When Seamus Heaney accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, his address in Stockholm, entitled Crediting Poetry, made explicit a connection between radio and literature in Ireland. Heaneys charming evocation of the earliest intrusion of the outside world into the small secure world of his farmhouse childhood in County Derry begins and ends with the radio as sound. When he refers to an aerial wire attached to the topmost branch of the chestnut tree, we immediately recall the emblematic chestnut tree poem Clearances, and the deft transition from radio to literature is complete.
Heaney goes on specifically to link his earliest radio memories in Crediting Poetry to the war - a time which required and encouraged enormous advances in the technology of the era - nearly all of which , incidentally, was aural - radar, sonar, morse, telephone and radio. In his address, Heaney takes very little time to progress to a discussion of the basis of most aural communication - spoken language. As the radio dial spun, foreign languages flickered to life briefly, as did perhaps more interestingly for the future laureate, dialects of his own language which, he suggests, offered - a stability conferred by a musically satisfying order of sounds.
In his earlier essay, Feeling into Words, Heaney concentrated more on the local and outlying, remembering the recitation of lighthouse names in northern seas-
Sounds, shaped into exotic words, suddenly emerge from a realm that has thusfar been inchoate. Radio listening for Heaney and for the keyhole generations raised on radio and pre-TV, was, then, foremost evocation, an imaginative act, which would come to figure in their later creative undertakings. Their experiences echo that of the well-known quote from a 10-year-old boy who had just seen his first television broadcast. The boy, expected to rave about the new medium, instead he said that he preferred radio because the pictures were better.
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In 1924, two years after the implementation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the BBC began broadcasting in Ulster. Radio Éireann, or more exactly 2RN, its forerunner, started up less than two years later, one of the earlier projects of the newly-established Free State, and was established in part as a response to the presence of the BBC. Irish national broadcasting, like the BBC, was a governmental undertaking which was to remain a monopoly for decades, until the Radio and Television Act of 1988 (which established the Independent Radio and Television Commission) and paved the way for independently-owned stations. There were, of course, the two intervening decades of pirate stations from the 60s to the 80s which had threatened that monopoly to a limited extent.
As successful as Radio Éireann was to become, it was always in a lopsided competition with the BBC which was to become and remain for decades the most developed and unparalleled broadcasting system in the world. Radio Éireann did, however, create a national listening nexus in the new nation which displaced to some extent, regional and local Irish concerns. By offering national news, and national sporting fixtures, weather forecasts and agricultural programming, Radio Éireann had a far greater unifying effect on Irish listeners than print media had ever had on readers. When the national broadcasting mechanism was set in place Irelands middle-sized towns could often still be depended upon to produce not one, but in some cases two, weekly newspapers, which tended to divide readers by party affiliation, livelihood, and/or socio-economic class. Radio Éireann listeners all over the country heard the same news, listened to the same entertainment programs at the same time, and thus national media referents emerged for the first time - an important element in nation building for the newly-established state.
Ironically, however Douglas Hydes inaugural speech on Dublin 2RN may not have been as inclusive as hed intended. Hydes speech, which he began in English, was meant to welcome and alert the diaspora. But when he then began, specifically, to address the at-home audience, he announced his intention to switch to Irish -
The choice of diction in English is a deconstructive delight, but the remainder of Hydes broadcast would have been comprehensible to relatively few listeners at home.
In truth the effect of Radio Éireann as a unifying force within the country, was always, and for a variety of reasons, more an ideal than a fully achieved reality. Much of the country could receive BBC broadcasts, although BBC signals did not reach all parts of the island, especially beyond the Shannon. Irelands demographic concentration was, however, situated within the BBCs range, so that much of the populace of the new state could and did listen, to The Beeb.
Thus Irish radio memory is a fusion of these two elements, often regardless of the political sensibilities of the household. The BBCs news services, even early in its broadcasting history, were comprehensive in ways with which it was difficult to compete - particularly later during World War II or The Emergency, as, of course, it was called in neutral Ireland. Also part of Radio Éireanns initial brief, to encourage Irish language broadcasting and to produce traditional music and cultural programmes could, at times,work against it. Neither of these linguistic and cultural objectives was ever as universally appealing to Irish listeners as it was assumed it would be by those in policy-making positions in Dublin. Despite these limitations Radio Eireann, like all radio iin this era, had little competition other than newspapers, and listening to the radio, unlike reading the newspaper was an instantly shared experience. Newspapers in households were often read by more than one person, frequently from cover to cover and perhaps aloud, and then discarded. The radio enjoyed a different status, and was situated in the home like a prominent piece of household furniture (much like TVs and PCs were when they were each respectively introduced into private homes). Radio ownership in Ireland, whether because of novelty, need or the caché involved in owning a set, spread to an impressively high percentage of households very quickly, despite licensing fees.
