Documentary On Newstalk: Making Connections

Celebrating short-form radio documentary

This weekend's Documentary on Newstalk brings us three short audio portraits from the mid-west of Ireland: The cattle-seller, the bingo-caller and the train-gate operator…

In ‘Making Connections’, Limerick-based producer Ciarán Ryan has collected three short stories from his own local area of North Tipperary/Limerick. Each story examines the working lives of three people regularly placed in the public limelight in very different ways. The trio - a railway gatekeeper, a mart auctioneer, and a bingo caller – all deal with relatively pressurised situations.

The first part in the series meets James Lee, a third generation auctioneer in his hometown of Newport, Co. Tipperary. As well selling property, land, and working behind the bar in the family public house, James is also responsible for the livestock sale at the local mart every Thursday. James recalls his first forays into helping out at the mart as a child and his gradual progression to selling, while also giving a unique insight into how the process of buying and selling works as the mart in full flow is captured. In an era where rural Ireland is changing, James reflects on how the social side of the mart has changed in the past two decades.

After this, we travel to Limerick, where on a cold winter’s night, Niall Scanlon has walked 200 metres from his home to St. John’s Hall in the heart of the city. Step inside and grab a sheet as Niall does what he has been doing every Tuesday and Thursday night for 23 years – calling the numbers that the city’s bingo players are hoping are on their sheet. Niall – a man who has never played bingo himself – will take listeners behind the scenes in to how bingo works and why it remains so popular despite numerous forms of competition for entertainment.

Finally, we cross borders with Limerick-man Seamus Bridgeman. Now living in North Tipperary, Seamus makes the short journey to his native Clyduff, Co. Limerick. Here, Seamus is a gatekeeper, continuing a family tradition with the railways that goes back four generations.  A job where timing is of the essence, regardless of the weather, join Seamus as he makes it to work for the early morning train, and operates one of the few manual train gates still left in the area. 

‘Making Connections’ will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday March 4th 2017 at 7am, with repeat broadcast at 10pm. 

LISTEN LIVE: ‘Making Connections’ can also be listened to online at:

PODCAST: Podcast available at: after the broadcast.

CREDITS: ‘Making Connections’ was produced and presented by Ciarán Ryan. Original music by Stephen Ryan.

The project was supported by a grant from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, as part of the Sound and Vision Scheme.