Smith in September 1986. During his time at the Censors Office Among the films banned by him was Monty Python's Life of Brian, which he described as "offensive to Christians and to Jews as well, because it made them appear a terrible load of gobshites". Frank passed away in September 1995 following a heart attack. He was married to Aileen Kearney and was survived by Aileen and their five children Don, David, Geraldine, Vivienne and Julie
The publishing of his will showed that he had left an estate valued at £257,098. RTE Archives section of Frank Hall can be found at

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Broadcasting in Ireland in the 1930’s was strictly controlled by the Government and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs with Eamon DeValera as Taoiseach from March 1932 and the Minister in charge from 33-37 was Gerry Boland. 2RN continued to broadcast but 6CK was closed due to financial difficulties. A high powered sixty kilowatt transmitter was installed in Athlone to cover the entire country and was due to go on the air in 1933 but the Government sped up plans and the transmitter went live for the Eucharistic Congress held in Ireland in 1932. Eamon DeValera officially opened the station known as Radio Athlone on February 6th 1933. Radio Athlone began life on 413m but the Lucerne Conference altered that to 513mMW. In 1937 the service was renamed Radio Eireann. Sponsored programmes were the popular medium for advertising in the early days of radio broadcasting. Advertising revenue became increasingly important to cover the cost of the Athlone transmitter. The first sponsored programme, featuring Euthymol toothpaste, was broadcast on 31 December 1927. Through the 1930s, Independent Newspapers sponsored "Slumber Hour", PJ Carroll, makers of Sweet Afton cigarettes, sponsored "Sweet Afton Varieties", The Savoy Cocoa Company sponsored the "Savoy Minstrels", and The Blackrock Hosiery Company, "Rock Revellers". "The Irish Hospitals' Sweepstakes" programme, sponsored by the Irish Hospitals' Trust to promote the sale of tickets for the Irish Sweepstake, and "The Walton's Programme", Leo Maguire sponsored by the Dublin music shop of that name, became among the best-known and longest-running sponsored programmes. On St. Patricks Day 1939 following the acquisition of a one hundred watt short wave transmitter for £7,500, Radio Eireann began short wave broadcasts on 19.85metres. With the outbreak of the Second World War these transmissions ceased but was relaunched with transmission of the News Bulletins aimed at North America. The service was discontinued in 1952. Over several days in February 1936, twenty tunes were played for listeners to Radio Athlone. The purpose was to let the listeners select a suitable identification tune signal for the Irish national station. By a large majority, the tune selected was "O'Donnell Abú". In all, 968 letters were received. There were 260 votes for "O'Donnell Abú". The 1926 Wireless Telegraphy Act was supposed to be a deterrent but one young man in Limerick would break all the rules. Jim O’Carroll attended the Technical Institute on O’Connell Avenue in the city. He had a keen interest in electronics and while experimenting built a crystal receiving set that allowed him to listen to 2RN, the BBC and with improvements he began to listen to Short Wave broadcasts from America and Australia. In 1935 O’Carroll added an oscillator to his receiving set and turned it into a transmitter that was powerful enough to be heard all over the city. After testing its limitations O’Carroll had to find a home for his new station as living with his sister was not the ideal location for secrecy. He eventually found a location on the third floor at the home of his friend Charlie O’Connor at 84 Henry Street. The station now named The City Broadcasting Station (CBS) went on the air playing gramophone records and announcing what movie was showing in the local picture houses. On air most nights from 7 – 11pm on 520m the station continued with Billy Dynamite (O’Carroll) and Al Dubbin (O’Connor) at the controls broadcasting a mixture of speech, gramophone records, relayed programmes from American radio and even swimming lessons on the radio. The station continued from February to October with the only change being the location. The station moved to the home of Michael Madden at 25 Wolfe Tone Street who had been providing the batteries for the station. The station went from strength to strength and was the first station in Ireland to carry a paid commercial when the Wolfe Tone Dairy began to advertise its products. On October 31st, Halloween while Michael Madden was on the air, the station was raided by the police and an engineer from the Post Office Walter Dain. Madden was arrested and the equipment confiscated. Following a court case in February 1936 Madden was convicted and fined £1 and 2 guineas costs. During the case Garda Lenihan said that, ‘during the illegal broadcasts names were mentioned and scandalous remarks used’. It would be the first conviction under the 1926 Wireless Telegraphy Act. August 14th 1938 Michael O’Hehir’s first Radio Eireann broadcast All Ireland semi final between Loais and Kerry (Worked on GAA matches until 1985)

