I was delighted to see my children’s picture book, Millie and the Magical Moon, featuring on the most-watched TV programme in Ireland, the Late Late Toy Show.
During the month of October I’ve been busy travelling around the country as part of the Children’s Book Festival, visiting Libraries and schools in Westmeath, Offaly, Mayo, and Cork.
Here’s a picture of the display done by pupils in Scoil Naomh Eltin in Kinsale where I had a really enjoyable visit.
Documentary on Newstalk recently aired the premiere of ‘The Bots’, my radio documentary about the National Botanic Gardens, and the lives of those who live, work, study, and relax there.
Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects and music, The Bots explores the stories behind one of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions.
Director Matthew Jebb gives an overview of the role of the Botanic Gardens and explains how it hosts six hundred thousand visitors each year. Matthew also tell of its research role, and how the blight that caused the Potato Famine of the Eighteen Forties was identified by the then director of the Gardens.
Blathnaid Farrell, who grew up nearby, reminisces about the Gardens when she was a child, while librarian Alexandra Caccamo tells of a history going back much further, with some books in the library dating back to the sixteenth century.
Matthew Jebb talks of the joys of living on site, and tells the story of the Director’s Residence, which predates the founding of the Gardens in 1795.
Brendan Sayers gives an insight into the running of the glasshouses, and how tropical heat needs to be generated for some plant species.
Glyn Anderson and Charlotte Salter Townsend talk about the guided tours they give, with Glyn reflecting on the refreshment options available to the modern-day visitor.
Contributors and visitors reminisce lightly about their memories of the first thing they ever grew, while Ciaran Kavanagh and Alfreda O’Brien, who run the nearby Gravediggers pub, talk about the colourful associations between their premises and the Botanic Gardens.
John Mulhern, Principal of the Teagasc College of Horticulture, discusses how hundreds of students study at their Glasnevin site within the Gardens, while Felicity Gaffney, the manager of the Visitor Centre, gives details of the surprising range of cultural and artistic events that are staged each year in the fifty-acre grounds.
Matthew Jebb tell of the wildlife he’s encountered while living on site, and Colin Kelleher talks of his role as a taxonomist and the task of naming the vast numbers of specimens that have been catalogued in the Gardens.
The programme concludes with contributors revealing what the Botanic Gardens means to them, and their hopes for its future.
Quotes from THE BOTS:
“The first place we made for was the glasshouse. And when you went in the heat would just hit you. In those days you wouldn’t have central heating at home – so that was super.” Blathnaid Farrell, childhood visitor to the Botanic Gardens.
“Our back garden is about an acre and it backs onto the Botanic Gardens and the cemetery. The neighbours are basically the cemetery people and plants.” Ciaran Kavanagh, The Gravedigger Pub.
“One of the real pleasures of the job is that I wake up at work each morning.” Matthew Jebb, Director, Botanic Gardens.
“Our book collection extends back to the Fifteen Thirties.” Alexandra Caccamo, Librarian.
“The pub, the cemetery, the Botanics, it’s like the Bermuda Triangle – you do disappear in that triangle in Glasnevin, and before you know it, four hours have passed.” Alfreda O’Brien, The Gravedigger Pub.
“In the Herbarium there are about six hundred thousand dried specimens”. Colin Kelleher, Taxonomist.
“The world is changing quite a lot, and I think the big positive is that more and more people are paying attention to the natural world.” Charlotte Salter Townsend, tour guide.
“It took 25 years to put it together. There are 11 kilometres of glazing bars in this building, and it’s a work of art.” Matthew Jebb, Director, Botanic Gardens.
“I used to go into the hothouse – when I missed Italy.” Ciaran Kavanagh, The Gravedigger Pub.
The Bots can be listened to as a podcast on Documentary on Newstalk.
Documentary on Newstalk recently aired my documentary BREWERY DAYS, that looks at the lives of those who worked in the world-within-a-world that was Guinness’s in the Sixties and Seventies.
Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects, and topical news stories and music, Brewery Days follows the journey of one employee from boyhood to manhood in Ireland’s most famous brewery.
Quotes from BREWERY DAYS:
“Some very clever person came up with the idea of using the Storehouse, which had been lying vacant. And now it’s Ireland’s number one fee-paying attraction.” Paul Carty, Diageo.
“You had handball, bowls, tennis, soccer, gaelic, pitch and putt, rugby, hockey, cricket, table tennis, snooker and darts -The Iveagh Ground was a mecca.” Alan Clarke, former Guinness employee.
“The first time I asked her out she wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not, because it was April Fools’ Day” Michael Manners. “I met loads of people at the Guinness table tennis club – including my future husband.” Anne Manners.
“The early Seventies was the cusp of change between the old manual way of brewing and the new, more automated way of brewing that we do now.” Eibhlinn Roche, archivist.
