The Late Donncha Ó Dulaing – A Regular Visitor to Castleisland

Many hands: Helping to cut the 50th anniversary cake during the celebrations at the Stanley Divane Pavilion in Castleisland in 2005 were, from left: compère and broadcaster, Donncha Ó Dúlaing, Joe Martin, Denis Divane, Archdeacon Malcolm Shannon and John Divane. ©Photograph: John Reidy 17-6-2005
Author, Tommy Martin (centre front) with his father, Joe and broadcaster Donncha Ó Dulaing who launched Tommy’s book, The Kingdom in the Empire. Included are, back from left: Catherine Toomey, Brendan Martin, Caroline Martin, Des Martin, Danielle Toomey, Charlotte and Sheila Martin. ©Photograph: John Reidy 26-1-2007


Donncha’s three-hand-reel: RTE Radio 1 presenter Donncha Ó Dúlaing got more than he bargained for at the Stanley Divane Pavilion 50th anniversary celebrations in June of 2005.. The broadcaster and event compère was invited to take the floor in the three-hand-reel with two 11-year-olds: Deirdre Murphy from Currow (left) and Flo Divane, Castleisland. ©Photograph: John Reidy 17-6-2005.

In 2015 a Saturday night Fáilte Isteach programme on RTÉ Radio 1 was an historic final broadcast for its presenter, Donncha Ó Dúlaing.
The veteran broadcaster, who died on September 4th., had marked 50 years in broadcasting just before that last, major milestone for his many loyal fans and listeners throughout Ireland and the world.

And though he was a national figure and welcomed everywhere he visited, he was especially so here in Castleisland.

Events at Divanes Castleisland

As a Volkswagen Ambassador, he featured in several high profile events at Divanes Castleisland and made lasting friendships here.

It was his Highways and Byways radio series on RTÉ Radio 1 which made him hugely popular throughout the country as he visited towns and parishes in pursuit of the ordinary and the extraordinary in these places.
He walked the length and breadth of the country several times and raised countless thousands of pounds for Irish charities.

Stop in Castleisland

He had a stop in Castleisland on one of these marathon walks in the mid 1980s.

Though in obvious pain from shin splints as a result of a grueling day’s walking and a punishing schedule of over 40 miles per day, he made light of the demands the crowd made on him before he was whisked away for the rest he badly needed.
He enjoyed a near universal popularity as he conducted similar walks in many parts of the world from the UK, France and Israel and he walked among the Choctaw Indians in the US.

The latter was a ‘Thank You Mission’ to the people who had contributed to the victims of the Famine in Ireland in the 1840s.

Lena Shanahan’s Strong Coffee
His well publicised interest in people in the places he visited was a natural part of his make-up.
A local story more than illustrates the point: As regular caller to Divane’s on Killarney Road, he met Divane’s neighbour, Lena Shanahan and her sister Hannah Walsh on one of his visits here and he always asked for them when he visited afterwards.
“If they were around when he called he made sure to visit and he enjoyed the strong coffee Lena made for him,” said Denis Divane.

Bowman: Sunday: 8.30
Messages and good wishes were sent from Divane’s and Joe Martin, one of his local friends, spoke to Donnacha in the run up to that final broadcast.

On Bowman: Sunday: 8.30 on RTÉ Radio 1 on the coming Sunday morning, John Bowman will be looking back at the late Donncha’s broadcasting career.

Career Highlighting Interviews

Donncha captured career highlighting interviews with the likes of former President Éamonn de Valera, Pope John Paul II, Edna O’Brien, Mick Jagger, Sir Edmund Hillary and Gene Kelly.
In the months before his retirement, President Michael D. Higgins also presented him with a specially commissioned sculpture at Áras an Uachtaráin in recognition of his contribution to Irish broadcasting and culture.
Donncha Ó Dulaing, March 15-1933 September 4-2021, will always be remembered fondly by his friends in Castleisland. May he rest in peace.

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