independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Tributes flood in for veteran RTE broadcaster

The legendary broadcaster and music collector Ciaran Mac Mathuna died yesterday after a 50-year career with RTE when his 'Mo Cheol Thu' programme became one of the longest running on radio.

He died yesterday following a year's illness and after a wonderful life that he celebrated for 84 years.

He is survived by his wife, the singer Dolly McMahon, his daughter Deirdre and sons, Padraig and Ciaran Og.

Last night his wife said: "He died peacefully but his funeral on Tuesday at the church in Terenure College will be a real Ciaran Mac Mathuna occasion."

A native of Limerick, he joined RTE in 1955 and began his signature programme in 1970, finally finishing in November 2005.

Each 45-minute programme offered a miscellany of archive music, poetry and folklore, mainly of Irish origin.

The Taoiseach Brian Cowen said last night: "He was a much-loved figure and he will be missed by all lovers of Irish music, both in Ireland and around the world. My thoughts are with Dolly and their children at this sad time."

RTE director general Cathal Goan said he owed a personal debt of gratitude to Ciaran MacMathuna: "I was also able to appreciate the great esteem and fondness in which Ciaran was held by so many people across the island of Ireland and well beyond. His unmistakable voice is stilled but he has left us all a very tangible and valuable legacy," said Mr Goan.

His hypnotically calm voice had a quiet authority that eased its way across the airways on a Sunday morning: it was a national treasure and he was 'cool' long before they had a name for it.

He won a Jacob's Award, the equivalent of an Oscar for an Irish radio broadcaster, in 1969 and 1990, and the people of Limerick gave him the freedom of his native city five years ago.

When he joined RTE in 1955 as a radio producer he was part of a small team that constantly toured and trawled the country collecting its traditional arts.

Their mobile recording unit was an astonishingly awkward animal but Mr Mac Mathuna was on a mission to collect songs and stories, music, poetry and dance before they were buried under the coming tsunami of pop music.

The epic journeys and the trials of technology never deterred him and his colleagues, and their legacy will live on long after they have passed.

He made an enormous contribution to the cultural life of Ireland and the preservation of traditional music and folklore.

Irish Independent

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