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    Popular Radio One presenter and accomplished musician Ronan Collins is back on the road reliving happy memories for Irish music fans with his hit show ‘Reeling in the Showband Years’ . He tells Kay Doyle about his life as a long-serving radio and television presenter as well as his drumming career, and how after his recent health scare he is looking forward to whatever opportunities 2018 brings his way.


    Ronan Collins has begun 2018 feeling fit and well after a recent health scare that he feels may have had a less happy ending had it not been for the excellent care he received at the hands of our medical professionals.

    “I feel very well now, and back to my old self,” says one of RTÉ’s longest serving day broadcasters. “It was in the autumn of last year when I started to feel unwell. I had lost the feelings in my legs, there was no pain, but I couldn’t stand properly. My brother took me to my GP and from there I was rushed into A&E. I went into Connolly Hospital as an emergency case, through the public system, and spent about thirty hours there being examined.

    “It wasn’t immediately obvious what was wrong with me so I was taken by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital. They did an MRI and they described it as a cyst pressing against my spinal cord, and it needed to be removed immediately. I was operated on early on Sunday morning and by Sunday afternoon I was sitting up in bed feeling much better.

    “The care I received was excellent, and the priority from the outset was my health. If they had waited for another twelve hours, I could have ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I have a lot to be thankful to them for.

    Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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      Anthony Costelloe examines the way in which Hollywood has treated three major incidents of WW2, the capture from the Germans of three key bridges that were vital to the Allies cause.

      In the final year of World War ll, three bridges were of vital importance to the Allied offensive in Europe. They were, in chronological order, the Pegasus Bridge over the Orne River in North East Normandy; the Arnhem Bridge over the Rhine river and the Bridge at Remagen over the river Rhine in Germany, historically known as the Ludendorff Bridge.

      Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, June 6th, 1944, Dublin-born stage actor Richard Todd of the 5th Regiment 6th Airborne Division sat in the Stirling bomber poised to parachute onto Normandy soil.

      24-year-old Captain Todd was one of the paratroopers sent to reinforce Major John Howard, commander of D Company, who were holding Pegasus Bridge in North East Normandy. 31-year-old Major Howard had successfully captured the bridge in a mission that relied on the element of surprise for its success.

      Eighteen years later Hollywood recreated in celluloid the events of D-Day, June 6th, 1944, – code name ‘Operation Overlord’, a day when the dawn of freedom rose over Europe and the world, a day when the Allied forces launched the greatest amphibious offensive ever assembled.

      Three million men, eleven thousand planes and four thousand ships converged on Normandy soil.Their objective was to crush Hitler and his army.

      This three hour epic war movie, ‘The Longest Day’ gives a graphic account of that momentous day. It was filmed in black and white and is in documentary format, though dramatised.

      One section of this star-studded epic was titled ‘The Orne River Bridge’.

      Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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        The Old Age Pensions Act 1908 introduced a non-contributory pension for ‘eligible’ people aged 70 and over. It came into law in January 1909 across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. To be eligible, applicants had to have an income of less than £31 and 10 shillings per annum and had to ‘be of good character’, writes JIM REES


        Age is a funny thing. Most teenagers like to add a few years to feel grown-up, or to get into a cinema showing an age restricted film, or being too impatient to wait until they reach their 18th birthday to get an alcoholic drink in a pub. At the other end of the scale, there are those of a certain vintage who knock off a few years.

        It’s a harmless foible, but in the early years of the last century there was an epidemic of it. Thousands of people who had been in their late-50s in 1901 were in their early-70s just ten years later!

        The reason for this fast-track-ageing was the introduction of the Old Age Pensions Act in 1908. Most people had made no financial provision for their later years, so when they became too old to earn, poverty was the inevitable result.

        In January 1908, the House of Lords passed a Bill that would introduce the Old Age Pension to alleviate such hardship. It had already been approved by the House of Commons and now all that was required to make it law was the Royal assent.

        People over the age of 70 would receive a weekly sum of five shillings (seven shillings and six pence for a married couple), and the cost was to be borne by the working population through an increase in income tax.

        While the amount was small, just 25c in today’s money, it was a major leap forward in social thinking.

        Applicants had to meet specified criteria. For instance, it was ‘means tested’. No one who had an income in excess of £31-10-0 a year would be eligible. Your morals also had to be checked – only the ‘deserving poor’ need apply – and you had to have been a resident of Britain or Ireland for the previous twenty years.

        You also had to show that you had worked all your life, but just how anyone could prove this is a mystery.

