SPOTLIGHT ON REPORTING

Panel discussion chaired  by Miriam O'Callaghan  Photo: Michael Fisher

Panel discussion chaired by Miriam O’Callaghan Photo: Michael Fisher

Good investigative journalism needs time for research, checking and double-checking facts and teamwork. BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme has been going for forty years. To mark the occasion the Corporation devoted a day at its Blackstaff studio normally used for the Nolan show to discuss why investigative journalism matters and to consider its future.

I did not attend the first session which included on the panel Senator Susan O’Keeffe, Michael Crick,  and Freedom of Information specialist and journalism Professor Heather Brooke. Her (London) City University colleague Professor George Brock also contributed to the seminar.

Miriam O'Callaghan introduces Sue Lloyd-Roberts, Stacey Dooley and John Sweeney  Photo: Michael Fisher

Miriam O’Callaghan introduces Sue Lloyd-Roberts, Stacey Dooley and John Sweeney Photo: Michael Fisher

The lunchtime session was chaired by RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan. Her guests included John Sweeney of Panorama, Sue Lloyd-Roberts and Stacey Dooley, who presents documentaries on BBC THREE. The latter gave us an insight into what it was like trying to make a programme in an area along the border in Mexico controlled by gangs.

Steve Hewlett chairing a panel discussion  Photo: Michael Fisher

Steve Hewlett chairing a panel discussion Photo: Michael Fisher

Many of the interesting insights into the world of investigative television reporting and the changes that have taken place came in the final session chaired by Salford Professor Steve Hewlett, a BBC Radio 4 presenter. The panellists included Roger Bolton, Darragh MacIntyre, and John Ware, who has done several investigations about Northern Ireland, the latest being on the activities of the British Army unit known as the Military Reaction Force in the 1970s. It was broadcast by the BBC last November.

Steve Hewlett chairing a panel discussion  Photo: Michael Fisher

Steve Hewlett chairing a panel discussion Photo: Michael Fisher

BIG MUSIC WEEK: NEWBRIDGE

'Birds of Paradise' with town Mayor Mick Deely greet RTÉ's Miriam O'Callaghan at Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

‘Birds of Paradise’ with town Mayor Mick Deely greet RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan at Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

What a fantastic reception in Newbridge for RTÉ’s Big Music Week. Alighting from the train, the musicians, presenters and guests were greeted by the colourful ‘Birds of Paradise’. Town Mayor Councillor Mick Deely was on the platform, waiting to whisk Miriam O’Callaghan away in a horse-drawn carriage.

Hundreds of schoolchildren and supporters lined the station car park and poured out onto the streets to cheer the musicians. One banner read ‘Thank you for the music’. The Kill Singers from County Kildare serenaded the arrivals with “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, which had also been performed on board in style by the Bugle Babes.

Numerous local bands including the Scoil na Naomh Uilig band played as the musicians and singers lined up for a parade into town headed by the Army No.1 Band from Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin. On Saturday they will be appearing at the National Concert Hall in Dublin at the Defence Forces Benefit Concert, which is sold out. Soprano Celine Byrne who was also in Newbridge will be making a guest appearance. I notice she is also coming to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on October 17th to sing alongside José Carreras in the opening night of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

“What a way to arrive into my hometown of Newbridge,” singer Luka Bloom told the Leinster Leader. He was joined on the platform by fellow musician and friend Philip King. “What a thrill. I was at Connolly Station at 8am this morning [Monday 1st October] and what a way to spend a Monday. There was a lot of singing on the train”.

At the Patrician Secondary School, Luka Bloom’s brother Christy Moore was waiting at his alma mater. Luka sang a song he had written for his good friends the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare Town called ‘Don’t be afraid of the light within you’.

BIG MUSIC WEEK3

Paul Brady singing at Connolly Station Photo: © MIchael Fisher

Paul Brady singing at Connolly Station Photo: © MIchael Fisher

Nationwide
Anne Cassin climbs aboard the RTÉ music train from Dublin to Newbridge and Carlow and looks back at the history of Six One as it celebrates 25 years of broadcasting. Watch the programme here on the RTÉ Player.  Broadcast on Wednesday October 2nd, 2013. You will see a brief picture of me listening to the music at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge at 6:20 into the programme.

The Lost Brothers on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © MIchael Fisher

The Lost Brothers on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © MIchael Fisher

Today was Day Three of the RTÉ Big Music Week. The train travelled from Limerick via Galway to Westport in County Mayo. Tonight there was a concert in Matt Molloy’s pub, featuring Sharon Shannon, Mundy, Frankie Gavin & The Ríl De Danann, Julie Feeney, Máirtín O Connor, We Banjo 3, Matt Molloy & local musicians, Laoise Kelly and more.

