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13 March 1997 Edition

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Television: Hail Glorious Saint Patrick

Well shiver me shamrocks, is it that time of year again? Faith and begorrah if the days aren't flying in but I don't mind, no, not me, divil a bit of it. Sure don't I love that time of year when Paddy's Day rolls in and we all get the chance to stuff the shamrock and say slán to the snakes.

Despite such goosepimple-inducing Paddywhackery which now accompanies St Patrick's Day, the prospect of a public holiday is always welcome and many people do like to celebrate their Irishness without having to resort to Leprechauns, shillelaghs etc.

This year Dublin in particular is pulling out all the stops with a weekend-long festival, culminating in the annual city-centre parade, which will be broadcast live on RTE 1 in a 12 to 1 St Patrick's Day Special. Ronan Collins and Cynthia Ní Mhurchú will accost people on the streets for snippets of wit and wisdom while regulars Marty Whelan and Ciana Campbell host a studio party from Montrose. Expect the usual laboured coverage but at least it is followed by the All Ireland Club Finals, live from Croke Park (RTE 1, 1.50pm) when the hurling Wolfe Tones from Shannon, County Clare, clash camáns with Galway's Athenry (throw-in 2pm) while Knockmore from Mayo take on Crossmaglen Rangers of Armagh in football (throw-in 3.30pm).

Over on Network Two, the evening from 7pm onwards is dominated by Irish traditional music, dance and song. Some bright spark also came up with the idea of dipping into the archives for classic musical numbers to play in between the programmes. The pick of these are Luke Kelly and the Dubliners singing The Town I Loved So Well (7.45pm) and a rendition of St Patrick Was a Gentleman from Christy Moore and Stockton's Wing, both recorded way back in 1980 (12.35pm).

There is also another chance (7.30pm) to see the delightfully comic and moving short, Dance Lexie Dance, about a Protestant widower in Derry whose 12-year-old daughter wants to be an Irish dancer and perform in Riverdance. Those not sick to the back teeth by now of the Riverdance phenomenon can see Riverdance Live At Radio City (Network Two, 9.50pm). Even schmaltzier, if of nostalgic interest, is promised in A Little Bit of Irish (Network Two, 11.40pm), originally recorded on location in Dublin in 1966 and featuring Bing Crosby, Milo O'Shea, Siobhán McKenna, Bernadette Greevy, Alma Carroll, The Ludlows and the Rory O'Connor Dancers.

Over on UTV a comedy special from The Gaeity Theatre features a specially-concocted piece from the writers of Father Ted, as well as stand-ups and sketches from Dermot Morgan, Brendan O'Carroll, Owen O'Neill and Ed Byrne.

Also on Monday, and away from an Irish theme, Ray Mears' World of Survival series continues (BBC2, 8.30pm) with a visit to the Ploynesian island of Savii in Western Samoa. So far Mears has travelled to live wiith the Inuit, the Australian Aborigines and the indigenous people of Siberia. His enthusiasm and admiration for his hosts is honest and infectious and he is not afraid to chip in and learn. All in all a fascinating look at how people manage to survive and prosper in the harshest of climates. Samoan divers train from childhood to gather clams from the ocean bed. They descend to depths of 22 metres without oxygen.

Earlier in the weekend, (BBC2, Saturday, 15 March, 11.50pm) Windows On the World presents leading young Irish composer Patrick Cassidy's The Children of Lir, a mix of traditional and modern music. The tragic Irish legend is narrated from St Patrick's Cathedral by Adrian Dunbar, while Liam O'Flynn plays the Uileann pipes, joined by the Tallis Chamber Choir and the Irish Sinfonietta. Tá ár comhairleoir agus údar i mBéal Feirste, Mairtín O Muilleoir, ar an teilifís Dé Domhnach (Cúrsaí Ealaíne, 16 Márta, 11.10pm) ag caint le Tadgh Mac Donnagháin faoi na h-ealaíne i mBéal Feirste agus Doire.

Later in the week, (Wednesday, 19 March, 7.20pm) UTV has live coverage from Oporto of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final second leg match between Porto and Manchester United. This game may seem somewhat academic given United's almost insurmountable 4-0 lead but anything can happen in football and Porto can play far better than their Old Trafford performance might suggest. Also on Wednesday, Ireland's Ken Doherty makes his first appearance in the Benson and Hedges Irish Masters Snooker Tournament, against former world champion Steve Davis.

The pick of the flicks



The first of the computer hacker movies, and possibly the best, Sneakers, a comedy adventure starring Robert Redford and Dan Aykroyd, is screened on Saturday (Network Two, 9pm). The Sunday Movie on RTE1 (16 March, 9.20pm) is the cosy little comedy Groundhog Day, featuring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell where everything for cynical weather reporter Murray just keeps happening over and over again. On St Patrick's Night RTE 1 go with a Grisham thriller, premiering The Pelican Brief, starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington (9.20pm).

BY LIAM O COILEAIN


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