‘Dundalk should be very proud of Irish speakers in area’

Tia Clarke


Tia Clarke


‘Dundalk should be very proud of  Irish speakers in area’

Helena is a reporter with LMFM and a well-known local gaeilgeoir

Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up in Dundalk?
I grew up in Glen Gat Guesthouse so I was used to meeting people from all walks of life. Maybe that’s where my love for radio came about. You get to hear so many great stories while growing up and working in the customer service industry, you learn what makes good radio. My dad worked in Customs and Excise and later in Revenue and took early retirement in 2015. My mum left her job to concentrate on the guesthouse when they bought it almost 30 years ago. I always remember her making home-made soup for us when we returned from school in the cold winter evenings.

What would you like to change or improve about Dundalk?
I love the town and feel that the community spirit is only growing stronger. Improvements are being made every day. I’m glad to see that business in the area is going from strength to strength, this can be seen by the refurbishments to premises and new restaurants and boutiques opening. Everything seems to be sparkling this Christmas especially after Frostival on Friday night. What a great turnout with plenty of excitement.

What would your perfect day in the local area be?
When it’s bright I love to walk the dogs along the Navvy bank, I think the scenery is just beautiful. My perfect day would have to include, good food with good company in one of the local restaurants or pubs in the area- we have so much to choose from!

Can you tell us a bit about your time as a reporter with LMFM?
I’m four years now working as a reporter for LMFM and I love every second of it. I report at all kinds of events from the Fleadh Cheoil to the Moynalty Steam Threshing Festival and from the opening of brand new stores to companies celebrating a milestone in business. My very first gig out on my own was at the Maritime Festival in Drogheda and it was magical! I interviewed the organisers, Vikings and many other local vendors on the day. There is nothing like the adrenaline rush you get while doing an outside broadcast.

I was working as LMFM’s social media manager and loved working on large campaigns but recently decided to turn down a permanent role to work full time in my parent’s family-run Guesthouse. I still am LMFM’s weekend roving reporter and always welcome people to get in touch if they’ve an event or anything that I can help them with. I still adore social media and will continue to connect with people online while working with the Glen Gat, LMFM or on any other projects.

What was the highlight of during your time there? Any interviews you really enjoyed?
One highlight that stands out for me was when we had customers from Russian who came to stay at Glen Gat looking for Tallaght Stadium when Zenit were due to play Dundalk in the Europa League! That turned out to be a great interview for LMFM and also made national papers. They received first-class treatment from Dundalk FC, getting memorabilia from the merchandise shop and also a free bus journey to and from the stadium. We also gave them free accommodation at Glen Gat Guesthouse. Another highlight was the Handy Stores and The Jockeys videos that I produced for the station. I could never have imagined the reach it would get.

Handy Stores was an institution in Dundalk and obviously touched the hearts of many. The Jockeys owners had almost 50 years in business on Anne Street under their belt. It was also great to do something in my local community.

As a Gaeilgeoir, do you think there is a big Irish community in Co Louth?
Personally, I adore the language and I know that I got a lot of opportunities with Irish language radio stations and TG4 over the years. I think that the Fleadh Cheoil really helped root out the Gaeilgeoirí in the area the past two years. I feel that it encouraged others to engage with the language, it made it more accessible for people and it was great to see local talented musicians take part in the festival.

It also gave me more opportunities to speak Irish and use it on LMFM’s platform. Dundalk should be very proud of the Irish speakers in the area representing us on a national and international stage. We have local musicians Zoe Conway and John McIntyre, renowned fiddle player Gerry O’Connor and his son Dónal O’Connor who works with TG4 and is a music producer and composer and also Sean-Nós singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin. We should be encouraged by this.

If you want to improve your own Irish, the local Conradh na Gaeilge run Irish classes and there’s really cool App called Duolingo that I would recommend for all ages.

How do you like to relax in town?
Going out for food is literally my favourite thing to relax! I look forward to enjoying more over the festive season with friends and family. I really enjoy relaxing in the sauna and the jacuzzi after a good workout. There are some great local boutiques in town too and I love a bit of retail therapy when I’ve time for a good shop and get a chance to try on the clothes.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any more projects coming up?
I’d like to get a good start on my Christmas shopping! I also look forward to the New Year as the Glen Gat Guesthouse will be 30 years in business. I hope to promote the business and connect with other local companies to work on a social media campaign. “A rising tide raises all ships”, and that is something that I feel Dundalk is doing with the Shop Local initiative
and also I feel there’s a great vibrancy on social media with a lot of businesses in the town. It’s about creating hype for a product or service and showing a personality behind the business. That’s what I’ll be working on in the New Year.

Any big plans for Christmas this year?
I love spending time with friends and family this time of year. It’s lovely to see all the familiar faces home to visit at Christmas. I think people make more of an effort to meet up during the festive season. It really is a lovely time of year.

How would you describe Dundalk people?
I think Dundalk people are very friendly and there seems to be a huge pride in the town with the success of Dundalk FC down through the years, Louth Ladies GFC, Amy Broadhurst and many more. We have a lot to be proud of here in Dundalk and I think people are starting to realise it more and more every day. We cater for people from all over the world at Glen Gat
and they often comment on the friendly welcome they receive from us here and from the local community when they go out to shop or dine in the area.