The Radio

This topic has buzzed about inside my head like a nagging tooth for several months now. Lying in bed the other night during a power cut I listened to the radio through tiny earphones attached to my mobile phone. It was the jolt needed to pull it together.

My mobile is a Nokia 6610i, still giving faithful service after three years. It measures 10.5 x 4.5 x 2cms. I tucked it under my pillow to stop it slipping down the back of my bed, Tissues, reading glasses – the spare ones for reading in bed, my phone and medication have at times found their way through that tiny space. The bed is heavy and pulling it out is an activity endured only when necessary.

It is a far cry from the radio we listened to when I was growing up many years ago. That radio was a piece of furniture, an unmoveable feast! The first time I actually realised this was at secondary school, one of my class mates was talking about how she lost the radio. She searched the house for it before finding it under the bed! Our radio was larger and heavier than a family sized Microwave. It lived on top of Daddy’s desk in the alcove beside the fire. Daddy’s chair was always within arms reach of it. No way could you lose it or fit it under a bed!

The radio is still about although it has not worked for years. Brother No.2 took it when Daddy died with the hope of finding parts and getting it going once more. Unable to find the items required and not wanting to part with this token of our /his past, it sat in his mini museum alongside his other treasures of an earlier life. Slowly over the years it has moved along the shelf until finally it was relegated to a high shelf in the utility room where it sits today looking forlorn and unloved.

This radio arrived all bright and shining to our home as a wedding present for my mum and dad in 1941. There was a choice of wavelengths; long, medium and short. My earliest memories are of Radio Eireann and BBC Home Service. Daddy had the habit of tuning in to BBC Home Service for the 7am Morning News programme and switching over to Radio Eireann for the 8am news. Mammy loved to listen to the afternoon play on BBC as she waded through a mountain of ironing, with the help of a bar of Cleeves Toffee. On Christmas Eve we followed Santa’s preparations with the elves checking the gifts for all the children before leaving the North Pole. Somehow it never registered that all the names called out were Irish or had an Irish touch to them!

Lunchtime listening in our school years brought regular episodes of the Kennedy’s of Castleross and a very staid version of Hospital’s Requests on a Wednesday. The latter seemed to play only classical music, Irish diddlie di, or hymns. John McCormack’s recordings were regularly requested The messages of greeting for patients were delivered in very sombre or grave tones, enough to add pain rather than bring comfort. Then a young Bank Clerk from Limerick called Terry Wogan arrived like a tornado blowing fresh air across the airwaves. He spoke irreverently of Matrons, bedpans and pills and the ludicrous reality of lunch at 11am. The programme changed Tempo and we were introduced to the music of the day. I am sure it had a very positive effect on patients who in those days had longer spells in hospital. A simple appendix operation meant a week in bed followed by a week up and about on the ward. That is how it still was in 1966 when my appendix was removed.

Most of that happened before TV began in Ireland. We listened to the radio and made our own pictures inside our heads.

Paddy Crosbie was Question Master of The School around the Corner, where each week, two teams from different Primary schools battled it out to show their knowledge. The programme always finished with the ‘Hard Word’, when Paddy asked each member to write down the meaning of a multi-syllable word. The answers were then read out to the listeners and everyone shared the prize of a box of sweets.

Question Time, for the adults was watched over by our other dad patent leather hairdo Joe Linnane. My mother dated him before she met my dad. We never actually met him, but were glad she chose dad. It didn’t stop us teasing her every time we heard him or saw him in later years on Radio Telifis Eireann.

We had a weekly series of the Foley Family, an early attempt at radio soap. There was Cheili House, a programme of traditional Irish music, and Take the Floor with Dingo – did he have another name? Dingo was the compère; he introduced the musicians and dancers and was caller for the dance steps just like at a barn dance. As a child I thought it was silly having dancing on the radio as you couldn’t see the steps, mind you I feel the same about cooking on the radio today. Joe Lynch, from Cork was another entertainer, who grew-up within Radio Eireann as an actor, singer and comedian, but really came into his own with his Living with Lynch.

