Claire O'Dowd
Claire O'Dowd

15.55 13 Oct 2020


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The Story Of Dublin’s National Stadium

This weekend, Documentary on Newstalk airs the premiere of ‘From Boxing to Bingo: The Story Of Dublin’s National Stadium’. Producer Brian Byrne tells the story of how the home of Irish boxing came to be home to so much more. 

‘From Boxing to Bingo’ was broadcast on Newstalk on October 18th with a repeat broadcast on October 24th. And is available as a podcast here.

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Documentary On Newstalk: From Boxing to Bingo

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It's where U2 signed their first record deal.
It's where 16 Irish Olympic medallists got their first licks in.
It's where, for the past 40 years, Bingo has been called 3 nights a week.
It's where, for the past 4 year, sold-out crowds have come to watch OTT wrestling. And it’s where every Sunday you’ll find the All Nations Church gathered to pray. 

This 'where', is Dublin's National Stadium.

In the words of those who know it best, "It's the home of Irish boxing...", but it's also home to so much more. This documentary explores the oral history of the stadium, celebrating the rise and fall of the deeply interconnected communities who have come to call it home over the past 80 years. 

In this program, we take a trip back in time to learn about the founding of the stadium, how it was, and still is, “...the only purpose-built boxing stadium in the world.” We hear from Dave McCartney the stadium manager and learn how the stadium has been a fixture in his family for generations. Producer Brian Byrne then explores the dichotomy at the heart of the stadium, how the two very different worlds - boxing and bingo, exist side by side. Ann Smith the stadium’s infamous bingo caller, and a range of colorful characters provide insight into the high stakes world of bingo. While the tradition of boxing is revealed by Art O'Brien, general secretary at the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. 

But boxing and bingo are only part of the stadium's story. Gary O’Neill, author of Where Were You recalls what it was like to be a young fella trying to sneak into gigs at the stadium in its hey-day. From Pastor John Aherne of the All Nation’s Church - we hear the story of how a  boxing ring came to be his pulpit. And Aonghus Óg McAnally, commentator for Over The Top wrestling explains how in recent years, Irish professional wrestling has introduced an entirely new community to the stadium. 

“Community is essential for all of us, whether you get that in Croker on a Sunday, or whether you get that in mass on a Sunday or whether you get that at an Ed Sheeran gig...I don't mind but it’s vital for us to come together as humans, and for those people in the crowd to get those magic moments, to get your breath taken away...those are magic moments.” Aonghus Óg McAnally: commentator at Over The Top Wrestling.

Featuring voices from families for whom the stadium became more than just a building. ‘From Boxing to Bingo: The Story Of Dublin’s National Stadium’ aims to capture some of the magic moments the stadium has borne witness to over the years.

CREDITS: ‘From Boxing to Bingo: The Story Of Dublin’s National Stadium’ was produced by Brian Byrne. And was funded by the Sound and Vision scheme. 

With special thanks to David McCartney, Ann Smith, Sinead Mooney, Gary O'Neill, Aonghus Óg McAnally, John Aherne, Art O'Brien, Francesca Lalor and Cian Hogan. As well as all those at the IABA, Over the Top Wrestling, and the All Nations Church who contributed. 

Managed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the Sound and Vision scheme provides funding in support of high quality programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience.


Artwork by Cian Hogan.


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