*Pat O’Brien, Jim Collins and David Fleming.
CLARE COMMUNITY RADIO stations took top accolades at the CRAOL Féile.
Scariff Bay Community Radio and Raidió Corca Baiscinn both took home honours at the Craol 2023 Community Radio Ireland Achievement awards held at the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone on Thursday night. Kinvara Community Radio also returned home with an award under their belt.
A special programme, ‘A Flavour of Lisdoonvarna’ recorded in September 2022 at the international matchmaking festival on Scariff Bay set the way for their success. This programme was presented by O’Callaghans Mills’ Pat O’Brien and Tuamgraney based lecturer, David Fleming with contributions from Anita Ryan who had been presenting an episode of ‘The Country Jukebox’ from The Rathbaun Hotel. This programme won gold in the ‘Social Benefit Talk’ category.
Efforts involved in the submission for the award were also acknowledged as Scariff Bay also picked up a ‘Standout Submission’ for the work in condensing the hour-long special into a seven minute audio package for adjudication. Tuamgraney’s Luke Fleming played a key part in this aspect.
Two silver awards were won by RCB. The Kilkee based station saw the work of three of its volunteers recognised.
Bilingual programme, Smaointe which airs daily and is presented by Máiréad O’ Higgins Finnegan and Sadhbh Smyth was acknowledged with a silver award. They talk about how they were taught the Irish language, their experiences of the language and how they now use it in everyday life. Music and lots of chat is prominent in the programme.
Kilmurry McMahon’s Michael Lorrigan who has presented Mikey’s Mix on RCB for the past seven years also brought a silver award back to West Clare. Hosted and produced by Mikey, the show features an energetic and eclectic range of music including classics, new hits and original remixes all sprinkled with Mikey’s unique humour.
Given that he had the idea to record a special from Lisdoonvarna, O’Brien who also came up with the concept for the popular ‘Local Media Show’ on Scariff Bay is proving to be the man with bright ideas in the East Clare station. “We were delighted. I said it to Jim early last year that we should go to Lisdoonvarna in September because it is a unique place. Any other radio station in Ireland probably has no matchmaking festival, it was unique in that scenario. I was up there in my youth many times going up for weekends,” the former owner of The Blacksticks in O’Callaghans Mills commented.
Station manager of Scariff Bay, Jim Collins admitted they were surprised to scoop the standout submission award, “we did not expect that because most of the awards there were for fully licenced or ten year licensed radio stations”.
A former primary school principal, Jim praised the manner in which O’Brien and Fleming shone in Lisdoonvarna. “You need to send the right people, not everyone can go around the street in Lisdoonvarna or anywhere else and persuade people to talk to them, that is a skill in itself, the two lads exuded craic, they cornered someone and they had no escape, they used their charm to get the talk out of them”.
Recognition in the CRAOL awards is a big lift for all involved with the station, the Scariff man said. “A win like this taking the whole weekend into account and talking to other community people, I would say first of all we have a very strong sense of community here in East Clare, hopefully we tap into that community whether it is at sporting level or the musical side, it is community development with Community Council or Development Association, I think we tap into that and we feel comfortable, it is all about people and we have volunteers spread around East Clare who bring the sense of the community and the community ethos of a place. It is brilliant to win an award, we all bask in the glory and enjoyment of that, it is great to be acknowledged as doing reasonably well in something and in this case doing extremely well, we want to use that to kick on as an aspirant station”.
Collins continued, “We aspire to showing all of East Clare in a good light and to East Clare proud and present it as the place that it is, a wonderful place to live and also to allow everyone and enable everybody in East Clare, groups as well as individuals who have a story to tell or something to say, to say because that is our job”.
Happy memories returned for UL lecturer Fleming when they listened back to the seven minute highlight package. “Pat and myself celebrated hard on behalf of the radio station. The first thing to say and I can say this for Pat, we were terribly humbled that Jim and our friends in the station put us forward because there is so much talent in this radio station that any number of programmes could have been put forward, it was very humbling for our little contribution on Lisdoonvarna in 2022. I went there because I had never been to Lisdoonvarna before, we had to bring Pat because he was chaperoning or I was trying to keep the leash on him I’m not sure what. For both of us it was great fun, we were just talking to people and enjoying the craic. For this particular exercise for these awards, the hour long programme had to be cut down to seven minutes for the judges to listen to it and it brought back several happy memories”.