RTÉ anseo agaibh!
RTÉ anseo agaibh - RTÉ is here for you! Did ever three Irish words mean so much?
Home from school, dinner and sit on the couch in anticipation, watching the test-card followed by RTÉ's St. Bridget's Cross on the screen. The test-card meant nothing to us then and it was years later that I discovered what it was called - but the black screen changing to the test-card meant that RTÉ was nearly open! Of course, in black and white, the test-card has much less meaning - a 1960's 50 Shades of Grey!
Then, after 5 minutes or so, the RTÉ symbol! Hearts thumping with excitement, we fidgeted and foostered until the continuity announcer, always a well-spoken young woman, said the words: RTÉ anseo agaibh! The excitement, the possibility!
In a fairly black and white Ireland where comics were bought once a month and shared between all, where the local library was in someone's front room and only the books on one side ever changed, the television brought boundless possibility.
Bláithín, Buntús Cainte, Daithí Lacha, Mr. Magoo and those strange Czech cartoon characters Lolek and Bolek, there were just so many.
My favourite, interestingly enough, was Bláithín, the artist. With a lovely curvy figure, not like today's stick insects, and a warm, gentle voice, she talked us through art, always speaking to us as though we had boundless artistic ability yet to be discovered.
The critics of today's TV, and God knows there's enough to be critical of, will never know the window it offered for us in closed, rural Ireland.
The Czech cartoons made us dig out the atlas to see where Czechoslovakia was - no Google search or maps, just old-fashioned trawling around for information. And when we did read about it, boy were we glad we lived in Ireland and not there!
RTÉ marked an awakening of a realisation that we were part of a bigger picture - that there were things out there that we couldn't even imagine - the hope, the possibility.
RTÉ anseo agaibh!