“We were involved in a very competitive situation with our sister brewery in London, and it was always kind of held over us that there was a possibility that they could take over the Irish trade.” Bob Kerr, former brewer.
“The punch room had about fourteen girls; the main frame computer had a huge room to itself and its own air conditioning; and the hard drives were mini-cabinets.” Jean Roche, former computer operator.
BREWERY DAYS was edited by Orla Rogers and written and produced by Brian Gallagher. The programme was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee.
BREWERY DAYS can be listened to as a podcast at:
Drama on Newstalk recently aired the premiere of “SECRETS” my radio play that travels back in time to a seaside holiday in Sixties Ireland, during which two women face an intriguing moral dilemma.
“Secrets” tells the story of the extended Lawlor family who take a summer holiday in Bray, County Wicklow, in 1964. Unaware that such holidays will be soon made redundant by package holidays to sun destinations, they go about their usual two-week break. Despite the surface good humour, tensions are evident in the family dynamic, and when the Lawlors cross paths with a holidaying Scottish family the seeds are sown for a dramatic outcome.
The 1964 scenes are viewed through the eyes of twelve-year-old Damian Lawlor, while simultaneously the now-adult Damian looks back on the action.
Reappraising the moral choices of that summer, over fifty years later, gives Damian another dilemma now as he has to decide whether or not to leave the past undisturbed.
Starring Aonghus Og McAnally, Mary Murray, Mark O’Regan, Marion O’Dwyer, and Claudia Carroll, SECRETS was written and produced by Brian Gallagher. The programme was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee.
SECRETS can also be listened to as a podcast at :
Drama on Newstalk recently aired the premiere of “PAID IN FULL”, my radio play that looks at the murder-mystery genre in an Irish setting, with twists, turns, and nothing being quite what it seems.
Written in the style of “DEATHTRAP” and “SLEUTH”, “PAID IN FULL” goes beneath the surface in a small Irish village that seems peaceful and law-abiding. But appearances can be deceptive, and dangerous game-paying is taking place behind closed doors. Who is telling the truth, and who is lying? And more importantly, who is likely to live and who is going to die? With greed, adultery and murder on the menu, a lethal cocktail is served up to the listener.
Can anyone guess what’s going to happen next as the twisting plot leads this way and that? Tune in to the podcast, to hear a top-rate cast immerse themselves in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Starring Aonghus Og McAnally, Sharon Hogan, Mark O’Regan, Mary Murray and Marion O’Dwyer, PAID IN FULL was written and produced by Brian Gallagher. The programme was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee.
PAID IN FULL can also be listened to as a podcast at http://www.newstalk.com/documentaryonnewstalk
My new radio documentary, Wigs on the Green, is scheduled for broadcast on Newstalk 106-108 fm.
Exploring the stories behind Ireland’s most popular park, St Stephen’s Green.
This weekend, Documentary on Newstalk airs the premiere of ‘Wigs on the Green’, in which IMRO-nominated producer Brian Gallagher looks at the lives of those who work and play in the vicinity of Ireland’s most famous park, St Stephen’s Green.
Wigs on the Green will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 21st July at 7am with repeat broadcast on Saturday 27that 9pm
Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects and music, Wigs on the Green explores the stories behind Ireland’s most popular park, St Stephen’s Green.
Historian Arthur Flynn tells how the Green was originally used for pubic executions, before becoming a private park that in time was gifted to the people of Dublin by Arthur Guinness. Therese Casey, the Park Superintendent, talks of the challenges of running a city-centre park that gets 4.6 million visitors annually.
The programme looks at the human interest stories associated with institutions located on the Green, such as Adolf Hitler’s half brother working in the Shelbourne Hotel, and the canvas from the portrait of Queen Victoria in the College of Surgeons being used to make bandages during the 1916 Rising.
Sinead O’Kane and Pat Rooney reminisce respectively about being a boarder at Loreto on the Green, and visiting the 1500-seater Green Cinema, while Arthur Flynn tells the story of the little-known Huguenot cemetery at Merrion Row, and its link to the family of Samuel Beckett.
Niall Burgess, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, gives a fascinating look behind the scenes at the historic Iveagh House, while Raymond Mooney tells of the changes that have taken place at the Hibernian Club, which was originally a gentlemen’s club founded by Daniel O’Connell.
Contributors reminisce light-heartedly about their memories of Stephen’s Green, while Edmund Lynch, one of the founders of the Irish Gay Rights Association, recalls the important role played by Rice’s, one of Dublin’s first gay-friendly pubs.
We hear of the social changes to the area, as observed by Eddie McEvoy, who has been a barber on Grafton Street for fifty-five years, then Bridget Spain explains why she loves her job as the minister of the nearby Unitarian Church.
Looking to the past, Arthur Flynn tells of Dublin’s first Catholic University at Newman House, while looking to the future the impact of one-way streets, pedestrianisation and the Luas system is reviewed. The programme concludes with contributors expressing what Stephen’s Green means to them, and their hopes for its future.
