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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

One of Ireland's new radio Hall of Famers popularised death notices

“Shush! SHUSH! The death notices are on.”

Image: radio via Shutterstock

Updated 6.30pm

DEATH NOTICES ARE a staple of local radio in Ireland.

Although less important in this digital age, they can provide a service to isolated rural communities where news of a death might not reach every relevant person, but also taps in every Irish person’s fear of missing a funeral.

Due to the latter, they have become hugely popular.

It’s now taken for granted that you will hear the sombre list of names at some point everyday on each local radio station in Ireland – but one man is credited with setting this trend among these local stations.

Paul Claffey set up Midwest Rado in the mid-1980s as a pirate station. He was today inducted into the PPI’s Radio Hall of Fame.

In 1989, it was the first local radio station outside of Dublin to receive a BAI license.

While death notices had been broadcast in Irish on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta in 1972 for some years previous, Claffey is thought to be the first to broadcast them in English.

Earlier this afternoon at the Hall of Fame inauguration ceremony, he spoke of how the BBC visited to investigate the death notices phenomenon, considering it to be a strangely morbid concept to be included in a station’s remit.

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They became a source of revenue for the stations, as a charge applies to have a notice read out.

This was soon adopted by the vast majority of local stations.

These notices were a way of nabbing listeners at 9am when they may have drifted away to either Gerry Ryan or Gay Byrne – they had to tune in to their local station, to be sure they weren’t missing someone’s funeral.

According to the Sunday Independent, Ryan was so frustrated with this, he dedicated an entire show to death and death notices.

Originally published 6pm.

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Nicky Ryan

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