Saturday, November 06, 1999


Paddy O'Neill (Padraic O'Neill/Paddy O'Neill/Paddy O'Brien) was one of the most talented of us; a prodigiously gifted man and a man with a true instinct for radio. Not an administrator! As a child I remember his scripts for the Lambert puppet TV series Murphy agus a chairde. Try as I might, I've never succeeded in Googling Mortimer, An Crann Feasa ("will you please go away - you're boring me"). Paddy explained to me once that the whole point of the Crann Feasa was that he knew nothing at all.

Looking at this photo, I'm struck by how frail Paddy seems (he had a history of heart trouble). Paddy harks back to the old Radio Eireann. He had been a member of the REP and the produced drama and variety programmes before moving over to features. But to listeners he was Paddy O'Brien, the greyhound commentator.

One of his real achievements was the priceless Idir Shugradh 's Dairire, presented by Diarmuid O Muirithe and Annraoi O'Liathain. There was a pic somewhere of Paddy and Annraoi with Diarmuid perched precariously on a ladder in TCD library. It's etched on my mind and I really wish I had it here. Idir Shugradh relied on the wonderful actors of the REP: Neasa Ni Annrachain, Brendan Cauldwell - and most especially Ginette Waddell and the magical, but tragically flawed, Eamonn Keane.

Paddy's programmes, as Jim Plunkett's appreciation for the Irish Times recounts below, were an important part of the soundscape of our childhood. He then produced Take the Floor with Din Joe and The School Around the Corner . On my very first day in Henry Street he was in Cub 9 editing that day's edition of Here and Now, the midmorning series then presented by Liam Nolan. Burnout was unheard of then and Paddy continued to reinvent himself throughout his long career.

Paddy had a very mischievous side. It was he who dubbed one of our most colourful colleagues Mr Toad. After some 'mix-up' about a hired car, I can remember Paddy and Michael weeping with delight, as Paddy read from his copy of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows (which he always seemed to have at hand) "Toad steals a car - but retribution catches up at the river bank...."

I also can't help thinking of others who must have been just out of frame in this pic: Kathleen O'Connor (of whom mysteriously I can't find a photo), Kevin O'Connor, Kieran Sheedy, Cathal O Griofa, Padraic Dolan. I'm sure there are other photos in trunks and packing cases - I'll add them as I find them.

A point here about Irish society in mid-century. Some of the best broadcasters had previously been primary school teachers (one of the few choices open to the brightest and the best at the time). In my time in FCA, they included Paddy, along with Padraic Dolan and Kieran Sheedy.


aifric said...

The photo of them on the ladder is on the front page of the RTE Guide vol 9 no 24 june 9 1972
taken in the Long Room library Trinity.


Brendan McCarthy said...

Thanks Aifric. That's good to know and if I can ever reproduce it here I will.