As an Irish podcaster, and someone who listens to a lot of podcasts generally, I’ve been trying to get a better sense of what’s out there in the Irish podcasting scene. Podcast listening, like the consumption of so much popular culture, can become somewhat overwhelmingly American after a while. For the most part, I have no problem with that – the majority of the world-class podcasts being made right now are American – but it is nice to listen to some Irish (and other international) voices now and then. Podcasting in Ireland is still relatively small, certainly compared to the U.S. and Britain, but it is definitely growing and there are some great Irish podcasts out there.
One good place to start is the Headstuff Podcast Network (of which Words To That Effect is a part). It has been growing an extremely varied line-up of shows, from comedy to interview and review shows, to sports and politics.
Then there are the handful of extremely successful Irish podcasts out there – the likes of An Irishman Abroad, Second Captains, or Irish Times shows such as The Women’s Podcast. These shows tend to be recommended in lots of lists of “best Irish podcasts”. I wanted instead to highlight a few independent shows you may not be as familiar with. Some have much bigger audiences than others, a few are quite new, but they’re all shows I listen to regularly and would personally recommend.
A few things you should know
The list which follows is obviously very subjective, but I should mention a few things about my podcast preferences:
- I am a fan of brevity. Most of the shows I listen to tend to be 30 minutes or less. Overly long, self-indulgent podcasts really annoy me. I’m more than happy to listen to hour-long shows but they have to be engaging, well-produced, thought-provoking, insightful, creative. Who the hell has the time or inclination to listen to a bunch of mates sitting around a table having an unedited, unprepared chat for an hour and a half!? *cough, sorry, rant over*
- I’m not a huge fan of straightforward interview shows. If the interviewer is really excellent and can make any guest interesting, fair enough, but I don’t think there are very many of those interviewers. For the most part I tend to just skim through interview shows and pick out the small handful of guests I’m interested in. I know I’m probably in the minority on this one – there are loads of incredibly popular interview podcasts – but I’m just not a fan.
- I feel like I should probably listen to more audio dramas and fiction podcasts, especially given that I have a literature podcast and research and write about fiction. But, for whatever reason, I don’t tend to listen to that many. I’m trying to change that, though, and I’ve included a few in my list below.
So, in no particular order, here’s some Irish podcasts you should definitely check out:
What Am Politics?
This is a fantastic politics podcast hosted, as they put it themselves, by “Richie, a self confessed toddler [and] his politically savvy drinking buddy Steve”. They explore topics in depth in a way that is both light-hearted and funny, but also extremely well-informed. They’ve covered topics from Brexit and Watergate to Chinese politics and what it’s like to be a politician. Highly recommended. Listen to What Am Politics here.
Meet Your Maker
This is a wonderful show with a very straightforward premise: meeting “makers” of all types. Host Liam Geraghty talks to musicians, cartoonists, actors, writers and other creative types. Guests are generally people you may not necessarily have heard of, but who have really fascinating jobs – like anime voice-over artists or writers for Sesame Street. Episodes are short, really professionally produced, and always interesting. Listen to Meet Your Maker here
Down Below The Reservoir
This is a disturbing, beautiful, sometimes blackly humorous horror fiction podcast. It’s written and produced by author Graham Tugwell, and voiced by a line-up of award-winning Irish writers: Deirdre Sullivan, Dave Rudden, and Sarah Maria Griffin. All the stories are set in The Town. And it’s a terrifying place. Words To That Effect did a Christmas special collaboration with Down Below the Reservoir on MR James (which you can listen to here). Listen to Down Below The Reservoir here
The Walter Kane Broken Pieces Podcast
A great new short fiction podcast, which is a collaboration between producer Alan Byrne, writer Walter Kane, and a selection of Irish actors reading each story. Engaging fiction with a light touch of editing in which the actor’s delivery really takes centre stage. It’s part of the 8mm network – have a listen here
The Irish History Podcast
One of only two podcasts on this list which are specifically about Irish topics. Historian Fin O’Dwyer’s Irish History Podcast is an extremely well-researched show taking you through a wide range of Irish history topics in depth. Appealing for newcomers to Irish history as well as those who probably should know more but don’t (like myself – I learnt so much about the Irish famine from the series!). Listen to the Irish History Podcast here
The Story Relived
Another new podcast in 2018, The Story Relived is a blend of fact and fiction, telling historical stories in a fictional way. I just discovered it very recently and have been working my way through the engrossing episodes. Well worth a listen if you enjoy great storytelling. Have a listen to The Story Relived here
A show with a simple but extremely effective set up: Irish couple Cathy and Dave talk about a film on the walk home from the cinema. It won Best New Podcast in the British Podcast Awards last year (the hosts are Irish but live in London, where the show is recorded). Different from your usual round-table discussion of films, a great rapport between the hosts, and always entertaining. You can listen to The Cinemile here
Darach Ó Séaghdha, well known for his @theirishfor twitter account, presents this podcast on all things Irish language. Guests and topics vary widely and it maintains a very nice balance between nerdy linguistics and accessibility for those with little or even no Irish. Motherfoclóir is on the Headstuff Podcast network here
There are so many other Irish podcasts out there. Please, let me know if I have missed one you really enjoy! Put it in the comments below or let me know on Twitter. I’m @cedreid
Oh, and of course, all the episodes of Words To That Effect are ready and waiting for you hereOpen modal