April 26th 2021
Today’s speaker is James Innes whose talk is entitled ‘Bitten by the Black Dog’.
Forthcoming Speakers and Events
May 3rd Public Holiday
May 10th Annual General Meeting
May 17th Rotary Foundation: Rotarian Delma Sweeney : Transforming the World.
May 24th Dr Nnamdi Elenwoke, RC Barcelona Pedralbes – Covid Review and Contrast.
May 31st TBC
Jun 7th Public Holiday
Jun 28th Club Assembly
Jul 5th Presidential Handover
Jul 12th Patrick Hamilton Walsh, former member, from Stockholm
Jul 19th David Ellis – How Rotary is perceived by the public.
President Alan Davidson was in the Chair at our meeting last Monday and gave us the Thought for the Day.
Visitors and Apologies
Last week we had apologies from members Rana Al Damin, Brian O’Boyce, Alan Harrison and PP Derek Griffith. We had one guest, Herbert Jess from the Rotary Club of Bonn 7 Mountains.
There were 24 members in attendance.
Rotary Rangers Schedule
Rotary Rangers outings are cancelled until further notice due to Covid19 restrictions.
Hon Secretary’s Announcements
• Hon Sec Tony reminded everyone of the District Conference the following Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to noon. The Zoom invitation would be circulated and all would be welcome.
• The A.G.M. would be coming up on 10th May, Club Assembly on Monday 28th June and the Presidential handover on Monday 5th July
• President Alan welcomed our zoom visitor from Germany, Mr. Herbert Jess, who all those who were at the Tours 90th celebrations remembered with fondness. Alan remembers spending a Carnival weekend in Bonn one year when he was living in Brussels. He had intended to join the massive shindig in neighbouring Koln but the only accommodation he could find at the time was in Bonn, where Herbert confessed that Carnival is a much more restrained family affair. Herbert said he was happy to see one positive side of the current pandemic – that he could zoom in on one of our meetings and bring us greetings from the Rotary Club of Bonn Sieben Gebirge (of the seven mountains). Things are not looking good at the moment in Germany as they enter their third lockdown and he regrets that Germany has been slow with the rollout of the vaccine.
• P.P. Mariandy reminded everyone that Herbert had been German ambassador to the Phillipines during his illustrious diplomatic career.
• Alan said he had written to all those who had bid at our recent auction to put them in touch with the respective donors, except in cases where the donors had asked to remain anonymous. It looked as if we had raised €7,000 for St Vincent de Paul from the auction.
Members Wishing to Speak
Delma Sweeney wondered if anyone knew a certain John McNulty who was the lucky winner of the auction draw. It turned out that he’s the son-in-law of our late member Alan King and Jono Pym agreed to track him down with a call to Barbara King.
Frank Bannister said he was happy to wait for the end of the lockdown to pick up his purchases and informed Alan that his wife had offered to drive him over to Alan’s house for any whisky tasting that might arise.
Ethna Fitzgerald wondered if a list could be published of donors and bidders at the auction.
Alan said that would be a matter for Council, who were to meet that evening at 5.30 p.m., but that several donors had asked to remain anonymous and that should be respected.
Mary O gave apologies from Brian O’Boyce with the news that he was to retire on April 30th so we should expect to see his smiling face again soon.
Ted Corcoran reminded us that it was Paul Harris’s birthday, a man who had helped so many people all over the world.
Delma Sweeney has reminded us that last week had a day that has been growing in significance and of importance to Rotarians and is worth a mention here. (Thanks for the following, Delma. Ed)
Earth Day: Earth Day was inaugurated on the 22nd April 1970 and celebrated this year on Thursday last. This day’s objective is to promote better knowledge of how we should care for the earth and to highlight the stress our lifestyles are putting on the planet. The Climate Action Bill was brought to the Dáil on Thursday which, if enacted, commits Ireland to contributing to planetary recovery.
Rotary has recently added “The Environment” as our Seventh Area of Focus. Rotary is a community force that creates change. As Rotarians we are mobilizing this force to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss as a community. We know what is happening to our world, we know the consequences and we know what we should do. To read more about Rotary’s work for the earth/environment, with articles on “The Plastic Trap”, ”Nature & Nurture” and “Why Climate Change is Rotary’s Business” see: becomes-new-area-focus.
Last Week’s Speaker
Our guest speaker last week was Gerry Cahill, presenter on Dublin City FM (103.2) and current President Elect of Dun Laoghaire Rotary Club. His talk was entitled “Aspiring to be Terry Wogan” and he was introduced by P.P. Tom O’Neill. Tom informed us that Gerry is a Clareman, close enough to the broadcaster he so admired, the Limerickman Terry Wogan. His wife is a long-standing member of Inner Wheel and next year is their 50th Anniversary. Tom regrets that nowadays very few members’ wives participate in Inner Wheel.
Gerry said he’d been born in Ennis but the family moved to Ranelagh in Dublin when he was 6. One of his childhood friends was a girl who went on to marry Terry Wogan. At a reception in London years later where Terry Wogan was guest speaker, she introduced him to Terry. In his speech Terry said he found the gathering delightful; he had even ‘met someone who, as a child, played marbles with my wife!’ School was St. Mary’s in Rathmines and happy summers near Courtmacsherry in Cork. His career was with what became A.I.B. but in his early days it was the Munster and Leinster Bank where he made his start right on his doorstep in Rathmines. After several years he was moved to the branch on O’Connell St and for 15 years he managed the A.I.B. on Dame Street. Then the opportunity came for bigger things in England and he opened a new A.I.B. branch in Wembley, then managed the one in Hammersmith and moved to the posh surroundings of Berkeley Square at a time when managers were being asked to double profits every 3 years. At this point, fortunately for what later transpired, he retired. A sideline had been to restore the fortunes of the Irish Club in Eaton Square which had been in a bit of a shambles.
