Lucky Country is a brand new podcast and national community radio series in which Irish immigrants tell their stories in their own words.
Produced by Dubliner and long-time Sydney resident Ciarán O’ Raighne, the series seeks to get to the kernel of the Irish emigrant experience in Australia.
“Lucky Country is all about Irish voices,” O’Raighne explains.
“Why they came, their trials and tribulations. Men and women from all provinces. Catholics, Protestants and everywhere in between.
“Aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even an 82-year-old who worked on the Snowy Mountains scheme. Some grew up in the six counties at the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Others came in more recent years after the Celtic Tiger imploded nine years ago.
“The storytellers come from the island of Ireland and work as semi-professional soccer players, business owners, graphic designers, television producers and even a boxer who holds NSW and Australian titles.”
Putting the podcast together has been a labour of love for O’Raighne, who presents a twice-weekly show on Celtic FM under his broadcasting name, Jack Murphy.
“The Irish are known for their storytelling,” he says. “Perhaps it dates back to pre-electronic media device days, when village storytellers went from house to house to tell stories to the locals in exchange for a bite to eat and something to drink. Oral story telling was also a critical way to keep Irish Gaelic culture intact under British colonial rule.”
The Irish, O’Raighne says, also have a particular affection for radio.
In an address to the United Nations in 2016, President Michael D Higgins spoke of Ireland’s affection for the spoken word.
“Irish people spend more time than most nations listening to the radio. Our national, local and community radio stations are invaluable resources.”
The father-of-two has been in Sydney since the late 1980s and recently celebrated 25 years on the air.
Before leaving Ireland he presented arock music show on a Dublin radio station. He also worked as a news announcer in his university days.
In the late 80s, O’Raighne got his US Green Card but decided to first go on an adventure to Australia on the fledgling Working Holiday Visa. He has called Australia home since then.
He continued his passions of playing rugby and was selected to play for the Western Australian state squad and, later, played first grade for Northern Suburbs in Sydney.
He has also worked as a freelance broadcast journalist with ABC radio, BBC and RTÉ.
“The series has been made possible with the assistance of many volunteers and I’m grateful to everyone who worked on Lucky Country,” O’Raighne told the Irish Echo. “We also received some help from the Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme together with the Australia’s’ Community Broadcast Fund.”
To access the Lucky Country series, just click here.