1970s Ireland: Where would we be if Dana hadn't won the Eurovision?
Seige at Monasterevin
On October 3rd, 1975, Dutch industrialist Dr Tiede Herrema was kidnapped on his way to work at the Ferenka plant in Ballyvara, Co Limerick. His abductors, Eddie Gallagher and Marian Coyle, demanded the release of Republican prisoners, including Dr Rose Dugdale. After an 18-day search, the Garda surrounded a house in Monasterevin, and a two-week siege began. “Those kind of things happened on TV. To us They were like Vietnam,” says Mac Anna. “It seemed so far away to us, but yet the IRA were at our doorstep. I don’t know if people were trying to find out why all this was happening – people were trying to block it out. We weren’t properly informed about what was really going on. It’s ironic that I started in RTÉ in the late 1970s, and it was the start of Section 31. The South, where there should have been freedom of speech, had banned freedom of speech.”
In October 1973, oil-producing Arab countries proclaimed an oil embargo in response to US policy in the Middle East, triggering a global oil crisis. Ireland had just joined the EEC, but the fallout from rising oil prices and diminishing supplies plunged the country deeper into recession. It meant people had to abandon their cars and find other ways of getting around, and sparked a black market of sorts in siphoned-off petrol. “I remember people on our road and around Howth siphoning off petrol,” says Mac Anna. “It was a bit of an industry, kids siphoning petrol from people’s cars and storing them in milk bottles.”
“My favourite memory was running out of petrol at three or four in the morning on our way to Kinnegad,” says Devlin. “Kinnegad was the holy grail, because it had an all-night filling station which, throughout the oil crisis, always managed to have a few gallons in place for showbands. And we set out from Galway, in the fond hope that we’d get there, which we almost did.”