Cyber attacks and cuckoo funds were all over the airwaves this week, talked into a hole in the ground. Jaded cynicism sets in after yet another circular debate on these conundrums. All the talk feels like an exercise in futility.
Paschal Donohoe did the radio rounds Wednesday morning, with appearances on Morning Ireland (RTÉ Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 7am) and The Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk, Mon-Fri, 9am) to discuss new taxes on cuckoos. The finance minister went from fireside chat with RTÉ’s Mary Wilson to firing squad with PK, surely the current affairs host politicians fear most. Donohoe can bewitch broadcasters with his nursery rhyme-style lists: “Three reasons… ”, or “Two things…”, but Kenny was immune to his charms. Stellar socially minded journalism from Evelyn O’Rourke on The Claire Byrne Show (RTÉ Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 10am) on Tuesday, in the first part of her new series on the impact Covid closures have had on schools in disadvantaged communities.
O’Rourke simplified the complex in communicating how, in reality, we were not all in this together. Her interviews with principal Niamh Murray, of Rutland National School in Dublin’s north inner-city, and Dr Paul Downes, professor of psychology of education were powerful in highlighting how inequalities exacerbate adverse childhood experiences.
I’ve never experienced the Eurovision Song Contest through the medium of radio before, so I thought I’d give it a go on Tuesday night (RTÉ Radio 1, Tues, 8pm). It’s a trippy experience, but allows the listener to truly hear the songs, away from the distraction of the visual spectacle. Presenters Neil Doherty and Zbyszek Zalinski are now my new favourite people on radio. The pair were great entertainment — funny, cheeky and warm — but also hugely knowledgeable about the contest itself and self-assured enough not to frame their interest as ironic. Polish-Irish Zalinski has a gorgeous accent, honed from 17 years in Ireland. He’s at the vanguard of the new Irish that we’re going to hear and see so much from in the coming years. Remember his name — it’s pronounced ‘Speecheck’.
Speaking of lovely accents, I could have listened to the historian Donal Fallon all day on On The Record with Gavan Reilly (Newstalk, Sunday, 11am). Fallon has one of those strong, articulate, real Dublin voices — think Luke Kelly or Brendan Behan — that’s now an endangered species. I found Reilly’s newspaper panel a bit media-heavy — no offence to journalist Gráinne Ní Aodha and former political advisor turned columnist Gerard Howlin, who were the two guests in studio. But Fallon’s well-told story of the staging of the Tennessee Williams play The Rose Tattoo — and the panic it caused that went to the top of Irish society — took the listener into the Ireland of the 1950s, which was a fascinating place.
Darragh McManus is away