Corona Discoveries – Podcasts

The last 18 months with the coronavirus pandemic has been a difficult period for so many reasons. When the governments around the world started implementing major restrictions to deal with the pandemic, it was time for all of us to reassess and restructure the meaning of “normal”. Elements of life that we took for granted were gone, such as meeting friends, going shopping, attending sporting and social events and everything to do with just meeting people in person. As a club, we could not come together to train, as what started as a three-week ban on training dragged into months of on-field inactivity. In this new world, I was forced to make some changes to my routine and one of my major discoveries during this time was the world of podcasts.

In a previous article, “The Joys of Jogging”, I outlined how jogging became one of my go-to activities during the pandemic. Jogging is still vital to my routine, even now as we are back training and playing matches. One of the main reasons I go out every day is to listen to a good podcast. An hour of running means I can listen to something insightful, inspiring or simply entertaining and not sit in front of a computer screen! Before the pandemic, I did not know much about the world of podcasts. I used to listen to the odd “Football Weekly” podcast directly from “The Guardian” website but I did not actively go looking around for other podcasts. However, this was about to change.

With the start of the pandemic and the new environment of a lot more free time, I took the time to discover this goldmine. Without many opportunities for socialising, and being away from friends and family, finding podcasts became a reassuring means of staying connected with the world. Podcasting is about good conversations, niche areas and storytelling. In such a diverse space, there really is a podcast for everything – whatever your interest!

The Blindboy Podcast

If you had told my 18-year-old self that one of the best podcasters around would be the lad with the plastic bag on his head who sings “Horse Outside”, I would have laughed at you. However, “The Blindboy Podcast” is a must-listen for anyone interested in what a podcast can be. The main man – Mr Blindboy Boatclub – is an expert storyteller, and this ability that he has, this art that he has perfected over the years, allows for an enthralling experience. “The Blindboy Podcast” discusses a wide range of topics including history, politics, art, music, mental health, psychology, movies and much more.

Blindboy’s “hot takes”, whereby he explores theories and connections based on his own research, are always worth a listen. It is often the case that he will present a hypothesis that makes the listener think there is no way it can be accurate, but by the end of his arguments, he makes you think about it. Blindboy’s “hot takes” have included how medieval Cork is connected to our classic image of Hell, the reason why quicksand is so prevalent in cartoons and other TV shows, the history of Ireland told through the perspective of the pineapple, the cultural significance of the hot chicken roll, Guinness, and Taytos and how a volcano eruption in Indonesia impacted art and literature. If these sound a bit mad, there are plenty more to work your way through!

Blindboy is also an excellent interviewer, and he has found some very inspiring characters to interview. Civil rights activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, film director and producer Spike Lee, singer-songwriters Sinéad O’Connor and Hozier and the wrestler Sami Zayn are just some of the fascinating characters he has interviewed over the years. His interviews with the economist David McWilliams and housing expert and university lecturer Dr. Rory Hearne led to me discovering their respective podcasts, and they are also worth a listen.

Who should listen to this podcast: people who want to look at the world in a slightly different way and those who want a thought-provoking experience. Also, for people looking for advice regarding improving their mental health.

Linked Podcasts: Other podcasts I have discovered through The Blindboy Podcast includeThe David McWilliams Podcast” and “Reboot Republic”.

Football Weekly

The Guardian “Football Weekly” podcast has been a podcast I have followed off- and on- for many years. During the first few weeks of the pandemic, “Football Weekly” was a godsend… It is difficult to really live through global events and know that this is “the real deal”. For me, the pandemic became really serious when football matches were cancelled. Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga matches are rarely cancelled but suddenly, all over Europe, games were gone, GAA matches were indefinitely on-hold – we were living in a sporting vacuum. An industry that is usually a constant noise and never stops was suddenly gone… That was when I knew this was serious!