Thursday, 18 October 2012


With the arrival of digital TV for everyone on October 24th 2012 perhaps we will take a moment to connect it past broadcasting advances in Ireland. In the late 1800’s and early part of the 20th century, Marconi, son of an Irishwoman Annie Jameson was the main motivator for the globalisation of radio broadcasting. Marconi’s invention of wireless telegraphy revolutionised global communications with many of the experiments conducted from the edge of Europe in Galway and Kerry. The basic elements of a telecommunication system are:
A transmitter (information source) that takes information and converts it to a signal for transmission - A transmission medium over which the signal is transmitted - A receiver (information sink) that receives and converts the signal back into required information
For example, consider a radio broadcast. In this case the broadcast tower is the transmitter, the radio is the receiver and the transmission medium is free space. Often telecommunication systems are two-way and devices act as both a transmitter and receiver or transceiver. For example, a mobile phone is a transceiver. Telecommunication over a phone line is called point-to-point communication because it is between one transmitter and one receiver, telecommunication through radio broadcasts is called broadcast communication because it is between one powerful transmitter and numerous receivers. Marconi’s means of communications over his wireless telegraph system was by Morse code, a series of dots and dashes created by American Samuel Morse. There were two variants, a dot or a dash and digital television is based on the same principle 1’s and 0’s as in the binary code. Television signals can either be analogue or digital. In an analogue signal, the signal is varied continuously with respect to the information. In a digital signal, the information is encoded as a set of discrete values, the binary code.
The three examples is how we identify the transmission of the word 'HELLO'.
The difference between a digital signal (top) and a analogue signal(bottom) with the advantage being that a digital signal can be repaired whereas an analogue signal can not.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Irish Broadcasting: BRIAN FARRELL

The Irish Broadcasting: BRIAN FARRELL: Brian was born in the Manchester, UK in January 1929 but moved to Ireland in 1939 where he was enrolled in Colaiste Mhuire in Dublin. Af...


Brian was born in the Manchester, UK in January 1929 but moved to Ireland in 1939 where he was enrolled in Colaiste Mhuire in Dublin. After leaving school he initially studied to join the priesthood but quickly discovered this was not the life for him and left to become a commercial traveller. In 1955 he enrolled in UCD and later graduated. While attending Harvard University in the United States on a scholarship grant he met Marie Therese whom he married in April 1955.
Paralleled with an academic career he was writing for the Irish Press newspaper and commentating on events of the day on Radio Eireann. He joined the television service when it opened in 1962 and remained an integral part of the stations current affair output until his retirement on 2004. He presented many news and analysis programmes including Broadsheet, '7 Days', 'Frontline' and 'Primetime'. He was the main anchor for the stations election and budgets coverage and was lead commentator on many of the State events including funerals and heads of state visits. He covered 10 general election campaigns and counts for RTE TV.
On RTE TV’s first full day of transmission January 1st 1962, Brian Farrell appeared as a presenter of the current affairs programme ‘Broadsheet’. In 1966 he began lecturing in UCDs Department of Politics but also in that year he along with Brian Cleeve and John O’Donoghue began presenting the current affairs programme ‘7 Days’ on RTE Television. The show continued until 1976. In October 1980 ‘Today Tonight’ began with Farrell as the main presenter. Today Tonight stayed on air until August 1992 when a number of separate programmes replaced that main current affairs output. In 1993 and 1994 he began hosting a half hour interview show broadcast on Sunday evenings at 6.30pm titled ‘Farrell’. In 1992 RTE again began providing one main current affairs programme titled 'Primetime'. Brian did not join 'Primetime' until 1997 and then stayed with the show until his retirement in 2004.
In 1968 Brian won the first of two Jacobs Award for his hosting of the 7 Days programme while a second arrived for his coverage of the 1977 General Election results programme. In 1979 he was RTE’s main anchor for their extensive live coverage of Pope John Paul II’s three day visit to Ireland.
In 1983 one of his many book published was a biography of former Fianna Fail Taoiseach Sean Lemass.
