With Eamon Ó Buadhacháin
As a child, I’ve the warmest memory of being washed in a grey tin bath on the floor of the kitchen beside the darkened cooking range, listening to Radio Éireann on a Christmas Eve hoping that my letter to Santa would be one of those read out on air.
It was not to be, but as I dried and warmed beside the fire, Santa’s departure from the North Pole en route to Dublin was compulsive listening.
I was not alone, thousands of children for decades tuned into the national broadcaster as the excitement of Santa’s visit ramped up through the ether.
Ever since December 1926, radio has been part of a shared Christmas experience for listeners young and old. Even in today’s multimedia and audio-overloaded world, radio at Christmas still maintains its magical quality.
With 2RN not even a year old, Christmas Day radio in 1926 was very different to anything we hear today, yet one of the earliest traditions had its first airing.
Financial restraints on 2RN meant that it was only on air for three hours and that first Christmas broadcast did not come live from the Little Denmark Street studios but from the rehearsal rooms of the Artane Boys Band, who would play the entire three hours live accompanied by well-known Dublin sopranos and tenors, all giving up their Christmas evening to broadcast. The Artane Boys, forever associated with Croke Park, performed their Christmas Day broadcast for decades to come.