In the last decade, the podcast industry has grown to become one of the most popular forms of audio entertainment. With the rise of smartphones and iPods, podcasts have allowed for a portable and accessible way to listen to long-form conversations and interviews. In Ireland, some of the recent developments in the field have been particularly excellent. Here is a short breakdown of some of the best Irish made podcasts.
An Irishman Abroad: Starting from a fairly small-scale personal project for comedian Jarlath Regan, An Irishman Abroad has grown to one of the most popular and consistently excellent podcasts around. Initially begun as a way of looking at the experiences Irish actors, comedians, writers and sports personalities living abroad, the series has since expanded to look at both Irish citizens and people of Irish heritage. The show’s strength can be attributed to Regan who proves, again and again, to be an affable and well-researched host, carrying out insightful personal interviews while remaining respectful of his guests’ own boundaries and privacy. Given that Regan is primarily comedian and not a journalist by trade, his mastery of the long-form interview style is particularly impressive. Possibly, it is because Regan is not a trained interviewer that he can encourage thoughtful conversations with people who may be more closed off in more formal interviews. In the last year Regan has also dedicated episodes to look at issues ranging from the election of Donald Trump, the impact of social media on politics and culture, the homelessness crisis and the Repeal the Eighth movement. Top picks: Given that An Irishman Abroad has produced over 200 episodes to date it is difficult to select only a handful of interviews that stand out. Some of my personal favourites are his interviews with Robert Sheehan, Dylan Moran, Lisa Hannigan, Andrew Maxwell, Dara O’Briain, Sharon Horgan, Deirdre O’Kane, Aisling Bea, Jack Reynor, Aidan Turner and his trilogy of conversations with writer Graham Linehan. Students of Irish film should pay particular attention to his conversations with Lenny Abrahamson and Mark O’Halloran.
Personality Bingo with Tom Moran: Hosted by actor and Facts contributor Tom Moran, Personality Bingo is fairly new on the podcast scene. The show’s premise revolves around a light-hearted game of question-time bingo that often allows for discussions around serious topics to develop. Moran is a likeable and engaging host who creates entertaining and insightful discussions with people working in the entertainment and creative industries. His guests have ranged from casting director Louise Kiely to An Irishman Abroad host Jarlath Regan to writer Mark O’ Halloran as well as a host of up-and-coming Irish comedians and actors. Top picks: Interviews with rising comedians Laura Byrne, Ryan Cullen and Sean Connolly, and Moone Boy star Clare Monnelly.
Soundings: Culture podcast hosted by singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan and broadcaster Dylan Haskins. Given that the last available podcast was recorded in July 2015 it seems that the Soundings podcast was sadly short-lived. However Haskins and Hannigan have gotten together for a few live shows since then so hopefully more Soundings may be on the horizon. Based around the premise of two Irish ex-pats living in London and engaging with various cultural happenings, the show’s main appeal lies in the easy chemistry between its hosts. As well as discussing culture and events the show also features segments including the “Education of Dylan Haskins” where Hannigan attempts to educate Haskins on a series of classic films, and the “Desensitization of Lisa Hannigan” where Haskins tries to test Hannigan’s nerves through visits to haunted caves and a ghost story event. Top picks: Dermot O’Leary’s Cultural Shopping Guide, a discussion with television and radio presenter O’Leary about some of his Christmas cultural favourites which oddly include The Walking Dead, the documentary Blackfish and the stage production of The Woman in Black. Also worth checking out Haskin’s lambasting of Stephen Ward: The Musical.
Róisín Meets…: Weekly podcast hosted by Róisín Ingle of The Irish Times. The back catalogue of Róisín Meets… boasts a wide range of engaging and entertaining interviews with Irish writers, singers, actors, artists and sports personalities. Ingles proves herself to be a good-humoured and thoughtful interviewer who is not afraid to touch on serious issues like mental illness, homelessness and the Repeal the Eighth movement. Top picks: The musical special with Lisa Hannigan, and her interviews with rising star Seána Kerslake, playwright Enda Walsh, and Ross O’ Carroll Kelly creator Paul Howard.
Stoneface Films Podcast: Hosted by Jon Hozier-Byrne, David Reilly and Rob O’Sullivan, Stoneface proves to be one of the most anarchic and hilarious podcasts around. Each week features the hosts joined by guests from various occupations including singers, teachers, journalists and comedians as well as friends and family of the hosts. Top picks: The duo of episodes featuring comedian Oisín Hanlon are particularly strong as well as any episode featuring Facts contributor and comedian Ryan Cullen.
Special mention – Get It On with Dawn O’Porter: A bit of a cheat but considering that O’Porter is an honorary Irish woman due to her marriage to Chris O’ Dowd I think it qualifies. O’ Porter turns what is normally a topic deemed shallow and condescending by female celebrities – clothing and fashion, the dreaded what are you wearing? red carpet question – and utilises it to explore the part played by clothing and style in an individual’s personal image and sense of identity. Some strong episodes include her interviews with Amy Huberman, Aisling Bea and husband Chris O’ Dowd.