In 1994 Brian announced that he was leaving his post of Professor in the Politics Department of UCD to take up the post of Director General of the Institute of European Affairs.
He served as chairman for a number of years until 2000 as Chairman of the Arts Council.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Born in Dublin in October 1913, Paddy will always be associated with 'School Around The Corner' when his radio programme and later a television series visited schools around the country interviewing the pupils of the school whose answers were the life blood of the show. He was educated at St. Paul's Christian Brothers School on Dublin's Brunswick Street, a school affectionately known as 'Th Brunner'. He then went to St Patricks Training College and UCD where he graduated as a teacher. He began teaching in his old school 'The Brunner' in 1934 achieving the role of headmaster before retiring from the teaching profession in 1978.
Having got his break by writing scripts for the likes of Noel Purcell at the Theatre Royal, he joined Radio Eireann in the 1950's and his newly created show began in 1953 with his old CBS school on Brunswick Street being the first to be featured. His creation 'The School Around the Corner' (the original SATC 'Sex and the City')stayed on radio until 1966 while on television it began on January 2nd 1962, the second day of broadcasting for the new station. The premise of the school was that the host would visit local schools and interview students on a wide range of topics often leading to some hilarious exchanges.
Apart from SATC, Paddy hosted 'Back To School' and 'Tug O'Words' which was billed as a battle of wits between boys and girls on RTE TV. He was a regular guest on Gay Byrne's RTE chat show 'The Late Late Show'. He traveled the country with his SATC show creating a variety show around the main content.
He presented the show until 1973 and it has been recreated by Ulster Television and RTE with Gerry Ryan as host on RTE from 90-94 and Frank Michell in Northern Ireland from 1995 - 2005. Paddy passed away suddenly in September 1982 leaving behind a wife Peg and seven children. GERRY RYAN HOSTS SCHOOL AROUND THE CORNER FOR FURTHER READING CHECK OUT THIS EXCELLENT DEDICATION TO PADDY CROSBIE

Friday, 5 October 2012


Known in Europe as the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, the original title of Ninja first appeared in 1981 as a comic created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. In October 1988 the first animated TV series was shown on US television and spawned a number of animated and live action TV series, four films, stage shows, comics, toys and advertising opportunities. The first series was animated in Dublin at the Murakami/Wolf Studios located in Montague Lane, Dublin 2. The studios were operated by American born Jimmy Murakami and Oscar winner Fred Wolf. They were joined by Charles Swenson and they produced many of the iconic animated TV series including the TMHT, James Bond Jnr and Budgie the Helicopter. Animators in Dublin marveled at the detailed artwork required for the TV series in 1987. The animated company was later known as Fred Wolf Films and are now based primarily in Burbank California.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Irish Broadcasting: EAMONN ANDREWS

The Irish Broadcasting: EAMONN ANDREWS: Eamonn was born on Synge Street, Dublin, Ireland on December 19th 1922, the same street as playwright George Bernard Shaw. He was educate...


Eamonn was born on Synge Street, Dublin, Ireland on December 19th 1922, the same street as playwright George Bernard Shaw. He was educated at the local school, Synge Street CBS. He began his working career as a clerk in an insurance office. He was a keen amateur boxer and won the Irish junior middleweight title in 1944. His journalistic talent was being rewarded from an early age as shown in this press clipping from the Irish Press newspaper in May 1936
In 1946, he became a full-time freelance sports commentator, working for Radio Éireann, Ireland's national broadcaster. In 1950, he began presenting programmes for the BBC, being particularly well known for boxing commentaries, and soon became one of television's most popular presenters. His first regular presenting job on the ‘wireless’ as it was known then was the BBC Light Service quiz show ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ with co stars Harold Berens, Gladys Hays and Michael Moore. Eamonn had mastered the technique of the quiz shows on stage in Dublin where he presented variety show inserts like ‘Double Your Money’.
In 1955, Andrews made a brief appearance on film, appearing on camera as the narrator who introduces the unrelated segments that comprise the portmanteau film, Three Cases of Murder. He was even talent scouting pre X Factor days and a youthful Dickie Rock appeared on stage.
