As part of RTE’s membership of the EBU, the state broadcaster offers programmes and events of significance to other members for broadcast in their own countries. The cathedral was seen by RTE as a particularly suitable venue to share with Europe with Galway designated as the 2020 European Capital City of Culture.
The mass itself will start at the later time of 11pm, to facilitate its being broadcast on the EBU satellite system, to Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and many other countries who take the feed as part of the European television exchange network, better know as ‘Eurovision’. The live broadcast will also be simultaneous across all the RTE platforms including Radio 1 and will be accessible across the world on the RTEPlayer too.
The Mass, on this most special occasion will be celebrated by Bishop Brendan Kelly and the cathedral choir, with musical director Raymond O’Donnell have been practising for the last few weeks in order to add extra sparkle to their already polished repertoire.
We'll be on site at the Cathedral from the morning of the 23rd, rigging cables, setting lights and preparing the church for what will be a very special broadcast; and it's a homecoming of sorts for two of our crew, Séamus and Ita Callagy, whose father Ruaidhrí grew up around the corner on Presentation Road; grandfather James taught in both St. Endas and NUIG and whose great-grandparents lived on Nun's Island.
Séamus spent some time in Galway at the start of the month and has already recorded and edited a short video about the Cathedral and it's surrounds. Featuring shots from the Christmas Market in Eyre Square and also around the city streets and the Cathedral itself, the short film introduces Galway for the European viewers of whom, it is estimated, there could be several million. Voiced over by local resident Eimear Ní Ogartaigh the video also features some stunning aerial shots of the Cathedral and the city at night shot by Superfly Ireland and captures a lovely sense of the city at Christmas.
All in all we'll have a crew of about 25 people involved in the transmission of the mass, from cameras to sound and lighting, engineering, satellite crew and those back in the truck gallery selecting the shots to mix out live to Europe. While it seem a peculiar way to spend a Christmas Eve, many of the same freelancing faces show up on the crew each year; and it's become a lovely Christmas tradition for many of us in our own right.
Our MD of Kairos, and producer on the night, Fr. Finbarr Tracey is aware of the great responsibility and privilege it is to be sending the signal of Christmas mass from the very western edge of Europe right into the heart of the European Union, and had this to say:
‘We are delighted to be in Galway in the run up to this most special year for the city. Christmas is a time when we remember the birth of Jesus and the shared togetherness of the Christian message. This broadcast too reminds us of our connections across Europe and how much we share as human beings no matter what barriers or borders or languages there may be between us."
If you're watching on TV, the Mass will air on RTÉ One at 11pm on Dec. 24th, 2019
You can tune in online on the rte player via this link:
On digital radio via the RTÉ Radio Player
or by going to the RTÉ Radio 1 page and clicking the "Listen Live" link