People of the Year 1984
Awards in five categories: Music, Theatre, Politics, Television and Sport
The entertainment panel comprised leading music mogul and political analyst, Jim Hand; veteran show-biz writer Sam G. Smyth; Louis Walsh, agent and impressario, regarded by pop-music insiders as the sharpest assessor of new talent in The country; and chairman Eamonn McCann, who reports here on the deliberations.
The panel's first task was to dispose of the special pleading of Jim Hand who arrived with a dossier as bulky as himself containing inadmissible evidence for the proposition that only two acts were worthy of consideration: Paddy Reilly and the Furey Brothers. The matter was resolved after heated discussion by a majority decision that no one to whom any of the panellists owed a favour, or who owed a favour to any of the panellists, would be considered. Walsh dissented from this on the ground that, interpreted strictly, this would eliminate the overwhelming majority of pop personalities since "Smyth in the last decade has provided more plugs for people in this town than Lenehan's."
Serious discussion began with the compilation of a list of those who had made a significant contribution to the music and entertainment industry in the past year.
Each pannelist was allowed five nominations. These were:
Hand: Clannad; Paddy Cole; Bono/U2; Foster and Allen; Henry Kelly.
Smyth: Paul Ashford; Christy Moore; Mary Black; Shay Healey; Chris de Burgh.
Walsh: Christy Moore; Aslan; Johnny Logan; Toy With Rhythm; Chris de Burgh.
McCann: Christy Moore; Flo McSweeney; Light A Big Fire; Bono/U2; Peter Prendergast.
A process of arithmetic and argument led to a "shorttlist" of those who had more than one nomination: Bono/U2, Moore and de Burgh. Of the three "finalists" it was decided first to eliminate BonojU2, on the admittedly crude ground that, while the two panellists who hadn't nominated the Mount Temple quartet felt fairly strongly about it, none of the judges questioned the suitability of Moore or de Burgh. There was a consensus that de Burgh's sustained album sales world-wide and distinctive singing and songgwriting style deserved recognition. On the other hand, it was felt that Moore was a definitively Irish performer whose ability to espouse unpopular causes while retaining vast popular appeal made him unique on the contemporary music scene. The clinching factor was the unanimous agreement of all four panellists that Moore's "Lisdoonvarna" was the "single of the year" in '84. Hand also pointed out that "Moore's bigger than de Burgh".
Lynda Henderson, the editor of Theatre Ireland sent word from the North. The other members of the panel were Declan Kiberd of UCD and RTE's Exhibit A; Fintan O Toole of The Sunday Tribune and Colm Toibin of Magill. No one can accuse the panel of bias. The final list came down on the side of two Northerners and three women: Ian McElhinney for his part in The Interrogation of A mbrose Fogarty and The Plough and the Stars; Stephen Rea for his part in Field Day's High Time; Marie Keane for her Rockaby and her part in The Plough and the Stars; Marie Mullen of Druid for her part in Famine and The Beggar's Opera; and Olwen Fouere for The Diamond Body. Fouere was given the overall award for her extraordinary performance in that play, a performance which actually "changed the nature of what women's acting is supposed to be like," according to the panel.
Con Houlihan of the Evening Press phoned up in the morning to say that he couldn't come to lunch but made it clear that his preference was for Sean Kelly. Paddy Agnew of the Sunday Tribune phoned later to say that his vote was for Paddy Mullin but his business was in Belfast that day. Eamon Dunphy of Magill and the Sunday Tribune, Sean Kilfeather of the Irish Times and the great Raymond Smith of the Sunday Independent met at lunchtime. The life and times of Raymond Smith were recounted by one RS despite the fact that the ghost of Kevin Cashman hovered hard over the table. Pat Spillane and Jack 0 'Shea were discussed. Barry McGuigan was mentioned. When it came to a vote Mr Smith wanted David O'Brien, Senor Dunphy wanted John Treacy and Sean Kilfeather favoured Sean Kelly. All the others had agreed that Kelly would meet with their approval and Kelly, nominated by Houlihan and' Kilfeather therefore won the day. Magill's sportsperson of the year is Sean Kelly.
