Monday, October 25, 2010

Before We Had A Telly

I was around twelve years old when my Dad finally agreed we could have a television and that was because not only was it coming up to Christmas it was also that he wanted to see the horse racing which I remember started around St. Stephen's Day and ran over a few days. I loved the English commentator's posh accent which sadly you don't hear any more and so much did I love it that in recent times I've actually YouTubed races just to hear that voice again!

Well, prior to having our own telly I was invited sometimes twice a week by a neighbour at the top of our avenue to watch the childrens' programmes on our national broadcasting station, Telefis Eireann, which started at 5.00pm. She was a lovely lady, Mrs. Reston, whose husband worked for Urney's, the chocolate manufacturers. He used to drive the company's Volkswagen van and got to bring home all the broken chocolate, a lot of which his dear wife would every so often give me tons of in a brown paper bag. It was like living next door to Willy Wanka!

Back to the telly. The first programme that comes to mind and which I continued to watch for many years was "Let's Draw with Blaithin", (Irish name pronounced "Blawheen"). A simple, yet extremely well presented programme where a young lady with an easel and large white sheets of paper showed us in great detail how to draw basic images such as bowls of fruit, flowers etc. She would then complete the picture which looked as good as any great work of art. All that of course was in glorious black and white.

Other great favourites were the cartoons, "Tom and Jerry", "The Pink Panther", not to mention "Felix The Cat", I adored him! All of these were viewed in the comfort of Mrs. Reston's front room with me seated in an armchair (what luxury!) with a little coffee table holding my slice of cake on a lovely patterned plate and a glass of lemonade. That hour twice a week was my time in Heaven.

I did have to make sure I left at exactly 6.00pm because that was when Mr. Reston would arrive home from work. It was always drummed into me that when the husband came home you left because it was very bad manners to be in the house when the family were about to have their tea. (Tea time back then was always between 5-6pm).

Two more programmes I remember with great affection, especially the latter were "The Flintstones" and "National Velvet", the beautiful story of a young girl whose dream was that her horse would one day run in the Grand National Steeplechase. Those I got to see in our neighbour's house across the road on a Sunday afternoon because I used to mind their baby, even on a Sunday, I loved it. A few years later when I would babysit their then two children on a Wednesday night I'd get to see "The Wednesday Play" on BBC 1. Oh my God, if only my poor mother knew what I was watching!

We didn't have any of the UK channels because we didn't have the aerial on the roof, just the cat's ears sitting on top of the telly! God be with the days when a good thump, usually from my father, on the telly top or a few minor adjustments to the cat's ears always got the picture back to some degree of focus not to mention straightening out the zig zag lines! The snow of course was an accepted part of our viewing, if it was slightly less on some nights we had an excellent picture! It's scary how far technology has since come.

So, there's my happy memories of early 1960s Irish television, one station called Telefis Eireann and do you know what - the quality of their programmes was far superior to a lot of what is shown nowadays. Maybe television should close down again at 11.00pm, sure after that it's just complete rubbish!

To end I will use the nightly phrase of the television continuity announcer which was "Oiche mhaith agus codladh sámh", translated from Irish means, "Good night and sleep well".

Vintage TV Image via:
Telefis Eireann logo Image via:
Felix The Cat Image via:
TV Rooftop Aerial Image via:



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  2. I remember those days well Ann, the first TV in our house was purchased by me during my first year at sea and it was put in my bedroom kept away from my younger sisters and brother by a secure lock on my bedroom door. My mother used to let them in though while I was at sea and one of her favorite programs then was "crossroads" the original version. My, how things change through the years. Hope all is well with you, and that your career and fortunes are flourishing enough to allow you to travel to the beautiful places you write about.

  3. Thank you Eric for your visit. Hope you're having a nice week. Cheers!

  4. Oh they definitely were the good old days Donald, tellys were like gold dust back then! That's a good one about your siblings watching your telly while you were away, made me laugh! Yes indeed, the "soaps" were good, wholesome viewing then too, none of the violence you see now. And with that I wish you well with the book writing, Cheers for now Donald!