Mornings in the 1980s

I haven’t always been an early riser. In fact, when I was in my twenties there were times during the winter when I didn’t get up until 4:00pm. And there were times during my teenage years when I attempted to stay up all night, only to be defeated by sleep at around 5:00am. (Of course, that’s the sort of irresponsible behaviour one can expect of a teenager.)

But there were times when I was regularly up and ready to go at 7:00am and sometimes even earlier. And at those times I usually had the TV on (at low volume so as not to disturb the parents) while I got my breakfast and did my morning ablutions. In those days we only had four channels, compared to more than a hundred today, and only BBC1 and ITV broadcasting before 9:00am. So, on weekdays when I had no school and I was free to do whatever the heck I wanted, I would usually spend mornings in front of the TV watching whatever TV-am had to offer.

“Good Morning Britain” usually had what it takes to hold the attention of a teenage boy. Its atmosphere was relaxed, quiet and didn’t focus too much on the heavy side of the news.

The programmes that really captured my attention were on Saturday and Sunday morning. They showed “The Get-along Gang”, “Jem and the Holograms”, “Yakari”, “Curious George” and the “Care Bears”.

It was also on TV-am that I first discovered “Rainbow Brite”. This was in late 1984 and by the following July I was totally in love with her! I knew full well that she was only a fictitious character, that she only existed in this world as a doll which cost £10 (remember, this was in the mid-80s) and there was absolutely no way I could let anyone know about my infatuation. My parents would not understand and my peers at school… I don’t even want to think about how the boys would have reacted. Suffice it to say, I’ve been a fan of Rainbow Brite ever since.

But I’m going off on a tangent. Maybe it’s better if I just leave you with a link to TV-am’s YouTube channel.

And this documentary about TV-am’s fortunes from 1983 to 1992 should interest you (as long as you can ignore Lloyd Grossman’s commentary).

Carlingford, October 10th, 3:15pm

Slieve Foy from St Oliver’s Park

Today has been Cooley Day. Those who are interested in Irish myths and legends will think of the cattle raid that took place here in the distant past, not to mention the roles of Cuchulainn and Ferdia, and also of Queen Maeve of Connacht. But I’m not. I’m most interested in the places of the present day.

The first time I came to this part of Ireland was in July 1982 when I was 10, going on 11. I came on a camping trip with my mother to Omeath. Now from the perspective of a man my age it was not the best possible weekend. On the first night there was a disco party going on at Warrenpoint on the opposite side of Carlingford Lough and the sound carried across the still waters, clear as a bell. And this was in addition to the incessant drizzle. If I had been the age I am now I would have upped sticks and fled over Slieve Foy to Jenkinstown.

But to me at the time I was happy to be in a place where there was greenery all around, beside the sea and where we wouldn’t be pestered by 11th Night bonfires and Orange marches, where July the 12th was just another day, business as usual.


Forward to October 2012. Thanks to the internet, and specifically the websites of Translink and Bus Eireann, I was able to plan ahead down to the minute. I got off the bus at Carlingford, walked up Saint Oliver’s Park, as high up Slieve Foy as the asphalt road would take me, down again through the little townlands Grange, Upper Willville and then on to Greenore. The Lecale Peninsula in County Down is recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The same recognition shold be given to the Cooley Peninsula.


Now, I have to say there’s precious little at Greenore except a golf course and a lot of terraced houses that don’t really fit in with the Cooley Peninsula; they’d be better placed in Belfast or Dublin. Oh, and there’s a big, yellow crane at the harbour.

Food for Thought, Dundalk Street, Carlingford

Back to Carlingford I went along the R173, found my way up to Dundalk Street and sat in a café called “Food for Thought”, resting my bones and drinking tea. I would have stayed learning a bit more about Carlingford’s past and present but it was starting to rain. So I jumped on the bus back to Newry and another one back to Downpatrick. Maybe I’ll write a bit more about Carlingford if and when I go back for a second visit.