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6 heartwarming Irish TV moments from Riverdance to Centenary to John Joe Brennan


John Joe Brennan on the Late Late Toy Show in 2009 when he was 8 years old

John Joe Brennan on the Late Late Toy Show in 2009 when he was 8 years old

John Joe Brennan on the Late Late Toy Show in 2009 when he was 8 years old

We're a terrible nation for nitpicking the output of our Irish broadcasters but sometimes they provide us with golden moments we'll treasure for years to come.

They're those heartwarming scenes that reflect the best of us whether it's a troupe of Irish dancers blowing the entire world away with their jaw-dropping skill during Eurovision or family members welcoming home loved ones at the airport at Christmas.

Here are some of the most heartwarming moments on Irish TV of the past 20 odd years...


Nobody expected anything much from the interval act during the 1994 Eurovision.  Most people had wandered out to the kitchen to top up their tipple but if they weren't lured back to the telly by the beautiful singing of Celtic choir Anuna, they were called back urgently by transfixed family members when Jean Butler and then Michael Flatley kicked up their heels. Twas a proud day to be Irish.

Michael D meets the Queen

The first ever State visit of a President of Ireland to Great Britain saw Michael D Higgins welcomed ashore by the Queen and the historic occasion was marked by a stunning concert at the Royal Albert Hall which boasted the best of Irish creativity. Ceiliúradh (Celebration) boasted song, dance and poetry with artists including Imelda May, Paul Brady, The Gloaming, Fiona Shaw and Dermot O'Leary.

The visit came three years after Queen Elizabeth II lay a wreath in Dublin's Garden of Remembrance during the first day of her historic State visit and it felt like a new era in relations between the UK and Ireland was dawning.

Martin McHugh hugs his son Mark

McHugh senior had been an All Ireland winner in 1992 and was on the sideline when his son Mark triumped on the Donegal team over Mayo in 2012.  Mark ran to his father and embraced him an unbridled expression of joy and love and Martin walked away in tears as his son returned to celebrate with his teammates.

"It's hard to get me to cry but just the emotion of the whole thing came out - it was building up fore a long time," said Martin, speaking on RTE afterwards.

John Joe Brennan on the Late Late Toy Show

We are a nation of scholars and poets and storytellers but we're also a nation of lovable eccentrics and gas characters and among them is the wonderful John Joe.

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The eight-year-old captured the hearts of the nation on the Late Late Toy Show in 2009 when he discussed his love of horology with Ryan Tubridy, matching the host in wit and wisdom and eloquence.

Adoption Stories

There is little as heartwarming as family reunited whether it's emigrants returning to the embrace of their families at the airport at Christmas or adopted adults meeting their biological parents for the first time.  TV3's Adoption Stories is a fantastic series and this year featured Irish actor and director Alan Stanford, who found out at the age of 61 that he had been adopted.  His biological mother had unfortunately passed away in 2009 but he found six half siblings in England.



Much like Riverdance, RTE's Centenary blew the nation away on Easter Monday night.  A year in the making, the show was full of magic moments and was a hugely emotional watch for many viewers.  Celebrating and commemorating the 1916 Rising through music, dance, physical theatre, and archive footage it was a truly momentous piece of television which will be remembered for decades to come.

It's tough to choose just one snippet but here are members of the diaspora reading the Proclamation...

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