“Today we’re asking, ‘What’s your party piece?’, and Cillian from Derrymore is on the line. Cillian...what’s your party piece?”
“Well, I’ve got a very long beard.”
I miss Radio Kerry’s daily phone-in.
Whenever I go on a road trip, I curate the soundtrack pretty carefully. My selections form part of the memory of the drive. So when I hear Lost In The Dream by The War On Drugs, I think of razzing through the French countryside with my mate Ben. And Michael Kiwanuka’s Love & Hate takes me back to driving from Palm Springs to LA with my wife, Alice.
So when Alice and I visited Ireland in the early autumn, to spend a few days pootling round the Ring of Kerry, I’d got my Spotify locked and loaded.
We picked up our rental car, though, and just switched the radio on while we made the short drive to our cosy little Airbnb. Then for the next three days, we never switched Radio Kerry off. It was so wholesome, innocent and unknowingly hilarious – from the occasional bulletin on ladder safety and the increasingly depressed-sounding dispatches from the racing correspondent, to the regular advertisements for ham.
Cooking With Mark was one of our favourite shows, where the host put listeners’ questions to a chef. One particular question summed up this beautiful part of the Emerald Isle.
“Is there an easy way to convert temperatures to gas marks on your oven?” asked a bamboozled lady from Sneem.
Yes, this is a part of the world where phoning a weekly radio segment to ask that question of a professional chef is the first thought of someone who wants to know the answer. Google might not have made it to Sneem.
Then there was Talkabout. A hard-hitting programme where we were treated to an investigation into men lurking in lingerie departments of clothing stores. So concerned were the producers for the safety of their witness to this shocking behaviour that they disguised her voice. It added to the dramatic exchange that followed.
“What was this man doing there, Clare?”
“I think he was with his partner, she was shopping.”
“And he was just there among the ladies’ garments. What was he doing exactly?”
“Oh not very much. He just looked bored.”
We gaffawed our way around the Wild Atlantic Way, through beautiful sunny spells and driving rain. It was wonderful.
Our friends told us that you haven’t seen green until you have seen Ireland and they were right. The countryside is so lush it looks like the Shire from The Hobbit. And where this gentile land meets the restless sea, the vistas are unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
At one spot, in Caherdaniel, the view was so beautiful that I stood there in silence, open-mouthed for several minutes at the sheer wonder of it.
I love living in London and just a few days before our trip to Ireland we had been out to dinner at one of its newest and smartest establishments, The Ned. It had been a brilliant night - amazing food, cocktails and endless laughs with friends.
Looking at that view in Caherdaniel, I wondered if I was to move to Kerry and look at it every day, how long it would be before I started craving the madness of London. How long before I wanted to leave off the Guinness and sink some espresso martinis back at The Ned?
The grass is always greener, as they say. But in the case of Ireland, it really is.