The day my Dad buried RTE's Mike Murphy

November 20th, 2015 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

The famous TV presenter and broadcaster Frank Hall, right

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I CONFESS to being an impulsive hoarder. I hardly throw anything away. It was only when I began sorting through my late father’s possessions that I discovered from whom I had inherited this dreadful affliction.

My dad was the journalist and broadcaster Frank Hall. Over his lifetime, he amassed a huge amount. 

Aside from the obvious effects, he left behind a mountain of newspaper articles, scripts, letters and suchlike from his time in Independent newspapers and RTE.

Amongst the many items I came across was a Souvenir Programme from the first Macroom Mountain Dew Festival (June 17th – 26th 1977) at which he performed the official opening.

Organised by the late Denis Murphy and his festival committee, the Macroom event is remembered as Ireland’s first big outdoor Summer rock festival – forerunner to Electric Picnic, Castlepalooza and others that were to follow.

Described by Denis as ‘the most progressive and ambitious in the country’, the programme paints a picture of how forward thinking he and his committee were. 

His fellow directors were Pat O’Connell, John O’Callaghan, Martin Fitzgerald, Tony Murphy, Donal O’Callaghan, Tom Counihan, Matt Murphy, Ted Cotter, Pat Kelleher and Michael Lynch. 

Together, they attracted such headline acts as Rory Gallagher, Mud, Glenn Miller Sound, Joe Cuddy, Freshmen, Cotton Mill Boys and others that, in subsequent years, included Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy.

Attractions arranged to entertain audiences during the 10-day long event also featured a number of family-friendly events, one of which, at least, would never be allowed in this era of health and safety.

This particular event took place immediately following the official opening – at 8.45pm on Day One. Then, according to the programme entry, a certain Mike Murphy, (he, I since discovered, being the Mike Murphy of RTE fame) was (and I quote) ‘to be buried alive 9ft under, by Frank Hall in a standard size coffin’. Later, at 12 midnight, the programme went on to say what they termed ‘the resurrection of Mike Murphy’ was to take place.  

It’s true that Mike Murphy got up to all sorts of tricks as his television career advanced. 

However, little would one have known that being buried alive for three-and-a-quarter hours was one of them. Indeed, how the Macroom committee talked him into performing that little trick is anyone’s guess.

On the day before the 1977 Macroom Mountain Dew Festival began, Ireland voted in a General Election that swept Jack Lynch and his Fianna Fail party back to power. 

Next day, as pundits the length and breadth of Ireland were counting votes, it is to be imagined that the people of Macroom were counting how long Mike Murphy would remain underground ... and would he still be alive when they dug him up?

As his subsequent rise to prominence proved – he was.  

As for my Dad, Frank Hall, according to festival director Pat O’Connell, well ‘he opened the event and he closed it again ... having stayed in Macroom for the full 10 days in between’. 

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