Chime of 'Angelus' bell still has a peal after 60 years
FOLLOWERS of the 'Angelus' yesterday celebrated 60 years to the day since it was first broadcast in 1950.
It wasn't until 12 years later that the minute-long pause for prayer appeared on television, but the 'Angelus' was introduced by Radio Eireann -- as RTE was known then -- to mark the "Holy Year" of 1950 and promote devotion to the Virgin Mary.
It was originally mooted that Archbishop of Dublin Dr John Charles McQuaid would deliver a speech each day, but that idea was shelved and the station opted for a bell instead.
Dr McQuaid requested Dublin's Pro-Cathedral be used. He also asked for the first stroke of the bell to sound at 6pm precisely. That meant automation and a foolproof clock system.
As to the number of strokes of the bell, Dr McQuaid said the sequence three-three-three-nine was the correct format for the recitation of prayers.
Equipment was installed in the Pro-Cathedral for the automatic operation of the bell. While the mechanism rang the bell twice daily, only evening peals were broadcast in the beginning.
The chime has been broadcast almost every day in the 60 years since the Marion Feast of the Assumption on August 15.
When television began on January 1, 1962, the 'Angelus' bell was played from a tape accompanied by old master paintings of the Annunciation.
The presentation was rebranded last year when seven "visual reflections" replaced Catholic imagery.
The new format was to encourage viewers to take time out from "the weariness, the fever and the fret" of contemporary life, according to RTE religious programmes editor Roger Childs.
The 'Angelus' has been a source of controversy, with some commentators branding it sectarian.
But it can claim its place along with the news and weather forecast as the longest-running fixture on RTE.