In 1951 despite his nervousness about appearing on television he became host of the panel game ‘What’s My Line’ which he stayed with until 1963 briefly reprising the role from 1984-1987. The programme and Andrews became instant hits: audiences enjoyed the clashes between Eamonn and the outspoken panellist Gilbert Harding. Andrews once outwitted the blindfolded panel himself when he 'signed in' with a falsetto voice as the show's mystery celebrity guest, earning himself a diploma. He became a household name, "I was addressed as Raymond - and, once, even as Amen Andrews"
He presented a number of Children’s TV programmes including ‘Playbox’ in 1955 and ‘Crackerjack’ from 1955 to 1964. In 1955 he earned the position of host of an American imported programme format and for decades was closely associated with ‘This is Your Life’. His first programme was to be the presentation of the famous red book to football legend Sir Stanley Matthews but a British newspaper leaked the story and with some surprise the shows creator Ralph Edwards handed the red book to Eamonn himself. He was the subject again of a ‘red book’ in 1974 when the show was hosted by magician David Nixon.
Throughout the 1950s, he commentated on the major British heavyweight fights on the BBC Light Programme, with inter-round summaries by J. Barrington Dalby. Upon his death British heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper described Eamonn as ‘the best boxing commentator ever’. On 20 January 1956, he reached #18 in the UK Singles Chart with a "spoken narrative" recording named "The Shifting Whispering Sands (Parts 1 & 2)", which had musical backing by the Ron Goodwin Orchestra and Chorus.
When the Irish Government finally settled on the plan for state involvement in a new Irish television service they asked Eamonn to come back to Ireland and assist. He chaired the Radio Éireann Authority (now the RTÉ Authority) between 1960 and 1964, overseeing the introduction of television to Ireland on December 31st 1961. About this time, he also acquired a number of business interests in Ireland, including recording studios and a dance hall.
In 1964 he returned to the UK and in that same year when his contract with the BBC expired he moved to commercial television. He initially worked for ABC who later merged with Rediffusion to create Thames Television. He initially presented his own chat show from 1964 – 1969 and the sports round up programme The World of Sport from 1965 – 1968. In 1969 the This is Your Life show transferred to ITV and Eamonn was once again the host, the show running continuously with Eamonn until 1987. Celebrity guests included: Bill Shankly, Sir Tom Finney, Anna Neagle, Muhammad Ali, Ken Dodd, David Nixon, Frankie Howerd, Norman Wisdom, David Jason, Jeremy Beadle, Anne Kirkbride, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Harry Hill, John Motson, Frank Skinner, Jim Davidson, Bob Carolgees, Charlie Cairoli, Joan Collins, Bernard Manning, Shirley Bassey, Stephen Behan (father of Brendan Behan and Dominic Behan).
Actor Windsor Davies famous for his role in 'Ain't Half Hot Mum', Sydney McEwan, Peter Davison, Alfred Marks, Brian Rix, George Best, Spike Milligan, Jon Pertwee, Eric Sykes, Marty Wilde, Justin Hayward, Rick Wakeman, Bernard Braden, Paul Young, Gary Glitter, actor Patrick Macnee, The Bee Gees pop group, Goodies members Bill Oddie & Tim Brooke-Taylor, producer Bill Kenwright, Liverpool footballer Kenny Dalglish, Barbara Windsor, and DJ John Peel. Lynn Redgrave, in December 1996, was caught while taking her bow in her one-woman show on stage at the Haymarket Theatre, the only time the Redgrave clan including Michael and Sir John, was seen together on stage at the same time. Bob Hope and Dudley Moore have been the only subjects of two-part editions of the programme, in 1970 and 1987 respectively. Both were broadcast over two weeks. Clive Mantle's profile included a post-credits sequence where he thanked the audience for coming. Footballer Danny Blanchflower turned down the "red book" in February 1961, as did author Richard Gordon (of Doctor in the House fame) in 1974. In 2001, Bill Oddie (of The Goodies) initially turned it down, but changed his mind and appeared on the show. Actor Richard Beckinsale was a feature on the show shortly after his 31st birthday, eight months before his death. ‘Whats My Line?’ also moved to ITV with Eamonn at the helm from 1984-1987. The show blindfolded the panel who had to guess either the name or the occupation of the guest. He was a regular host of the Miss World contest and was voted television personality of the year four time. He once said ‘I became, almost overnight, a face. I acquired that new, meaningless description for people who can neither sing nor dance nor juggle nor play the harp - a personality. Television personality.’ He was famous for coming up with off-the-cuff linkings which did not work – such as 'speaking of cheese sandwiches, have you come far?' This was parodied by the character Seamus Android in the BBC radio programme Round the Horne in the 1960s, performed by Bill Pertwee. At the time Andrews hosted a chat show on ITV. He was also famous for sweating while on screen, as parodied by another BBC radio programme The Burkiss Way. Andrews' contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.
