The Real Story Chapter 8

After that somewhat brief interlude, and while I do some further research, let’s get back to 1980. I think I could say this was a somewhat pivotal year for both Ireland as a whole and the broadcasting and sports section of the media. Football played a very important part of the year, for both Limerick and Big L Radio Limerick’s Sports Team, with reference to Limerick’s player manager Eoin Hand, fighting in a highly competitive campaign, culminating in a terrific match in Athlone, leading to a 3 year period during which Limerick qualified in European football, much to the delight of Limerick as a whole. However the tone for the eighties was set by an extremely irresponsible budget by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1977 which included amongst other things the abolition of car road tax. Between the following Charles Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald Governments the situation was made much worse, by massive borrowing, and tax rates as high as 60%.

In January of 1980 The American Singing group the Supremes appeared at the Savoy

Big L Radio Limerick

Savoy Bedford Row Limerick

to a crowd of less than 200, somewhat distressing for Brendan Murray the Promoter and main instigator for the Savoy’s revival during this period. For whatever reason, Brendan went to extraordinary lengths to ‘recoup’ his takings which led to an armed robbery of the group just short of Birdhill traveling back to Dublin. Extremely out of character, he nevertheless wound up doing time for this misdemeanor and returned later in the year to continue the on going success of the Savoy. On the 19th April Johnny Logan wins the Eurovision song contest for the first of his two wins in this competition,(no one else has achieved that), with ‘What’s Another Year’ putting Ireland back on the European Map again since Dana’s ‘All Kinds of Everything back in the 70’s.The Limerick Lady Festival Final was held at the Savoy in May, covered in chapter seven in more detail.

The Music industry as a whole was coming on strong in this first year of the new decade despite England and Ireland being in severe financial trouble, maybe because of people’s spirits needing to be lifted, and the interest in the local Radio scene was sprouting ‘new’ radio stations all over Ireland especially in Dublin, at one time more than 30 stations all vying for listener ship against the new RTE radio 2.

At Big L Radio Limerick the Music coming on line was probably the best since the Rock & Roll era had begun. The Stardiscs Top Ten Show

on Friday Nights was going from strength to strength with continued support from the owner Pat McKenna who had been the first advertiser to come on board in 1978 and remained loyal to the station throughout it’s duration. Here are a couple of sound bites from the show in the ‘80’s

I was approached by the Canadian owners of the Courtyard (situated behind Cruises Hotel) if I was interested in taking on their Wednesday

Cruises Hotel Patrick Street Limerick - Big L Radio Limerick

Cruises Hotel Patrick Street Limerick

night spot. Initial response was negative, as I didn’t need any more commitments to my already stretched work load at the Radio Station.

I was doing the breakfast show 7-10 am

Lunchtime show from 1-2 pm featuring the Birthday person just after one o’clock news where we would play the no 1 record on a chosen listeners Birthday

Personal top 10 show 5- 6.45pm (listeners choice of Music with occasional live call to the lucky listener, the backlog grew to over 6 months waiting list) check out

In Afghanistan: as the Soviet military occupation continues, US President Carter puts on the pressure. The Moscow Olympic Games are threatened…
…but the International Olympic Committee stands firm. The USA and several other Western nations boycott the Moscow Olympic Games. On Big L radio Limerick the sponsorship of the sports Show had passed from ‘Stix’ to Pat Grace, Owner of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise for Ireland and also a very keen Soccer fan. From the Big L Radio Limerick sports team, Ronnie Long was handling the main reporting and commentary from the games, which led to the first and only confrontation between sponsor and owner in the Station’s history!

After returning from the outside broadcast of the weekly Saturday morning Novena from the Redemptorists Church, I checked in to the Saturday Morning Sports show and handed over to the sound engineer before adjourning to Quinns Pub

Quinns Lucky Lamp Ellen St Opposite Big L Radio Limerick

across the road at Ellen St to meet prospective guests for the show(usual practice for Saturday mornings),which on occasion evolved into a heavy drinking session mixed in with the odd coffee, I digress,  on this occasion, barely 5 minutes into the ‘session’, Ronnie Long joined our group very distressed and nearly in tears, blurting out that he had been thrown off his show. Quinns radio did not always tune into Big l Radio Limerick, which left us unaware as to what had been going on in the Studio just across the Road!

With Ronnie in tow I headed back across Ellen St to the studio(in the basement underneath no 12 Ellen St). to find Pat Grace and another person discussing local football on air! I asked the engineer as to what was going on, to which he replied Mr Grace had come into the studio demanding that the Olympic report is of no relevance to ‘His’ Show, and was taking over the reporting with his own guest!

