Tuesday 22 October 2019

Weird experience of dawn chorus

TELEVISION Appearing on TV3 is an eye-opener in every sense, writes Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

USUALLY, I see Ireland AM on TV3 only when I am actually on it.

Ballybraddan (RTE2)

The show is either part of your morning ritual or it is not.

And it surprises me when I discover just how many people in Ireland now regard watching breakfast television as a normal thing.

For the 10 minutes that I was sitting on the TV3 sofa last Tuesday morning talking to Aidan Cooney about my new book Free Money, I had that relaxed feeling you get when you're just having a regular conversation that is not being watched or heard by a few hundred thousand people.

It is only later, when apparently half the country starts telling you they saw you on the telly, that you realise you should have been afraid. Very afraid.

Then again, once you're actually sitting on that sofa, you feel that you have already done the hard part.

In all my life, I don't think I have done anything that feels as strange as getting up in the middle of the night to make the journey -- which in my case is about 50 miles -- to appear on breakfast TV.

What time was it when I got up? I don't rightly know. In fact, I don't think there is such a time. It does not exist in any real sense, in the world, this time at which I rose, in order to make myself ready, willing, and able for Ireland AM.

Just calculating the time at which I needed to be leaving the house had a sense of surrealism. Because if you're on at 7.45, they want you there at about 7.15 for make-up (make-up, for Christ's sake), so that's another half-hour you have to allow for, and then there's always the chance of getting stuck on the M50, and there's the traditional 15 minutes it takes to find TV3 after driving past it about 15 times, and soon it starts to feel that you should actually have left the house about 15 days ago, to avoid disappointment.

Nor does the strangeness stop as you wait your turn in the TV3 corridor, which is invariably thronged with lovely girls doing whatever lovely girls do be doing in TV3 at that hour of the day.

And finally, you're walking across the studio and you're saying a big hello to Mark Cagney, who is known to you as a deeply intelligent and tasteful man who could talk to the late, great journalist Bill Graham about jazz, something that few other men on this earth would even try to do -- Bill, no doubt, could have written a learned thesis on how it makes perfect sense for Cagney to be doing breakfast TV, at this time in our island story. Bill understood these things.

And then, you have that seemingly private conversation with Aidan Cooney, and you're enjoying that, but even when it's all over, the strangeness does not stop. Because it's only eight o'clock in the morning, after all.

A few minutes later, you're in a traffic jam, having already addressed the nation. Now people are ringing you up, telling you that you were on the telly, people you never imagined would be watching breakfast TV, but who evidently can't face the day without a few encouraging words from Alan Hughes and Sinead Desmond.

It is, in many ways, an eye-opener.

Animation is another thing that doesn't come naturally to me, though again I recognise that the Irish are developing a certain genius for it.

From Give Up Yer Aul Sins to that wonderful film The Secret Of Kells, and now the RTE series Ballybraddan, it seems that the best results are achieved by going back to an ancient Irish source.

Give Up Yer Aul Sins was based on that old-time school religion, The Secret Of Kells was set in monastic times, and now Ballybraddan has schoolkids resolving matters on the hurling field.

This is a very good thing that RTE is doing, with some very talented people, though they also did a very bad thing last week, also in the area of Gaelic games.

It involved the broadcast on Radio One last Saturday morning, of a documentary about a gay Gaelic football team in Dublin. But the gay Gaelic football team, in itself, was not the problem.

The problem was, it cut into my enjoyment of Weekend On One, a little-known music programme presented by Donal Broughan, featuring some of the finest sounds available to humanity.

Spookily fine, indeed, as it starts so early in the morning, when you don't really expect anything to be any good, the sort of time when you're just trying to struggle out of bed and off to the studio of Ireland AM. So fine, indeed, that the Broughan show had become one of those rare and precious things that make you think, "they'll find out what's going on here, eventually, and they'll come after it, and they'll kill it."

So they haven't quite killed it.

But if the music stops at 7.30, for no sane reason, and they feel free to announce that there will now be a documentary about gay Gaelic footballers, they are capable of anything.

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