In the late 1960s, at the height of the Cold War and Vietnam War, he showed his serious side when at his own expense he interviewed many notables to ask them their current opinions, and what they thought the world would be like twenty years into the future. He planned to invite them back, to screen what they had said, and to chat about how accurate they had been. He didn't live to record the second part; the tapes exist in the family's archives, and have never been viewed. After months of illness, thought to have originally begun as a virus picked up on a plane trip and exacerbated by a heavy work load including travelling to Hollywood to record editions of This is Your Life, his wife forced Eamonn to check himself into the Cromwell Hospital in London for tests. That night he passed away peacefully on November 5TH 1987, aged 64. His widow, Gráinne Bourke, whom he married in 1951, and adopted three children with died 18 months later.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


‘Bail ó Dhia oraibh a chairde Gael agus fáilte romhaibh go Páirc an Chrócaigh’ Known as the voice of the GAA for almost fifty years, Michael was born in Glasnevin, Dublin on June 20th 1920 to parents from County Clare. His father, Jim O'Hehir, who was born in Lack, County Clare was active in the GAA, having trained his native county to win the 1914 All-Ireland title in hurling. He subsequently trained the Leitrim football team who secured the 1927 Connacht provincial title and later serving as an official with the GAA Dublin Junior Board and chairman of Civil Service and St.Vincents Dublin GAA clubs. Michael was educated at St. Patrick's National School in Drumcondra before later attending the O'Connell School, a Christian Brothers-run institution in the city centre. He later studied electrical engineering at University College Dublin, however, he abandoned his studies after just one year to pursue a full-time career in broadcasting.He enjoyed a distinguished hurling career with the St. Vincent's club in Raheny. Michael became fascinated with the radio when he received a present of one as a child. He had just turned eighteen and was still a school-boy when he wrote to Radio Éireann asking to do a test commentary. He was accepted and was asked, along with five others, to do a five-minute microphone test for a National Football League game between Wexford and Louth. His microphone test impressed the director of broadcasting T.J. Kiernan so much that he was invited to commentate on the whole of the second half of the match. Two months later in August 1938 Michael made his first broadcast - the All-Ireland football semi-final when Galway defeated Monaghan at Mullingar’s Cusack Park. He went on to commentate on the second semi-final and that year's final between Galway and Kerry. The following year he covered his first hurling final - the famous "thunder and lightning final" as Kilkenny beat Cork by a score of 2-7 to 3-3. Sports broadcasting in Ireland was still in its infancy at this stage, however, his Sunday afternoon commentaries quickly became a way of life for many rural listeners who gathered around radio sets to listen to the games. As a man who could ‘make a boring game interesting’, by the mid-1940s Michael was recognised as one of Ireland's leading sports broadcasters. In 1947 he faced his most challenging broadcast to date when he had to commentate on the All-Ireland Football Final from the Polo Grounds in New York City. Over 1,000,000 people were listening to the broadcast back in Ireland and he was the one link between the game in New York and the fans in Ireland. The broadcast had to be finished by five o'clock local time, however, the match ran late. The last few minutes of his commentary included him pleading with the broadcast technicians not to take him off the air. His pleas were successful and the Irish people were able to listen to the game in full.
