RA­DIO DAZE

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES -

Howth’s Martello tower is home to the won­der­fully at­mo­spheric Hurdy Gurdy Mu­seum of Vin­tage Ra­dio. The walls here are lined with an­cient wire­less sets, rem­i­nis­cent of days when people would travel for miles to gather round the near­est de­vice to hear Michael O’He­hir paint pic­tures with words on sum­mer af­ter­noons: “. . . and Tom Cheasty breaks through, with Kilkenny de­fend­ers fall­ing around him like dy­ing wasps.”

Water­ford hurl­ing glory and gi­gan­tic ra­dios in art-deco teak cab­i­nets are a rare breed now, but, as luck would have it, this was In­ter­na­tional Mar­coni Day.

In a dimly-lit cor­ner of the room sat Tony, in­tently look­ing off into the mid­dle dis­tance and lis­ten­ing to a se­ries of elec­tronic dits and dahs float­ing in from over­seas. Oc­ca­sion­ally he re­sponded by tap­ping out some rhythms of his own on the morse code keyer, all the while main­tain­ing the at­ten­tion of a wary doe who’s just popped her head up from graz­ing, ready to leg it if she hears so much as a hedge­hog stub­bing its toe.

Only last week, af­ter Record Store Day, a mate and I de­bated dy­ing me­dia, the lure of nos­tal­gia, vin­tage chic peak and the folly of ren­der­ing dig­i­tally recorded, mixed and mas­tered sounds onto an ana­logue for­mat. All that rhetoric was made re­dun­dant by Tony tap­ping out his beats. Thank­fully, some things are im­per­vi­ous to trends and tech­nol­ogy, and blessed be the nerds who keep these fires brightly burn­ing.

That same kink is rear­ing its head again this weekend. I’ll be at Van­tas­ti­val in Co Louth, and there’s no way I’m miss­ing Bar­rence Whit­field & The Sav­ages at Kilkenny Roots Fes­ti­val, but old habits die hard and on a bank-hol­i­day weekend with over 40 fes­ti­vals hap­pen­ing on our is­land, I can’t re­sist hit­ting a third. It should be Ti­nari­wen at Cathe­dral Quar­ter Arts Fes­ti­val in Belfast, or Duke Spe­cial play­ing at the at­mo­spheric Is­lan­der Fes­ti­val in the mid­dle of Lough Erne, or even Mar­ius Ne­set at Bray Jazz. But no, I’m go­ing to a GAA pitch in Co Mon­aghan to wit­ness De­clan Ner­ney play at In­niskeen Coun­tryfest. Would you be­lieve me if I told you it was a form of an­thro­po­log­i­cal study?

Safe trav­els, don’t die.

ayearoffes­ti­valsinire­land.com

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