Last time round I wrote about how I came to audition for Head 2 Toe some 25 years ago.

Then last week RTÉ Archives reminded me that 20 years ago this summer I was working with Pauline McLynn – and D’Unbelieveables, Mary Curtis (now Head of Channel at UTV Ireland) and Liveline’s Joe Duffy – on the thankfully-short-lived twice-weekly light entertainment series, Gortnaclune ’94.

As Denis Hurley tweeted about it a while back, it was “awful plop…a crap version of Nighthawks, basically.” He wasn’t wrong. It was great crack to work on but it was appalling muck.

This means it’s also 20 years since I left Head 2 Toe after five hugely enjoyable years.

Aware that because fashion wasn’t a subject I felt passionate about – it’s common knowledge that Head 2 Toe was for me always a gig, not a vocation – in 1994 it was time to move on before getting typecast and, more importantly, before losing my poor marbles watching hemlines, shoulder pads and lapels do their meaningless cyclical sartorial shuffle.

Which got me thinking about how there are actually quite a few varyingly significant personal anniversaries in the air this year.

It’s 5 years since I came back to Dublin after 11 up-and-down years in London, towards the end the recession that hit in 2008 scuppering two major projects that would have kept me busy there for a couple of years on the back of my first pair of producer/director gigs.

Thankfully a year later as things were beginning to look desperate RTÉ Television liked an idea I pitched them about the news we search for on the internet enough to commission it so I hightailed it home and haven’t gone back since.

Never say never, mind.

It’s 10 years since Reporters At War went out on Discovery in the US making it eligible for the Emmy it won the following year.

An Emmy that disappointingly never led to bigger and better things; despite meeting many of the big television documentary hitters in New York during my six days there for the awards in September 2005 and pitching them a myriad of magnificent ideas – what else? – nothing came of any of it and the initial buzz quickly faded.

It’s 15 years since I realised one season of working on Watchdog was more than enough, thank you very much. Not my cuppa at all, I’m afraid.

It’s 30 years since I won by a mere 27 votes my first – and only ever – election, becoming Entertainments Officer while in 2nd Year in NIHE Dublin (now DCU), a gig which undoubtedly played a large part in setting me on this daft career path I’m still trying desperately to navigate.

It’s 35 years since I found out how badly I’d bust my left foot the year before while a 1st Year PE student in Thomond College of Education in Limerick (now part of UL), a break so severe it eventually ended my PE-teaching career and that two operations and three and a half decades later it’s still buggered.

And it’s 40 years since I made my television debut, singing and reading a prayer-of-the-faithful on Palm Sunday mass live on RTÉ’s then solitary channel from one of its studios in Donnybrook in Dublin with a bunch of my fellow De La Salle Castletown (outside Mountrath, Co Laois) secondary school students.

Sadly this is a performance that – and I’ve checked – is long gone to the great un-indexed archive in the sky.

In 1974 broadcast standard video tape was so expensive live programmes were rarely recorded by RTÉ – or any other broadcaster for that matter; and even if they were, in the interests of hard economics, they were soon recorded over.

And of course domestic video tape was but a twinkle in Sony and Phillips’ R&D departments’ eyes so recording it at home or in the school wasn’t actually an option.

So that horrific pudding-bowl haircut one of the Brothers cruelly subjected me to the night before is lost forever in the analogue annals of time.

Though I guess if a dodgy haircut was the worst abuse I suffered at boarding school I escaped lightly.

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29 Comments. Leave new

  • Dolores Ferris
    July 29, 2014 11:54 pm

    Is it coincidence, sychronicity or literary licence that your milestones seem to be in increments of 5?

  • Seamus Gallagher
    July 30, 2014 1:33 am

    1974! Hair cut aside- and your mop was far from the worst – I still think back on that as no mean achievement. A small school of less than 60 students aged 13 to 16 producing a Palestrina mass of broadcastable quality. Not bad. Some are abused. Disgraceful. Unforgivable. Some are given something good to remember. I count myself lucky (how lucky I thankfully did not know at the time) to be one who came away from it all with some really good stuff. Thanks for the memory Pat.

