A Great Feast of Light: Growing Up Irish in the Television Age by John Doyle
John Doyle was born in the small town of Nenagh in Co Tipperary in 1957. In 1962, his father purchased the family's first television set. By day, the Christian Brothers sought to ensure that young John grew up believing in Ireland's unchanging values, the valour of her rebel heroes and the holiness of her Catholic martyrs. But in the evenings, as the 1960s wore on, and especially after John began to be allowed to stay up and watch Gay Byrne's "Late Late Show", he became aware that television was changing the world of provincial Ireland beyond all recognition. Bishops and their allies might protest and fulminate, but 'On television, nobody said "God willing" or Please God" all the time...You didn't even know if the people were Catholics or not.' In 1967, the Doyle family moved to Carrick, near the border with Ulster, and for the first time were able to receive BBC television. Watching "The Avengers" and, later, Monty Python's "Flying Circus", John became aware that the stereotypical stiff-upper-lipped Englishmen he had been brought up to hate as oppressors were being parodied and even ridiculed in their native land, though with the outbreak of the Troubles across the border a grimmer reality was beginning to dominate the news on RTE and Ulster Television. Ultimately, the combination of seemingly unending sectarian violence and the vision of a wider, freer world that had been opened up by television persuaded John Doyle, like so many before him, to quit Ireland forever. But in this engaging, thoughtful and entertaining memoir, he has provided us with a vivid portrait of a country standing on the brink of dramatic, irrevocable change.