The Potential of a Changing Ireland, 1976

The Potential of a Changing Ireland, 1976

Discussing how economic expansion and a new television service signalled changes in Irish society.

Cathal O’Shannon is joined by a panel which includes politician Charles J Haughey, broadcaster Gay Byrne, and Riobard Mac Góráin of Gael Linn, who reflect on the possibilities and challenges presented in I960s Ireland.

Charles Haughey describes the sixties as “dynamic and exciting times” and for the Fianna Fáil party, the focus was on being part of these times with a concentration on the economy. The first Economic Expansion Programme came in 1958, providing what Charles Haughey refers to as an exciting prospect for Ireland and chance to end to emigration. The prospect of economic planning provided a pathway out of the depression of the 1950s. The post De Valera era of Sean Lemass provided a break with tradition and an opportunity for young people in Ireland to identify with the new face of Fianna Fáil.

We were a complete new departure in Irish politics.

On 31 December 1961, Irish television in the form of Telefís Éireann was launched. Charles Haughey says he was very excited about the possibilities that television offered and describes it as part of a whole new era. At the time, he says they were told that

Television was going to make or break politicians.

Gay Byrne recalls while living in London and working at the BBC that there was a feeling that things were happening in Ireland. He remembers feeling out of the loop in London and wanted to be part of this progression at home. This partly influenced his decision to return to Ireland.

We should be there taking part in it.

Gay Byrne took on the role as producer and presenter of ‘The Late Late Show’ with the instruction to get as many people watching as possible. He was more interested in entertaining the audience than making or breaking politicians.

Riobard Mac Góráin believes that television was very Dublin centred. He would have liked to have seen more diversity represented on our screens. However, he does acknowledge that there were many series on television that did a lot to stimulate Irish life, notably ‘The Late Late Show’, programmes promoting traditional Irish music and political affairs programming. Riobard Mac Góráin also believes that television did a lot to stimulate book reading in Ireland as a result of what people had seen on television.

‘The Way We Were’ broadcast on 5 April 1976. The presenter is Cathal O’Shannon.
Credit to : CR’s Video Vaults

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