Larry Go­gan has left his mark on all of us

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Viewpoints - De­clan Lynch’s Di­ary

FOR all those who were wish­ing him well on his re­tire­ment from 2FM, there were only happy mem­o­ries of Larry Go­gan. For me it was not so sim­ple.

Be­cause when I think of Larry, like any other sen­si­ble per­son, I think of him as one of the most im­por­tant cul­tural fig­ures of the last 50 years in this coun­try — but I also think of the only in­ter­view that I’ve ever done, from which I emerged with a phys­i­cal wound.

It was for this paper, that I set out from my home in Dun Laoghaire on a sum­mer evening to­wards the end of the last cen­tury, to talk to Larry in some pub in Terenure or maybe Tem­pleogue — we did a lot of in­ter­views in pubs back then. In truth, we also wrote up some of those in­ter­views in pubs... we did a lot of things in pubs.

Ah, what could be more pleas­ant in­deed, than to be walk­ing down to the Dart in Dun Laoghaire, con­tem­plat­ing the prospect of a meet­ing one of the most fa­mously pleas­ant in­di­vid­u­als in the show busi­ness? A man who, when­ever I had men­tioned him in the paper, had taken the trou­ble to send me a per­son­ally in­scribed thankyou note?

Noth­ing could be more pleas­ant than that, noth­ing.

And then a dog bit me. In the midst of this rev­erie, a mad lit­tle dog ran out of the gate of this house, and just bit me on the back of the leg. My left leg.

He wasn’t just pre­tend­ing to bite me, as dogs some­times do, I could feel this stab of pain. And I can still see the look of con­ster­na­tion on the face of his owner, an el­derly man com­ing out of the house who seemed very an­gry about what had hap­pened — an­gry to­wards me, of course.

But I did not have time to ab­sorb the full im­pli­ca­tions of the in­ci­dent, to “process” it, I had a Dart to catch, and Larry Go­gan was wait­ing. Nor could I rightly savour the odd­ness of the fact that in the books of Roddy Doyle, the fam­ily dog of the Rab­bitte fam­ily is called Lar­ry­gogan.

It was only on the Dart, that I re­alised the ex­tent of the dam­age — there was es­sen­tially a hole in the back of my left leg, and it was bleed­ing. The lit­tle bug­ger had also torn my trousers. When I got off the train, I must have found some tis­sue paper to clean up the blood, and I must have got it from a pub — what else was there?

You will note that at no stage did I con­tem­plate turn­ing around and go­ing home and or­gan­is­ing an im­me­di­ate tetanus in­jec­tion — I had bet­ter things to be do­ing, I could not leave Larry Go­gan wait­ing. I was just wor­ried that he might re­gard it as dis­re­spect­ful that I was show­ing up with the leg of my trousers torn, and blood pour­ing from a fresh wound.

So I made it to the pub in Terenure or maybe Tem­pleogue, and Larry was of course pre­pared to aban­don the whole thing and to give me a tetanus in­jec­tion him­self if he could pos­si­bly man­age it, but I felt that a few beers and a while lis­ten­ing to the voice of Mr Larry Go­gan would prob­a­bly get me through the night.

Clearly it worked, up to a point, though to this day I still have a mark on the back of my left leg — the Mark of Larry Go­gan, a per­ma­nent re­minder of the great­ness of his con­tri­bu­tion. You see, there was his Top 20 show on RTE Ra­dio which of ne­ces­sity would have some Ir­ish records in it, but which also brought us the sounds of other records which were ob­vi­ously bet­ter than that.

In­deed I have of­ten won­dered where old Ire­land would be now, were it not for men such as Larry and Gay Byrne who were so com­fort­able with cul­tures other than “our own” — Ciaran Mac Mathuna was won­der­ful, but there was a school of thought which ar­gued that we should be lis­ten­ing to “our own” stuff all the time, whereas Larry in the most unas­sum­ing way would play a record by David Bowie and in an in­stant, that would be­come “our own” too.

And even­tu­ally when Ir­ish mu­sic got a lot bet­ter, Larry would re­verse the process, al­ways ready to slip in a track by a “young Dublin band” look­ing for a break against the mu­sic of the multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions which was dom­i­nat­ing the rigidly de­fined playlist.

None of these things were au­to­mat­i­cally or­dained, it was just con­ve­nient that the good mu­sic was be­ing played by some­one who was quite ev­i­dently the nicest man in the busi­ness — in­deed, you felt that at some level Larry was aware that he had to be ex­tra nice to be al­lowed to do what he was do­ing, that he was never en­tirely sure that he wouldn’t get a tap on the shoul­der one day by some­one with a name that sounded like Fear­feasa O Maol­chonaire, told it had all been a ter­ri­ble mis­take and that it was time for Larry to re­turn to sell­ing bullseyes.

In­deed, it is prob­a­bly sig­nif­i­cant that Larry’s peo­ple used to run sweet­shops, mak­ing the lives of young peo­ple just a bit brighter — at times mak­ing all the dif­fer­ence.

‘I was wor­ried he’d find it dis­re­spect­ful that I had blood pour­ing from a fresh wound...’

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