Gaeilgeoir whose media career spanned four eventful decades

Sat, Jul 23, 2011, 01:00

Andreas Ó Gallchóir:ANDREAS Ó GALLCHÓIR, who has died aged 81, was former assistant head of RTÉ television. During a broadcasting career that spanned four decades he also held senior positions in Raidió Éireann and Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Born in Doirí Beaga, Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal, in 1929, he was the sixth child of Eoghan and Bríd Ó Gallchóir. His father, a migrant labourer in Scotland, lost touch with the family and Ó Gallchóir’s only memory of meeting him was in a dream.

A scholarship enabled him to study at Coláiste Éinde, Galway, which was relocated to St Patrick’s teacher training college, Drumcondra, during the Emergency. There he became a close friend of Breandán Ó hEithir, at whose 1990 funeral Mass he delivered the eulogy.

He later trained as a teacher at Drumcondra and taught at national schools in Mountmellick, Co Laois, and Ballyfermot. While teaching in Ballyfermot he attended night classes at UCD, securing a BA in English and history.

He joined Raidió Éireann in 1957 as a programme assistant, and in June 1958 was posted to the station’s reopened Cork studio. He subsequently succeeded Seán Mac Réamoinn as manager.

He made programmes right across Munster. One was Clár Geal Mumhan, which featured pieces arranged by Seán Ó Riada, including the song An Clár Beag Déil. He also was responsible for the Ballad Towns of Munsterseries.

In Cork he became a firm friend of poet Seán Ó Ríordáin, who admired his “sár-Ghaeilge”. With Seán Ó Mórdha, he is credited with encouraging Ó Ríordáin to write the weekly column for this newspaper which began in 1968. He also interviewed Ó Ríordáin in a memorable TV programme.

His print journalism included a profile of renowned sculptor Séamus Murphy for Feasta. He contributed articles, reviews and short stories to Comharduring the 1960s and 1970s, and also wrote book reviews for the Irish Press.

He became a producer in Telefís Éireann in 1962, and from 1964 to 1972 he was television executive producer. During this time he mentored young producers including Seán Ó Mórdha, Brian Mac Lochlainn and Eoghan Harris.

In 1967 he made a documentary on the life and work of Máirtín Ó Cadhain, and his good rapport with the writer assisted in the making of a revealing portrait.

In 1972 he was appointed ceannaire of Raidió na Gaeltachta, succeeding Pádraig Ó Raghallaigh. He returned to RTÉ television as assistant controller of programmes in 1975; he retired in 1989.

Well into retirement he grew a wide range of fruit and vegetables in the back garden of the family home in Dún Laoghaire.

He inherited a love of literature from his mother, who read Flaubert. Flann O’Brien, Benedict Kiely and Evelyn Waugh were among his favourite authors, and he never missed Private Eye.

He had a passion for theatre, and his play Clocha na Coigríche, about the effects of emigration on a Donegal farming family, was staged at the Abbey in 1950.

He won a Jacob’s award in 1966 for his TV documentary On Behalf of the Provisional Government, a profile of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. He also produced Work, Wednesday Reportand The State of the Nation.

He was married to the actress Máire Hastings, who, with their daughters Bríd and Clíona and son Andreas, survives him.


Andreas (Andy) Ó Gallchóir: born December 1st, 1929; died July 5th, 2011