Saturday 18 November 2017

Radio: Bilingual Eoghan is really speaking my language

Radio presenter Eoghan McDermott. Photo: Mark Stedman
Radio presenter Eoghan McDermott. Photo: Mark Stedman
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

For the last few years, over two weeks, The Eoghan McDermott Show (2FM, Mon-Fri 4pm) has become something quite rare in broadcasting: a home for the Irish language on a pop music station.

McDermott is bilingual, and has worked in both tongues on telly and radio. During Seachtain na Gaeilge, he brings in Clíona Ní Chíosáin - AKA Aifric from TG4's great teen show - to co-present through Irish.

This week, McDermott spoke to another TG4 person, Micheál Ó Ciaraidh, about his current role as ambassador for Seachtain na Gaeilge 2017 and the language in general. As someone whose Irish is only okay but strongly supports its preservation and all-round good health, all of this makes me very happy.

It's so rare to hear Irish anywhere outside Raidió na Gaeltachta and the odd Radio 1 show. Here, though, you had two young lads, nattering away about the language, why they like it, how they use it to communicate, what they'd change to make Irish more accessible.

That generation doesn't have the tedious hang-ups of mine, and older generations. For people like Eoghan and Micheál, the language is just part of their culture, it enriches their lives; they probably can't understand why anyone would be hostile towards it. (Because people can be very weird, lads.)

To them, Irish is… normal. No big deal.

Anyway, it's great to see/hear, and hopefully these two weeks on 2FM will help continue the language's renaissance. I was going to write "make Irish cool" - but I think it already is for the younger folks.

Talking Books (Newstalk, Sun 8pm) had a brilliant exploration of the great English writer Angela Carter. Host Sue Cahill and Carter's biographer, Edmund Gordon, delved deeply into her life and, most importantly, her work.

I've only read The Bloody Chamber, but it was bloody brilliant. This really in-depth programme whetted my appetite for more.

For Valentine's Day, Dave Fanning (2FM, Sat-Sun 10am) had a fun piece on what he called "cheesy love songs", and music writer Jennifer Gannon described as "songs that might be a bit embarrassing but that you have an affection for". They played and discussed a clutch of them, ranging from the kind of thing I imagine is used as a torture instrument in Guantanamo (Lady in Red, You're Beautiful), to the "eh, it's okay…ish" (Groovy Kind of Love), to the stone-cold, undisputed classic (More Than Words).

Gannon had that annoying, vaguely American accent that's sodding everywhere on radio now (and, increasingly and worryingly, among Irish kids); you know, "Eighties" pronounced as "Ay-deez" or "metal" as "meh-dull". But she was a likeable contributor and good craic - this was good craic.

What I especially liked was that, while Gannon laughed at these songs - rightly so, in most cases - she also took them on their own merits and showed the work a basic modicum of respect. It was all rather sweet, in a strange and unexpected kind of way.

Staying with music, the most surreal thing I heard all week was an interview on Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am) with Jimmy Chamberlin. He was co-founder and drummer of 1990s alt-rock godheads Smashing Pumpkins. These days, he sources funding for tech start-ups, and was speaking at Dublin Tech Summit.

Talk about a shift in gear: from the full-on rock-star life in one of the world's biggest bands (Chamberlin almost died from an overdose, too) to using terms like "quantification of value", "crystallising vision", "marching in lock-step" and "having a cogent understanding of the destination".

Rock and roll, how are ya…

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