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LéargasRTÉ One, Monday, 7.30pm

Who Shouted Stop..?

Monday 28th April 2008 19.30hrs RTE ONE


"Keep your mouth and your legs closed, keep your ears open and send home the ticket for the next one". These were the departing words of advice given by a Charlestown mother  to her  eldest daughter as she headed for America


Journalist John Healy was a crusading journalist  who spent most of his life, highlighting, detailing and discussing  the losses suffered by his native Charlestown, Co Mayo in the middle of the last century, as crippling unemployment and emigration took its toll.


Healy wrote for the Western People, before moving to the Irish Times. As a good friend of Douglas Gageby, editor of The Irish Times back then, Healy had plenty of leeway in which to advance his fight for the west of Ireland.


"He took Mayo and the countryside to Dublin, who ever thought that rural communities would have such a strong voice in a big cosmopolitan newspaper with a completely different tradition as the Irish Times" ( Joe Byrne, local broadcaster musician and teacher)


 It was at the encouragement of Gageby that Healy embarked on his famous 'No One Shouted Stop' series of articles that were later published under the title of 'Death of an Irish Town'.  His other book, 'Nineteen Acres'  has been said to be one of the finest social commentaries on life in the west of Ireland ever published


"Death of an Irish town annoyed a lot of people in Charlestown..   for six months I didn't go down the town for a drink. my mother never read the book, I kept it from her"  (Gerard Healy, John Healy's brother)


In October 2007 a new bypass was opened which is  hoped  will remove up to 7,000 vehicles each day from Charlestown, such is the congestion in the town due to local  and regional  development .  The new bypass cuts a swathe through the Nineteen Acres of John Healy's mother's people  and it is especially fitting and some would say ironic that this 18 kilometre stretch of road costing €80 million bears his name. Did he inspire or anger the people there?  Did he change the way the Government up in Dublin now approaches these rural towns and what would he think of a new road bypassing Charlestown being named in his honour?


"It used to be a bright, lively town. The houses were full of people, young and old"  (Deliah Henry, born 1910)


 Forty years after the publication of "No One Shouted Stop!", the Léargas team returns to Charlestown to gauge how the fortunes of Charlestown have changed  since those dark days that John Healy wrote about in his Irish Times Articles. What if any was the lasting impact of his writings.


"The lesson to be learned from John Healy is not to be afraid to take a stand for what you believe in and take it with good humour" (Liam Scollan , General Manager, Ireland Westl Airport - Knock )


Producer/Director: Sonia Nic Giolla Easbuig

Reporter: Padraig O'Driscoll



John Healy
John Healy receiving a Jacob's Award