I remember a detective series where the story built over several weeks. One week there was a car chase through the streets of Dublin, ending with the criminal crashing into a railing near the Four Courts. We were on the edges of our seats and chewing our fingernails with the tension and excitement. It was all the more believable when the following day; Daddy piled us into the car and took us to see the crash site. There was the car stuck in the railings! Daddy had heard of a crash on the news but let on to us that it was the car from the programme. Somehow I don’t think that would pass the children of today.

My older brothers graduated to Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg and we became interested in the Top Twenty and all the hits of the day. If mammy and daddy were out we played about with the dials and wavelengths, sometimes we managed to eavesdrop on ship to shore telephone calls. Usually it was one side of a conversation, but if we managed to get both sides we felt we were very clever.

Now we have digital this and digital that, instant satellite connections across the globe. We hear and see the news as it happens and at times before it happens. Journalists today are in such a hurry to be the first with the news that they they tell us what they think will unfold. Does the fast pace make the news any better or make us happier?

What ever happened to the words of good old W. H. Davies

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

70 thoughts on “The Radio

  1. steph

    Blame it all on Terry Wogan! 😉

    Grannymar,

    Your memory is amazing! Our family ‘wireless’ sat on a high shelf in the kitchen, out of reach of little fingers! I can remember my mother listening to ‘Woman’s Hour (BBC)’ when we came in from school and ‘Dear Frankie (RTE)’ but other than that, my mind is a blank 🙁

    These days, I have a portable radio for both upstairs and downstairs as I’m an avid radio listener. Sure a bath isn’t a bath without the radio on and the ironing totally depends on it! 😀

    Reply
  2. Primal Sneeze

    I remember some of those. Why not all, I don’t know.

    Was it Dinjoe on the dancing programme? As in Denis Joseph somebody.

    My ma used listen to “Harbour Hotel” which may have been her name for The Kennedys. (She did that a lot – “Glenroe” was always called “Milley and Dinny”). I somehow picked it up as “Hard Board Hotel” and was baffled how anyone would stay in a place with boards instead of beds.

    Reply
  3. Grannymar

    Steph ~ I remember Dear Frankie, she had a Frank Sinatra song to suit every problem. 😆

    Primal ~ Easy answer – you are younger than I am!
    By now you know about my awful spelling! It might well have been Dinjoe, but I came from the school where if you couldn’t spell a word you just slapped it down – don’t tell that teacher fella Paddy Bloggit! The weather is far too hot for homework. 😉

    I remember “Hard Board Hotel”, but it was later than the programmes I mentioned. I wanted to give the flavour of our times yet leave some space for everyone to recall their own memories.

    Reply
  4. steph

    Grannymar

    As a little girl, I was once asked to present a bouquet of flowers to ‘Frankie’ when she opened our local garden fete. I have a picture somewhere of the two of us to prove it. I remember her deep voice but she was very nice to me that day.

    I never heard of Frankie again until a few years ago, when RTE television did a wonderful tribute to her after she’d died. It revealed that she had an adopted daughter which she’d kept a secret all her life.

    Believe it or not, I’ve known her adopted daughter for years through living in the same area but as she only recently discovered who her birth Mum was, we never knew of the connection. We’re the same age within weeks and it seems strange to me now that I met her mother at a time when she could not.

    Funny old world isn’t it?

    Reply
  5. Brianf

    Hi Grannymar,
    My sister jusy older than I has the RCA wireless from my parents house. I found a Majestic model 1 from 1926 a few years ago at an auction house. It didn’t work but with the help a friend we dug up the parts needed and got it working. I turn it on every once and awhile. My favorite radio is my wind up FreePlay radio. When the power goes out i can crank it for about 30 seconds and it plays for about a half hour.

    Reply
  6. Nancy

    Grannymar,

    You are so right! Steph’s story was a three hankie tale. I enjoyed reading it.

