RTÉ LW252 TRANSMISSIONS

LW252 mast Co. Meath Photo: Save RTE Longwave Radio

LW252 mast Co. Meath Photo: Save RTE Longwave Radio

When I tune into RTÉ Radio 1 in Belfast I usually have my radio on 252 Long Wave, This is because the signal quality seems to be more stable than FM. Even with the swap of FM frequencies between Radio 1 and Lyric FM, I find the Long Wave service much more convenient. It was always very useful to have LW252 as an option when travelling by car in Britain. When it comes to summer sports such as GAA finals, the LW service remains a very important link for the Irish diaspora in Britain and beyond.

In the Irish Times, Patsy McGarry has an interesting article about the benefits of LW252. RTÉ’s planned closure of its long-wave radio service on January 19th has been described as a “crying shame” by a leading Irish child sex abuse campaigner in Britain. Mick Waters founded the Survivors of Child Abuse Soca (UK) group, precursor to Soca (Ireland). It grew out of the Artane Old Boys organisation he set up in the English midlands in 1965. Speaking to The Irish Times from Coventry, Mr Waters said many of the people he had dealt with down the decades “love that [RTÉ long-wave] connection. It’s very important to them.”

Tony Corcoran was driving in Southport, Lancashire, listening to RTÉ radio when he spoke to The Irish Times on the issue. “It’s as clear as any local station,” he said. If the long-wave service was to go, neither he nor anyone else in the UK would be able to listen to RTÉ in a car, he said. He said that during the football championship, people sat in cars across the UK with RTÉ on and windows open so others could hear commentary. rteradio1

RTÉ originally intended to close down the transmitter at Clarkstown in County Meath on October 27th 2014 but it has postponed the move until January 19th 2015 following calls by emigrants’ groups and others in Britain. The Catholic bishops of Ireland also criticised the decision. If you want to know more about the campaign to save LW252, a page with a petition can be found here.

SECTION 31 ANNIVERSARY

Anti-Section 31 protestors in Dublin  Photo: An Phoblacht

Anti-Section 31 protestors in Dublin Photo: An Phoblacht

Twenty years ago this week (January 19th 1984) the Irish Section 31 broadcasting ban on Sinn Féin along  with republican and loyalist paramilitary groups or any proscribed organisation in Northern Ireland was lifted. This was at an important time just seven months before the IRA ceasefire. The order renewed on January 6th 1993 by the then Communications Minister Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (now an EU Commissioner) directed Raidió Telefís Éireann to refrain from broadcasting any interview or a report of an interview with spokesmen for any of these organisations. As the peace process began to take shape, the order was allowed to lapse by the Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht Minister, Michael D. Higgins (now Uachtarán na hÉireann) of the Labour party.

The republican newspaper An Phoblacht recounts how the broadcast media in the 26 Counties were now free to interview Sinn Féin spokespeople. The paper says the first such interview was with party President Gerry Adams on Dublin’s 98fm radio station. But on the BBC Northern Ireland website where I first noticed the story, it is reported that Highland Radio presenter Kevin Sharkey (now with the BBC) carried out the first such broadcast in their studio in County Donegal, where he interviewed Martin McGuinness and Pat Doherty.

WEB SUMMIT: DUBLIN

RDS Dublin: venue for Web Summit Photo: © Michael Fisher

RDS Dublin: venue for Web Summit Photo: © Michael Fisher

Entering the Royal Dublin Society headquarters in Ballsbridge I wasn’t sure what to expect from the web summit. Pre-summit publicity suggested there would be 10,000 people from over 90 countries gathered in the various halls, a big increase on the few hundred at the start four years ago when Paddy Cosgrave and his team began work. Was it just a big PR exercise for Irish and international technology companies, or was it a chance for app developers, many of them young graduates, to do business?

Main Stage at the Web Summit, RDS  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Main Stage at the Web Summit, RDS Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was certainly a major logistical exercise and the hotels and restaurants in Dublin are no doubt benefitting from the influx, although having to cope with water supply problems doesn’t do much to promote the interests of the capital. I noticed there was another major gathering in town: at the National Conference Centre, the International Air Travel Association is holding the third World Passenger Symposium with some 650 delegates. So Dublin is certainly attracting plenty of business.

Múirne Laffan, Head of RTÉ Digital  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Múirne Laffan, Head of RTÉ Digital Photo: © Michael Fisher

The RDS complex was bustling with summit participants packed into various halls. It was late on that I discovered the impressive main stage, where An Taoiseach rang the bell for the US NASDAQ stock exchange this afternoon, the first time it had been opened on Irish soil. I found the RTÉ lounge in a good spot in the main hall. Managing Director RTÉ Digital Múirne Laffan was there and she had been one of the speakers this morning on digital marketing, examining the topic ‘Content is King’. I notice there was some criticism on social media about the low percentage of female speakers at the summit.

(to be continued)

BIG MUSIC WEEK: ARMY BAND

Army No.1 Band in Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

Army No.1 Band in Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

One of the highlights at the start of the recent RTÉ Big Music Week to encourage live music was the parade in Newbridge. It made its way from the train station to the Main Street and then over the bridge across the River Liffey to Patrician Secondary School for an hour-long concert in the school hall. The parade was led in style by the Army No.1 Band from Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin. Tomorrow night (Saturday 12th October) they will be performing at the National Concert Hall in Dublin in the annual defence forces benefit concert and the tickets are sold out so there will be a full house. Celine Byrne from Caragh in County Kildare who was also in Newbridge for the RTÉ Music week is the guest soprano.

Army No.1 Band in Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

Army No.1 Band in Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

Celine Byrne with Luka Bloom and his brother Christy Moore in Newbridge: up the Lilywhites!  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Celine Byrne with Luka Bloom and his brother Christy Moore in Newbridge: up the Lilywhites! Photo: © Michael Fisher

BIG MUSIC WEEK: CHRISTY MOORE

Christy Moore at Patrician Secondary School Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christy Moore at Patrician Secondary School Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christy Moore returned to his native county of Kildare to take part in the RTÉ Big Music week at Patrician Secondary school in Newbridge, where he was a pupil many years ago. When I looked around the packed school hall, I suddenly noticed him behind me sitting in the audience and moving with the music as Luka Bloom sang. Only afterwards did I realise that Luka Bloom is the stage name for Kevin Barry Moore, Christy’s younger brother from Prosperous.

Luka Bloom at Patrician Secondary School Photo: © Michael Fisher

Luka Bloom at Patrician Secondary School Photo: © Michael Fisher

BIG MUSIC WEEK: CARLOW

Colourful welcome for the RTÉ Music Train at Carlow Photo: © Michael Fisher

Colourful welcome for the RTÉ Music Train at Carlow Photo: © Michael Fisher

I was delighted to get as far as Carlow on the RTÉ Music Train as I began my journalistic career there as a student in summer 1972 when I worked at the Nationalist and Leinster Times in Tullow Street. My father had begun his career there and had met my mother over 65 years ago.

More live music here in a marquee erected in the station car park. Risin’ Time presenter Shay Byrne was the compere this time. Selina O’Leary from Tullow was among the performers as well as the Bugle Babes. After seven hours of varied and continuous live music, it was time to return home, courtesy of Iarnród Eireann as far as Dundalk.

Ready for the return to Dublin Heuston from Carlow Photo: © Michael Fisher

Ready for the return to Dublin Heuston from Carlow 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’.