        Those not eligible included anyone in receipt of Poor Relief; inmates of ‘lunatic asylums’ (the official term of the time, not mine); anyone released from prison less than ten years before the date of application; people with convictions for drunkenness; and anyone who was known to suffer from persistent shyness when it came to looking for work.

        Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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          By Denis Jordan

          This little tale is all about snobbery, and was told by Sean O’Casey himself in part two of his autobiography. He refers to himself throughout in the third person as ‘he’, no doubt because the first person sounds too egotistical, the second person sounds rude unless you use the poetic ‘thou’, and the third person makes it easy to distance to distance yourself from any glaring errors.

          Sean had found some fame in Ireland, but no fortune, so he had gone over to America, called The New Island by some Gaelic speakers, to mend his ways and means.

          He was almost penniless, so even this sally-port would have been beyond his means had it not been for the kindness of Lord and Lady Londonderry, who had given a guarantee to his bank for two hundred pounds.

          The guarantee had not been called-in, as his expedition proved successful, so now Sean was back home and his pockets bulging with American dollars. Home in this case was London.

          Sean and his wife, Eileen, had rented a five-room flat in Battersea, an area still not up to Chelsea standards, so that all the permanent residents had disguised their snobby shame by identifying the postal address simply as London, S.W.11.
          Sean of course was not a snob, being Irish, but he was cute enough to know that third person singular could never be brought to Court for anything, as that would be hearsay.

          Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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            Frankenstein, one of the best-known horror stories in literary history, was first published two hundred years ago, in January, 1818, and since then it has inspired numerous films, television programmes, video games, as well as ballet, comic-books, visual art, posters and much more. Few stories have been featured, and continue to be featured, in as many films as Frankenstein, writes Gerry Breen.


            Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley, who was married to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary was born in London on 30th August, 1797. She was the daughter of philosopher and writer William Godwin and the famous feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Unfortunately, Mary never really knew her mother who died shortly after her birth.

            When Mary’s father remarried, her step-mother saw no need to educate her, so she didn’t have any formal education, but she made good use of her father’s extensive library and found an outlet in writing.

            ‘As a child’, she once explained, ‘I scribbled, and my favourite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation, was to write stories.’

            It could be said that the story of Frankenstein began out of boredom. It happened on 17th June, 1816, when Mary, Percy Bysshe Shelley, the poet Lord Byron and Dr. Polidori, a physician and writer, who was to publish what is regarded as the first vampire novel, were gathered at a mansion near Lake Geneva.

            The weather was bad and they were confined to the house with time on their hands. Inspired by a collection of horror stories they had read, they decided to have a competition amongst themselves to see who could invent the best horror story of their own.

            As her contribution, Mary told part of the story of what was to become the most enduring and iconic tale in horror history. At the time, Mary was eighteen years old. The novel itself wasn’t completed for another year. It was first published anonymously under the title Frankenstein with a subtitle: A modern Prometheus. It was dedicated to William Godwin, Mary’s father, and Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the preface. Many people assumed that Percy Bysshe Shelley was the author, and this belief continued even after Frankenstein was reprinted in Mary’s name.

            Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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              By David Flynn

              A family who brought humour with horror to US television in the 1960s and built up huge popularity is still fondly remembered by audiences to the present day.

              The ghoulish sitcom ‘The Munsters’ was in black and white for its two-season run, and featured mortician Herman Munster, who was an early 19th century creation of Frankenstein, and his wife, Lily, who was half-Vampire and some relation of Dracula’s.

              Lily’s father, who had Dracula-like looks was known as ‘Grandpa’, and Herman and Lily’s son, Eddie Munster, was an average American teenager; except for being a Wolfman. The happy family were extended by niece, Marilyn Munster, a blue-eyed blonde, who looked totally different to her spooky, but humorous, relatives.
              The five member family lived a typical 1960s American tv sitcom lifestyle, in a magnificent, but falling down mansion.

              ‘The Munsters’ characters were loosely based on the horror movie characters of an earlier era and those movies had built up a new following on television in the 1950s. Universal Studios had produced the earlier horror movies, and also produced ‘The Munsters’, which married the idea of horror with humour, with the all American family at the centre of the sitcom.

              Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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                By Sheila O’Kelly

                Harry Patrick Clarke, born 17th March 1889, was an Irish stain-glass artist and book illustrator. Harry was the younger son and third child of Joshua and Brigid Clarke.

                Joshua was a Church decorator. He moved from Leeds to Dublin in 1877 and started a decorating business, Joshua Clarke & Son, that later incorporated a stain glass division.

                Harry was educated at Marlborough Street School and Belvedere College. Two years after his mother’s death in 1903, Harry left school and worked in the office of Thomas McNamara who was an architect. A year later Harry began his apprenticeship in his father’s studio and attended evening classes in the Metropolitan College of Art and Design.

