An Irishman Abroad
An Irishman Abroad is 250 episodes old. You are probably not subscribed to many weekly podcasts that have reached that sort of number. The challenge for any pod of this age is how to keep it fresh and how to get it talked about. Most of the attention is given to anything that’s new and once you are in your 5th year, you are not really newsworthy anymore
But the Irishman Abroad remains a compelling listen and it’s not slowing down with not one but two new spin off podcasts, about crime and MeToo, about to launch. Host Jarlath Regan is a laidback Irish comedian, but this is way more than another comedian talking about comedy. Some of the best episodes have been the most serious
In these hour long podcasts, Jarlath speaks to a wide range of guests, with the starting point being their Irish origins and then, following their stories through, their professional and personal lives. As an interviewer he connects with them on many levels as they share their life stories but its not just the quality of the research and questions, its also about his ability to listen, which is so often missing in other podcasts. I have learnt an awful lot I never knew from this series, and the shows have often changed my opinion on those interviewed
Episode 250 is very much about comedy with some of the funniest stories collected, actress Victoria Smurfit talking about taking the law into her own hands, Aisling Bea on horsebreeding and Dara O Briain, Ed Byrne and Tommy Tiernan all in the mix. There’s a lovely Paddy Doyle rant about a book review.
Over the past year there have been really good episodes about sport, Shay Given, Kevin Kilbane and Mick McCarthy have all shown up, as well as jockeys Mick Fitzgerald, A P McCoy and a host of rugby players. Or you can go back a year and listen to some of the really big names, Bob Geldof, Gabriel Byrne and Sharon Horgan
But some of the best episodes are those that break entirely with the format. A special edition from last September on the Repeal the 8th campaign was the first time I had really heard about the debate at length, and the podcast revisited it in May ahead of the vote – with an episode that ran for over two hours. Jarlath is way more than just a comedian with a podcast. The very best episode to date was The Kidney Episode (157) which followed Jarlath to the US as he donated his brother a kidney, it was unlike any show that gone before but there’s now a audience for the Irishman Abroad that will listen no matter what the topic.
There are also the obligatory live episodes, a recent edition with Laura Whitmore and Roisin Conaty, discussing sexism, consent and gender equality, was especially good.
Regan is serious about podcasting, it’s not just a sideline, and he will soon have three on the go, with the Irishman Abroad app a gateway into this very fine wide variety of topics and guests