Anne Morris

Born: 29th October 1942

Dublin, Ireland

Date of interview: 20th July 2006

Map showing where Anne Morris came from

How did you get involved in the Irish Eye Programme?

I was working in Reading during this time ... I often thought when I listen to the radio ... I love music and as I said it was my best subject at school. I used to think, 'I wish there was a programme for the Irish community,' meaning like a programme of Irish music on local radio, and I the time I'd turn on the radio and there was like Asian programmes and different nationalities, programmes that catered for them, and I thought well why can't we have one for the Irish community, so this was in 1995 now.

In June 1995 I rang up the local radio station, which was Radio Berkshire, and asked to speak the boss his name was Henry Elford, he was head of the Radio Berkshire, I suppose at the time, and I said to him have you ever thought about having a programme for the Irish community? And he said, well we have sort of, he said that he didn't think there would be a demand for it, obviously they have to have a demand for things or they won't do it. And I said there's a lot of Irish people around, and its not just Irish people ... my husband was English and he loves Irish music ... and I've got lots of friends that are different nationalities and they love Irish music. So we had a long chat about it and the sort of programme it would be etcetera and he, you know, what, who would present it and everything, and I said well the thing is you want somebody to present this programme that's easy to understand; you don't want a definitive Irish accent say from the very north, or the very south, or the west, that people would have difficulty understanding. So it was sort of left like that, and you know he said about the numbers, who it would appeal to, and I said well leave it to me and I'll find out some information for you.

So I then rang up the Irish Embassy and very shortly after that and said I was trying to find out the numbers of Irish people in the sort of broadcasting area of radio Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire ... and I don't know what ... just all the local counties. And anyway they sent me a chart which was, I can't remember what year the census was taken, a chart of the map of England, Scotland and Wales, and the numbers of Irish born people in each county, the counties that would be relevant to the programme. And when I added them up there was about 38,000 Irish-born people in this little group of counties that would actually be able to listen to the programme - and that didn't take in considerations second generation Irish. So I then rang Henry Elford again and I gave him this information. So he said well you know leave it with me etcetera, that was as I said June 1995.

September 1995 I went into work in Reading as usual on a Monday morning and manager there was lovely lady, she said to me, 'Anne, I heard a lovely Irish programme on the radio yesterday,' and I said, 'Oh yes,' and she started talking about it, and I suddenly thought well that's, that was my idea, the little devils, why didn't they tell me. But I was very excited at the same time so I thought 'I'll have to ring,' this is on Monday, 'I'll have to ring Henry Elford.' Didn't have time to ring him till the Wednesday, and I rang him on the Wednesday and he said, 'Anne, yes we lost your name, we lost all your details, and in fact if you looked in the Reading Chronicle this week you'll see a little piece.' He said, 'We contacted Jo Wise, who is a reporter, and he's done a little piece,' and the heading was, 'Hunt for Mystery Radio Critic.' Well Henry said we really wanted you in on the first programme. I said Henry, 'I will be there for the second.' [laughs]

So the second week the Irish programme went out. I went in. I was so nervous because obviously I'd never spoken on the radio before in my life. I was really nervous, I was very excited just in my own mind, that something I'd suggested had actually taken off. So I went in and the presenter of the programme then was Kieran McGeary, he's a Waterford lad, he was a professional journalist, lovely guy, and I went in and the programme then had started the week before, and it was programme that ran for four hours from six until ten on every Sunday and it was broadcast ... I was trying to think where the studio was ... it was down off near Richfield Avenue, down that direction, they had a studio.

So I went in and I used to answer the phones and I thoroughly enjoyed it. To be honest people say, 'Oh how could you do that without getting paid,' but life is not all about money; I know we all need money and its lovely and we could spend it on wonderful things, but some things you know we get such delight out of. The fact that you've made a difference to a lot of people's lives because they can hear this lovely music, it's something to listen to.

I really enjoyed it and so we were running for maybe a couple of months and at that time, there was a group of us in the process of setting up, in the process of discussing the lives of the older Irish people in the community, and so I had this idea I said to Kieran who was the presenter, I said, for an idea for the programme why don't we ask people to send in a favourite Irish recipe, I said it would be very interesting. And I said the plan would be we would collect them all and we'd put them in a book and then we could sell it and make money for our charity was called the Hibernian Society. So the aim really was that with these recipes we would compile a book and sell it, and the funds would go to the charity ... the aim of the charity being to really improve the quality of life of the older Irish people in the community.