Seán Bán Breathnach

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Seán Bán Breathnach (SBB)
Born Galway
Nationality Irish
Occupation Radio presenter
Employer RTÉ

Seán Bán Breathnach (known as SBB) is an Irish radio and television broadcaster and personality. He broadcasts in the medium of the Irish language, but is well known to English speakers in the country.


Breathnach has presented several television and radio programmes and documentaries for the state broadcasting corporation Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), the Irish-language broadcasters TG4 and the RTÉ national-regional station RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. He is perhaps currently best known for his radio sports coverage.[1]

He presented the first Irish language pop music programme on Raidió Éireann in 1969[2] when he was 19 years old and his first television show, Imeall - a bilingual folk music show - soon followed. In 1975, he had the lead role in Bob Quinn's first feature Irish-language drama, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoire. He hosted the show SBB ina Shuí with Gráinne Gleoite between 1976 and 1982. This was the highest-rated Irish-language television programme of all times, coming first in TAM ratings in 1979.[3]

Other work in television includes the community based programme Eadrainn Féin (1984–1986) and Scaoil Amach an Bobailín with Cynthia Ní Mhurchú (1990–1993) which attracted a viewership of over 600,000 in 1992.[4]

Since the arrival of TG4, Breathnach has been involved in many programmes, including Cleamhnas (where parents choose partners for their children) and a soccer programme, recounting of the influence of Celts on the modern game. In this series he interviewed Alex Ferguson, Roy Keane, Denis Irwin, Steve Heighway, Jim Beglin, Tom Finney, Norman Whiteside, Paddy Crerand and many others.

In 1978 he was appointed to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta staff. He works mainly with the Sports Department and presents the station’s flagship sports programme, Spórt an tSathairn, every Saturday between 2pm and 5pm. This programme features reports, interviews, previews, horse racing results in Ireland and England as well as the English Premier League results. In 1991, Breathnach won a Jacob's Award for his sports commentaries on Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Since February 2007 Breathnach presents a new hour-long music documentary Siar agus Aniar, on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta as part of the station's ANOCHT fm slot. The programme features major musical acts of the past thirty years or so, Irish and otherwise, including The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Stone Roses, Motown, etc.

He was one of the few pundits that said Portumna had a chance of beating Ballyhale shamrocks (Kilkenny) in the All Ireland Club semi-final in 2009. Ollie Canning (Portumna Captain) was quoted on TG4 as saying so, at full time in Thurles after the match. Portumna went on to win the Championship that year.


Breathnach is often considered responsible for the revival of the word craic in the Irish language. The word, which had its origins in Old Irish,[5] had generally fallen out of use in the post-medieval period in Ireland, but was borrowed from Scottish Gaelic into Scots and Scottish English dialects, and was re-introduced to Ulster after the planting of that area by Scottish settlers.[citation needed] His catchphrase "Beidh ceol, caint agus craic againn" ("We'll have music, chat and crack"), precedes the use of the modern Irish spelling "craic" and the use of the word in Irish language signs displayed outside Irish pubs. The word was subsequently re-reborrowed for the English language.

Sport and charitable work[edit]

As a keen sportsman Breathnach is involved in his local GAA club, Cumann Micheál Breathnach. His work also involves Galway GAA with his role as Oifigeach Gaeilge for the Galway County Football and Hurling Board.

In the summer of 2007 he took part in RTÉ One's Charity You're A Star to raise money and awareness for the Carers Association of Ireland. He was the runner-up.[6]


Breathnach lives in Coill Rua, Indreabhan, Cois Fharraige in County Galway. He is married with four children. His wife Brighid is from another Gaeltacht area in County Waterford (An Rinn), and she is the daughter of former chairman of the GAA Munster Council, Nioclas Mac Craith. Brighid is also sister to sean-nos singer Carthach Mac Craith (former singer with Danu, and Liam Clancy's son-in-law) and cousin to Aine Ui Cheallaigh (Solo artist in the original Riverdance tour, and lead part in the ill-fated Broadway show 'The Pirate Queen'). His twins Lean and Cárthach Bán Breathnach both have roles in the TG4 drama series Aifric. His eldest daughter Brighid is a television producer (on IFTA award-winning show Operation Transformation[7] and Play Next Door[8]) and formerly a presenter for shows on TG4 and RTÉ ( An Tuath Nua, Luach ar Linne, and Thar Saile) and the second eldest Katie is teaching in a Gaelscoil in County Carlow.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ó Muircheartaigh rules the airwaves". Irish Independent. 6 December 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "Forty years on and still agrowing". The Irish Times. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "Contestants - Sean Ban Breathnach". RTÉ. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Contestants - Sean Ban Breathnach". RTÉ. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Kelly, Fergus. Varia III: Old Irish creccaire, Scottish Gaelic kreahkir.In Ériu 37 (1986), pp. 185–186. 
  6. ^ "Allstars win Charity You're a Star". RTÉ. 13 August 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  7. ^ RTÉ Operation Transformation Credits
  8. ^ Credits