Early radio listening required concentration, since poor reception was often a fact of life (as Heaney so vividly remembers). The radio also, of necessity, linked generations who brought different reactions and requirements to the experience. Long after its introduction radio listening also continued to be something of a ritualized practice - as the device was turned on at certain times of the day or week for specific programs, and family schedules fell into the rhythm thus established. Listening to the radio in the early years was not the thing you do while doing something else - a phrase attributed in a recent New York Times article to the vice-president for marketing of a media ratings service. Unlike those early listeners who focused all their attention on radio listening, post television, multi-media oriented listeners today hear radio in their cars, in elevators, in doctors offices - as background noise which only occasionally impinges in a lasting or meaningful sense.
The earlier ritualized experience of radio listening may account for the vivid quality of early radio memories, particularly among young members of the radio generations. As it is, often fifty years on or more it is not unusual, indeed it is a recurring phenomenon, for people who grew up with radio to recall with precision what they listened to, when, and what their immediate and lasting reactions to specific broadcasts or series of broadcasts, were. The clarity of these memories may simply attest to the power of the aural faculty. Listening, after all, was historically a more highly-developed skill than it is in the present age. Reliance upon ones memory to process and to store information about ones history and culture which was imparted orally was a fact of lie before the advent of mass literacy, and did extend to some degree into the beginnings of the radio age. The Irish writers of Seamus Heaneys generation have absorbed and stored radio memory, and have implemented it in different and often indirect ways. And nowhere is this practice more vivid than it is in the work of the playwrights who are Heaneys contemporaries.
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Fintan OToole, in a recent column in The Irish Times, responds to a readers poll of favorite Irish Plays of the past century. In his assessment of the results he emphasizes the role of evocation in Irish drama. OToole, writing in this case about the playwrights emerging in Ireland in the 80s, makes connections between the power of evocation and the problematizing of national identity. I think the premise is applicable to both the earlier and later plays discussed below in which radio memory occasions powerful evocative memory.
Radio memory in Ireland has features which differentiate it from that found anywhere else, and which unite the people who share those memories, even though these memories are, like all memories, highly selective and subjective. If you werent brought up in Ireland you wouldnt know what Athlone Calling means, nor would you experience the start of recognition those words would evoke. Inextricably connected to this interplay between radio, a remembered medium, imbedded in another, literature, which is in the process of being created, is the writers need to define Irishness for their age, and to measure it against previous definitions. Defining Irishness, however, is never a simple matter. Radio memory in contemporary Irish plays can be positively or negatively evocative. It is possible that its evocative force is best employed when it provides the creative germ of a play rather than when it is made to serve other, more ideological, imperatives.
Tom Murphys play Sanctuary Lamp is the story of a disenfranchised circus strongman. The play was loosely based on the playwrights memories of Jack Doyle, famed Irish boxer (boxing matches were among the first sporting events regularly broadcast on Irish and British radio). Radio broadcasts of Doyles bouts, and of his voice in interview, helped to form an image of heroic proportions, a figure larger than life, in the minds of boys and young men in Ireland - images that superseded the reality of the boxers genuine achievement, and which made his ignominious death all the more poignant. Nowhere in Sanctuary Lamp is Doyle or radio mentioned, we have only Murphys word on the underlying power of his radio memories of this Irishman who made it onto the world stage and who years later inspired a very different character for the Irish stage. When in Murphys The Gigli Concert the audience hears the voice of the Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli sing O Paradiso from Meyerbeers LAfricaine, or Tu Che A Dio Spiegasti LAli from Lucia, the device used to produce the sound on stage is a phonograph. Recordings of Gigli, the most recorded tenor after Caruso, were staple fare on music programs on both BBC and Radio Éireann. It would have been through radio Murphy first became familiar with what are obviously beloved recordings, since the Murphy household, and later flats the playwright inhabited as a young man would have been unlikely to have included the luxury of a phonograph or an operatic record collection. These recordings haunt and motivate Murphys central character, called, significantly, The Irishman in the dramatis personnae, The Man, throughout the text.
