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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Small local station scoops Europe’s biggest radio drama prize

The Prix Europa gong went to Ocean FM for a three-part play called Francisco, the fascinating story of a ship captain shipwrecked here from a Spanish armada.

Left-right, Back row: Ocean FM CEO Tim Collins, BAI CEO Michael O'Keeffe, actors Darina Gallagher and Jaimie Carswell, writer-director Donal O'Kelly, Ocean Head of Production Kevin Blessing, The Glens Centre director Anna Legge. Front row: Actor Sorcha Fox and Ocean FM Presenter Francie Boylan.
Left-right, Back row: Ocean FM CEO Tim Collins, BAI CEO Michael O'Keeffe, actors Darina Gallagher and Jaimie Carswell, writer-director Donal O'Kelly, Ocean Head of Production Kevin Blessing, The Glens Centre director Anna Legge. Front row: Actor Sorcha Fox and Ocean FM Presenter Francie Boylan.

A THREE-PART radio play from one of Ireland’s smallest local radio stations made off with a major award last night.

Ocean FM won the Prix Europa for Radio Drama in Berlin for its three-parter, Francisco, beating off competition from major European broadcasters including BBC radio.

A delighted Tim Collins, CEO of Ocean FM – which serves Sligo, south Donegal and north Leitrim – said that telling the story of Captain Don Francisco De Cuellar had been “an obsession” of the radio team for the past few years.

The play was written and directed by Donal O’Kelly, recorded at the Glens Centre in Co Leitrim, sound produced by Ray Duffy and scored and performed by Kila. It was produced by Aisling Heraughty (with assistant producer Peter Collins), and supported by the BAI’s Sound and Vision Fund.

It is based on the writings of the aforementioned ship’s captain who was shipwrecked off the northwest coast of Ireland from an armada sent by King Phillip II of Spain to invade England in 1588. Following the shipwreck, De Cuellar trekked across the northwest of the country in a bid to secure a way back to Spain. His journals record observations of life in Ireland of the 16th century.

The route De Cuellar took through Ireland is mapped on a special site set up in conjunction with the production of Francisco. The site also carries transcripts of his original letters and lots of fascinating context on his story, so it’s worth a look.

  • You can also listen back to the award-winning play by clicking here.

Ocean FM has been proving itself a bit of a David among Goliaths in the radio drama world recently. They also took the Gold Award for Drama at the PPI awards in Kilkenny in the past month.

“We have had an extraordinary run of success in the past 18 months having won the IMRO Award for Commitment to Irish music two years in a row, seven PPI Awards including five Golds and now another first for Francisco in Europe’s most sought after radio and television awards, The Prix Europa,” said Tim Collins.

RTÉ’s Documentary on One scoops two Prix Europa awards>
Radio documentary on Irish school stand-off wins gold award>

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