    • Agreed, Seamus. And that’s without even mentioning our great U14 basketball prowess. Repeat Leinster champions was no small achievement either. 🙂

  • When you go with 5 year increments life goes by way to fast.. Slow it down man!!

  • Pat. A very impressive CV if ever there was one, and indeed I remember many of the shows. I see you haven’t included your rather impressive radio work, in particular the documentary on your old college. It’s been fourteen years since I gave up a life of business to make my first film and rely on my creative side to earn a crust. Since then I have always been broke, but as yet, unbroken. You go on because deep down you know you love what you do, and once you accept that, there’s no going back! Long may you flourish. 🙂

  • Wait a second, wait a second. So I was with you that night that you, I, Rachael Sexton, Lorraine Fitmaurice, Pamela Fitzmaurice, the annoying Nordy bloke called Mark that Lorraine later married, Janice Takano (? quite possibly incorrectly spelt). Patti (RIP) and some other people had dinner in a flat near Rathmines . That night you may the giant announcement that no longer would you have to grasp for the crumbs from the Hot Press table but that you had a PROPER job. IN RTE.
    And I was also with you the night in New York in ( insert year ) when you were, quite rightly awarded an EMMY for best Documentary of that (insert year). And it was the best documentary series of the year. Well-deserved.
    What are you saying? Do we have to get married?
    I’ll give it a shot. No kissing though.

    • I remember that flat in Rathmines…on Effra Rd…and that night…there are pics somewhere if I can find them…first time I had anything resembling a proper job in my life.
      I had a blast in NYC for those six days in ’05…would’ve been nice to go back if anything I’d pitched had been taken up. Hey hoh.
      And I would…if there was kissin’.

  • 10 years since Reporters at War! I still often talk about it – particularly that sad story of the balkan’s war photographer who photographed the child who’d been shot by a sniper and went a bit crazy – and that mad American woman who went to Vietnam and killed herself shortly after the doc came out. Would love to see it again actually!

    • They’re the two stories I particularly remember too – as well as one Allan Little told about rescuing a child in Rwanda. And I pitched a 10-year update a couple of years ago but sadly there was no interest. Ah well…

  • Donagh Davern
    August 3, 2014 7:21 pm

    Surely there’s a movie in that story Pat!

  • Great blog Pat – happy pentanniversaries and may you have many more!( Bet you would love to be able to have that bowl flavoured haircut again today though! )

    • I should’ve dragged that ol’ haircut out for a short Head 2 Toe spell. Hell, anything would’ve been better than the ponytail…

  • muriel bolger
    August 4, 2014 5:24 pm

    Haven’t you had an interesting time finding yourself. Sometimes it’s great to look back at episodes of life and the people in them.

  • Liz Leonard Sumby
    August 4, 2014 8:25 pm

    Hi Pat, So you went to the Dela too!!!! different one to me I’m sure!!!!! good luck with the blog and I’ll see you sometime when you come to Newcastle to visit!?!?! take care

  • So come on Pat – how about predicting the next five years?

  • Johnny Bambury
    August 5, 2014 9:21 am

    I’m holding out for the InBetweeners-Odd years! These 5 year instalments makes me wonder what divilment (as yer mammy wud say) you were up to on the Gap Years?
    I was trying to remember when you met Ev and I in Merrion Square? We were having a total blast from ’88 to ’96ish.
    I have been away a lot, having fun mostly these past two years and avoid Dublin Town unless I have to. We have reverted to Culchies by osmosis. But. Next Monday we retire for an evening in the Merrion. If you are about, I might buy you a pint in Nesbitts?
    Happy memories, catch-up pint soon,

    • The Gap Years? That should be the title of my forthcoming tell-all book…if I had a forthcoming tell-all book.
      I’m guessing ’88 when I was at the YEB on Lr Hatch St?
      And I’ll mail you now re that pint…don’t want everyone else here turning up…run along now the lot of you, nothing to see here…

  • No mention of following the Irish soccer team in Quinn’s and then the Sheephaven Bay!

  • Warning we will be in Dublin the weekend of 5th to 8th September if you’re around for a cheeky few!


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