His career in radio only began when he came home. He joined the Welsh Male Voice Choir where he learned how to control his breathing and voice projection apart from enjoying the music. One day, listening to the radio he tuned in to Dublin City Radio and heard that a new radio station was starting, Annalivia Radio, and that they were looking for presenters and sound engineers. He had done some DJ work at his tennis club and run dances on Saturday nights for St. Mary’s, but hadn’t yet worked on radio. Would it be a possibility? He was, at that time, Bursar at his old school, St. Mary’s, only working half days. Annalivia Radio was looking for a male and female presenter to host a mid-morning show to go out live at 11.30 a.m. five days a week. It was to be a light classical music show, for those who would not normally see themselves as fans of classical music but liked a good tune. He was offered the job. Could he start the following week? He asked if they had any training course and their comment was “Do you think you need that?” A couple of brief courses were laid on for him and his co-presenter, Carmel Fitzpatrick and they were ready to go. Gerry had an extensive music collection of his own and said it was surprising how many interesting titbits you could glean about composers and their works from Wikipedia. He negotiated a morning break from St. Mary’s to rush down to the studio in the top floor of a building in Grafton Street to do the programme. They soon relocated to an upper room in Griffith College and when the college expanded and needed the space they moved to Sheriff Street. Gerry was asked to host other shows like ‘Talk Time’ and then the Friday afternoon 2-3 p.m. slot for ‘Magical Melodies’ which ran for 3 years. Then there was a 2 hour show on Sunday mornings with three other presenters for light music and chatter about such things as who was born ‘on this day’, the weather and snippets of news. This led to him being offered another spot from 2-3 p.m. called ‘Afternoon Irish’ which was essentially about Irish music of all kinds.
Then Dublin City FM appeared with a 10 year licence to broadcast over the city. It has the curious system of using volunteers for its staff, but not only that, waged people who work there are asked to pay €150 a year and unwaged pay €100. Gerry has been working happily there for a few years now and recommends we tune in. It offers a wide range of listening entertainment and has time to talk to a wide range of people and promote activities that are taking place in Dublin that might not otherwise get on the airwaves. He was able, for example, to interview members of the club he was then a member of, Dublin Viking, to explain what Rotary does. The station is on the air from 7.00 a.m. to 2.00 a.m., 365 days a year and Gerry thinks it’s a major achievement to do this on a budget of less than €500,000 a year. He suggested we have a look at their website and have a look at what they do. They welcome input from people of all ages. 150 volunteers doing an amazing job. Gerry admits that he never achieved Terry Wogan’s fame in the world of broadcasting but it has given him enormous satisfaction. If you do the preparation well and the broadcast goes well you feel a great sense of elation. Who would have thought he would have a second career after banking and one that had given him, and hopefully many others, considerable satisfaction?
Tom O’Neill asked Gerry what the structure of Dublin City Radio was. Gerry explained it was a Limited Company, making sure it also had directors’ indemnity insurance in case they were ever sued. It is monitored by the Broadcasting Authority and since they started in 1992 they’ve had no major upsets.
Patrick White said he was enjoying reading a book at the moment about the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s glory days in the Savoy Hotel building in London. Gerry, also a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, reminisced about how many amusing anecdotes he had gleaned from Joe Staines’s “The Rough Guide to Classical Music” and asked if we had we also enjoyed Des Keogh’s light classics programmes on Lyric.
Frank Bannister asked if he had missed knowing Gerry when he himself had been a member of the Welsh Male Choir from 1972-74. No, Gerry had been away in London till 1994 but has heard that the choir is still going strong. They agreed that it had a ‘bunch of colourful characters’, mainly Welsh.
President Alan asked Gerry what hopes he had for the radio station in the future? Gerry said he hoped it would continue to go from strength to strength and be increasingly relevant and helpful to local charities and community events. They have built up a listenership of 200,000 people and many different voices and points of view get an airing. Long may that continue. Apparently they would be happy to consider a monthly chat about Rotary projects, preferably ones with a local interest. For example Dublin Fingal and Dublin North are cooperating on a hospital project and it would be wonderful if that could get a mention.
Kevin McAnallan asked if the radio station had a particular profile of a typical listener. No, Gerry explained. They try to cater for a very wide range of tastes – they even have a heavy metal slot late at night, though this wasn’t one of Gerry’s favourites!
Vote of thanks
Bernadette Mulvey gave the vote of thanks, noting how impressively Gerry had reinvented himself as a broadcaster after his ‘retirement’. What an inspiration to herself as she takes her first steps in retirement, uncertain as to what awaits her. He had discovered a whole new world and enormous personal satisfaction. Though it’s hard to get your head around the fact that people actually pay to work somewhere. What a story! She claimed to be a keen Radio One fan but if Gerry could tell us the best wavelength to listen in to his station she would retune her dial as soon as she got home.
President Alan brought the meeting to a close with the hope that we could work with Gerry in the future in putting Dublin Rotary’s story out on the airways. He thanked Gerry for a most worthwhile talk and while being sympathetic to Gerry not yet reaching the heights of his hero Terry Wogan, ‘I don’t think you’re done yet.’