From his 2018 visit: Pictured at Fanad Lighthouse is Ryan Tubridy and Sam Maguire. Picture: Clive Wasson
Ryan Tubridy’s soft spot for Donegal is not a new story, but maybe he’s letting us all know just how much he loves the place by kicking off his Wild Atlantic Way radio tour on Monday with a two hour special.
Tubridy, the man brave enough to attempt Hugh Jackman’s ‘The Greatest Show’ on the Late Late for his Toy Show Special, clearly knows no fear after taking on the Jackman challenge and he reckons two hours may not be enough time to get everything in to a show from Donegal. It will be jammers with chat, features, song and who knows, he may even bring back dancing on the radio.
Ryan has been in Donegal for work and pleasure many times. He's not shy about wearing his Donegal tweed suits and he raves about flying into Carrickfin and Donegal Airport. His summer trips to the county for the radio gig are as many as the locations chosen over the years are varied.
I can recall shows from Dunfanaghy, he kept his word to broadcast from Buncrana in the wake of the pier tragedy there. Fanad - “that gorgeous place with its stunning lighthouse”, Rathmullan, Malin were among other locations to feature.
There was a very early tour to Bundoran which played a significant role in shaping his fairly recent leaning towards Irish country music.
Packaged by RTÉ as his ‘Bucket and Spade’ tour, Ryan went live to the nation on a Monday morning from a shed on Bundoran pier. To be fair it was a very nice ‘shed’, used to house the RNLI’s rescue craft.
However, it was a chance visit to a Mike Denver show the night before his Bundoran broadcast which spawned his appreciation for the impact Irish country music has on so many people. Talking about it, he used the word "epiphany".
“You could say I had an epiphany that night in the Allingham Arms Hotel. Mike Denver was playing and there he was in his white suit. The place was packed. I remember thinking ‘this is not my world’ but I could see how it was a world of so many people.”
For Tubridy it was much more than just the music, he talks about having fallen in love with the “practitioners and their families” and that, in part if not in full, explains why a few years later he was standing in the Late Late Show green room mixing and meeting with the stars and their families before the first Late Late Show Country Special, an entire show dedicated to the ‘country family’.
There have been four such shows which have put country music on a major platform. As for Ryan he described the country special as “one of the moments of the season”.
On this Bank Holiday Monday, June 3, Ryan will be on air on RTÉ Radio 1 just after the 9 am news. He’s in Donegal on Sunday and segments of the show will include a trip to Sliabh Liag and we hear the wonderful David James will be among his special guests. Expect the unexpected, it will be full of fun, entertainment and local stories and by all means take a trip to see him on The Diamond where the RTÉ Radio 1 roadcaster, which arrives on Sunday evening, will be hard to miss.