The Gigli Concert is a testament to the power of evocation and of memory. The Irishman unfolds a tale of a brutal childhood, and a necessary distancing from his past. He is a contemporary of his creator, and has rejected the negative influence of both his father and his elder brother who functioned as father after the formers death. The Irishman, born into the new state has become a success by its standards, yet has experienced an emptiness of spirit which he has attempted to fill by close identification with Gigli, even proffering at first a curiously Italianate biography. In this ersatz identify he has continued to function until the time of the play, which is a time of intense personal crisis. In the plays arresting final scene in which the only other fully-developed character, significantly an Englishman, achieves the Irishmans dream, to sing like Gigli, the arbitrary distinctions of personal and national identities are, if not eradicated, then rendered irrelevant.
Irishness defined against Englishness is not, however, a matter which is usually disposed of so subliminally. Rather it is usually played out in contexts which are overtly political, even if Irish playwrights argue, finally, against political limitations. Such is the case when Tom Kilroy, Murphys contemporary, makes radio central to and apparent in his theatrical undertaking in Double Cross where the range of wartime aural markers earlier noted by Heaney or come alive on the stage. Irishmen perdu Brendan Bracken, Winston Churchills Minister of Information, and William Joyce, who broadcast Nazi propaganda, forge new non-Irish identities for themselves, and issue and receive direct challenges to these identities on stage via the medium of radio. Here the cozy fireside implement that generously spilled language into Heaneys straining ear is employed in its more serious role as news provider - and more ominously as purveyor of propaganda. Kilroy, old enough to remember Lord Haw Haws distinctive voice, explores the chimera of universality radio listeners thought they had experienced- thus two minor characters in the play, journalists, discuss the effect of radio listening -
This apt exchange contextualizes in an explicitly dangerous conjunction the essence of the medium in question - and that is its subjectivity. It is this high degree of aural subjectivity - a private communion within a public context - that lies at the heart of radios productive intrusion into the consciousness of this and subsequent generations of Irish writers. The play, not incidentally, also problematizes the concept of patriotism and its obverse treachery as subjective matters.
In its final scene Kilroys character, Lord Beaverbrook, based on the influential newspaper magnate of the era, and who has become involved in the mystery of the confused identities of both Bracken and Joyce, visits the latter in prison. Beaverbrook is intent to investigate what might be called the underbelly of national identity, arguing that where national allegiance enforces patriotism, one must logically anticipate what he calls the alternate, but profound fidelities under which the traitor must operate.
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The requirements of national identity and its limitations figure prominently as does the power of radio memory in Frank McGuinness Someone Wholl Watch Over Me. McGuinness Englishman, Irishman, and American who are held captive in Beirut, are each portrayed as distinct national types, but they know full well the value that accrues in extremis of shared memory. The captives use various media in English to interact, films and TV included, but McGuinness begins the play with a version of the BBCs long-running radio program Desert Island Discs, itself an imaginative exercise in choosing aesthetic and other tools for survival in isolation. The programs rules must, of course, be explained to the American who has a different set of radio memories, or who speaks a different radio dialect. McGuinness also has his captives replay numerous radio and television broadcasts of famed horse races and other sports events, such as tennis matches, while his insistent use of a voiceover of Ella Fitzgerald singing Someone To Watch Over Me is haunting, a recording which was a longstanding favorite on both British and Irish radio.
McGuinness play focuses on the nationalities of the three men on stage, and each of them is what I have called elsewhere conventionally patriotic in the normative mode of his country. They have been placed in danger specifically because of those nationalities in an age of international terrorism. The solace they derive from remembering a safer period in their lives is conveyed largely through radio memory. McGuinness, however, propels the play, finally, past national distinctions, to his signature appeal to the power of the human spirit which has no such limitations or boundaries.
