Archive for October, 2010

A TIME OF GRIEF


2010
10.26

The past fortnight has been a sad one for me, having said farewell to three media colleagues, two from Belfast and one from Dublin. On Monday there was a large turnout for the funeral of John Harrison at Hillhall Presbyterian church near Lisburn. He was a great photographer who always had a kind word or a smile as he went about his work. Among the hundreds of mourners were the First and deputy First Minister, the former DUP leader Reverend Ian Paisley who was a family friend and a host of others from the political world, the civil service and the Northern Ireland media. Dr Paisley addressed the congregation.  The choir sang beautifully, including a version of “Be thou my vision”.

John Harrison 1960-2010

John was 50 and took ill suddenly having attended a PR awards ceremony where he presented one of the prizes. During the week he had accompanied Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness on a visit to an economic conference in the USA. At the end of the service there were moving tributes from John’s children to their Dad. His son Peter had found out about his father’s death while in New York, where he is studying. He told mourners he had been able to meet his father while he was in Washington and said he was burying his father a week to the hour he had met him in the States. His daughter Catherine read a poem. Reverend Paul Jamieson described John as “a true gentleman”.

A week earlier, some of the same mourners had crowded into St Brigid’s church in South Belfast for the funeral of my former editor, Jim Dougal. Again, he was a media person whose work had brought him into contact with politicians and others from both sides of the community in Northern Ireland. He too was decribed as “a gentleman and a gentle man”. Those fitting words were from a Presbyterian minister and former Moderator Reverend John Dunlop, a sign of how Jim had always done his best to reach across the religious divide. It was the first time I had heard a Protestant clergyman address mourners at a Catholic requiem Mass.

 

Jim Dougal 1945-2010

Jim had the distinction of working for all three major broadcasting organisations in Northern Ireland, UTV, BBC and RTÉ, where I knew him for seven years as Northern Editor until he joined BBC in 1991. He battled cancer in recent years and his death at the age of 65 is sad loss for our profession. One of his achievements while at RTÉ was to find a place for unionists to put their case to an audience in the Republic. Former MP Ken Maginnis was among the politicians who attended the Mass. Another was the former SDLP leader John Hume. His children gave fine tributes about their Dad at the end of the Mass. Burial took place in Carryduff. I had heard the sad news about Jim when I was in Dublin, where I had attended the removal at Glenageary near Dun Laoghaire of the remains of another former RTÉ colleague, John Cook. I knew him in the early 1970s before either of us went into broadcasting. Then when I joined RTÉ News in 1979, our paths crossed again.

John Cook

John was a floor manager at the time, in the days of film. It was always a pleasure to know that he would be on duty as he was, like Jim Dougal and John Harrison, a gentleman. John went on to become a producer and director. On leaving RTÉ he founded John Cook Video Productions in 1986 and as explained on his his website (from which this photograph comes) he immediately set out to become one of the best producers of wedding and events video. Just one look at the recommendations on that website shows how popular his service had become. He will, like the others, be sadly missed. My sympathy goes to the families and relatives of all three great media pros. Jim and John will also be remembered along with other former colleagues at the annual Mass for deceased RTÉ staff at the Sacred Heart church in Donnybrook on November 2nd at 1pm.

REST IN PEACE

JIM DOUGAL RIP


2010
10.18

Jim Dougal 1945-2010

He was a kind boss. A gentleman and a gentle man, as John Dunlop described him. Jim Dougal was buried after a requiem Mass attended by hundreds of people at St Brigid’s church, Derryvolgie Avenue in South Belfast. Jim had the distinction of working for all three major broadcasting organisations in Northern Ireland, UTV, BBC and RTÉ, where I knew him for seven years as Northern Editor until he joined BBC in 1991. He battled cancer in recent years and his death at the age of 65 is sad loss for our profession. One of his achievements while at RTÉ was to find a place for unionists to put their case to an audience in the Republic. Former MP Ken Maginnis was among the politicians who attended the Mass. Another was the former SDLP leader John Hume. The fact that a Protestant minister, former Presbyterian Moderator John Dunlop, was chosen to give the address was a sign of how Jim had always done his best to reach across the religious divide. His children gave fine tributes about their Dad at the end of the Mass. Burial took place in Carryduff. To Deirdre and all his relatives, deep sympathy on your loss. May he rest in peace.

VIDEO GAMES “OSCAR” FOR TERRY


2010
10.17

Congratulations to Terry Cavanagh from Tydavnet in County Monaghan on winning an award at the Indiecade showcase for video games in Los Angeles (Culvert City). The game he developed VVVVVV won the most fun and compelling game at the festival. This is how I described his success in the Northern Standard (new window) http://tinyurl.com/3xnxfyv

“A Monaghan man has achieved international recognition in the computer games world for developing the most fun and compelling video game. Terry Cavanagh from Tullyvogey in Tydavnet picked up the prize at a festival in Los Angeles for independent games creators.

Terry Cavanagh

The 26 year-old Maths graduate from Trinity College Dublin launched the game called VVVVVV earlier this year through his own company distractionware.com. The music was provided by a Swedish composer and the game went on sale originally for $15. Another company (Steam) was then contracted to distribute it and when the price was reduced to $5 sales grew and grew. Now Terry’s creativity has been rewarded by the games development industry.

A former pupil of St Macartan’s College in Monaghan, has been making games since he was at  school. He moved to the university city of Cambridge in England six months ago as he said  he felt isolated in Dublin where there was no “indie scene”.

