Bog Radio – Jimmy, By Des Hogan (BBC Radio 3 1978)

One of the first Irish radio plays to feature the subject of homosexuality. This was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1978.

“Jimmy” is a story about adults, brother and sister, set in Dublin, one grown up in the eyes of the world and one not. The woman in the story, Windy, is a lecturer in ancient Irish history and is also overweight. Every year she tells students about Celtic crosses and towers in the forest. She takes her students along on field trips and they are so well thought of that college administrators often go along. She works in the Gaelic speaking part of Ireland and Irish is a big part of the college curriculum. This is a political and cultural issue as for long periods Irish was looked down on. We also need to recall what Delcan Kiberd taught us about the mummification of past Irish culture as a tool to keep the culture stuck in the past. To teach Irish culture can be both part of the creation and destruction of Irish culture unless one is very self aware, as Windy seems not to be. There is a lot to like and just flat out enjoy in this story. I loved learning about the Irish scribe, Padraic O Connaire who walked to Moscow to visit Chekhov and “found him gone for the weekend”. There is a statue to him in Galway. Jimmy is her brother. He disappeared many years ago, he is rumored to be an alcoholic living in the streets of London.

There is a really a lot in this story, more interesting things than many writers put in long novels. One day Windy answers her door and a bedraggled looking man in raggedy clothes is at the door. It is Jimmy come back. There was a scandal that drove Jimmy out of town. He was accused, falsely he still insists decades later, of sexually molesting a teenage boy. The boy moved to the United States and ended up being killed in WWII in the Pacific theater. What brought Jimmy back was a small gambling win which he used to buy his trip home. Jimmy was a very literate man who saw himself as a poet, a man forced to the streets by injustice (the story line does not exonerate him) who fancies himself a poet. There is so much in this story I will just say I hope you get to read it one day. There is heartbreak and release in the stunning conclusion.