Pronsias De Rossa, Workers' Parry TD for Dublin NorthhWest, has been nominated Politician 0 f the Year 1984, by a selection of six political writers from the daily and Sunday newspapers.
"De Rossa has managed to challenge official assumptions and proposals in a range of areas with an effectiveness which in terms of numbers and resources is startlingly out of proportion," writes one political commentator while another adds, "De Rossa? Well he's simply always there, battling away."
De Rossa topped the poll with three number ones from correspondents in three different newspapers and clearly came across as the Deputy who has most impressed the journalists this year.
The correspondents then chose other TDs who, in their opinion had performed well during 1984.
2. Des O'Malley (FF) nominated in particular for his alertness on the Air Transport Bill.
3. Barry Desmond (Lab) for perseverance in face of adversity.
4. Michael Noonan (FG) Minister for Justice. For much the same thing.
S. David Molony (FG) best young politician.
6. Monica Barnes (FG) Michael Woods (FF) joint sixth place.
Worst politician 1984 goes to John Francis Conlon (Cavan-Monaghan - FG) who has maintained a complete and frosty silence throughout this Dail and the last. Conlon topped the poll easily although most of the correspondents wouldn't recognise him in the Dail, if they ever saw him there. Called the "Invisible Man" Conlon is unusual in that while there are a dozen or so Deputies who never speak, Conlon also refrains from even asking questions. Despite all this the man has managed to be elected to the Dail at every general election since 1965.
Closely following J.F. Conlon are:
2. Donal Moynihan (FF) another member of the silent service but this one asks lots of constituency questions.
3. John O'Connell (Ind)
4. Michael O'Leary (FG) who first spoke on Decem ber 5.
5. Nuala Fennell (FG)
6. Terry Leydon (FF)
Special Award: Brian Lenihan (FF) who was nominated in both the good and the bad categories which just goes to show that he is indeed "all kinds of everything" as one of the correspondents observed.
On friday December 7 Eanna Brophy (Sunday Press), Brendan Glacken (Irish Times), Liz Whelan (Sunday Tribune), John Boland (Evening Press), Lisa Pereira (In Dublin) and Patrick Murray (Evening Herald) went to Nico's restaurant in Dame Street to choose the television personality of the year.
Someone mentioned Gay Byrne and everyone agreed that it had to be him, partly, they said because of the lack of anyone else, but also because of his charm and consummate professionalism. One of the company remarked that it might be better not to come to a conclusion so quickly as Magill would then be able to cancel the lunch before it began.
Murphy's Micro-Quiz-m was undoubtedly the worst programme on television, they agreed. Glenroe had improved but still didn't have what the Riordans had. Derek Davis was undoubtedly the greatest disappointment of the year. "Leave It To Mrs O'Brien" was also considered to be awful, in need of canned laughter and full of old jokes about the priest having bottles of drink in the cupboard.
Liz Whelan said that her kids felt that the worst thing about MT USA was Fab Vinnie, and Patrick Murray opined that the programme was three hours too long.
Lisa Pereira and John Boland, however, felt that his New York image suited the programme very well. On the Michael Jackson Thriller video, John Boland said that his seven year-old loved it, Eanna Brophy said that it was revolting, while Patrick Murray said that Michael Jackson was revolting.
The recent directive from the RTE Authority concerning Irish music, the GAA and interviews in Irish before foreign games presented a problem. Someone did an impression of the Wolfe Tones reading the news but it was agreed that the best solution would be to get them to sing the Angelus.
The wine was finished and the coffee almost drunk. Yes, it still had to be Gay Byrne. Even if the Late Late was only starting out now it would still have the enormous appeal that it has had for the last 22 years. They felt that Sean Doherty, Nicky Kelly and Josef Locke had all got an easy time, and that the programme did tend to plug books and products, but this was no harm in itself if the books and products were interesting. One person thought Byrne was smarmy, but everyone else had nothing but praise for his "uniquely Irish brand of charm", and the continuing sociological importance of his programmes.