Monday, November 06, 2006

Shadows, presences, absences

The picture above would not be possible now, as a new multi-decked car-park obscures the reflected view of the houses behind the Radio Centre. Michael's old office is on the left of frame.

For about twelve years after I left RTE, I made occasional visits to the Radio Centre, particularly to see Kathleen O'Connor, who, for me, embodied much of what I cared for in the old department. Kathleen had been Sean Mac Reamoinn's PA in his time as controller, and then ran the admin side of FCA. On one of these visits, I met Liam O'Muirthile, who had once presented Gaeliris, along with Padraic Dolan. "Brendan - I haven't seen you for ages", he greeted me. "Are you still doing community radio?" (I had been ten years with the BBC by then).

I had assumed that Brian Reynolds was similarly lost in some remote annexe of the organisation and was shocked to hear from Diarmuid Peavoy, who read one of these entries,that Brian had died some time ago of cancer. "I believe", Diarmuid wrote, "that he crashed a party before he died and insisted on turning it into his premature wake, all in very good humour."

How characteristic. Brian had worked in sound and left RTE to live in Germany after he met his wife Helga. After several years with Deutsche Welle, he returned to RTE, this time as a producer, in Donncha's time as head of features.

Brian was immensely kind. I found his sins against the English language awful: his years in Germany must have had something to do with the labyrinthine techno-babble which was the stuff of his daily conversation. But I gladly listened to him, because he had a huge and very attractive heart. He notably liked women. Not sexually merely - there was real emotional empathy.

If I have an enduring image in my mind, it is that of Brian holding court in Madigan's, surrounded by some of the girls from the switchboard and the typing pool. Then Helga stormed in. Helga was a formidable woman of Wagnerian force, and definitely not to be trifled with. The moment was truly operatic. "You will come home Brian", she ordered, "And you will come home now". And he did.



Póló said...

I grew up with Brian. Great lad. Radio person.

I'm enjoying immensely ploughing through this blog.

Referenced by Godfrey Ryan.

Anonymous said...

Brian was one of my lecturers. A fantastically beautiful man who made such an impact on me. Yes its true about his "going away party" - a sad / happy excuse for Brian to get his nearest and dearest altogether for a knees up..and what a night it was. His life ended with him squeezing every last drop, as he had lived. One of the good ones....never to be forgotten xx