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Happy hector keeps it local

On Wednesday, a fluey Ryan Tubridy was informed about the medicinal benefits of snuff by Sandra, who was given it to clear congestion on her wedding day.

"This can't be legal," she remembered thinking, before dipping her head beneath the top table and coming up "with a big brown nose on me".

"I've been married seven years this week," she said. "It's the anniversary of my taking snuff," she added ominously, as I pictured a seven-year snuff-induced crime spree (My Snuff Hell).

Ryan Tubridy on snuff? Snuff-sniffing sounds more like the sort of salt-of-the-earth, how's-your-uncle activity that Hector O hEochagain might engage in. Listening to Hector's breakfast show you'd be convinced that he never wanted anything more from life than a pinch of snuff, a few nights at the gee-gees and shift-work down the radio-programme factory (RTE).

He waffles happily to his viewers about betting-slips, shepherd's pie and white-towelling socks, revels in gleeful localism with the likes of his "Medium-Sized Town, Fairly Big Story" segment (a perusal of the local papers), and generally acts as though he lives down the road from everyone who rings in ("So Joanne Luby is getting married is she?" he asked of Joanne's pre-teen sister Elaine, who'd just phoned in, as though he'd known the family for years).

Hector is the first Irish broadcaster to realise certain essential truths. Firstly, there are only four million of us, so 2FM is basically a local station. Secondly, the urban-rural divide is overplayed. Dublin is the size of an average US town, so all Irish people, whether urban or rural, are really townies. And if old rural Ireland smells of turf and porridge (as Mary Louise O'Donnell asserted a few weeks ago on Today with Pat Kenny), then the motorway-accessible small-town Ireland evoked by Hector smells of hatch-backs and Monster Munch.

RTE's documentary Did Michael Keogh Save Hitler? told a gripping yarn about an Irish adventurer who fought in US/Mexican border skirmishes, World War I (for both sides), the War of Independence, and claimed to have saved Adolf Hitler from a potentially fatal beating in 1918 (not a great decision in retrospect).

"Machine guns, disguises, knives, murder and bicycles," Keogh wrote in his journal years later. "It's been a mixed-up life, but my last war is done. I have outlived almost all the men I fought. I have no enemies. I am at peace."

Tubridy, weekdays, 2FM; Breakfast with Hector, weekdays, 2FM; Did Michael Keogh Save Hitler? Sunday


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