1961 Telefís Éireann Launch - 31.December.1961

1961 Telefís Éireann

On this day in 1961 Telefís Éireann began broadcasting for the first time. It might seem strange in the present world but in the lead, up to the opening of Telefís Éireann in 1961 there was widespread opposition to the coming of television in Ireland.

Those who didn’t oppose it were skeptical and fearful of the change that it might bring about. With this in mind Eamon Andrews, Chairman of the Irish Television Authority addressed these fears. Speaking at the Ninth Annual Summer School of the Irish Franciscans at Gormonston, county Meath Andrews allayed fears that television would result in the breakdown of rural communities. Instead, he argued that they would find ‘a happy place’ with television and that it would not result in ‘breeding a new race of square-eyed monsters’. The new television station would embrace religion and the Irish language, and that despite the claim that it would only show immorality and brutality, Andrews was confident that it would be a ‘home maker’ more than a ‘home breaker’. Originally intended to broadcast for the first time on Christmas Day 1961, six days later the opening address was given by the President of Ireland, Eamon de Valera, who himself had been openly critical and wary of the impact of television. Speaking to the nation de Valera remarked that:

Never before was there in the hands of men an instrument so powerful to influence the thoughts and actions of the multitude... 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.

Download Source: Meath Chronicle 1897-current, Saturday, August 26, 1961; Page: 3

Meath Chronicle RTE 31.December.1961