Miriam O'Callaghan on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © MIchael Fisher

Miriam O’Callaghan on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © MIchael Fisher

BIG MUSIC WEEK2

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly station for Big Music Week Photo: © Michael Fisher

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly station for Big Music Week Photo: © Michael Fisher

This was day two of the RTÉ Big Music Week designed to promote live music. It began yesterday at Bray station in County Wicklow with performances for early morning commuters by a host of starts including The Benzini Brothers featuring Liam Ó MaonlaÍ, Fiachna Ó Braonáin & Peter O’Toole,  Luan Parle, Lisa O’Neill, The Lost Brothers & Eleanor McEvoy. The special three carriage RTÉ Music Train then made its way to Dublin’s Connolly Station where I was able to join the event. I met the RTÉ Director General Noel Curran and managed to get his picture as the Artane Band prepared to broadcast live at the end of the John Murray Show with Miriam O’Callaghan.

Paul Brady singing at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

Paul Brady singing at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Artane Band played In Dublin’s Fair City or of you prefer Molly Malone or event Cockles and Mussels to bring the programme to a lively end. Earlier Miria had introduced various top acts including Paul Brady, Luka Bloom, Kodaline, Damien Dempsey, The Bugle Babes and Bronagh Gallagher. All this was a great example of public service broadcasting at its best.

Anne Cassin RTÉ Nationwide with Doanl Lunny in Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

Anne Cassin RTÉ Nationwide with Philip King in Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

I met several former RTÉ colleagues along the way including Nationwide presenter Anne Cassin. She was working on a package for tomorrow’s programme (Wednesday) on RTÉ at 7pm viewable here. You can see me listening to the music in the hall at 6:20. When I was talking to her she was in Newbridge where former Planxty member Christy Moore performed at his alma mater, Patrician Boys’ Secondary School. Christy had developed his passion for singing as a pupil in 1958 and he was taught to play the piano by Sr Michael.

BIG MUSIC WEEK

View of beach near Gormanston Co.Meath from train window Photo: © Michael Fisher

View of beach near Gormanston Co.Meath from train window Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was a beautiful morning for a journey and no better way to travel than by train. A great opportunity to see the sunrise over the sea as the train passed along the coast just after Gormanston in County Meath. My thirteen hour odyssey began at Newry station in County Armagh (it’s closer to Bessbrook!) with the departure of the 06:45 Iarnród Eireann commuter train to Dublin Connolly, a train that goes as far as Bray. Try planning a journey to Dundalk on the Translink website and you won’t find this particular service. It picks up at various stops as far as Donabate, by which time it’s a case of standing room only, then runs non-stop to Connolly. On arrival the place was buzzing with the sound of music, including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Miriam O'Callaghan prepares to go on air with The John Murray Show at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

Miriam O’Callaghan prepares to go on air with The John Murray Show at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

A great start to the Big Music Week at Connolly Station with an hour long John Murray Show presented by Miriam O’Callaghan. Among the crowd (some of whom had joined the music train at Bray) was RTÉ’s Director General Noel Curran. Although he comes from a county (Monaghan) where the railway lines were dismantled over fifty years ago, he still has a love of trains having made the journey many times between Dublin and Dundalk, where I was writing this as I headed back to Newry on the Enterprise.

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly Station

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly Station Photo: Michael Fisher

The hour-long show at Connolly finished with the Artane Boys Band. The BIG MUSIC WEEK entourage then boarded the special three-carriage Iarnród Éireann train to Newbridge for the next stage of the proceedings.

Entertained on the Music Train by the Bugle Babes Photo: RTÉ ten

Entertained on the Music Train by the Bugle Babes Photo: RTÉ ten

On board we were entertained by the Chattanooga Choo Choo from the Bugle Babes. Other stars  travelling included the Northern duo of Paul Brady from Strabane and Bronagh Gallagher from Derry, who made a special mention of Eamonn McCann when she sang Midnight Train to Georgia for Miriam, a broadcast that went out simultaneously on 2FM and Lyric FM.

Bronagh Gallagher on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bronagh Gallagher on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christy Moore joined the fun at the Patrician Seconday School at Newbridge in County Kildare. After a three hour stop that included a parade along the mmain street of the town led by the Army No.1 Band, it was time to head for the next stop in Carlow. More performances on the train and then in the station car park where Tullow native Selina O’ Leary was among the entertainers. After that the Music Train headed to Waterford for a concert at the Theatre Royal, a benefit gig in aid of Barnardos for whom collections were made along the way. The broadcast schedule for tomorrow, Tuesday 1st October, and other information can be found on the RTÉ Big Music Week (in association with Iarnród Eireann) website here.

9:30, 12:35 & 16:10 RTÉjr The Beo Show This Big Music Week join stage manager Donie and wardrobe lady Gerty Gúna  as they prepare the Beo Theatre for children from across the country Various
10:00 & 14:35 RTÉjr Hubble Hubble is going musical so watch and listen as Emma and Ogié discover a musical world full of fun and interesting sounds. Various
16:00 RTÉ Two elev8 Follow Diana Bunici’s progress as she picks up the guitar for the first time with the promise of a performance by the end of the week. Various
17:30 RTÉ Two Two Tube Throughout RTÉ Big Music Week Two Tube will be  on a quest to find the next big music act, as well as bringing great interviews from well-known Irish talent. Various
20:00 RTÉ Radio 1 The John Creedon Show For day two of RTÉ Big Music Week, John Creedon presents a live performance from Killarney’s INEC, featuring John Spillane, Ger Wolfe, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, I Draw Slow & others. John Spillane, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, I Draw Slow & others.