The TV equivalent of Larry Gogan’s own Golden Hour

Review: Low-key but brimming with warmth, this is a fitting homage to the pioneering DJ

‘Larry Gogan was the only way you heard pop music,’ according to his fellow RTÉ presenter Ronan Collins

‘Larry Gogan was the only way you heard pop music,’ according to his fellow RTÉ presenter Ronan Collins

 

Cloch Le Carn (RTÉ One, Tuesday, 7pm) is an occasional series of celebrity profiles in the Irish language. It is also an example of the sort of low-key factual television RTÉ does well. No grand claims are made for the individual in the spotlight. Instead friends, colleagues and family are invited to pile on the praise while we hear the person reflect in their own words on their life and career.

It’s a simple pleasure, delivered without pretence or ostentation – and with a 30-minute running time that doesn’t eat into your day. (Incidentally, the title translates loosely, if rather morbidly, as “another stone to the funeral mound”.)

Nuala O’Faolain, Joe Dolan and the US senator Ted Kennedy are among the widely flung people of interest to have featured previously. A new season will meanwhile highlight the achievements of Jack Charlton and Brendan Bowyer. But it kicks off with Larry Gogan, the pop DJ and national treasure who passed away last January, aged 85.

This ramble through the nostalgic byways makes few demands of the audience and is all the richer for it

With contributions from his children as well as from fellow RTÉ presenters such as Ronan Collins and Seán Bán Breathnach, this is the TV equivalent of Gogan’s own Golden Hour on 2FM – a ramble through the nostalgic byways that makes few demands of the audience and is all the richer for it.

It doesn’t attempt to be revisionist, thank goodness. Gogan, who started working at RTÉ in the 1960s, was universally admired, and contributors line up to pay tribute. “Everyone loved Larry Gogan,” says Collins. “When I was 10 years old I knew who Larry Gogan was.”

Despite his cardigan-and-slippers image he was, in his way, a ground-breaking figure in Irish broadcasting. Pop music was both looked down on and feared slightly when he began his career. And in the early days it did feel as if he was single-handedly fighting to bring pop to the masses – as Collins points out, “Larry Gogan was the only way you heard pop music.”

‘He knew he didn’t have the coolest of looks,’ says the producer Evelyn O’Rourke. ‘That isn’t what he was about’

His passion for what he did shines through – perhaps because he wasn’t using his job at 2FM as a staging post to something bigger or better. All he wanted was to go on radio every day and play songs he loved.

“He knew he didn’t have the coolest of looks,” says the producer Evelyn O’Rourke. “That isn’t what he was about.”

Gogan was predeceased by his wife, Florrie, and although he missed her terribly he had his children and so was never lonely. He also had his job, which he finally stepped away from only in December, a month before he died. It was a life well lived, and this documentary, understated but brimming with warmth, is a fitting homage.

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