President First On New Television Service

EXHIBITION : HISTORY OF RTÉ

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President of Ireland Eamon de Valera launches new television service and warns that, "...never before was there in the hands of men an instrument so powerful to influence the thoughts and actions of the multitude." The address is in both Irish and English.

  • Title
    Opening Night President's Address
  • 1st Broadcast
    31/12/1961
  • Contributor
    Eamon de Valera
  • Clip Duration
    00:06:40
  • Material Type
    Video
  • Clip title
    President First On New Television Service
  • Extended description

    President Eamon de Valera is the first person to speak on Ireland's television station. Addressing the audience in Irish and English the President outlines his hopes and fears for televsion.

    "As I have said, I am privileged in being the first to address you on our new service, Telefís Éireann. I hope the service will provide for you all sources of recreation and pleasure, but also information, instruction and knowledge.

    I must admit that sometimes when I think of television and radio and their immense power I feel somewhat afraid. Like atomic energy it can be used for incalcuable good but it can also do irreparable harm. Never before was there in the hands of men an instrument so powerful to influence the thoughts and actions of the multitude.

    A persistent policy pursued over radio and television apart from imparting knowledge can build up the character of a whole people, inducing sturdiness and vigour and confidence. On the other hand it can lead through demoralisation to decadence and dissolution.

    Sometimes one hears when one urges higher standards in information and receational services, that one must give the people what they want and the competition unfortunately leads in the wrong direction and so standards become lower and lower.

    Now it is you the people who will ultimately determine what the programmes in Telefís Éireann are to be. If you insist on having presented to you the good and the true and the beautiful you will get these.

    And I for one will find it hard to be convinced that good taste cannot be cultivated. I would find it hard to believe for example, that a person who views the grandeurs of the heavens or the wonders of this marvellous mysterious world in which the good God has placed us will not find more pleasure in that than in viewing for example some squalid domestic brawl or a street quarrel.

    I feel sure that full use will be made of the immense repertory which is now at our disposal. Apart altogether from the wonders of nature we have the great achievements of man himself, masterpieces of architecture, engineering, sculpture, painting and who in looking at these or hearing the great musical compositions of great composers will want to descend to anythng lower.

    I have great hopes of this new service. I am confident that those who are in charge will do everything in their power to make it useful for the nation. And that they will bear in mind that we are an old nation and that we have our own distinctive characteristics and that it is desirable that these should be preserved. I am sure that they will do their part. And as I have said it is for the public now to do theirs.

    I wish all those in charge God speed. And I wish all of you a very happy new year."

  • Information

    President Eamon de Valera becomes the first person to speak on Ireland's first television station. The 79 year old president speaking to the nation expresses his nervousness and his hopes for the new media.

    De Valera had dominated Irish politics for 30 years now the ageing president with failing sight was the first person to appear on the new television channel when Ireland was beginning to undergo social and economic change.

    The schedule for the opening night of Telefís Éireann (later RTÉ) featured not only politcal statements but also reflected the position of the Catholic Church as both benediction and an address by Cardinal D'Alton featured in the evening's programme.

  • Local keywords
    Television, Broadcasting, Opening Night, Eamon de Valera, RTÉ, 1960s
  • Geographical coverage
    Ireland
  • Topic
    The Media
  • Publisher Broadcaster
    RTÉ
  • First broadcast channel
    RTÉ
  • Production year
    1961
  • Country of production
    IRELAND
  • Original identifier
    P81/00062
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
  • Rights terms and conditions

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  • Item type
    whole
  • Item colour
    Black and White
  • Item sound
    Mono
  • Aspect ratio
    4:3
  • Language used
    English (eng)
  • Original language
    English (eng)
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