Danny Healy-Rae’s every word seems designed to irk Dublin

Sean Moncrieff turns the screw on the politician, in the week’s best radio interview

One of the joys of radio is the chance to hear fusty veterans of the craft discuss the habits and passions of those who scamper on the ever-receding shores of youth. Recent highlights include Pat Kenny’s bemused delight at discovering Skepta, or George Hook’s recent rages against the Rubber Bandits.

Referring to them as the Rubber Bands throughout – and misreading their signature insult “gowl” as “ghoul” – Hook perhaps pre-empted charges of being off the cultural pulse by claiming their description of the Eucharist as “haunted bread” was itself out of step with the views and morals of wider Ireland. He can’t be out of touch, you see. It is they, the children, who are wrong.

Perhaps doubling down, Hook (High Noon, Newstalk, daily) this week asserts that young political firebrand Danny Healy-Rae is "more in touch with Irish people than most": and this after the Kerry TD's Tuesday declaration that a dip in the road is possibly due to malevolent intrusions by fairies.

Throughout the day Newstalk has great sport with these assertions, leading to stark warnings from the ordinarily agreeable folklorist Eddie Lenihan, who phones up Drive to deliver slightly ominous finger-wavings, of the "you are meddling with forces you cannot possibly comprehend" variety.


So, it falls to Sean Moncrieff (Newstalk, weekdays) to get under the skin of the thing and he duly draws out some startling quotes in the week's best interview.

As Healy-Rae lets loose a torrent of coy, folksy platitudes, his every word seems designed to make Dublin’s city-slicking media fume with  impotent, condescending rage.

“If I was on a job and asked to stomp a fairy fort, I’d starve of the hunger before I’d do it,” he declared.

It isn't long, however, until Moncrieff turns the screw: "I wonder about these jobs you mention: Healy Rae plant hire, according to The Irish Times, earned €8.7 million in State and county council contracts in the past few decades. Do you take an income from that company?"

Caught off guard, Healy-Rae’s polished lack of polish seems to desert him for a few moments as he faces the charge that all this supernatural prattle is an attempt to distract from more earthly concerns. It’s a reminder that no one juggles the silly and the solemn with more brio than Moncrieff, and it’s all the better when they fall within a single story.

Alt-right embrace South Park

The issue of topicality and relevance is of chief concern to Kay Sheehy on Arena (RTÉ Radio One, weekdays) as she discusses the legacy of South Park on its 20th birthday.

Once the hate figure of conservatives, South Park's abhorrence of political correctness has seen it become a darling of the so-called alt-right, a fascinating shift explored here in surprising depth.

You could suspect Sheehy is not a previous devotee of the cartoonish Coloradans: of Bono’s “visceral” treatment, she says: “I mean it’s quite disgusting how they deal with these celebrities isn’t it?” But she tackles the subject well, with guest TCD professor Daniel Geary, even if there seems to be a slight tinge of relief once the subject changes, after a short break, from swearing children to late period Schubert.

One show that feels particularly current this week is Pantisocracy (Monday, RTÉ Radio One) which continues to be a great showcase for fresh, young talent within contemporary arts. This week’s show has theatre producer Jen Coppinger, actor Emmet Kirwan, songwriter Duke Special and Eoin French of Cork band, Talos.

Panti's discussions are always delightfully laidback, even rambling, and Monday's show sees guests extemporise on the subject of alter egos, whether public or private, and culminates in Kirwan's delivery of a bristling, powerful monologue from his semi-quasi-autobiographical play Dublin Old School (which this week he also began shooting the film version of).

The discussion culminates in some nice breaking of the fourth (or maybe fifth) wall, as Panti discusses her unique status within the room as the conscious alter ego of someone else. On whichever plane of reality the show is recorded, let’s hope she continues to be herself.


Richie Sadlier’s The Player’s Chair (Podcast, Shock World Service) has gathered an impressive catalogue of fascinating, poignant interviews with sports figures. Indeed, the show’s thoughtful, probing questions and candid, emotional responses have given the player’s chair something of the feel of a therapist’s couch. But this week, it’s Sadlier who may need counselling.

After initally chatting with manager Mick McCarthy, Sadlier discovered his recording device hadn’t activated. Humiliated, he persuaded McCarthy to do a repeat the following day, only for Sadlier to discover with utter dejection that this too had been incorrectly recorded, leaving a dissolute Sadlier without any material, and in no little fear for his mental state.

Luckily for Sadlier, McCarthy is gracious, if gently mocking, as he agrees to one last try: “You’re only getting this because you’re a former player of mine, you know. I’m not too sure too many journalists would get a third time.”

Despite the charm of the resulting interview, the highlight of the show is Sadlier’s own amusingly bleak recounting of his sorry state as the listener is asked to imagine him dejected, mortified, “back on the smokes, sitting on the kitchen floor with the dog”.