I immediately ‘killed’ the Live Microphone, stormed into studio 2 telling the engineer to put on some music, and demanded a reason from Pat as to why the show had been disrupted. Pat’s response was something very derogatory about Russian politics, to which I replied that his personal view had nothing to do with Big L’s sporting coverage. He maintained that as it was ‘his’ show he had a right to dictate the content.

At this point I reminded him that it was not ‘his’ show, and furthermore to remove himself and his guest from the premises. A lot more was said, but after an un-precedented 2 music track interlude on the mainly Chat orientated show, he eventually left never to return! Ronnie was duly re-installed and continued his coverage of the Moscow Olympics, however the show continued without a Sponsor, and the Saturday Sports show was now to be funded by me, which eventually led to the entire sports team jumping ship to Radio Luimni a year or so later, after I could not fund their demands for more money, rather disappointing as I had backed them to the hilt! We did try, Hayman organized a visit from Max Boyce the comedian/singer with a great welsh rugby content at theSavoy internal - Big L Radio Limerick Savoy in November however with tickets at 4/5 punts we barely managed to pay his fee, great night though! Maybe playing on the 13th was not a great idea.

In Dublin music fans were disappointed after the powers that be cancelled a boomtown rats concert because of fears over crowd safety. ‘Sir’ Bob rejected the Courts descision and a battle continued over the next two weeks after which the descision to go ahead with the concert at Leixlip castle was eventually granted. Fourteen thousand fans attended and as far as I can remember our own Punk authoritarian Eoin Deveraux was there on behalf of Big l Radio Limerick, but you may have to confirm that with him. I do remember a coveted ‘interview’ with ‘Sir’ Bob that Eoin played at some stage on his show.

A European Cup home match between Limerick and Real Madrid took place in Lansdowne Road on 17 September 1980. The decision was taken to play in Lansdowne rather then Limerick to avail of larger crowd capacity but financially it ended in disaster. It was a great game with difficulty in determining between the Limerick part-timers and the professional Spanish football team. Although Limerick lost they were the better team. It was unfortunate that Johnny Matthew’s goal was disallowed for offside and that Des Kennedy gave Limerick the deserved lead only for the referee to award a disputed penalty to the Spaniards. The final result was a win for Real Madrid 2-1. Two weeks later Limerick traveled to Spain to play in the Bernabeu Stadium in front of 60,000 fans. Real Madrid were comfortable 5-1 winners.

In this outro Eamonn O’connor saying Goodnight at the end of his show and the full close down at 2 am with me making a mistake at the very end announcing our VHF frequency as 94.1…ahh live broadcasting with all the hic-cups??

Noteable Hits of the year were as follows:-

Abba: I Have A Dream
Boomtown Rats: Someone’s Looking At You
Blondie: Atomic
Johnny Logan: What’s Another Year ?
Nolan Sisters: I’m In The Mood For Dancing
The Clash: London Calling
Split Enz: I Got You
U2- Stories For Boys
Brendan Shine: Catch Me If You Can
Queen: Another One Bites The Dust
Bagatelle: Summer In Dublin.
T.R. Dallas: Oh Lord It’s Hard To Be Humble
Queen: Flash
John Lennon: Imagine

A Round table clip from December 1980…….

Other ‘hits’ include Rupert Holmes and the Pina Colada Song, Celebration – Kool & the Gang and who could forget Jona Lewie – And You’ll Always Find Me in The Kitchen at Parties. On a sadder note The Buttevant Rail Disaster darkened our skies on the first of August. At 12:45 the 10:00am Dublin (Heuston) to Cork (Kent) express train entered Buttevant station carrying some 230 bank holiday passengers. “The train was diverted off the main line across a temporary set of points into a siding. The locomotive remained upright but carriages immediately behind the engine and generator van jack-knifed and were thrown across four sets of rail line. Two coaches and the dining car were totally demolished by the impact. It resulted in the deaths of 18 people and over 70 people being injured”. The enquiry afterwards deemed the coaches construction to be horribly out of date, and heralded a refit of the entire rolling stock.

On the 8th December  Taoiseach Charles Haughey met with the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at Dublin Castle. It was the first visit by a British prime minister since Irish Independence.

But 1980’s biggest TV question is: “Who Shot JR?”
(Answer: Kirsten, Sue-Ellen’s sister)

Poland: The workers unite against the Communist government. Lech Walesa leads the trade union ‘Solidarity’.

Former Beatle John Lennon is murdered in New York in December 1980, and the Christmas hit knocking John Lennon’s (Just like) starting over again, was St. Winifreds School Choir and their rendition of “There’s no one quite like Grandma” which stayed in the top spot for 2 weeks till John took the top spot again with “Imagine” on the 10th January 1981.