Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

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Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh in Villa Maria, Waterville. 2012.JPG
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh in Villa Maria, Waterville. 2012
Born Michael Moriarty
(1930-08-20) 20 August 1930 (age 83)
Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland
Residence Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Alma mater St Patrick's College of Education
Occupation Gaelic games commentator
Employer RTÉ
Known for Commentary on Gaelic games
Title Voice of Gaelic games
Predecessor Michael O'Hehir
Spouse(s) Helena McDowell
Children Éamonn,
Niamh,
Aonghus,
Cormac,
Neasa,
Nuala,
Éadaoin,
Doireann

Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh (Irish pronunciation: [mʲiːçaːl̪ˠ oː mˠɪɾʲçaɾˠt̪ˠiː]; born 20 August 1930) is an Irish Gaelic games commentator for the Irish national radio and television, RTÉ. In a career that has spanned six decades he has come to be regarded as the "voice of Gaelic games." His prolific career has earned him a place in Guinness World Records.[1]

Early life[edit]

Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh was born in Dún Síon just outside Dingle, County Kerry in 1930.[2] He was christened Michael Moriarty and was the fourth child in a family of eight. Like many homes in Ireland at the time Ó Muircheartaigh's house contained no radio. His earliest memory of listening to a match commentary was at a neighbour's house in 1939.[citation needed] From that point on he was fascinated by the radio and the voice of Micheál O'Hehir in particular.[citation needed] Ó Muircheartaigh grew up on the family farm and was educated locally in Dingle. In September 1945 he began studying at Coláiste Íosagáin in Baile Bhúirne in the County Cork Gaeltacht where he was in training to be a teacher. It was at this all-Irish school that his name changed from Michael Moriarty to the Irish version Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. In September 1948 he began the final year of his teacher training at St Patrick's College of Education in Drumcondra, Dublin.

Broadcasting career[edit]

In early March 1949 Ó Muircheartaigh, along with ten other students from the college, and several from other colleges, did a test commentary on a hurling game at Croke Park. Each student had to commentate for five minutes in Irish and the most successful would be selected for further commentary work. Ó Muircheartaigh had never seen a game of hurling before in his life. But he knew that those adjudicators judging his commentary were not able to see the game:

'Twas a new game to me. But I knew one person. He was in goal for UCD and his name was Tadhg Hurley. He went to school in Dingle and he had hurling because his father was a bank manager and had spent time in Tipperary or Cork. The moment my minute started, he was saving a fantastic shot. And he cleared it away out, I can still see it, out over the sideline, Cusack Stand side of the field, eighty yards out. But it was deflected out by a member of the opposition. The adjudicators couldn't see that that didn't happen. Who was called out to take the line-ball? The only person I knew, Tadhg Hurley. And he took a beautiful line-ball - Christy Ring never took better. He landed it down in front of the Railway goal, there was a dreadful foul on the full-forward, and there was a penalty. And who was called up to take the penalty? Tadhg Hurley. 'Twas the best individual display ever seen in Croke Park. It took him at least a minute to come from the Canal goal up. And while he was coming up I spoke about his brother Bob, who was in Donal's class, and his sister who used to come out to Dún Síon strand during the summer. So eventually he took the penalty. I've seen DJ Carey, I've seen Nicky Rackard, I've seen Christy Ring. None of them could ever equal the display he gave that day... Sin mar a thosaigh sé!"

— Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, RTÉ.ie

Ó Muircheartaigh was the one selected and his first assignment was to provide an all-Irish commentary on the 1949 Railway Cup final on St. Patrick's Day.

He graduated from St. Patrick's College a little later and also completed a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College Dublin. He taught economics, accountancy and Irish in both primary and secondary schools throughout Dublin, the majority of which were run by the Christian Brothers. He continued teaching up until the 1980s, when he became a full-time broadcaster with Raidió Teilifís Éireann.

For the early part of his broadcasting career Ó Muircheartaigh commentated on Minor GAA matches, in the Irish language. He also replaced the legendary Micheál O'Hehir when he was not available to commentate. Eventually when O'Hehir was forced to retire in the mid-1980s Ó Muircheartaigh took over as the station's premier radio commentator. He developed his own inimitable style of commentary and his accent is unmistakably that of a native Irish speaker. He is a true lover of Gaelic Athletic Association and it is reflected in the enthusiasm he brings to matches. His unusual turn of phrase has made him a much loved broadcaster and often imitated character. He has become particularly famous in Ireland for his unusual turns of phrase in the heat of the moment while commentating. Today he commentates on RTÉ Radio 1. In 2004 he published his autobiography, 'From Dún Sion to Croke Park'. He is also the main commentator in the Gaelic Games: Football game for PS2.[2]

