Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Irish radio and its obsession with "Death Notices"

It has been remarked that death notices in newspapers are "the Irish sports pages". Irish people will often skip to the death and funeral notices to see who has died. I even do this myself for the local papers here in Boston. When I call home, my mum often asks first "Do you know who died this week?", and I have to guess, based on who I think may have been close to death. They are also the "sports pages" in the sense that they give schedules for wakes and funerals, which serve as events to bring people together, much like sporting events.

Irish local radio, for those of you who have not listened to it, is similarly obsessed with "death notices" (i.e. mini obituaries). Outside of Dublin, you cannot turn the radio dial without hearing a list of people who have recently died.

Look at the following examples:

Midwest Radio (Limerick, Clare) features Death Notices at the Prime Time slots of 8am and 1pm:

Galway Bay FM gives equal prominence to Death Notices as it gives to News and Sport, right on its homepage:

Midlands Radio, serving my former home in Westmeath, features its "Obituary Notices" six times a day during the week and three times a day at weekends, and by contrast it only provides a farming update once a day (bear in mind that many of its listeners are farmers).

I wonder is this normal? Is this just an Irish thing?

[ Footnote: John Breslin's Cloudlands blog mentions rip.ie , an online portal of death notices for Ireland ]


johnbreslin said...

I remember hearing a story once about a DJ on 80s pirate station Radio Luimni called "John the Man" (who I think has since passed away) who, after reading the death notices, would pronounce "Thank God it's no one we know anyway".

Story repeated here: http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Soc/soc.culture.irish/2008-02/msg00379.html

Unknown said...

Just thought I should point out, MidWest Radio is actually based in Mayo, not Limerick/Clare as indicated. It is a pioneer in the field of Death Notices, and one of the most popular no-national radio stations in the country.