    In 1970 my husband,Roy, and I went to Hawaii on a convention. Roy was a mechanical contractor and this was their yearly meeting.

    While there, we returned to our hotel from dinner one evening and found an envelope under our door. It was an invitation to a wedding!

    It seems the attorney for the Association and his fiance were so taken with Hawaii they decided to get married in the gardens of the Ilikai Hotel and were asking us to attend.

    It was a beautiful affair with flowers and Hawaiian music and dancing . The bride and groom were all dressed in white embroidered Hawaiian costumes. I’ll never forget it.
    It was,indeed, an affair to remember.

    Now, fast forward almost 10 years and I am at a wedding reception and meet a lovely woman and we began talking. During the conversation she told me that her only daughter had disappointed her by getting married while on holiday in Hawaii. I asked her when that was and what her daughter’s name was. Of course, it was the same person, and I realized instantly that I had been at her daughter’s wedding and she had not!

    I never told her about attending the wedding because the chances of seeing her again were slim and I didn’t want to cause her any more unhappiness than she had already had.
    Actually, I never saw her again…

    So, Steph, it really is a funny old world, isn’t it?

    Reply
  7. steph

    @ Nancy – it sure is strange! It’s a small world at times too!

    I thought for a moment you were going to say that the woman you met told you her daughter had run off to marry a stranger, the attorney, in Hawaii leaving a fiancé behind!

    Then you really would’ve had to stay quiet, Nancy!

    Grannymar – here’s an idea for a blog post for you…

    A ‘Strange but True’ themed day would be a great way to find a few more stories like these.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now 😀

    Reply
  8. wisewebwoman

    I think it was Din Joe Lynch, GM, thanks for the memories do you remember was it Worker’s Playtime, not to mention Mrs. Dale’s diary/
    XO
    WWW

    Reply
  9. Grannymar

    WWW

    I have to correct you on this one. Din Joe and Joe Lynch were two different people. As far as I can remember Joe Lynch appeared on Take the Floor with Din Joe and when that programme finished its run Living with Lynch began.

    I do remember Mrs Dale’s Diary, Worker’s Playtime and of course the Archers which is still running.

    Reply
  10. Baino

    Sorry Grannymar. I don’t know any of those as I was only a kid in the radio days but I do remember listening to Children’s Hour crouching beneath a huge radio, record player thing that was big enough to serve a meal on!

    Reply
  11. Grannymar Post author

    Baino you are forgiven. All that travel knocked the programmes from your memory bank!

    Reply
  12. Ian

    Grannymar,

    One of my parishioners was driving back from one the yacht clubs in Dun Laoghaire one evening. He came through Killiney village and was driving down Killiney Hill Road when he caught sight of a full moon over Killiney Bay. Never the fastest of drivers, he slowed to walking pace to admire the view. The Garda car behind him was not so impressed by the view and pulled him over. He had had nothing to drink so all they could do was tell him off for driving so slowly on a narrow road. He looked at the young officer and recited the last two lines of the Davies poem.

    “A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    Reply
  13. d@\/e

    I worked for a while in a department store which was a bit like Grace Brothers – Are you being served? The owner every time he called in my department, referring to the radio, would always say “Would you turn that Hurdy Gurdy down”. Hurdy Gurdy?

    Reply
  14. d@/e

    I worked for a while in a department store which was a bit like Grace Brothers – Are you being served? The owner every time he called in my department, referring to the radio, would always say “Would you turn that Hurdy Gurdy down”. Hurdy Gurdy?

    Reply
  15. d@\/e

    The radio programmes must’ve all sounded like that to him. He was what you could describe as the typical grumpy old man, though I found him amusing. I learnt when I was working there if he said to turn the radio down that I’ d do that and then turn up a bit louder as he moved away. I also put that into practice when I was dj-ing and funnily enough nobody noticed.