Playwright Brian Friel, with a somewhat older radio memory, took radio memory a step further on the stage in Dancing at Lughnasa when he used a radio, not only as his central prop, but gave it a face and a name - Marconi. Marconi, the radio, is very much a character in the play - a member of the Mundy family; and, of course, Marconis own genealogical and geographical connection to Ireland is imbedded in the consciousness of Friels Irish audiences. Marconi brings the international world of dance tunes and world events to the isolated village of Ballybeg in County Donegal, and into the Mundy home, broadcast all the way from Dublin, a place nearly as remote to the Mundy sisters as Gerry Evans Wales or Civil War Spain or Fr. Jacks Ryanga. Soon the stability of that radio era will be disrupted and the world will impinge on the lives of the Mundy sisters with devastating results.
Friel begins the play with the adult Michaels monologue which opens with his memory of the arrival of radio in the house when he was seven years old -
The adult Michael is, of course, remembering childhood perception, so it is not surprising that the radio memory takes precedence over Fr. Jack here. It is recalled first. Fr. Jack arrived three weeks before the radio, it wasnt the radio that arrived three weeks after Fr. Jack. The child Michael, an exact contemporary of his creator, claims that the radio obsessed them all, and indeed we see the sisters preoccupation with the new machine, but it is the boy who experiences that first delight, it is Michael who finds Marconi sheer magic. It is Michael who is remembering the scene with such intensity.
Like other vivid uses of radio memory on the contemporary Irish stage, its intrusion in Lughnasa is coupled with a questioning of Irish identity. The Irish, but Pagan, name Lugh is rejected for the foreign Marconi, making unanimous the rejection of or alienation from Irishness among the male characters. Gerry Evans, the Welshman, goes off to Spain (albeit to fight in the Irish Brigade) and Fr. Jack has rejected Irishness and his faith, or rather both have been rendered irrelevant by his prolonged stay in Africa. When he returns he argues for the superiority of Ryangan rituals and mores, finds local censoriousness regarding the very practical system of polygamy baffling, and bemoans their being only one love child in the house as such children bring good luck.
Critics have tended to credit the distaff side of the cast in Lughnasa with providing Michael with a securely Irish identity, but this view bears re-examination. Despite the celebrated primal Irish dance sequence performed only by the women, Chris has, after all, contracted an exogamous marriage, Kate loses her Irish government-funded job, Agnes and Rose, victims of de Valeras economic policies, go to England never to return, and Maggie marvels over Bernie ODonnells twins because they are Nordic. Even that quintessentially Irish dance moment itself, brought to us by means of the radio, is described in the stage directions to the play in less flattering and positive forms that it is usually portrayed on the stage. As Marconi plays The Masons Apron Friel describes the women thus -
The scene ends in silence with only short bursts of static from the radio.
In a lighter vein there have been equally comic radio markers used as shorthand to knowing Irish theatre audiences, which are quite incomprehensible to outsiders. Hugh Leonards The Patrick Pearse Motel, a revisionist and postmodern exercise ahead of its time, uses a real off-stage nemesis for a fictional television broadcaster in its cast. Leonards character, the ambitious James Usheen, is tormented by the idea of his competitor Eamon Andrews, whose reputation was secured on Irish radio early in its broadcasting history, and who was the genuine toast of the airwaves in pre-Gay Byrne Ireland. For the audience outside Ireland the joke is there, and it works, but never with the same resonance experienced by those who grew to adulthood soothed by Eamon Andrews dulcet voice and his unchallenged celebrity status among a nation of listeners.
In Martin McDonaghs recent stage hit The Beauty Queen of Leenane aging singles, Maureen Folan and Pato Dooley come home tipsy from a party and try not to wake her elderly mother, Mag, for whom Maureen is caregiver. They hear the radio in the kitchen playing Delia Murphys iconographic rendering of Francis Wallers Ballad The Spinning Wheel, a song which conveys a version of the forty-year-old Maureens predicament. In the sung version a young granddaughter escapes through a window to her waiting lover, after using a clever ruse to fool her granny into believing that she is still spinning in the corner. Eventually granny fades to sleep or, Pato and Maureen wonder, is it to death? In McDonaghs postmodern take, however, its the granny who is given to ruses, neglecting to convey invitations and burning love letters in order to assure her future happiness, or so she believes. The song, is eerily replayed in the final scene of the play, after Mags murder by Maureen. The plays postmodern edge is intensified by McDonaghs adding the ironic touch of having the song played as a belated birthday request on Radio Éireann. The request is sent by Mags two absent daughters, who get the birthday wrong too, making their mother, now dead, a year older than she was.
