"The Hell In Which My Children and I Live"


About this Item

Mary from Mayo writes to the 'Gay Byrne Show' about life with an alcoholic husband. She appeals to his listeners for help.

  • Title
    Letter from Mary
  • 1st Broadcast
  • Contributor
    Gay Byrne (Presenter)
  • Clip Duration
  • Material Type
  • Series title
    Gay Byrne Show
  • Clip title
    "The Hell In Which My Children and I Live"
  • Extended description

    The long-running 'Gay Byrne Show' on RTÉ Radio 1 was often used as a forum by housewives, who confided their problems in letters to the host, Gay Byrne.

    In this clip from 1986, Gay reads out a letter from Mary from Mayo, which he says "could have come from a great number of people around the country". Mary's husband is an alcoholic and "widowhood would be an escape from the hell in which my children and I live". Because she lives in a small town in the west of Ireland, she feels there is no one she can turn to for help but Gay Byrne and the listeners of his show.

    Gay responds with advice he has received from Al-Anon, an organisation that supports the families of alcoholics. He says that "there is no point at all in covering up for her alcoholic husband" and that people in her town probably already know about him. He encourages her to go to Al-Anon, who have meetings all over the country, including Mayo, so she doesn't need to come to Dublin.

  • Information

    The 'Gay Byrne Show' began on radio as the 'Gay Byrne Hour' on 2 February 1973. In a rapidly changing Ireland, the programme became the public forum for many topics and debates of the day and was especially popular with housewives.

    In 1979 the programme was given extended air time and changed name to become the 'Gay Byrne Show'. Broadcasting for two hours a day Monday to Friday, the 'Gay Byrne Show' stayed on air until Byrne's retirement in 1998.

    The letter here was read out on 30 October 1986.

    The photograph accompanying this clip shows Gay Byrne in a RTÉ Radio studio in 1981.

    The photographer was John Rowe.

    © RTÉ Stills Library 2043/010

  • Local keywords
    Alcoholism, Al-Anon, Housewives, Families of Alcoholics
  • Geographical coverage
  • Topic
    Society and Social Issues
  • Publisher Broadcaster
  • First broadcast channel
    RTÉ Radio One
  • Production year
  • Country of production
  • Original identifier
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
  • Rights terms and conditions

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  • Item type
  • Item sound
  • Language used
    English (eng)
  • Original language
    English (eng)