    Reply
  16. d@/e

    The radio programmes must’ve all sounded like that to him. He was what you could describe as the typical grumpy old man, though I found him amusing. I learnt when I was working there if he said to turn the radio down that I’ d do that and then turn up a bit louder as he moved away. I also put that into practice when I was dj-ing and funnily enough nobody noticed.

    Reply
  17. Grannymar

    Dave

    I am one of those who ask to turn down the music. For me, the loudest noise takes over and I find it difficult to concentrate on what people are saying to me. It is not an age thing I have been like that all my life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy music but like alcohol, it is not a necessary requirement to social enjoyment.

    Reply
  18. d@\/e

    Some music in restaurants, pubs and shops I find off putting.It’s a mixture between what is played and the volume and tone of what’s played. There’s a local chemist that I avoid now because they play music very quietly and there’s obviously something wrong with their music system as everything sounds tinny.

    When I was dj-ing in shows that were a mixture of disco and live cabaret I just found it unbelievable that anyone would complain about the volume. The shows were widely advertised and I’d the opinion if people didn’t want to go to the show, or if they wanted a quiet drink they could go somewhere else.

    Now, as I’m on the verge of becoming a grumpy old man, I’d love to see more venues cater for people who want a reasonably quiet night out and venues that cater for people who don’t want to drink alcohol. Why do so many people think a great night out is one you can’t remember?

    Reply
  19. d@/e

    Some music in restaurants, pubs and shops I find off putting.It’s a mixture between what is played and the volume and tone of what’s played. There’s a local chemist that I avoid now because they play music very quietly and there’s obviously something wrong with their music system as everything sounds tinny.

    When I was dj-ing in shows that were a mixture of disco and live cabaret I just found it unbelievable that anyone would complain about the volume. The shows were widely advertised and I’d the opinion if people didn’t want to go to the show, or if they wanted a quiet drink they could go somewhere else.

    Now, as I’m on the verge of becoming a grumpy old man, I’d love to see more venues cater for people who want a reasonably quiet night out and venues that cater for people who don’t want to drink alcohol. Why do so many people think a great night out is one you can’t remember?

    Reply
  20. Grannymar

    Dave

    My biggest gripe is at weddings where the music gets louder as the day goes on. Not everyone wants to jitterbug all night. Some people are catching up on news and events with family or friends they may not have met for a few years.

    I do agree that the volume and tone of what’s played can make all the difference. Even in a supermarket, I find the music played in the mornings much easier on the ears and nerves than that selected for evenings and night time.

    Reply
  21. Declan Hayden

    Does anyone know where I might track down the theme tune to Harbour Hotel, A radio programme on Rte Radio 1 in the 1970’s finished about 1986 I think?

    Reply
  22. Grannymar Post author

    Hi Declan,

    I suggest you get in touch with RTE. They are sure to have details in their archives. They might even have a recording of it.

    I hope this helps.

    Reply
  23. aidan heffernan

    DIN JOE of “Take The Floor” fame was really Denis Joseph Fitzgibbon.
    His full time job was Managing Director of Tayoto Motors.
    Joe Lynch never took part in Take The Floor, he had his own show: LIVING WITH LYNCH.

    Reply
  24. Grannymar Post author

    Hello Aidan and welcome.

    Thank you for clearing up my errors. It is something I love about the blogosphere. There will always be someone with the correct details.

    Reply
  25. philip meagher

    great memories. i was born in 1959 and remember all of this. also on tv the riordans! does anyone remember rte radio on a saturday afternoon..the radio programme sponsored by waltons music shop?? it always finished with :”” and if you feel like singing, do sing an irish song!!”

    Reply
  26. aidan heffernan

    the Waltons programme was broadcast every saturday afternoon. It was presented by Leo McGuire who was a music teacher in Dublin.
    I remember a singer called Charley McGee. He was always introduced as “Charley McGee and his gay guitar!” He was a brilliant guitar player and a lovely singer. Waltons have recently issued a CD featuring many of these singers from the programme. It can be had from Waltons.

    Reply
  27. Grannymar Post author

    Hi Philip and welcome on board.