McDonaghs apt choice of song, played on a radio with poor reception does much to displace a sacred cow, as it were, of Irish national identity, as Mag can easily be seen to function as the antithesis of the Shan Van Vocht. Mags earlier exchanges with Ray, Patos kid brother, if we view them as an antic take on Yeats and Lady Gregorys Kathleen ni Houlihan are structurally different from other scenes in the play in two particulars. The radio is not played when Ray, two generations younger than Mag, and one generation younger than Pato and Maureen, is on stage. Futhermore all his referents are TV-based, and most of them not Irish. He and Mag dont have a collective media memory and little sense of shared cultural identity.
The beginning of the end of shared and assured radio memory has been for the most part pinpointed in modern literature as occurring with the introduction of television, but few contemporary writers have given serious consideration to the liberating and/or corrosive effect of pirate radio on Irish radio memory. Playwright Bernard Farrell is the exception. His 1983 play When Moses Met Marconi, revived recently at Andrews Lane in Dublin, was originally a collaborative effort staged for inter and leaving certificate students.
In 1983 there were no other licensed radio stations in the country other that Radio Éireann. Local stations then often operated openly and without licenses, but as Farrell makes clear in his play, the operators of such stations were aware of their precarious position. Farrells play also addresses such issues, new to Ireland, as broadcast media being revenue-dependent on advertisers, and the delicate balance necessary to maintain independence and quality programming while fulfilling the needs of advertisers, catering for public taste and, at times, testing public tolerance.
When Moses Met Marconi brings us into the recording studio of Radio Active. The staff includes D.J. and manager Bobby Bold, aka Sean Delaney, Justin Day (Eamon McGovern) and the offstage voice of Wolfman Moses (originally howled by Tom Hickey and loosely based on US disc jockey Wolfman Jack). The closed, shabby and limited ambiance of Radio Active takes a decided turn when Sean hires Nuala Ryan in the hope that a female presence on air will boost ratings. Nuala not only boosts ratings, but puts the activist into Radio Active, producing magazine programs dealing with such sensitive issues as family planning, zoning permits, and workers rights.
When Moses Met Marconi, like McDonaghs play, is concerned with the depiction of the waning role of Radio Éireann in Irish life. Alice Ryan, Nualas hopelessly gentile and demodé mother, still listens, of course, to Radio Eireann. However, duly proud of her new broadcaster daughters position, she rings a friend to urge her to listen to Radio Active- 459 meters, Mary, it is near where Radio Éireann used to be.
In fact Radio Éireann is still there, but even in Alices consciousness, its pre-eminence is beginning to fade. Here, again as in McDonagh, none of the comforting collective memories present in other plays which use radio as the means of accessing the past and re-enforcing Irish identity are present in When Moses Met Marconi, but the changes in Irish society and definitions of what Ireland is and who her people are shrewdly presented by Farrell whose forte is to train a bead on subtle shifts in the Irish psyche.
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Radio memory in recent Irish prose can also be used to comic effect, some of it lighter than others. Roddy Doyles beloved and heroic Rabbitte family from his Barrytown trilogy are the exasperated owners of a much-abused dog, Larry Gogan, named for the rather ubiquitous Irish radio compère of the 60s and 70s. Both Larry Gogans, it seems, are always there, often when they could be done without. Unlike other earlier and revered Irish radio personalities, like Eamon Andrews and Gay Byrne who have been treated with considerable respect and fondness in recent Irish writing, Larry Gogan is fated by Roddy Doyle to appear and remain in Irish fiction in the form of a household pet.
A much more informing instance, however, in contemporary prose fiction of radios imprinting on the national consciousness and on its writers, and also of the warring forces of cultural evolution on Irish listeners occurs in Patrick McCabes early novel The Dead School. Here a contemporary writer explores, perhaps explodes, the myth of innocence that radio memory often tries to represent. The novel focuses on generational strife in Ireland. It also features an awareness of the effectiveness of radio in Ireland at pushing the limits of public tolerance for social change, and at times, threatening social upheaval.