Ó Muircheartaigh's commentaries for RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport show won him a Jacob's Award in 1992. He was also the Parade Grand Marshal for the 2007 St. Patrick’s Festival - having been given the honour by the chairman of the Festival in recognition and appreciation of his unique contribution to Irish culture.[2] He will be the Parade Grand Marshal for the 2011 St. Patrick’s Parade in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, also in recognition and appreciation of his unique contribution to Irish culture.[3]

On September 16, 2010 he announced his retirement from broadcasting.[4][5][6] The last All-Ireland he commentated on was the 2010 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final on 19 September 2010.[7] On October 29, 2010 it was announced that the 2nd International Rules test at Croke Park would be Ó Muircheartaigh's final broadcast as commentator on RTÉ Radio 1. On October 30, 2010 Micheál commentated his final commentary alongside RTÉ's pundit and former Meath footballer Bernard Flynn.

He is contracted to officiate at the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race finish in Galway when he will commentate on the finish to the round the world race, to give it a uniquely Irish conclusion. Sailing has been a long time hobby of O Muircheartaigh.

Ó Muircheartaigh writes a weekly sports column for Foinse, the Irish language newspaper free with the Irish Independent each Wednesday.

Quotations[edit]

Ó Muircheartaigh has become famous in Ireland for his unique turns of phrase in the heat of the moment while commentating.

  • "1-5 to 0-8...well from Lapland to the Antarctic, that's level scores in any man's language".
  • "Pat Fox has it on his hurl and is motoring well now ... but here comes Joe Rabbitte hot on his tail ...... I've seen it all now, a Rabbitte chasing a Fox around Croke Park!"
  • "Some players are consistent and some players are brilliant. Colm McAlarney is consistently brilliant. "
  • "He grabs the sliotar, he's on the 50......he's on the 40......he's on the 30....... he's on the ground."
  • "Teddy McCarthy to John McCarthy, no relation, John McCarthy back to Teddy McCarthy, still no relation."
  • "Colin Corkery on the 45 lets go with the right boot. It's over the bar. This man shouldn't be playing football. He's made an almost Lazarus-like recovery from a heart condition. Lazarus was a great man but he couldn't kick points like Colin Corkery."
  • "In the first half they played with the wind. In the second half they played with the ball."
  • "Setanta Ó hAilpín....the original Setanta from the old Gaelic stories was ten foot tall, had ten fingers on each hand and ten toes on each foot but even he couldn't be playing better hurling than his namesake here today."
  • "... and Brian Dooher is down injured. And while he is, I'll tell ye a little story. I was in Times Square in New York last week, and I was missing the Championship back home. So I approached a newsstand and I said 'I suppose you wouldn't have the Kerryman would you?' To which the Egyptian man behind the counter replied 'do you want the North Kerry edition or the South Kerry edition?'. He had both, so I bought both. And Dooher is back on his feet..."
  • "Anthony Lynch, the Cork corner-back, would be the last person to let you down - his people are undertakers"
  • "Teddy looks at the ball, the ball looks at Teddy."
  • " Dublin have scored two points, one from the hand and one from the land."
  • "Pat Fox out to the forty and grabs the sliothar. I bought a dog from his father last week. Fox turns and sprints for goal. The dog ran a great race last Tuesday in Limerick. Fox to the 21 fires a shot, it goes to the left and wide… And the dog lost as well."
  • "I saw a few Sligo people at Mass in Gardiner Street this morning and the omens seem to be good for them, the priest was wearing the same colours as the Sligo jersey! 40 yards out on the Hogan Stand side of the field Ciarán Whelan goes on a rampage, it's a goal. So much for religion."
  • "There's a streaker now on the pitch, I'd say he's a Kilkenny fan because he looks happy with the situation"

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Legend Micheal takes lead to fulfil lifetime ambition". Irish Independent.
  2. ^ a b c St. Patrick’s Festival Press Release
  3. ^ Eamonn O’Loghlin (18 November 2010). "Toronto St. Patrick's Day Parade: 2011 Grand Marshall (Press Release)". Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Voice of GAA blows time on career that won nation's hearts". Irish Times. 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  5. ^ "Ó Muircheartaigh calls time on career". Irish Times. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  6. ^ "Tributes pour in for Ó Muircheartaigh". RTÉ Sport. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  7. ^ "Thank goodness we were all born under Mícheál's Wand'rin' Star". Irish Times. 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2010-09-20.