Tralee Woman Wins International Award For Radio Documentary

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Grainne McPolin from Tralee working as a nurse in Saudi Arabia.

IT’S been a very good week for students in the Kerry ETB/Radio Kerry training course.

Earlier we told you about graduate Dan Kearney winning a global award in London. But another student of the course has also won a major international award.

Tralee woman Gráinne McPolin, a student of radio broadcasting at the Kerry ETB Training Centre won the 2016 Clarion International Radio Award for a documentary about her experience of working in Saudi Arabia – ‘Saudi Dreams of a Camper Van.’

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She along with documentary maker, Ronan Kelly, were announced as winners at the ceremony in California for their production. The Clarion Awards have honoured global excellence in journalism and broadcasting for over 40 years.


In 2013, Gráinne McPolin wrote to the Documentary On One team in RTE. She was working as a nurse in Saudi Arabia and suggested that they make a documentary about life there for Irish nurses and for women in general. The Documentary On One team wrote back and asked her if she had a smartphone and would she do some recording herself.

So, Gráinne started recording her life in Saudi Arabia. She was working out there to try to earn some extra money while on a career break from a Galway hospital. Her dream was to make enough to clear her debts and for herself and her partner to head off touring around Europe in a camper van.

However, Gráinne’s smartphone soon became more than a device for recording life in Saudi Arabia. Gráinne used it to record her thoughts on her own life and what was happening in it.

As the months went by, her relationship began to become strained and Gráinne returned to Ireland several times during her contract period to try to rescue the relationship, but eventually they parted. Gráinne eventually ended up coming home and doing the Kerry ETB/Radio Kerry course.

The documentary is an insight into the life of an Irish emigrant in Saudi Arabia but also about the difficulties of trying to find happiness and start life all over again in your 50s.

You can listen to a podcast of the programme here.

One Comment

  1. Fergal Donnelly says:

    The award for this documentary is as well deserved as it is overdue. Not only for how well it has been put together, but also because its content resonates with thousands of people, especially in recent times, who have had lives destroyed and had to seek happiness and start life all over again in their 50s. Sometimes this is only achieved against incredible odds but Grainne has definitely done just that and come out on top, perhaps even higher than before! What a turn around for someone highly technically qualified, who could have easily thought that the world owes them something and to have to start all over again, only to attain greater things in a completely different field! Definitely gonna be keeping an ear out for future contributions from Grainne…the world awaits!