This award is an important breakthrough for him in a market that is dominated by global companies. Another game developed by him has also proved popular, Don’t Look Back. He has been described by one trade journal as “one of the industry’s brightest up-and-coming independent developers”.

His game VVVVVV was one of 32 games short-listed by 160 international jurors from over 350 submissions in the annual international festival of independent games (IndieCade) held at Culver City outside Los Angeles. It’s the main showcase for independent games developers from around the world, where they can meet collaborators and investors.

While established companies measure their budgets in millions, independents have to raise their own capital, sometimes putting their life savings into projects in the hope of creating a global success.

Terry found it was difficult at first to get financial support for this type of work and was unsuccessful in seeking enterprise funding in Monaghan. But that did not deter him and having arranged a bank loan he was able to embark on his creative projects. He can now boast that his creation is the most fun and compelling computer game on the market this year.

In the game, players imagine themselves as the fearless leader of a team of dimension-exploring scientists, who are separated after inadvertently crashing their ship.

VVVVVV uses smart, interesting puzzles and a strong world and environment, supported by simple visual design combined with awesome music.

The IndieCade festival helps to encourage innovation in interactive media. It includes games producers from Europe, Australia, Asia, Latin America and other countries.

News of Terry’s success in LA delighted his parents in Tydavnet. Peter, a retired Garda, and Patricia, a former psychiatric nurse, were proud he had won his own “Oscar” in what is a very competitive industry.”

DALYMOUNT ROAR FROM SLIGO


2010
10.17
Jodi Stand

I had not ventured to Dalymount Park in Dublin for many years. I used to watch Bohemians in 1967/78 and remember some great occasions when Ireland played internationals in front of a packed crowd. I had been once I think since the new Jodi stand was erected. On Friday night (15th October) I found myself queueing to get into the ground, a bit like the old days. I thought I would end up with Bohs supporters in the “shed” behind the goalmouth. In fact this is the territory of away fans, in this case Sligo Rovers. I joined hundreds of them singing and applauding their team in an FAI Ford Cup semi-final. The atmosphere was great and the Red and White Army did everything they could to boost the players as they attacked into the goal they stood behind in the first half. Sligo had a couple of chances but it was scoreless at half-time.

As the RTÉ Sport report described it (new window) http://tinyurl.com/27j2mg5 Rovers went very close to opening the scoring on 11 minutes when Romauld Boco shrugged off Powell to get on the end of Matthew Blinkhorn’s excellent cross. Boco chipped the advancing Murphy but sent his effort over the bar.  Boco got a shot on target on 14 minutes but Murphy dived to his right and saved well. In the second half Rovers enjoyed a superb spell of pressure with twenty minutes remaining, with excellent passing football and creativity. They were rewarded for their effort with the winning goal on 75 minutes when Gavin Peers got his head to Richie Ryan’s corner and sent the ball into the net. So the westerners secured their place in this year’s final at the Aviva stadium next month. Their opponents will not be known for another few days as Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic drew 2-2 in the other semi-final. The Sligo fans went away happy and on this display their team will probably be considered favourites in the final. I thought Friday night’s game was a great advertisement for Irish soccer. I also hope Dalymount will continue to witness many many more years of football. But it will require more money to be spent on the stadium to update the facilities around the ground.

Sligo Rovers fans celebrate a 1-0 victory over Bohs

SHAMROCK ROVERS SLIP AGAIN


2010
10.17

Pre-match warm-up

I went back to the new Tallaght stadium a week ago (October 9th) expecting to see Shamrock Rovers moving to secure their first League of Ireland title since 1994. Sporting Fingal had other ideas and spoiled the fun for the Rovers fans who for most of the match were solidly behind the Hoops.

Teams line out

Rovers went ahead after 13 minutes, missed a 2nd half penalty and looked like holding the lead until the last 15. The visitors took control and a series of defensive errors saw Rovers concede two goals just before the final whistle. So Fingal went away with three points and Bohemians took the opportunity to topple Rovers from the top. Rovers had been hammered 5-1 away to Dundalk and suddenly their title hopes appear to be evaporating. No doubt manager Michael O’Neill will be taking them in for a good talking to before their final two league games. One thing I enjoyed about the game was to see the crowd pouring in to watch Irish soccer on a SATURDAY for a change, when no English Premiership matched were neing played.

Hoops prepare

There were more signs today of Rovers’ weariness when an own goal in the 90th minute meant that St Patrick’s Athletic managed a 2-2 draw in the FAI Ford Cup semi-final. The replay will be next Tuesday at Inchicore and the winners meet Sligo Rovers in the final. I watched them defeat Bohemians 1-0 last Friday at Dalymount Park and they played well.

Come on the Hoops

MORE LONDON PEDALLING


2010
10.17

 Returning to London in early September it was interesting to see the Boris bikes in operation. At St Pancras where I had photographed an empty stand waiting for bicycles in July, the docking station now had several machines available and I spotted one man returning his. During the first two months of the £140 million scheme over one million journeys have been made. According to the Mayor of London Boris Johnston only three bikes have been stolen in that period (speech to the Conservative party conference: BBC News).

I have not yet had a chance to try one of the bikes. But they are becoming an increasingly popular form of public transport, it seems. Mind you, this was one area in which Dublin beat London, as the public hire scheme in the Irish capital is now well used. For anyone thinking of using a Boris bike in London, the full details can be found one the Transport for London website, which also has a very useful journey planner  to get you from Wimbledon to Islington or wherever (new window)  http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14808.aspx