                In 1906 Harry travelled to London and attended the South Kensington School of Design. When he returned to Dublin he resumed his apprenticeship and night classes. In 1911, Harry was awarded a gold medal for his window, The Consecration of Saint Mel, Bishop of Longford, by Saint Patrick.

                Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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                  PAULA REDMOND recalls the introduction of Bunracht Na hÉireann, which came into effect on December 29, 1937.

                  The Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht Na hÉireann – meaning ‘basic law of Ireland’) came into effect on the 29th of December 1937 and replaced the earlier Free State Constitution of 1922. It was approved by the Dáil on June 14th, and passed by a narrow majority of Irish voters on July 1st 1937 (685,105 for, 526,945 against).

                  A general election was held on the same day to decide the members of the 9th Dáil.
                  The constitution sets out the fundamental laws in relation to how Ireland should be governed, the basic rights and freedoms of its citizens and the main State institutions. It protects personal rights and views its citizens equally, stating in article 40 that “All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.”

                  Throughout the 1920s Eamon de Valera and anti-treatyites objected to many clauses contained within the 1922 constitution. De Valera disliked aspects of it that were influenced by Britain and linked to the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

                  It contained provisions, such as an Oath of Faithfulness to the British monarch (to be taken by members of the Oireachtas), inserted at the insistence of the British government. De Valera believed that the core laws of Ireland should be formulated without any outside influence.

                  In addition, he wanted a Constitution that would not require so many amendments – the 1922 Constitution had been amended twenty-seven times by 1937.

                  Article 50 in the 1922 document allowed for amendments to the Constitution by the Oireachtas without needing a public vote. De Valera initially thought the 1922 document could be reformed by removing Article 50 and certain other clauses.
                  In 1934 he established a group of civil servants, called the Constitution Committee, to examine it and draft a report for him on the matter. The committee included John Hearne, Philip O’Donoghue, Michael McDunphy and Stephen Roche. Hearne had previous experience in similar matters, having drafted amendments to the 1922 constitution.

                  The committee presented its draft report to de Valera in Spring 1935. Following de Valera’s review he instructed Hearne to draft heads for a new constitution. Later Hearne and O’Donoghue were put in charge of managing the entire project, overseen by another civil servant, Maurice Moynihan.

                  Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

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                    larry gogan pic mark condren january 2010

                    For generations of listeners to Irish radio, Larry Gogan is the avuncular voice that they warmly regard as that of a long-cherished friend. He shares memories of his outstanding broadcasting career and treasured family life, with Shea Tomkins, while also looking forward to what 2018 will bring.


                    The trademark smile of the effervescent Larry Gogan is beaming warmly around the bustling environs of the RTÉ canteen during the madness of a midweek morning. There are recognisable faces everywhere, but few more striking than the universally loved Larry whose sunny demeanour attracts well-wisher after well-wisher, stopping by his table to ask how he is after a few recent health issues.

                    The ‘Peter Pan’ of pop music on Irish airwaves immediately orders two cups of tea, and as tempting as he makes it sound, I reluctantly decline his offer of a cream bun to accompany the steaming brew.

                    Larry then settles back as we begin revisiting his impressive broadcasting career which stretches all the way back to the early 1960s, when the Radio Éireann studio was perched over the GPO on O’Connell Street.

                    He belonged to a pack of fresh-faced presenters back then who would eventually become household names – one of the most notable being his old pal, Gay Byrne. Those that enjoy listening to Larry on his weekend 2fm shows will testify that he still sounds as fresh as he did all those years ago; his upbeat voice and knowledge on contemporary bands making a mockery of the fact that he has graced our airwaves in six different decades.

                    “I put the youthful outlook down to my late wife, Florrie,” he says with a smile. “Even when the grandchildren came along, she refused to allow them call us ‘Granny’ or ‘Grandad’. She’d tell them, ‘I’m Florrie, and that’s Larry’.

                    “I remember one day little Nicki’s mammy couldn’t collect her from the crèche, and I said I’d run down and collect her. When I arrived they asked me who I was and I told them I was her grandad. Then they asked Nicki who I was and she said, ‘That’s Larry’. And then they asked her who Larry was – she had no concept of the word ‘grandad’. They were reluctant to let her out with this peculiar Larry fellow!”

                    Many would be envious of the environment in which Larry grew up – his family had two sweet shops, and his grandfather and great-uncles were sugar boilers, meaning they produced the aforementioned sweets themselves! He comes from a large family of six boys and two girls, though sadly two of his brothers have passed away in recent years.

                    Continue reading in this year’s New Year Annual 2018

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