Journalism, country roots, the Irish language and RTE

with Des Cahill

Des is one of Ireland’s best known and most loved broadcasters; a friendly face on our TVs and a witty voice on our radios for decades. Des is a sports presenter and commentator with our national broadcaster, RTE, he is also the regular weekday morning sports presenter on Morning Ireland and Today with Sean O’Rourke. Des was named “Ireland’s Most Influential Journalist on Twitter” in 2015 and 2016.

Des has recently published his autobiography ‘Play it again Des’ (named after the popular show he hosted) which you can check out here.

Des is an exceptional storyteller and this podcast covers some of the key topics from his life and book,  his early years in journalism, his country roots, the Irish language and RTE.



“There was a golden time, was a fun time, was a happy time, whereas now the media are only allowed in for 15 minutes of training and lift to leave. They don’t stay in the same hotels, you don’t get to know the players… That was much easier and more fun.”


The new book – “Play It Again, Des”

  • “A lot of good interviewers are not good interviewees.”
  • Changes in journalism
  • Difficulties during the process of writing book


Finding what is interesting for a reader

  • Getting ideas of interests from conversations with peoplen organisation creates


Impact of parents on journalism career

  • Childhood memories
  • Encouraged education and reading


Why Irish schools are popular

  • Good results, for example in music or sports
  • Smaller community with stronger bonds


Preserving the Irish language and culture

  • The growing popularity of Irish culture
  • Importance of young people speaking the Irish language


Success of the Cuala GAA Club

  • Incredible success – an impressive turnaround
  • Big growth of the number of people involved
  • Respect and loyalty to clubs


The increase in popularity of the GAA

  • Dublin got extra funding which helped to develop the GAA
  • “GAA becoming really cool and trendy in Dublin – that helped.”
  • Dublin helped to spread it nationally and help other counties


American political news

  • “… a huge number of Americans don’t care about what’s happening on the world.”
  • Improving conditions, but a very polarised country
  • Growing economy and forecast for the country being strong


Conversation about Con Houlihan

  • “Father of modern Irish sports rising”
  • A wonderful, educated writer
  • An unusual man, “man of people”


Journalism – previously and now

  • Previously there was more access – to political, business and sport figures
  • Currently, there is no access to sports people – “FIFA has failed to have the public relate to their players.”
  • Soccer players have spokespeople and usually, do not speak to media


Coming back to Dublin, joining RTE

  • Big change – from journalism to broadcasting


Big influences on broadcasting career


Conversation about young reporters

  • “Sometimes people are brilliant reporters and it doesn’t translate into studio”
  • Young people need to be advised


Growth in RTE television and career opportunities

  • Opportunity to meet and work with professionals
  • Reporting the golden period of Irish cycling
  • Learning and teaching as part of a reporter’s job
  • Stephen Roche


Conversation about Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche

  • Competition in 1987
  • Differences between two cyclists


Comment on Irish Soccer at the moment

  • “Golden year, golden times” – 1998
  • Currently, reporters do not have access to players as they used to have
  • League of Ireland does not have superstars right now


Irish female sports – Katie Taylor

  • The golden age for Irish women’s boxing
  • Involved in the community, very close to people, encouraging kids
  • Change of Olympic rules


Club vs. county game – views on the current situation

  • County players and club players are semi-professionals
  • Lack of access to players by mediaised


Conversation about The Sunday Game

  • Agenda setting program for the stories and talking points
  • Everyone has access to watch videos from the game


Next career step

  • Huge change in journalism – young people want different people from media
  • “It’s a challenge for RTE to be more aware of its audience”
  • The older audience has bigger loyalty than younger one
  • RTE doesn’t have enough money to compete for the rights against others
  • There is still big interest in live sports