The novels protagonist, Raphael Bell, the principal of a highly-successful national, or primary, school in Dublin, came of age in the new Republic. A true believer, Raphael has as his nemesis one Matthew Dudgeon, who arrives as an ill-prepared and destructive teacher at his school. Raphael, increasingly tormented by what he sees as an onslaught of degeneration and slack application of standards, finally erupts when his favourite radio programme, The Walton Programme of Old Favourites - with its signature introduction - if you sing a song, DO sing an Irish song - is threatened to extinction by the coming vogue. Instead he hears a fashionable talk show host flippantly discussing intimate apparel with reckless disregard for the proprieties of Raphaels generation -
The end of the age of innocence, the age of radio, is significantly pinpointed by McCabe in this novel, just as the degenerative age of television is ushered in.
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A recent postmodern use of radio memory in poetry occurs in Paul Durcans Glocca Morra in which personal identity, Irish identity and ersatz Irishness collide at a particularly vulnerable time in the poets life as he stands beside his dying father in the hospital -
The poem also recalls a now derelict hotel of the same name they had visited. Glocca Morra, imported as it is from Tin Pan Alley, juggles complex levels of Irishness among the generations. These include the poets daughter, to whom the poem is addressed; the persona of the poem who is Durcan himself; and the memory of his father, a judge, who atypically experienced a sense of glee at not having to pay a license fee to the Irish Government for his own transistor radio. Finally, Durcan succumbs to the radios version of Irishness as a means of finding peace in a time of grief -
Durcans poem can be used in a sense as a pivot to move the reader from an awareness of radios general intrusion into the consciousness of the writer to examine specifically Irish radios intrusion therein.
Taking her cue from Brian Friel, poet Medbh McGuckian uses Marconis cottage in far off Ballycastle, County Antrim, both to situate and to title a recent collection. In an attempt to deconstruct her poetry, critics ever since have been suggesting that the poet, like Marconi, may be sending forth morse-like signals to us from the periphery. McGuckians fractured present, with its female figures isolated from or isolating themselves from lovers or nuclear families looks to the iconic clarity of the isolated cottage of the past - radio days - as a symbol of a more fixed time. McGuckian does not wish to return there in her life, but it is a focus point of the imagination for the poet, a white background against which, she tells us, she pins the bright reds and blues of her contemporary poetic experience.
McGuckians volume contains nothing quite so obvious as a radio, but The Invalids Echo includes the words ears and sounds, as do so many of the poems in this volume, along with frequent references to listening and voices. In The Cutting-Out Room, which features one of McGuckians uncomfortable interiors, she hears -
None of these recurring aural references would seem to have more than the usual sensory applications if it were not for McGuckians titling the volume as she has, and our historical awareness of Marconis cottage in Ballycastle as it figures in the history of the development of radio.
A more traditional application of radio memory, and a personal as well as a media marker, John Montague offers one of many exploratory poems about his own past, his troubled childhood and his troubled relationship with his father. Here, in adulthood, he meets his father returning to Ireland by boat at Cobh. As they return home to the North, he writes -
There continues to be a growing specificity to radio allusion in contemporary Irish poetry, including references to local radio personalities, signature tunes, call names and advertising jingles that are exclusively Irish and need glossing for those English-Speaking readers who grew up outside the country or outside the listening range of Radio Eireann or the BBC. Consider the opening stanza of John Ennis poem The Years -
Here the poised voice of the BBC, tied to Handels Water Music, is jubilant, but the bustling kitchen soon turns to the hard business of keeping the fire lit in the range. Its here that the dial is turned, simply, back to Athlone. Soon the father in the poem disappears into the Irish rural dark to begin a typical day - far from the BBC and Handel. Here both local and Irish memory is fused with broader cultural elements in a single mornings domestic routine. Issues of Irish identity, allegiance and both the authority and the subjectivity of radio can be a lethal mix. Poet Thomas McCarthys Counting the Dead on The Radio, 1972 uses the persona of a young boy, perhaps without a father, whose parting advice included the warning that writers played games with being Irish and that the family should only trust The News. Significantly, the first section of the poem ends with this family, like others weve seen, tuning into the BBC. McCarthy then makes quite clear the authority conveyed by the radios voice - during a rather noir tea party consisting of mother, son, and elder brother ominously smeared with blood after playfully killing a rabbit in the garden. Thus when the family tunes in they find
What the radio says. What they remember the radio saying, particularly in childhood, and the fragility and power of those memories informs and haunts what contemporary Irish authors write. Radio memory is being pressed into service in todays writing, like a national pin number which calls up strains of national consciousness and reverberates to an identifyingly Irish wavelength. [END]