The Guardian Football Weekly could easily have taken a break in this weird void as there was no football to report, but they didn’t. Strangely enough, without football matches to report on, they ended up producing some of their best podcasts. Forced to be creative, they kept up two shows a week where they discussed the personal lives of their contributors (Philippe Auclair, in particular, has led a remarkable life…), reviewed classic matches, had a listener create a detective story with characters based on the main contributors to the pod (“Detective Wilson”) and more. In a time when social engagements disappeared, and this whole pandemic thing was new and a bit frightening, the men and women at “The Guardian Football Weekly” brought some bit of routine. It was like being in a pub listening to a group of friends in normal times – even if only for an hour a day.

A diverse group of football journalists from “The Guardian” and other publications and podcasts, hosted by the excitable and optimistic Max Rushden alongside the dour and humorous native of Birr (County Offaly) Barry Glendenning, “Football Weekly” is one for even the most casual of football fans.  The fact that Barry often gives the impression that he would much rather watch a Junior B hurling match than most Premier League matches is one of the many bonuses of this particular podcast!

Who should listen to this podcast: this is obviously a podcast for football fans but for football fans who know that it is just a game, a bit of fun rather than for those who want in-depth discussions on statistics and “expected goals”. The Football Weekly crew have also started discussing heavier topics, such as gambling in football, women’s experience at football and racism.

Loaf of Bread GAA Podcast

The inspiration for this piece on podcasts, the “Loaf of Bread GAA”, is a podcast hosted by a Westmeath teacher, Jason Keelan. In the middle of the pandemic, Jason launched the podcast with a very different approach to discussing the GAA.

Whereas many top GAA podcasts such as “GAA Hour” and “RTÉ GAA” focus on the big events in the GAA Championship, “Loaf of Bread GAA” is concerned with the stories that are not often heard. From conversations with Westmeath camogie players and Carlow ladies’ footballers to club players such as those from Oughterard GAA and referees, Loaf of Bread gives a pretty good insight into what the GAA is really about!

Jason’s podcasts are released every Monday and Thursday, and his current project involves interviews with clubs around the world. We were privileged enough to be asked to be on the podcast where Frank, Gareth and Lea represented the club very well. However, his global journey has also taken him to Zaragoza in Spain, Geelong in Australia, Warsaw in Poland and even into Argentina, China and South Africa. With hundreds and hundreds of clubs and thousands of players worldwide, there are many stories to tell. Fair play to Jason for taking advantage of that opportunity and treating his listeners to some great scéalta.

Who should listen to this podcast: those who want to learn about GAA clubs around the world (like ours here at the Cologne Celtics) and hear stories from clubs and players who might not feature in other media.

Linked Podcasts: Other GAA podcasts I can recommend are RTÉ GAA and GAA Hour.

The 2 Johnnies Podcast

The 2 Johnnies have risen to stardom in Ireland over the last five years. Tipperary men “Johnny B” O’Brien and “Johnny Smacks” McMahon created a potent force when they linked up to perform together at their local GAA club. A comedy-music duo who have had nine no. 1 singles in the Irish iTunes charts including “Sinéad”, “When I Play for the County”, “Summer Tune” and “Could Have Been County”, the 2 Johnnies came to prominence with their YouTube channel and Social Media accounts. The YouTube channel has a following now of 114,000 subscribers while their Facebook has 260,000 followers – clear demonstrations of their popularity.

“The 2 Johnnies Podcast” is a bit mad really… I am struggling to think how to even describe it… The lads tend to discuss two or three topics, including their producer Maura’s mystery topic, give their “Yurts and Dirts” of the week – and have a brilliant segment called “Noel’s News”. “Noel Furlong” is an old-school hurling man, and if you have ever been involved in a GAA club in Ireland, you have met Noel Furlong. If you have not met Noel Furlong, it is probably because you are Noel Furlong. Short-passing, handpassing, sweepers, roving forwards, and puck-out strategies are what Noel would describe as “horse in a bucket” – and cannot replace the more traditional style summed up in two words “drive it”. His descriptions of world, national and local events are often hilarious.