BROADCAST TIMES: WIGS ON THE GREEN will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 21st July at 7am with repeat broadcast on Saturday 27th July at 9pm
PODCAST from www.newstalk.com after the first broadcast.
CREDITS: WIGS ON THE GREEN was produced by Brian Gallagher, and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee.
Quotes from WIGS ON THE GREEN:
“Adolf Hitler’s half brother, Alyious Hitler, worked here. He would have washed the pots in the kitchen.” Denis O’Brien Concierge, Shelbourne Hotel.
“I started in ’64 and I’m still working there – I must be the oldest working in Grafton Street,” Eddie McEvoy, barber.
“Trying to get the work done safely – with 4.6 million visitors it’s impossible sometimes to get grass cut,” Gerry Donaghue, St Stephen’s Green Parks Service Manager
“For a lot of people, going into Rices was the start of their journey to their full freedom as a person.” Edmund Lynch, founder member, Irish Gay Rights Movement.
“We employ over seventy nationalities, speaking forty languages, working in almoist every time zone. So this is a global organisation, working for Ireland, centred and headquarted, in a quiet house on the south side of St Stephen’s Green.” Niall Breslan, Director General, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
As part of World Book Day 2019 I went on a tour of libraries in County Clare. It was wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic young readers, while their teachers and the library staff made sure that everything ran smoothly at each venue. All l told a great couple of days.
My new radio documentary, Easy Rider, is scheduled for broadcast on Newstalk 106-108 fm.
Easy Rider: Documentary On Newstalk
New Irish Radio Documentary Celebrating 60 Glorious Years of the Honda 50
This weekend, Documentary on Newstalk airs the premiere of ‘Easy Rider’, in which IMRO-nominated producer Brian Gallagher looks at the social and transport phenomenon that is the Honda 50.
Easy Rider will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 20th January at 7am with repeat broadcast on Saturday 26th January at 9pm
Using a lively mix of interviews, location recordings, sound effects and period popular music, Easy Rider explores the story of Ireland’s love affair with the Honda 50.
Sixty years after the first Honda 50s were produced in Japan, the programme explores the huge social impact that mass-produced, affordable transport had on Irish life, with the Honda 50 going on to become the biggest selling vehicle in the history of motor transport
Side by side with the narrator’s story we hear from a fascinating array of individuals whose lives have been shaped by the Honda 50, from playwright Seamus O’Rourke, who used real motor cycles onstage during his play Ride On, to Niall D’Alton, who has traversed Route 66 from Chicago to LA on four occasions for charity, to bike enthusiast Alfreda O’Brien, who travelled by motorcycle in her wedding dress on the day of her marriage.
Conal Newman talks entertainingly about running the annual Nifty Fifty race in Mondello Park, while Jason Plunkett tells of setting up the Leinster branch of the Vintage Japanese Motor Cycle club, which holds an open day each year at the National Exhibition Centre
Contributors reminisce colourfully about their first motor cycle experiences, we hear of the clever marketing strategy employed by Honda to popularise the Honda 50 – and how versions of it are being manufactured in Asia to this day – and we close the programme with people’s final memories of a bike that has become both a firm favourite and a transport icon.
Quotes from EASY RIDER:
“When I’m out on the bike I’m not seventy any more. I’m still seventeen.” Conal Newman, Nifty Fifty Race organiser.
“In rural Ireland women were on the lookout for bicycle clips. If you were seen putting down a helmet in the corner of the dancehall – then you were on your way!” Seamus O’Rourke, playwright and actor.
“The only person who gets an escort like we get, is the president of the United States of America.” Niall D’Alton, Route 66 charity fund-raiser.
“I see some of the undertakers now have converted a sidecar into a hearse. Not that I want to go anytime soon, but I can imagine that if I’m going, I wouldn’t mind going in something like that!” Philip Carey, Goldwing rider.
“He’d pulled out the wires, and I said ‘get off, that’s my Honda Fifty.’ And he said ‘How do you know? They’re all red and white.’” Mary Mulherin, retired teacher.
“And I just got on the back, in my wedding dress, with my bouquet, and we cruised off, all around Glasnevin and back to the wedding party.” Alfreda O’Brien, motor cycle enthusiast.
“You could actually start the ignition with a lollypop stick, and once you got the ignition on you were free to go.” Niall D’Alton, Route 66 charity rider.
LISTEN LIVE: EASY RIDER will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 20th January at 7am with repeat broadcast on Saturday 26th January at 9pm
PODCAST: The podcast will be available at http://www.newstalk.com/documentaryonnewstalk after the broadcast.
CREDITS: EASY RIDER was produced by Brian Gallagher, and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee.
Exciting news is that my radio play, CAPTIVES, has been nominated in the drama category in the IMRO Radio Awards 2018. The Awards Ceremony takes place on October 5th in The Lyrath Hotel in Kilkenny.