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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 25 October 2020

Gramophone and radio collector: 'Throwing away records is sacrilege'

Pat Herbert’s collection of radios has been turned into a short documentary that’s been nominated for two awards.

Image: Stuart Duff via Vimeo

IRISH PEOPLE LOVE radio but one man took that to a whole new level.

Pat Herbert has collected vintage radios and gramophones over the pat 60 years and it all started when he couldn’t bear to see the waste created when people threw out 78 RPM records in London in the 50s.

“Vinyl was just coming in in the 50s and people were disposing of their 78 records. Thousands of them would be stacked along the side of the road for the binman.

Where I had come from in the west of Ireland, records were very precious because during the war people didn’t have proper needles to play the records…and to see them being thrown away, I thought it was sacrilege.

“So I started collecting records and then gramophones and radios and it spiraled from there really…some years later I took it up seriously and it took my life in a sense.”


“When I go to bed at night I could fall asleep listening to the radio and then wake up listening to it again in the morning, radio consumes my life.

I was listening to a programme on the radio the other day where somebody was treated for alcohol addiction and they were treated successfully but I don’t think that there’s many places out there for the radioaholic or whatever you want to call them.


Herbert said:

“I suppose you could say I wasted a lot of my life chasing radios and whatever… my family missing out on me and my missing out on my family, precious hours that I spent collecting and cleaning radios or whatever but I suppose its a personal thing and maybe a selfish thing as well because you’re probably only thinking of yourself and your own needs and that has to come into it as well.”

It kept me sane

The one thing I do know is that I got a great pleasure out of collecting each and every bit of material that’s here…and I know that it’s a certain type of madness or whatever but it kept me sane anyway through the years.

Speaking about his collection, which he opened to the public at the ‘Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio’ at the Martello Tower overlooking Howth Harbour, Herbert said:

I would hope that the collection would be kept together, it’s for people to enjoy… It’s not just about me or whatever, it must go on to the next generation.

Herbert’s story as a lifelong collector of vintage radios and gramophones has been made into a short, 10-minute profile film, Hurdy Gurdy Man, by Stuart Duff. The film has been nominated for two awards, one at the Dublin International Short Film and Musical Festival and another at the Underground Cinema Film Festival.

(via Stuart Duff/vimeo)

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