RTÉ ‘Seascapes’ presenter prepares to come ashore for last time

Marcus Connaughton leaves ‘niche’ radio show with ‘remarkable following’ after 15 years

Marcus Connaughton will drop his anchor and come ashore for the final time on Friday. Photograph: Seascapes/Twitter

Marcus Connaughton will drop his anchor and come ashore for the final time on Friday. Photograph: Seascapes/Twitter

 

When he drops anchor and comes ashore for the final time on Friday night after presenting his last edition of Seascapes, Marcus Connaughton will have completed a near epic voyage on the airwaves that has taken him all around the Irish coastline and up more than a few inland waterways.

For the past 15 years, Connaughton has been involved with Seascapes in one role or another - firstly producing the popular RTÉ Radio 1 show when it was presented by then RTÉ Marine Correspondent Tom McSweeney and then taking over as presenter when McSweeney retired in 2009.

“When Tom was presenting the show, he was the Marine Correspondent, it was news driven whereas when I started doing it, I hadn’t the resources to make it a news driven programme so it became more features driven,” said the Raheny-born Connaughton who turns 65 on Saturday.

Friday night will be the 1,427th edition of the programme and among the highlights for Connaughton, who joined RTÉ 29 years ago as a producer after a career in the record industry, is an interview he did last year with novelist, Dermot Bolger about his novel, The Lonely Sea and Sky.

“Dermot’s late father was a seafarer from Wexford and the novel was inspired by the story of the MV Kerlogue and is a fine tribute to the Irish sailors who risked their lives sailing through war time waters to keep Ireland supplied - Dermot is so articulate and descriptive, it’s a definite highlight.”

For Connaughton, producing and presenting Seascapes has enabled him to meet some of the fascinating people around the Irish coast and along the inland water ways and hear their stories - something which has ensured a great variety to the show.

Assisting him in that regard are a pool of contributors such as Hugh Oram and Norman Freeman as well as Gerry Flynn from Inshore Ireland, Lorna Siggins of The Irish Times and countless members of the RNLI from stations around the country who help make the programme so eclectic.

And it’s a formula that works - as Connaughton explains: “It’s extraordinary the number of people who don’t have a connection with the sea and yet listen to the programme - I’ve really enjoyed my stint on Seascapes - it’s a niche programme but with a remarkable following.”

Connaughton is somewhat coy about his last show but, perhaps not surprisingly for a serious music aficionado with a love of folk, rock and blues who once played Motorhead’s Ace of Spades on the show to mark a Metal Cruise out of Tilbury Docks, he plans to include some music on Friday night.

“I have a few surprises coming out of the Seascapes locker but one I can declare, is an interview I did with Ian Gillan of Deep Purple back in 1993 when he described to me how he and Jon Lord wrote Smoke on the Water, so listeners will get to hear that - it’s all about finding the unlikely.”