With “The 2 Johnnies Podcast”, just start from the beginning and let the adventure take you. As a podcast, the humour is quintessentially Irish. Discussions on Junior B hurling, the Leaving Cert, the Debs, silage season, the Ploughing Championship, shifting, the Rose of Tralee and everything else under the sun (or rain in the case of Ireland). The “2 Johnnies Podcast” is a great way to connect with home, and to just embrace what makes our island unique.

Who should listen to this podcast: this one is most likely for an Irish audience, especially a younger audience in their 20s and 30s. If you’re not Irish but are familiar with Irish-style humour (“Father Ted” or Irish comedians), it is worth a try!

Similar Podcasts: “The Tommy, Hector and Laurita Podcast”

The History of the Netherlands Podcast

Going across the border to our friends in the Netherlands and Belgium, this podcast is produced by „Republic of Amsterdam Radio“. This one is for the history nerds amongst us, as our Australian host: Joe Wegecsanyi takes an in-depth look at the history of the Netherlands. In his own words the podcast concerns „the events and characters that, over time, have transformed a swamp into an amazing, modern marvel.“

This podcast was one of the first ones I found during the lockdown. I had no idea about the podcast scene and didn’t even really know what they were about. It is a bit intimidating to find your way in such a saturated market, so I just tried „history of…“ until I settled on „The History of the Netherlands“. Since then I have listened to nearly all of their collection, and it has been a great adventure!

A tweet concerning their episode on Dutch myths and legends

This podcast takes us from the first 99% of the history of the region (i.e. the non-recorded, pre-history part) to the now late-15th century (as of September 2021)… Discover how the Romans impacted the area, what happened during the Dark Ages and Charlemagne’s time, the conflicts, civil wars and betrayal and backstabbings of the Burgundians and also find out about the weavers, brewers and guilds of the cities of Flanders, the wildlands of the Frisians and much more. The section on „Bet You Didn’t Know That Was Dutch“ will make you laugh, as they dig up surprising links to everyday words or objects that have a Dutch origin or connection.

Who should listen to this podcast: this podcast is for those who love history and enjoy a bit of humour added to its telling. Check out this podcast if you are a fan of (early-seasons) Game of Thrones, medieval history, or just want to find out more about our near neighbours.

Other history podcasts: Irish History Podcast by Fin Dwyer – a fantastic podcast that has a huge catalogue of episodes concerning different parts of Irish history.

Könnt Man Mal Wieder Gucken

The final podcast I will recommend is for our German readers and those looking to improve their German, and that is “Könnt Man Mal Wieder Gucken”. This podcast is produced and presented by our own Cologne Celt, Wolfgang Heisel alongside his friends Johannes and Tim. Film afficionados, the three have been friends for many years but now live in different parts of Germany. Due to the pandemic, they have not been able to meet up and  go to the cinema together and watch new movies. Instead (like many other people) they have had to look elsewhere to bond and keep their friendship strong.

From the „Könnt man mal wieder gucken“ Twitter account

KMMWG is concerned with the films on your DVD shelf at home, the ones that might not receive the praise and acclaim of better-known movies. The films they want to discuss are those that you will take out every couple of years, watch and remember – this is actually a pretty good movie… So far, they have reviewed, “Shutter Island”, “For a Few Dollars More”, “Master and Commander” and “Oblivion” among others. Listening to their discussion and reviews can really act as an inspiration to rewatch these movies.

As close friends, they have no problem stating their opinions and disagreeing with each other. As a non-native German speaker, I can say that they all speak very clearly and are easy to understand. If you are a film fan and have decent German, why not check it out!

Who should listen to this podcast: A good understanding of German is an obvious requirement. Other than that, this one is for anyone who loves film.

Other German podcasts: “Eine Stunde Film” & “Eine Stunde History” – Deutschland Funk Nova.

If you have any podcasts you can recommend, please comment below. Also, if you are into podcasts, supporting independent podcasters like Jason and Wolfgang is of huge value to them. Often, their products are of a high quality and they deserve a listen.

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