In 1944 Michael joined the staff of Independent Newspapers as a sports sub-editor, before beginning a seventeen-year career as racing correspondent in 1947. His racing expertise was not just limited to print journalism as he became a racing commentator with Radio Éireann in 1945. Even though his reputation was on the up with the national broadcaster in Ireland, he applied to the BBC for a position as racing commentator. His application was accepted and he provided commentary for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The BBC bosses were sufficiently impressed with him to offer him further commentaries. Michael describes the chaotic scene at the 23rd fence in the 1967 Grand National “Rutherfords has been hampered, and so has Castle Falls; Rondetto has fallen, Princeful has fallen, Norther has fallen, Kirtle Lad has fallen, The Fossa has fallen, there's a right pile-up... Leedsy has climbed over the fence and left his jockey there. And now, with all this mayhem, Foinavon has gone off on his own! He's about 50, 100 yards in front of everything else” He subsequently became a staple of the BBC's coverage of the Aintree Grand National, arguably the most famous horse race in the world. It is a role that would be continued by his son Tony who followed in his father’s footsteps. He would invariably pick up the commentary at the Becher's Brook fence and take the race to Valentine's Brook, a vital section of the race where many a favourite fell. Foinavon's famous victory in 1967 will be remembered as one of his finest moments in racing commentaries and won him great respect for the speed and smoothness with which he picked out the unconsidered outsider.
Michael later confessed in an interview that he it had been his inability to identify the colours on his card when inspecting the riders silks in the weighing room prior to the race that had led him to question rider John Buckingham who his mount was. Buckingham advised him that Foinavon's silks had been changed at the last minute as his regular green colours were considered unlucky. It was because of this chance meeting that he was able to identify the 100/1 outsider and carry the commentary. In addition to horseracing he also covered showjumping, including the annual Dublin Horse Show at the RDS in Ballsbridge. In 1961 Ireland's first national television station, Telefís Éireann, was founded and Michael was appointed head of sports programmes. As a result of his influence he secured the broadcasting rights to the closing stages of the All-Ireland hurling and football championships for the new station. As well as his new role he continued to keep up a hectic schedule of commentaries. He continued in the position until 1972 when he was replaced by Fred Cogley. Michael’s skills did not just confine him to sports broadcasting and, in November 1963, he faced his toughest broadcast. By sheer coincidence he was on holidays with his wife Molly in New York when US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was asked by Telefís Éireann to provide the commentary for the funeral. The live five-hour broadcast proved a huge challenge for him, as he had had no association with political or current affairs broadcasting up to that point and lacked the resources available to more established television stations. His commentary, however, won widespread acclaim in Ireland and showed a different side of his nature. He later described it as the most moving and most demanding commentary of his career. Michael was known in the United States prior to this as he had worked with ABC as a racing commentator. His presentation of the Kennedy funeral brought offers from ABC, however, he preferred to remain in Ireland. Michael later provided commentaries for other non-sporting events such as the repatriation and funeral of the remains of Roger Casement in 1965 and the celebrations marking the golden jubilee of the Easter Rising in 1966.
In the early 1970s the initial challenge of being head of sport had faded as Telefís Éireann was now an established broadcaster. In 1972 he became manager of the newly designed Leopardstown Racecourse but left the following year to continue writing and broadcasting as a freelance journalist. This work took him to the United States where he commentated for NBC in races such as the Arlington Million. This association with the American broadcaster lasted well into the eighties. In 1975 Michael was honoured by The Late Late Show with a special tribute show. In his commentary he aimed at impartiality but admitted that he was always blamed for being "against the losers." Similarly he was also blamed for making a game out of nothing. Shortly after Dublin defeated Galway in 1983 in a tense All-Ireland final about thirty Dublin supporters attacked him in the commentary box when he was commentating at another match in Navan. Only the presence of an armed detective - there to protect the microphone - saved him from serious injury.
In August 1985 Michael was preparing to commentate on the All-Ireland hurling final between Offaly and Galway. It would be a special occasion as it would mark his 100th commentary on an All-Ireland final. Two weeks before the game he suffered a stroke which left him using a wheelchair and with some speaking difficulties. This illness denied him the chance to reach the century milestone. He was subsequently replaced by Ger Canning on television, and on radio by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. He had hoped to return to broadcasting one day to complete his 100th final, however, this never happened. In 1987 the centenary All-Ireland football final took place and a special series of events was planned on the day at Croke Park. There was a parade of the 1947 Polo Grounds finalists, however, the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for Michael who was pushed onto the field in a wheelchair by his son Peter. Nobody expected the standing ovation and the huge outpouring of emotion from the thousands of fans present and from himself.
