The Times They Are A-Changin’

As a disclaimer, this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with Bob Dylan, but I do think that the quote is rather
relevant.

So, I imagine that everyone this week will be interviewing parents, grandparents and other older people whose first experience with television was in Australia.  So to find a different angle and perspective I decided to interview my very Irish mother.  My Dad, Sister and I constantly joke about how absolutely boring Irish television is whenever we are over there, so it was interesting to see what Mam thought about it as a child.

We’ve never really spoke about her television viewing as a child before, I guess it just wasn’t something that I thought held a great deal of influence over my own.  But the more we discussed about the media when she was growing up, the more I realised many of the parallels I could draw between the two.

Mam spent her childhood in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny; a river-side town about two hours south of Dublin; and one of my favourite places in the world.  Growing up as the youngest in a family with seven siblings, TV was a more central part of her entertainment than that of her older brothers and sisters.

I think one of the most remarkable things about our exchange was the incredible detail she could recall about different elements of her experience.  The space in which the TV inhabited is now drastically different to where I’m familiar with it sitting in her childhood house.  So hearing her talk about how it used to be was really intriguing.

The main TV in the house was placed next to the record player in the “sitting room”.  Around the black and white set made by PYE was a photo of my Grandad in his younger years (a photo that sits in that room to this day), and a blue and white delft vase with white plastic chrysanthemums.

Television in Ireland wasn’t broadcasted during the day with children’s programs beginning at 4:55pm.  There was only a single television channel, RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann), with all programs being introduced by a “beautiful lady called Thelma Mansfield”.

It wouldn’t be Ireland if there wasn’t some heavy catholic presence, so at 6pm on the dot every night the bells rang out for the Angelus prayer.  This was followed by the news, in English then followed by Irish.  She laughed about how that if anyone were to speak during the news my Grandad would go “bonkers”, cupping his hand around his ear and shushing everyone so he could hear.  Broadcasting finished with a goodnight message in Irish from Thelma… “Oíche mhaith agus codladh sámh” (Goodnight and sleep peacefully) at 11:30pm, a phrase that she uses every night with my sister and I.

One thing that Mam spoke very fondly about was how when they were younger, she and her older brother Kieran would be “snuggled” into the armchair together and watch ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ films at 6:30pm on a Sunday.  A funny coincidence as when my sister and I were younger, we too would share the experience of watching ‘Saturday Disney’ on a Saturday morning religiously.  But maybe that just goes to prove what a grip Disney has on the children’s entertainment market.

While we do share some similarities in how we view television, it’s also very apparent just how much is different.  The way we consume media has changed dramatically between our childhoods, so it will be interesting to observed the differences that occur between my early years and that of my offspring. .

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One thought on “The Times They Are A-Changin’

  1. This is such a beautiful story. Television in Europe took a while to adapt to the American habit of daytime; television in Australia also until quite recently had time-marking habits, but I’ve never heard of the Angelus bells before. I wonder if this is true in other Catholic countries? Do you think you could research this?

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