The Small Hours’ wake: Why isn’t more Irish music played on Irish radio?

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“Tomorrow is no longer a long time, in fact it’s already here…my wish for you, before you go asleep, is that you wake up laughing”

In December of last year Donal Dineen’s Small Hours radio programme – a fervent beacon for Irish music over the past 15 years – came to a sad end when Today FM decided to finish it up. Myles O’Reilly AKA Arbutus Yarns has always had the innate ability to capture something special on camera and this 6 minute video (below), which documents Donal’s final moments on Irish National Radio, is no exception. It’s a poignant, moving piece of work played out over a stunning Katie Kim track and it serves as a fitting tribute to a man whose passion for home-grown talent will be remembered for many years to come.

The timing of the video’s release is certainly apt, too. Recent statistics reveal that of the Top 30 most played songs on Irish radio in 2011 just 4 (or 13%) were actually Irish. At a time when it’s widely acknowledged that we’re experiencing something of a golden era in terms of local musical talent, surely something is wrong there? Without people like Donal being given the platform to promote this work, how will it develop, grow and be latched upon by the public? Bar the odd pop hit (This Club, Bressie etc) it appears it won’t. There is still good work being done of course, with people like John Barker (Total Irish – Sunday’s from 8 – 10pm on 98FM) and Aoife Barry (Sweet Oblivion – Wednesday’s at 11pm on 2XM) notable in getting behind Irish music on the airwaves. Is it enough though? With the Small Hours now over these stats indicate that it’s not so much a case of finding anyone to pick up that mantle (for Donal never left it down) but rather, trying to make a show like Small Hours work in a system which has deemed it superfluous to its current schedule and needs.

Listen to the final show in full on the Small Hours Archive.

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