The Angelus bell on RTÉ Radio


Sir, – Since the Feast of the Assumption in 1950, the Angelus Bell has been broadcast daily on RTÉ Radio. Up to the mid-1970s, when RTÉ Radio relocated from Henry Street to Donnybrook, it was broadcast live from St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, with the first peal occurring precisely on the hour, ie at noon and at 6pm.

The broadcasting practice in those years was to leave a respectful period of silence of about 12 to 15 seconds before the first peal; and to wait for the reverberation from the last peal to completely die out – exactly 15 seconds – before introducing other programming content.

Compare that with the situation now where the Angelus bell is often introduced two or three minutes late (it can be even later); the first peal is sounded almost immediately after it is introduced; and some presenters just about wait for the last peal to be struck before quickly starting the next item.

Alongside this lack of respect there is sometimes an abandonment of the centuries-old tradition of the ringing pattern. The established pattern consists of three groups of three peals, each group separated by a pause, followed by a group of nine peals, for a total of 18 rings. However on Saturdays at noon, in breach of this tradition, and God only knows why, we are treated instead to six groups of three peals!

There are good arguments on both sides for either retaining or discontinuing the Angelus bell broadcast on RTÉ Radio. I am unconcerned about that. But while it is being maintained surely it should be treated respectfully?

It seems to me that RTÉ Radio regards the Angelus Bell as no different to any of the many separator jingles that are played before and after the commercial breaks. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.