Over the next few years Michael alas withdrew from public life. He returned briefly in 1996 when his autobiography, My Life and Times, was published. Michael O'Hehir passed away in Dublin on 24 November 1996.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Mark Cagney was born in 1956 in Cork, Ireland. Cagney was the eldest of eight children but he left home at age 15 due to a difficult relationship with his father, who he described as a "remarkable man": an inventor, a musician, a mechanic, and a lecturer in electronics. His father was a professional double bass player with Irish Showbands like ‘The Regal Showband’. Cagney learned how to take care of himself as a result of being on his own so early. He longed to have some musical ability, but settled for working with a variety of bands. He also learned about audio and audio studio processes; this got him a job as a shore-based radio operator in Cork Harbour. As a young lad Mark listened on a crystal radio set to Radio Luxembourg and Radio Northsea to hear the music of a generation that was being ignored on the national broadcaster RTE. He quickly developed an ambition to be ‘the king of late night radio’.
As a teenager Mark was being paid £2.50 to act as roadie for a number of bands including Horslips before a chance meeting with a DJ Ken Fitzgerald Smith proved that Mark could get more pay DJing as Smith earned ten pounds for his gig. Mark did not complete his secondary school education and he ended up devoting his pay check to visiting night clubs; when a disk jockey did not show up for work, Cagney was asked to fill in, doing well enough at it to become a regular on the pirate radio station CBC (Cork Broadcasting Corporation) using the on air name ‘Mark Green’. At that time he was on air with another RTE stalwart John Creedon. Mark now had two jobs. Before long his illegal days were behind him after local RTE man Paddy O’Connor gave Mark an audition for the local channel RTE Local Radio Cork. Mark began presenting a programme called ‘New Releases’ on Cork Local Radio on March 11th 1977. The first song he reviewed was ‘My Best friends Girl’ by the Cars.
He moved to Donnybrook in 1977 working as a fill in presenter on a number of shows and on May 31sy 1979 he was part of the original line-up of 2FM, broadcasting on its first night on air. He originally shared the hosting of ‘Night Moves’ with Jimmy Greeley, Jimmy presenting mid week and Mark on the weekends. When he first began with 2FM, he called himself "Mark Anthony". Mark would later present a variety of shows, from the seminal Night Train to the Drivetime show. In 1985 he won a Jacobs' Award for his midnight radio show. While at RTE he got his first taste of TV presenting on RTE2’s ‘Irelands Eye’ magazine show and inserts on the iconic MT USA with the late Vincent Hanley. In 1989 he joined the new 98FM for what Mark freely admits was for the financial gain and stability the job gave him. He remained at 98FM for seven years. He had been poached away from the national broadcaster as part of Denis O’Brien’s Radio 2000 franchise bid to the IRTC. He then joined the national commercial Today FM in 1998 before leaving the world of radio to work in front of the cameras at TV3 Ireland. He won the TV Personality of the Year Award in 2005 at the 3rd Irish Film and Television Awards. Today he still hosts the breakfast show Ireland AM on TV3. Ireland AM was TV3’s serious attempt to improve its rating and without breakfast TV competition from RTE, the show was a hit for the commercial channel. The show first went on air at 7am on September 20th 1999, one year after TV3s launch. The original presenters were Mark and Amanda Byram. Mark is still with the show requiring a 3.30am alarm call to be at the Ballymount studios by 5am.
`Bill (Hughes) told me an old pal Andrew Hanlon was to be in charge of it. Andrew and I had been in 98FM together so I rang him up. I said, `Andrew, I'm probably not right for it, I'm probably 'way too old, but you'll be auditioning 150 people so 151 won't make any difference. I want a shot at it. He sounded surprised, but said, `OK, we're starting the real auditions at 2.30 tomorrow, so you can come in at 2pm.' And I did, and after a second test Andrew called and said the gig was mine if I wanted it, and here I am. I was at a stage and at a place in my life that a radical change was almost inevitable.’
He lives in Dublin with his second wife Audrey Byrne and their 4 children. Mark met Audrey while they both worked at 98FM in Dublin. His first wife, Ann Humphries, whom he met when he was 19, died of a brain haemorrhage after suddenly collapsing while shopping on Grafton Street. The couple had been married 11 years. When Ann died, Cagney was devastated and admitted to contemplating suicide. Audrey provided emotional support which turned into love.