After 20 years as a well-known voice on Raidió na Gaeltachta, Bunbeg man Sean Diver says his love of broadcasting is “something I would have done for nothing”.
It was a rich and varied work life that led him to a career in R Na G.
The father of five says his recent retirement may not spell the end of his voice on the airwaves, but for now he is enjoying the freedom and time to pursue other interests that include travelling and visiting his family who are dotted around the globe.
Married to Sarah, he has three sons Antoin in New York, Declan who lives in Mexico, Adrian in Glasgow, Sean in Australia and daughter Deirdre in Dublin.
Born in Coshcladdy, Bunbeg, he was educated locally and after completing his leaving certificate joined the Revenue.
“When I was going to secondary school, at that time you could have been a priest, or a teacher, or maybe go into medicine, or join the civil service - it was very limited in what you went for. Everybody down our way were becoming teachers but I thought ‘I’m not going to be a teacher’. My mates all left before Leaving Cert, I stayed on but thought that is as far as I’m going to go. I got job in the Customs from school and became an Assistant Preventions Officer, a customs man. Of course, from Gaoth Dobhair, I didn’t realise what that was going to be like.”
While this may not have been his long term career plan, he did enjoy the aspects of training that brought him all over Ireland.
“In the first couple of years you got moved about for experience and I thought ‘while this lasts, I’ll stick it’ an it was a great experience. I was trained on a motorbike, I worked in Rosslare Harbour, I was in Cahirciveen in Kerry servicing Spanish travels who were entitled to duty free goods. It was fantastic. I was also in Belleek and Ballyshannon. It was great, but I was determined to leave and after a year and a half I went to Wales.”
This led to a stint as Banksman in an open cast coal mine in 1968 where he joined many Irish men in the industry.
“I was there for about nine months, and I was actually going into Nottingham College from there. I had applied and was accepted but my father wrote over saying the industrial estate is starting here in Gaoth Dobhair, and maybe I should think about applying so I became one of the first ever employed in the industrial estate in 1969.”
He was successful in securing a stores supervisor roll at GT Carpets.
“I was one of the first seven employed there, before the factory was even ready.”
When this closed he moved to Imed in Letterkenny for a time
“I worked out there for a while and I then got another chance to work in one of the factories here, which I was glad to accept because it was a long run out every day. It wouldn’t be as bad now with the roads being better, but at that time it wasn’t as good.”
He return to Gaoth Dobhair and began work with AT&T, the American telecommunications firm.
He worked there after they were taken over and remained until it closed.
This lead him to join the Gaoth Dobhair Credit Union and he also dipped his toe into the world of broadcasting for the first time.
“Around the same time I began in the radio and met with Edel Curran the station manager. They had advertised for a sports person, a part time position. I think I was going to a Ceili dancing weekend, I’m still into Ceili dancing, and was meant to be at the event, so when I explained that to her she said ‘well, come on in now’. I went in and got a bit of translation work to do and then into the studio to do the recording. Having people peering in felt very strange. Anyway, I went away for the weekend and thought ‘that’s the end of that’ as I think there was quite a few in for it. I know it is a cliché, but I thought no more about it. But by good luck I was told that I came across alright on the mic, so I got my part-time work and started in 1994.”
He began by doing sports results, sports reports and other “bits and pieces”.
It was during this time he juggled a busy work load with the newly emerging Credit Union and was tasked with established a new building as their base, as well as successfully establishing offices in the Rosses and Falcarragh areas.
After his success in delivering the fine new Gaoth Dobhair Credit Union office just two weeks off the planned schedule, a new opportunity arose to expand on the work he had been carrying out for the national broadcaster.
“I had been doing work on a part-time basis for about 14 years at this stage then Conal O’Dubhaigh left and I got a lot more work with them then, but I was never full time.”
One of the new roles he filled was to become a well-known presenter.
“After a year or two, there was a programme called Cás Ceirín, that’s what my name would be very much associated with, it means to ‘spin the Disc.” His deep commitment to the station meant he was always on hand to offer his services outside of his own brief and even braved snow storms and floods to ensure they stayed on the airwaves during bad weather.
In one instance he intrepidly left his home during torrential rain and floods that reeked havoc on the Gaoth Dobhair community a few years ago, armed with a set of dry clothes packed under his coat, to put on upon his arrival, just to ensure the show went on.
“It was flash flooding and as I’m only a quarter hour walk from the station. I went on foot because I couldn’t take the car as the road was flooded. I left home with a change of clothes in a plastic bag under my jumper, like a pregnant woman, and had to walk up to the station. I then changed my clothes and did the programme,” he laughs.
“I loved it. As I said when they made me a presentation ‘Don’t you’s let on, but I’d have done it for nothing’,” he stated.