    I remember the Walton programme & the Gateaux one as well! Thjose were the days when we made our own pictures inside our heads.

    Aidan welcome back! Once again you are a mine of information. Did you work for the station or were you just an avid follower?

    Reply
    1. Tony Dunne

      Hi I’am Tony, I just came across your blog, very interesting. Might I add a little information to this session.
      90% of the “sponsored” programmes on RE. were recorded at Eamon Andrews Studios ( of “This is Your Life” red book ) in Henry St. I was the “recording engineer” for most of these programmes. The Gateaux programme which ran for 30 minutes and was transmitted at 1:30 pm. At half way through the programme Dennis Brennan, actor, read a beautiful “monolough”
      script which was done live to air. I had up to recent years copies of these. I could never find out who actually wrote these.
      Also, do you remember the “Bear Brand” ladies stockings programme that Gay Byrne commented. And while we’r at it how about the ” Come Fly With Me ” Harry Thuillier ” who was suppose to interview Irish people in Tronto Canada each week. I was involved in recording all these programmes.
      Tony Dunne

      Reply
      1. Grannymar Post author

        Hi Tony, thank you for visiting my blog and providing so much background information. I do remember when RE had studios in Henry Street. What a memory jog: Gay Byrne and “Bear Brand” ladies stockings programme. The mention of The Gateaux programme made me think of one that followed it… The Walton programme with the catchphrase: If you feel like singing, do sing an Irish song!

        Thanks for the memory.

        Reply
        1. Tony Dunne

          The Waltons was recorded at a commercial studio off Merrion Sq. Where the ” Salt & Pepper ” church is.
          Tony

          Reply
            1. Tony Dunne

              The Kennedys of Castle Ross, was recorded at our other studio which was situated under Jamesons Jewellers in O’ Connell St beside Clearys. There we had a much larger studio and better sound proofed for such recordings and catered for a larger crowd.

              Also we recorded the ” Tayto ” quiz show where teams from different parts of the country came to compete against each other. It was hosted by Jimmy Mc Gee, at first and then by Larry Gogan..I recorded many of those shows which was done usualy on a Sunday afternoon.
              This was to facilitate the teams coming from the country.
              This was all done under ” Jemeson Jellers ”
              Tony

              Reply
  28. aidan heffernan

    i was an avid listener. I had great interest in radio when I was a kid going to school. I taped a lot of radio stuff, but over the years these were wiped out. I ended up with the BBC in London for ten years as a production clerk. My real job is a photographer! I still take an interest in vintage radio shows. I have many LPs of the late Willie Brady and Dermot O’Brien and several others. Look forward to all your comments. Aidan.

    Reply
  29. philip meagher

    i know it has been mentioned before, but given the time of the year, i was reminded of spending Christmas eve in my grandparents little farm in longford. myself and my older brother perched on the front bay window sill and listened for what seemed like hours, to hear our names called out by “santy”!! it was wonderful

    Reply
  30. freda

    i came accross this page when i was looking for any photos on the din joe show as my mother use to do irish dancing on that radio show

    Reply
  31. Grannymar Post author

    Hello Freda, and welcome to my blog.

    I hope you enjoyed the post and come back again soon. I try to post something everyday and am pleased when people join in with comments.

    Reply
  32. Pingback: Grannymar » Sometimes…

  33. Dessweeney

    I am wondering if you could help me in tracking down information regarding an actress named Claire Mullan who I think used to work with the Radio Eireann Reps in the early 60’s?

    Reply
  34. Grannymar Post author

    Dessweeney,

    Hello and welcome. Alas, although we were regular listeners to Radio Eireann in my young days, I never worked for the organisation and am unable to help this time. I suggest you make contact with RTE Radio with as much information as possible. I am sure they have detailed archives.

    Reply
  35. arthur moore

    i listened to the foley family for years written by david hayes ? have rte got any recordings on the archieve page as i don’t seem to be able to find them
    the programme was great craic

    thanks

    Reply

A penny for your thoughts...